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Senior café returns, post-Omicron

By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter

This fall, the Sherborn Council on Aging brought back their senior cafés at Pilgrim Church, after having previously had to shut them down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, when the Delta and Omicron variants brought COVID back in a major way this winter, the cafés were cancelled and pushed back to a later date. 

That day came last week, when the senior café made its triumphant return. Now, there will a new senior café every Thursday until June, when the event will take a break for the summer.

“We do our senior café every Thursday throughout the year,” explained Assistant Director of Accounts for the Sherborn Council on Aging Kristina Gallant. “But we do take off the summer. We just have people gather for lunch and we have entertainment. This is our second week back, since because of COVID, we did a little bit in the fall but had to shut it down. And today we have Peter, who is going to do a jazz presentation for everyone. So, everyone will gather for lunch and then watch the presentation.”

Last week’s entertainment included a presentation from a new pharmacy in downtown Sherborn, which brought in a nurse, manager and pharmacist to talk about all the services they offer. Since it will be so close to St. Patrick’s Day, next week’s entertainment will be based around Irish trivia, and appropriately, the café will be serving shepherd’s pie.

But for the 32 seniors on hand this week, it was a history of jazz and swing music that served as the show that supplemented the pulled pork, green beans and fruit salad they were served. Presented by Peter Gerler, a member of the Blue Horizon Band who played at the Sherborn Inn and has written about jazz for outlets like The Boston Globe, the New Orleans Gambit, Downbeat, Jazztimes, and American Legacy, Gerler’s presentation ranged from the historical roots of jazz all the way to synesthesia: the idea of experiencing one of your senses through another.

To explain that concept, after declaring that sheet music can’t be “music,” since you can’t hear it, Gerler talked asked everyone how it could be that we can look at an image of crashing waves and somehow hear the sounds of the ocean, or listen to a certain piece of classical music and understand that the composer is portraying nature, without seeing any accompanying images.

Describing jazz as “like a street corner conversation with everyone trying to get a word in edgewise,” Gerler spoke of how jazz was initially disliked, which prompted one woman to tell a story about how much Ella Fitzgerald’s scatting annoyed him as “he wanted to hear the lyrics and felt like she was cheating.” Gerler also talked about dancing rules, which caused some crowd members to remember when they, too, were tapped on the shoulder, a then-universally understood symbol that they were to leave the dance floor. 

After a long delay due to COVID, the senior cafés had returned — and everyone seemed happy just to have it back.

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