By Don Wallace

The scene:  a parlor in a Portland, Maine, church.  It is a Sunday evening in the early 1950’s; the pastor is opening a social meeting of a group of young people in their late teens and early twenties.  As they sit in a quiet circle, the pastor starts the proceedings by stating that formal introductions are probably unnecessary since they doubtless know one another by now.  However, one young man raises his hand, points across the room and says, “I don’t know that girl in the red dress,” which was the way the lives of Walter Mattson and Geraldine Horsman became entwined.

It turned out that they had gone to the same high school in Portland, Walt having arrived in town for his senior year after a much-traveled youth.  Along the way he had shown an obsessive interest in newspapers and the printing business, delivering papers, working as a printer’s devil (one step below an apprentice) at his uncle’s weekly newspapers in Pittsburgh during the summer vacations and, after arriving in Portland, had landed a job at a commercial printing plant, with time out for active duty in the Marines during the Korean war.  Once out of the service, and after he and Gerry had married, he attended college while working full-time nights as a linotype operator at the Portland Press Herald and she worked as a legal secretary with the lead lawyer in the largest firm in Portland.

After he graduated, they moved to Pittsburgh, where Walt worked as advertising manager of two weekly newspapers while attending Carnegie Mellon University at night and Gerry worked for a lawyer in the city.  After that, they packed their bags and moved to Boston where Walt became assistant production manager at the Herald Traveler and attended Northeastern University at night where he earned an electrical engineering degree to go with his business/accounting degree.  For extra money, Gerry typed theses and papers for Harvard Law School students.  Then in 1960 came the big break: a job as assistant production manager of the New York Times.  From then, the promotions came in quick succession until, in 1979, Walt was named president of the New York Times Company.

All this time, when she wasn’t busy packing and unpacking, Gerry was involved with their growing family, working as a school teacher and as a legal secretary—until they settled in Stamford, Connecticut, and eventually built a home complete with a tennis court and swimming pool.  When the children were a little older, Gerry finished her work on a BA at the Stamford branch of the University of Connecticut.

Their introduction to Sarasota came in 1982, when Walt was involved in negotiating the purchase of the Sarasota Herald Tribune on behalf of the Times.  In 1983 they bought a condo on Longboat Key, where they spent half of the year until Walt retired in 1993.  The Mattson’s are the parents of three children, Stephen, William and Carol and have 11 grandchildren.

(A personal note: as a Times reader for some 65 years, I approached this biography with considerable trepidation, but found Walt and Gerry to be gracious, informal, plain-spoken and totally approachable.  And so will you. – author, Don Wallace)

While the body requires a small amount of sodium in the diet to control blood pressure and blood volume, most people consume many times the sodium needed.  People with certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure, kidney disease and heart problems, can benefit from a diet that is low in sodium.  In addition to directly reducing blood pressure, a lower sodium intake may also enhance the effectiveness of blood pressure medications and other non-drug treatments, such as weight loss.  Reducing sodium can also help to prevent the collection of fluid in the lower legs or abdomen.  A lower sodium intake has also been associated with other health benefits, including a reduced risk of dying from a stroke, reversal of heart enlargement, and a reduced risk of kidney stones and osteoporosis.

The terminology associated with salt reduction can be confusing. “Sodium free” means that there is a tiny amount of sodium in each serving. “Very low sodium” has 35 mg. or less in each serving. “Reduced sodium” means that the usual level of sodium is reduced by 25 percent.  And “Light or lite in sodium” means that the usual level of sodium is reduced by 50 percent.

Although it is difficult to abruptly cut back on the amount of sodium in the diet, most people find that they do not miss sodium if they cut back gradually. Salt is an acquired taste and taste buds can be retrained in less than two to three weeks!

Many residents, at the recommendation of their physician, or simply as a personal commitment to healthier eating, have made a conscious choice to lower their sodium consumption.  To support their efforts and provide health, delicious meals without sacrificing flavor, Plymouth Harbor’s culinary team uses fresh herbs, spice blends, citrus and flavored vinegars as tasty alternatives to the salt shaker.

