It's an exceptionally hot day in Westfield, but the people inside the Westfield Community Center don't seem to mind.
Ida Manning said, "We're like a big family here."
And it's an accepting one. They're the Bobbin Mill Players; everyone is welcome to come up to sing a tune or jam with friends, no matter their abilities. Ida is a relative newcomer to these old timers. What she brings to the group is boundless energy with a side of silly.
Ida doesn't sing or play an instrument, but still can still hold the folks' attention. It's with her poetry, nothing fancy, right to the point.
"I can't write or hold a pen, but I like to hear from a friend," she said.
It's a poem about how lonely it can be for a shut-in.
"It might make people think of sending cards," she explained.
The Bobbin Mill Players have been performing for about 20 years; Ida's only been coming here about two. When her husband died the doctor said the best way to deal with grief is to dance.
"Dancing is like therapy and it's a lot cheaper than going to the doctor for it," Ida said. "We had a happy marriage and that makes me a happy person."
But she did grieve. Ida and Mac were married for 62 years. They raised their children in Morrisville, not too far from where Ida was born in Hyde Park.
Reporter Joe Carroll: So, why was it important to wear the same clothes?
Ida Manning: I don't know. I'm always doing funny things.
Ida and her husband wore their wedding outfits on their 60th anniversary. But being fit and trim didn't happen without hard work. Ida at one time was heavy.
"Well, I weighed about 230," she said.
Ida wanted to lose the weight for her daughter's wedding. She went to Weight Watchers and eventually worked there-- for 37 years. She still goes to classes as a motivational speaker.
Dancing isn't the only activity that keeps her feet moving. The 83-year-old downhill skis, bikes, Rollerblades and loves to kayak.
"I am happy to be healthy," she said, "but I want to help others."
And that poem that she wrote about writing to the lonely-- she goes a step further. She visits areas nursing homes to cheer people up, some of them being her former classmates.
But dancing brings the most joy to her and her dancing partner, Mike Green. Mike is legally blind, but his humor is in focus.
"The only way I will dance with you is if you let me lead!" Mike said to Ida.
As a kid she was called Sunshine.
"I always go home dancing!" Ida declared.
Happy feet with a healthy attitude toward life.
"It's hard to have fun," she said, "but I'm beginning to be Ida again."
This is not the first time WCAX News has profiled the Bobbin Mill Players. Fifteen years ago, Anson Tebbetts and Joe captured them playing just up the road. Joe says it's one of his favorite stories. Click here to see it.
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