Off Beat: Friends reunite after story

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian Arts & Features Reporter



It’s hard to say just where Annetta Houseman has gone, on the inside.

On the outside, she can be found at Angelbrook Senior Living, a dementia care home, which is where The Columbian met her for a profile published last month in our series about caregivers.

She’s the woman who appeared on our front page, suddenly feeling youthful and zesty, twisting her blues away to Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock.”

Music often penetrates the dementia barrier. No matter where you’ve gone, on the inside, there’s something about the emotional tug of a beloved tune that connects, even rejuvenates. (Look no further than the late Glen Campbell, whose musical ability remained even as his mind declined with Alzheimer’s disease.)

It’s the same with old friends. When Marvel Pischer saw her childhood pal on the front page, she contacted Angelbrook Senior Living and arranged to visit.

Houseman and Pischer attended Portland’s James John Grammar School and Roosevelt High School together, but it’s been many decades since they saw one another.

Houseman’s daughter, Darlene Crunican, wrote by email: “Mom was able to remember many of the names and enjoyed seeing the pictures, but Marvel is much higher-functioning than Mom and could remember many more details, including the fact that she was Mom’s brother’s first girlfriend!

“We had some great laughs. It was so fun watching them point out their former classmates and talk about old times,” Crunican said.

The friends, and Crunican, even discovered that some of their children and grandchildren had attended the same churches and schools, and knew one another without ever realizing the earlier connection. “It is indeed a small world,” Crunican said.

“We decided we would all meet for lunch again very soon,” she said. “They had such a nice time.”

Off Beat lets members of The Columbian news team step back from our newspaper beats to write the story behind the story, fill in the story, or just tell a story.