CHARLES TWEED/BRANDON SUN
Teenie Kerr, 104, and Walter Riddell, 100, were named prom king and queen at the Birch Lodge Senior Prom yesterday. The prom celebration coincided with Hamiota’s graduation day.
HAMIOTA — No one spiked the punch at the Birch Lodge Senior Prom — and no one would have complained if they did.
Thirty residents at the Hamiota personal care home celebrated graduation with a prom of their own, complete with singing, dancing and the naming of prom king and queen.
One hundred-year-old Walter Riddell was named king; at his side, his queen, Teenie Kerr, will turn 105 in July.
It was Riddell’s first prom as he never finished high school.
The furthest he got was Grade 11. At the end of the year, when teachers reviewed his grades, he hadn’t passed.
For $2, the Oakner school teachers told him they would "re-read" his papers.
"I balked at that," Riddell said. "It was just a gimmick (to get money)."
He never went back to school, instead choosing to help his father on the family farm.
It was a different time, he said.
Of the 30 residents taking part in prom, not one of them received a high school diploma.
Most were out of school by Grade 8 or 9, either helping their mothers and fathers at home or joining the workforce.
Riddell, who is still sharp as a tack, made the most of his first prom.
In the morning, he got the royal treatment — a clean shave, dressed in his best clothes with a boutonnière on his left pocket.
"I didn’t know what was going on," he joked about the fuss the nurses made getting him ready for the big day.
"They pulled me this way, pulled me that way, get out of here."
In the afternoon, grads from the local high school showed up to get their photos taken with the residents.
While the grads will undoubtedly be up all hours of the night, possibly into the early morning, it’d be hard not to argue the seniors — after a fun-filled day, followed by a good sleep, only in the afternoon — didn’t have as much fun.
When asked if he’s going to behave, Riddell fired back, "Why would I do that?"
"They’re going to bring all these women in here and then she tells them ‘He’s 100 years old,’" Riddell said, pointing to the care home’s recreation director Dana Routledge.
"He doesn’t look a day over 90," Routledge joked back.
It was her idea to host the prom.
"It’s a big day with graduation in Hamiota," she said. "None of them ever graduated and it seemed like the perfect thing to do."
The staff and community jumped on board straight away.
Staff members wore prom dresses from many moons ago, some with large ribbons others sequin and one that had a detachable skirt that changed into a one-piece hot pants.
It was all part of a day designed to give 30 seniors something they never got when they were younger.
"Life still happens here, and it’s important for people to know that," Routledge said.
» Twitter: @CharlesTweed
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 26, 2014