First Putnam County had a famous elementary school spelling bee. Now the county has its very own famous senior citizen donut revolt.
According to today's New York Times, health officials have been trying to put a halt to the free donuts dispensed at a local senior citizen center. And, let's just say that the old folks aren't taking the donut denial lightly:
Joe Hajkowski, a 75-year-old retired sprinkler fitter who lives in nearby Putnam Valley, is a man on a mission: to reinstate the free doughnuts at the day center for older people here that he visits regularly.
It doesn’t even matter that he usually skips the sugary snacks, indulging only on the rare early-morning fishing jaunt. “I don’t eat those things, but at my age, I don’t need to be told I can’t,” said the craggy-faced Mr. Hajkowski. “We’re being treated like senile citizens, not senior citizens.”
Mr. Hajkowski was referring to a four-month dispute here, about 50 miles north of Midtown Manhattan, which has attracted the attention of the national news media — and pitted the public health monitors in Putnam County against its elders’ belief in their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of a leftover cruller.
It all started in May, when William H. Huestis, director of the Putnam County Office for the Aging, decided to take the morning doughnuts, muffins, bread and other donated, day-old baked goods away from the William Koehler Memorial Senior Center in Mahopac and from centers in four other towns in the county...
...In short order, Mr. Hajkowski and his doughnut-deprived comrades struck back, sending Mr. Huestis a petition with more than 250 signatures. It said: “We want our donuts back. We are old enough to know whether we should eat them or not.”...
...Now Mr. Hajkowski and his cadre of about a dozen hard-core supporters are upping the ante. In a side room at the Mahopac center on Tuesday, while about 80 of their peers hunkered down in a bright, airy dining room for an intense hour of postprandial bingo, Mr. Hajkowski and five others showed off posters they intended to brandish at protests in front of the various centers. (They plan to picket sometime in the next two weeks, Mr. Hajkowski revealed guardedly.)
“Our Choice: Death by Lethal Donuts,” read one placard.
Another read: “They’re Carbs, Not Contraband.”
“We’re all smart seniors,” said Bea Paniconi, 76, of Mahopac, a retired legal secretary and the only woman in Mr. Hajkowski’s doughnut corps. “We have the right to choose what we can eat.”
She said that adding to her daily diet a jelly doughnut and a serving of a liquid nutritional supplement had helped her increase her weight above a very frail 75 pounds. “My doctor said to keep up the good work,” she added.
Gee whiz! This might have the makings of a hit Broadway musical!