It’s lunchtime in the community room at Linda Vista’s Bayside Community Center, and at Table One, old friends take their regular seats.
Jim Turner, 90, gnaws into an orange slice. Lucille Sampson, 85, pulls apart a roll. Helen Contine, who won’t say her age, scoops up a kidney bean from her salad.
They eat quietly, for the most part.
They have been coming to the Bayside Community Center for years. They eat an inexpensive meal five days a week, “which is nice, because I cook less now,” Sampson says. But mostly, they come for each other’s company. They don’t have to say much. They know each other so well. They have watched each other age.
Contine looks to the ground and notices a piece of food that escaped Turner’s tray. “You’ve got something on your shoe,” she says. He looks down and nods, then returns to his orange.
They all have stories. Sampson was a lifelong housewife, except for a year contributing to the war effort in the 1940s. Contine’s husband was a TV repairman, and she helped him adjust the wires and tubes. Turner was a riveter on aircraft. Across the round folding table, the newest member, Maria Sanchez, is an immigrant from Mexico.