Friends, family bid farewell to OASIS class

DOWNEY - The 35-year run of OASIS, which kept scores of appreciative senior citizens from Downey and environs abreast of contemporary ideas and developments while warming their hearts with doses of nostalgic music, came to a close Monday with a farewell party at the Downey Adult School cafeteria which was renamed two years ago as the Harriett Paine Events Center after OASIS' 89-year old founder and moderator who retires this month.OASIS is the acronym for the popular adult school-sponsored Older Adults Seeking Information and Skills program which operated from September till the second week of June. Paine, a DAS instructor and teacher for more than 57 years while authoring several books on healthy eating, would have wanted to complete 40 years of conducting OASIS, said Downey Adult School director of education Roger Brossmer, but her age clearly conspired against that goal. But an even more insurmountable factor, he said, is the budget cuts the school district must deal with in the immediate future and perhaps beyond. "This is bittersweet," said Brossmer. "Harriett was a wonderful leader of the OASIS, and OASIS has become a Downey institution, but it was time. We've had to make tough decisions." Indeed, according to Brossmer, the school district's budgeted cost for OASIS was $15 with food, and $10 without, while participants were only being charged $4.50 per, so, given the financial bind everybody finds himself/herself in, the only alternative was to drop the program. Meanwhile, Brossmer paid tribute to the "wonderful volunteers without whom this program couldn't have made its run." They were presented with bonsai tree planters. Entertainment was provided as usual by pianist Bob Flynn, who played 'Fascination' along with other old favorites. Two of Flynn's singers, Patricia Culver and Jackie McEvelry, sang "Always," "They Say that Falling in Love is Wonderful," and "If I Didn't Care," etc. And as a surprise treat, old standby Johnny Croshaw, he with the booming baritone voice, belted out "Pennies from Heaven," "Why Not Take All of Me?", "That's Amore," and his signature song, "Come Back to Sorrento." Class-appointed poet laureate Bill Milburn recited a rhyming poem to Paine, ending with the line, "True friendships never end: they live on in our hearts." Paine said OASIS represented "so much fun, and so much joy." The OASIS class, which averaged 100 participants over the years, presented her with a parting gold-and-silver watch, "gold for her retirement, and silver for her 'coming back'."

********** Published: June 17, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 9