In addition, we are happy to accommodate residents’ special requests. When you see a salt shaker icon next to an item on the Mayflower menu, it means that this item is available “salt-free.”  You’ll find this icon next to many entrees and side dishes.  To order salt-free, just check the “salt-free entrée” or “salt-free side dish” line on your menu.  When you specify “salt free”, you can be assured that absolutely no salt was added during the preparation of your selection.

Bon Appetit!

With Plymouth Harbor located just on the other side of the lovely arching bridge from downtown Sarasota, nothing could be more convenient than a short drive to any number of distinctive downtown dining locales and then a evening at the theatre or opera within a couple blocks walking distance.

Florida Studio Theatre, known simply as FST, is hardly a block from the bay and is a favorite of many Plymouth Harbor residents.  On Thursday, October 17, 2013, the Acting Apprentices of FST are coming right here to perform in Pilgrim Hall at 7:45 pm.  It’s an even more convenient evening’s pastime after a fine dinner prepared by Chef Rene in the Mayflower Dining Room.

2012-13 Acting Apprentices

FST’s “Moments of Discovery” offers an array of theatrical forms including  monologues, poems, scenes, and even award-winning plays from FST’s renowned Write-a-Play program which every year recognizes and celebrates young playwrights.  The performers this evening are all actors participating in the Florida Studio Theatre Acting Apprentice Program.

The purpose of the Acting Apprentice program is to help bridge the gap between academic theatre and the professional world and to provide additional training and experience to those individuals who are serious about careers as professional actors.  The program offers practical and educational training in a professional theatre environment and includes classes, workshops, rehearsals and performances such as the one we will enjoy here at Plymouth Harbor.

About Florida Studio Theatre

Florida Studio Theatre (FST) is Sarasota’s contemporary theatre, located in the heart of downtown. It has been in operation in Sarasota since 1973. The Florida Studio Theatre campus is a village of theatres – the historic Keating and Gompertz Theatres, and the Parisian-style Goldstein and John C. Court Cabarets. Near the Sarasota bayfront, FST brings an energy and vitality to the downtown area. Each theatre is small in size and large in impact – providing an intimate and engaging setting for high-quality, professional performances. Hip and historical, entertaining and challenging, we are the theatre where the street meets the elite, where everyone is welcome to come and engage in the art of theatre.

During its history, FST has grown into a theatre with a budget of over $4 million and 25,000 subscribers a year, more than any theatre its size in the country.

FST has modeled itself on the strength of creating the best in contemporary theatre at an affordable price. Overall, FST serves over 160,000 attendees per year through its major programs: the Mainstage Series, the Cabaret Series, Stage III, WRITE A PLAY, Education, and New Play Development.

Begun in 1966 as a dream of Rev. Dr. John Whitney MacNeil, former senior minister of the First Congregational United Church of Christ of Sarasota, who envisioned a progressive, interfaith, residential community for retired clergy and teachers, Plymouth Harbor today attracts vibrant residents, both nationally and internationally.  Most of these residents, over the years, have made significant contributions to the arts, culture, and education, helping to establish Sarasota as a vibrant and coveted community in which to live and retire.

Today, Plymouth Harbor, a non-profit organization, has become one of the premier continuing care retirement communities in the United States, offering services from independent to assisted living, skilled nursing, long-term care, and short-term rehabilitation, all on one campus.  Essential to its success and outstanding reputation are the nearly 200 employees who deliver care and compassionate services to more than 265 residents daily.

That spirit of caring is also the driving force behind philanthropy at Plymouth Harbor. Over the decades, members of the resident population, their families, employees, and philanthropists in the broader community have voluntarily donated more than $12,000,000 to perpetuate its mission.  Contributions of time, talent, and financial resources are made, believing that service to and support of other people is a worthy lifelong value.

