March 20, 2013

Thelma's Corner provides storytelling outlet

PLATTSBURGH — At 91, Thelma Douglas needed an outlet for the many adventurous stories about her life that friends insisted she tell.

So, Thelma’s Corner, a small storytelling group, was established about six months ago after some convincing from her friend Lee Girard.

Douglas and Girard live at the Samuel F. Vilas Home for senior citizens on Beekman Street, where Thelma’s Corner is held at 3 p.m. most Thursdays in the sun room on the second floor. Anywhere from six to 15 people come each week, Douglas said.


“It started out because friends of mine told residents that they know that I had a lot of good stories, that I had a lot of adventures in my life from when I was very little until I came here,” Douglas said. “I’m still having them.” 

Girard said she has a great appreciation for Douglas’s stories, which often include traveling adventures.

“It made the long winter go by so fast,” Girard said. “With each story each week, she has something to back it up.” 

In the beginning, Douglas shared childhood memories, and then she moved on to times with her family growing up in Niagara Falls, N.Y., her college years, teaching career and trips she made after her retirement. 

“I broke it down, and each week I told part of my life story,” she said.

Douglas, who was a teacher and director of physical education at the Plattsburgh City School District from 1944 until 1976, has pictures and other items from places she has visited stored in her room. Just three years ago, Douglas moved out of a house in Plattsburgh that she had lived in for 50 years. It was difficult to pare down all of the memorabilia that she had accumulated over time to fit into her one room at the Vilas Home, she said.

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