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Senior Monongalians hosts annual Thanksgiving luncheon

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.

That hymn rode in on a band of dulcimers Tuesday morning at Senior Monongalians.

It threaded just right with the murmur of happy conversation already in the air.

The whole thing gathered together like a homemade quilt from your favorite great-aunt.

A group of music-inclined regulars at the center in the Mountaineer Mall provided the music from the timeless Appalachian instrument.

Joyful conversation, the biggest helping of it, came from the table presided over by Mary Anna Stiltner.

She’s 91, but you wouldn’t know it, which makes her equally timeless.

“Watch out, honey, we like to get rowdy,” she said laughing.

Her father, Nunzio Massullo, was a tailor in Italy who decided to stitch an American dream.

He founded Massullo’s Cleaners on High Street three years before she was born. It’s still here, and she is, too.

Growing up in the family business, she learned how to sew and do everything else. Now, she’s the unofficial crochet queen of Senior Monongalians.

“See those crosses?” she asked, nodding in the direction of a nearby wall. “I did those. And the American flag.”

“She’s always doing something,” said her friend Eloise Bazzle, and she wasn’t talking about the crocheting.

“She’s an instigator,” Bazzle said.

Mary Anna’s buddy has the same delivery as her daughter, Scarlet Bazzle, a Special Olympian who charmed reporters at the USA Summer Games in Seattle last year with her deadpan droll.

Senior Monongalians ladled out second- and third-helpings of the charm Tuesday.

It was the center’s annual Thanksgiving celebration, a time to count one’s blessings while enjoying a full-course turkey dinner prepared by the staff.

“Thanksgiving is about family,” said Debbie Clarke, a Senior Monongalians administrator who helps plan social gatherings at the center.

“That’s what we are,” she said, gesturing around the center.

Family is why Eloise Bazzle came from her native Hampshire County to Morgantown. Another daughter was living here, and she liked the place.

Stiltner, meanwhile, laughed (again) as she talked about her family.

She’s just as much about cooking as crocheting.

She’s famous for her pasta and cabbage rolls and can stitch a whole menu after that.

There is a kitchen caveat, however.

The stove isn’t always accessible to Stiltner, and that’s on purpose.

“They think I’m gonna burn myself,” she said, grinning and shaking her head.

But, she added, echoing Clarke, they’re family.

“Yeah, I’ll take ‘em.”