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Christmas Memories: Nursing Home Residents Share Stories From Their Favorite Vacation Past | Local

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David Bullock, a resident of the Slate Valley Center in Granville, has spent many years playing Santa Claus for children over Christmas.


Gretta Hochsprung



GRANVILLE – David Bullock was shopping at Colonie Center 41 years ago with his 5-year-old son.

“I took my 5 year old son to see Santa Claus and he wasn’t there,” Bullock said.

The sign said Santa Claus would be back in an hour. Bullock returned an hour later, but the merry bearded man still wasn’t there.

“Back at 1, back at 2 and around 2:30 am I see two young women dressed as elves pointing at me and talking,” he said, “and I walked over to them. and said to them, “Can I help you? “

They told Bullock that the man who normally plays Santa Claus had passed away in the family and would not be returning that day.

Just two days before Christmas and the mall closed for the day, Bullock volunteered.

On that day, Bullock became Santa Claus and played the role for years until his health prevented him from portraying the plump and cheerful old elf.

Now a resident of the Slate Valley Center retirement home in Granville, Bullock is in a wheelchair and his hands are shaking, but he still treats everyone with a loud greeting and hands out handwritten Christmas cards to other residents and staff.

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The 74-year-old still calls himself “Santa’s helper”.

“I thought to myself it was a one-time deal,” he said. “They put me in a costume and everything and I said, ‘I’m going to have fun. “”

There weren’t many kids in line that day, so he decided to spend time with each child on his lap or next to him in a stroller.

He would talk to them, ask them what they wanted from him for Christmas, sing a few Christmas songs with them, hand them a candy and return them to their parents.

His wife bought him a Santa Claus costume in a failed Montgomery neighborhood. He visited shopping malls and daycares, elementary schools and colleges, and dressed in the red costume for his neighbors’ children, ringing bells attached to a leather bracelet.

“The kids have gone crazy,” Bullock said. “It was so much fun.”

And he never charged a dime.

“I did that for a long time until my knee deteriorated and I couldn’t lift the kids anymore, it hurt too much,” Bullock said.

But playing Santa Claus has become a family tradition. Bullock’s eldest son David has been Santa Claus in malls for many years, and his youngest son Tim also wears a Santa outfit and represents the saint giving gifts to his friends and family. family.

“I loved making people happy,” Bullock said. “I really did.”

A pair of roller skates






Christmas memories

Dorathy Devoe, 100, a resident of Glens Falls Center, recalled having a traditional Christmas morning breakfast of scrambled eggs and pancakes with her six siblings.


Gretta Hochsprung



Dorathy Devoe, who turned 100 in July, grew up in a large family on Long Island and remembers their traditional pancake and scrambled egg breakfasts on Christmas morning. She and her siblings had to eat before they could open any presents.

“Then we were allowed to go, and sure enough it was a mad rush to find your name,” said Devoe, who resides at Glens Falls Center. Devoe came to the area when her son opened an ice cream shop in Lake George.

The greatest gift she ever received was a pair of roller skates, the kind made of metal that attached to the bottom of your shoes and could be adjusted with a wrench.

“We had black paved roads,” she recalls, “and there was a hill just beyond our house where the cars were going down, and someone was stopping the cars as you were going down the hill.”

In winter, they sleighed down the same hill.

Winter was “good times” in Whitehall






Christmas memories

Glens Falls Center resident John Spizzo, 89, recalled his winters rolling down a hill on Second Avenue in Whitehall with his two friends John Affinito and John Sparano.


Gretta Hochsprung



John Spizzo, 89, grew up in the village of Whitehall and remembers the great pleasure of sledding down the steep hill on the Second Avenue side.

“We were all friends. Everyone there were friends, because we were all Italians, ”said Spizzo, who now lives at the Glens Falls Center.

Spizzo was raised by his grandfather because his mother worked in the garment factory. His father worked for 50 years in the railroad. He was still looking forward to Christmas.

“You know we weren’t rich,” he said, “but the things that we had, we really felt a lot for them no matter what we got. “

“We weren’t rich, but we ate well”






Christmas memories

Jerry Sacco, a resident of Glens Falls Center, remembers celebrating Christmas with his five siblings and eating a big Italian Christmas dinner.


Gretta Hochsprung



Spizzo’s roommate at Glens Falls Center, Jerry Sacco, 85, was born in Whitehall. He moved when he was 4, but still visited family in Whitehall and often played basketball in the playground.

“There were six boys and two girls in our family,” Sacco said. “We weren’t rich, but we ate well, had good food, Italian cuisine.

At midnight on Christmas Eve, her father would wake up all the children and allow them to open a present. Then he was back in bed until morning.

The best gift he had ever received was a basketball. He and his brothers continued to play in high school and graduate school.

Living in Vermont at the time, Sacco remembers playing a tournament in Whitehall, and his brother contracted pneumonia. He received a $ 25 penicillin injection, which saved his life.

Remembering the family at Christmas






Christmas memories

Penny Baker, a resident of the Slate Valley Center in Granville, decorated her white Christmas tree in memory of her mother and sisters, who have passed away in the past three years. Hummingbirds are for her mother and butterflies are for her sisters.


Gretta Hochsprung



Penny Baker, 62, grew up in South Glens Falls with her two sisters. They had pizza parties on Christmas Eve and her parents would have 30 to 40 people in their home on Christmas Day.

“When my mom was home she loved it,” Baker said. “The more, the happier. “

Baker has lost his mother and two sisters in the past three years. Next to her bed at the Slate Valley Center in Granville is a white Christmas tree decorated with hummingbirds for her mother and butterflies for her sisters.

A special family photo






Christmas memories

Barb Yedlowski, a resident of Glens Falls Center, recalled her father putting her and her siblings in a big box and let them out for Christmas.


Gretta Hochsprung



Barb Yedlowski, 73, has a memory of Christmas when she was a little girl on Long Island.

“I remember when we were little my dad would take pictures,” Yedlowski said. “And he put us all in the box, and he closed the box and we got out of it.”

She always loved receiving dolls for Christmas, said Yedlowski, who now lives at Glens Falls Center.

“I once had a big doll. It was a walking doll. She was a great thing. I was surprised to have it. She was almost as tall as me, ”she said. “It was fun.”

She found out on Monday that her son, wife and their four children would be visiting her from Rhode Island this Christmas. She was only able to communicate with her son by video.

“I haven’t seen him in real life for a long time,” she said. “It’s going to be awesome.”

Gretta Hochsprung writes articles and news from her hometown. She can be reached at 518-742-3206 or ghochsprung @ poststar.com.