Formalizing the Foundation

In an effort to further ensure appropriate stewardship, develop and implement fundraising strategies that support the most positive aging experience possible, and to provide funding for innovative programs and services for seniors in the region, the Plymouth Harbor Foundation was formalized in 2012.  Their culture of philanthropy is built on three pillars of value – benevolence, fellowship, and a zest for life – and three funds were established for these purposes.

Resident Assistance

True to their founding value of benevolence, resident assistance supports those who have outlived their financial resources, due to unforeseen circumstances, and require support for basic living expenses and medical care.

Employee Assistance

Creating an outstanding living environment depends, in no small part, upon successfully recruiting, retaining, and developing the highest quality work force possible.  This fund supports employees who are experiencing financial hardships or who wish to advance their education.

Zest For Life

This programmatic and capital fund supports innovations and enhancements that improve and preserve the vibrant quality of life for current and future residents.

Making a Difference

We hope you will consider making a gift to advance a positive aging experience at Plymouth Harbor.  Your future is worth supporting.

Members of Girl Scout Troop #121 & Boy Scout Troop #895 copy

Boy Scout Troop #895 and Girl Scouts from Troop #121 in Sarasota recently provided community service at Plymouth Harbor as part of a project that was partially funded by the Bay Partners Grant Program to restore a natural ecosystem on a portion of the campus.  The scouts spent a full day spreading mulch and watering plants that had recently been replaced.

“Community projects like this are an excellent example of what Dr. MacNeil had in mind when he envisioned Plymouth Harbor,” said Harry Hobson, President and CEO of Plymouth Harbor.  “Individuals of all ages coming together to support a positive living environment.  Isn’t that what “community” is all about?”


Please join us in congratulating Armando Cortez, our Employee of the Month for October 2013.

Armando came to Plymouth Harbor as a part-time Steward in February of 2010 and was promoted to full-time status two months later.  Prior to working at Plymouth Harbor, Armando was employed by the Manatee Fruit Company for almost 20 years as a laborer.

Throughout his time here at Plymouth Harbor Armando has received several Exceeds Standard remarks on his appraisals from Chef René, in the categories of job knowledge, quality of work, responsiveness to supervision, attendance, attitude, relationship with people, and personal conduct.

Comments from his supervisor are very complimentary:  Armando is a very good worker who follows all the rules, keeps a positive attitude, and is liked by the staff. His demeanor and work ethic are to be admired.  He is a team player.

Armando, originally from Jalisco, Mexico, has resided in the local area for over 20 years.  He and his wife Dionisia will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary next April.  They have a son Juan Armando and three grandchildren who live in Bradenton.

We are very pleased to bestow this well-deserved recognition upon Armando.  Thank you for choosing Plymouth Harbor as your employer!

According to a recent poll by The NPD Group, a leading global information company, 30% of adults want to cut down or eliminate gluten from their diets.  Some call this the latest fad or “health trend,” others find it absolutely necessary.

So what is gluten?  Gluten is present in many grains, primarily wheat.  It is a combination of two proteins, glutenin and gliadin  (McGee 2004).  Nutritionally, it is not essential that humans consume gluten, and the majority of people who do have no problem digesting and absorbing the proteins.  According to Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RD, and senior health strategist for the American Council on Exercise, “For most people, there is nothing ‘bad’ about gluten.  It doesn’t make us gain weight.  It doesn’t clog your arteries.  It doesn’t increase your blood pressure or cholesterol.  And for most people it doesn’t cause stomach pains, cramping, bloating, diarrhea or constipation.”  Muth claims that less than 1% of  the population has Celiac’s Disease, which is an auto-immune disease where elimination of gluten is essential.  Persons suffering from this disease cannot absorb the protein gliadin, which can lead to several health complications such as fatigue, malnutrition and some cancers  (Sapone et al 2012).

However, in a normal healthy digestive system where enzymes break down the proteins into amino acids and then absorb them through the small intestine, there is no need or advantage in going gluten-free (Smolin & Grosvenor 1997). The best assurance for good health through proper nutrition is to consume a diet high in the true health foods like fruits and vegetables and, yes, whole grains which are good for us.

