Friends and neighbours Pauline Martin and Anne Jenkins take in the neighbourhood Christmas tree they helped decorate on the trail behind Porchlight Drive in Elmira.
The tree was planted by another neighbour more than a decade ago. Since then, the blue spruce has been growing on the side of the trail and grew into a handsome, healthy and tall specimen.
Last year Jenkins decided to decorate it for fun. Then, two days later she saw a mom and her kids stop to admire it and take pictures.
“I was busy decorating the house, and that’s sort of where it started. After that, I went to MCC and to the dollar store and picked up the biggest decorations I could find – just put a few on, there wasn’t a whole lot.
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“And about two nights later, I was standing at the kitchen counter and looked out my sliding glass door and I could see a mom with a wagon and her kids in the wagon and stopping to look at it. I opened the door and started talking to them and they were quite excited. I thought, ‘we have to carry this on.’”
This year, Jenkins invited her neighbours over to decorate the tree together. Martin, who is celebrating her 80th birthday this year, joined in.
“I thought you were old when you’re 80,” she said of her impression of aging prior to becoming an octogenarian herself.
She drove a bus for most of her working life, both a school bus while her kids were in school, and later a coach bus.
Her favourite part of the job?
“Meeting all the people,” she said. “I had 50 people on my bus, most of the time. When you go away for two weeks or to [say] PEI, you’re with them, you get to know them. And we just enjoy life.”
Martin’s advice for long life to others? “Enjoy every day when you can. You know, I drove bus for so many years, and I was gone a lot because I was all over the United States and Canada. I really enjoyed it, but I was gone a lot.”
Martin’s husband, Allen D. Martin, wrote a column for The Observer for many years. Martin said they lived and raised their kids in Floradale for 30 years before moving to Elmira.
Martin will be celebrating with her daughter, grandchildren and great grandchildren, and friends and family this weekend.