Watch this video to learn more about gluten free grains.


References:  McGee, H. 2004.  On Food and Cooking (Revised ed.).  New York NY: Scribner.  Smolin, L., & Grosvenor, M.B. 1997.  Nutrition Science and Applications (2nd ed.).  Fort Worth, TX: Saunders College Pub.  Sapone, A., et al. 2012.  Spectrum of Gluten-Related Disorders: Consensus of New Nomenclature and Classification.  BMC Medicine, 10:13.

Did you know that most people are two different ages?  How can this be?  A person’s chronological age is often different than their biological age; but what  is the difference?

Chronological age is determined by the number of years that a person has existed.  Biological age is determined by the physiology of a person, which includes aspects such as physical structure of his or her body, sensory awareness, performance of motor skills, cognitive abilities, general mobility and functionality.

Chronological age has little to do with fitness capability.  When considering the intensity level at which you should exercise, or deciding whether or not you should even exercise at all, take into account your biological age instead of your chronological age. Analyze how you feel while performing daily activities instead of saying, “I’m 82,  I’m too old to exercise.” Think positively and ask yourself, “Do I really feel my age?”

An example of someone being two different ages is when an individual says, “I feel 10 years younger than I am.”  According to Cody Sipe, Ph.D. and director of clinical research in the physical therapy program at Harding University, “Most adults view themselves as being 10 or more years younger than their chronological age, but they also realize that they are not as young as they once were and need to train differently than younger individuals.”

Be careful not to dismiss physical activity out of your day because of your chronological age.  But when deciding on intensity level, be careful not to ignore signs that your body is conveying to you.

Try this out!  Avoid making decisions based on chronological age alone and instead base your decision on your biological age by listening to your body and analyzing your daily capabilities.  You might surprise yourself—or even better—impress yourself!

And just for fun!

References:  Vogel, A. (2013).  Older-Adult Fitness: Gauging the Limits of Your Fit Clients.  IDEA Fitness Journal, 10(2), 28-31.

Editor’s Note:  While publishing an autobiographical sketch is not our norm, we found Christine’s version so refreshingly delightful that we couldn’t resist.

My biography will be very brief since I have absolutely no accomplishments and very few talents unless you count being able to make a mess faster than almost anyone alive.

I’ve lived most of my life outside of Philadelphia.  I went to Harwick College, majoring in as little as possible which has turned into a lifetime pursuit.

Being unprepared for a well-paying job, I have worked as a travel agent all my life.  I’ve traveled a great deal and, best of all, I fell in love with one of my clients.  Single for a long time, I was finally able to trap a man when I was 37, and it’s been happily ever since.  Since Angelo tells me we need the money, I still work part-time for the agency, doing light bookkeeping.

We bought a winter condo at the northern end of Longboat Key in 1997, moved to a larger condo a few years later and then relocated to the island permanently a few years ago.  We have kept the smaller place on the beach for family and friends because even though we had room for guests in our home, Angelo says, “I like to have people visit but keep them the hell away from me.”  Now I fritter away my time with Mah Jongg, entertaining, and endlessly playing stupid computer games.

I’m also writing Angelo’s biography since we have always had a clear division of labor at our house.  I am in charge of all the little things, like where we live, what we spend and where we go; Angelo is in charge of the big things, like peace in the Middle East and space exploration.

Angelo was born in Washington, PA, and earned a BS in Pharmacy from Duquesne University.  After serving stateside in the Korean War, he worked as a pharmacist while earning a Masters and Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Pittsburgh.  His career was spent at Squibb and Johnson & Johnson and included a lot of overseas travel which is how he met his lovely wife, Christine.

He has two outstanding daughters who have given us seven wonderful grandchildren who don’t always write thank-you notes and one adorable great-grandson.

He spends his time watching the news, loading my sales receipts into Quicken and wondering why our apartment took so long to remodel.

We are both very happy to be at beautiful Plymouth Harbor.