Don’t Fence Him In
Arthur Baum loves his independence at The Birches at Saugerties, although convenience and security are close seconds when he lists the reasons why he likes living here. Baum has lived on the campus for about seven years. Previously, he spent time living with his daughter and her family after moving out of his Samsonville home.
The former full-time pianist at the old Fallsview Resort Hotel in Ellenville, Baum’s fondest memories during his 32-year tenure were his interactions with guests. “I became friendly with many of the guests,” he recalled. “It was a pleasure to talk to them.”
“When I played one particular tune, my signature song, there would be dozens of people dancing on the floor. Even if they didn’t know the song, they knew the second line of the song and they’d always sing it: ‘Don’t fence me in.’ It was spontaneous.” And at The Birches at Saugerties, Baum isn’t “fenced in.”
Baum, 78, still considers himself ‘in recovery mode’ from a stroke about five years ago. “So I like the idea that my unit is all on one floor; that’s very good,” he said. “When I go outside, I’m outside without taking any steps, which matters to me, because my independence is so important.”
“My daughter shops for me,” said Baum. “I don’t drive. An aide comes in three times a week and helps with cleaning and cooking. It’s so much easier when she’s here. On an average day, I’m at the computer or by the TV or reading.” During the winter months, Baum stays inside for the most part. But in the warmer weather, Baum said he’s happy to walk around outside. “I’d like to get out a little bit more,” he added, “but I do have some balance issues.”
Baum said he’s most happy when he has a chance to see his family. His daughter lives only five minutes away and his son is 40 minutes. “The greatest pleasures in my life are my granddaughters,” said Baum. “They’re beauties, all of them, and a pleasure to talk to. One’s 20, another is 23 and another is 26.”
But he’s also happy that he picked The Birches at Saugerties as his place of residence. Birchez Associates developed Saugerties, three other affordable senior housing communities in Ulster County, and the latest in Schoharie County to rival the quality of retirement communities built to rent at market rates.
“I’m very glad to be here,” added Baum. “I’d tell people that the place is convenient, the surroundings are pretty and nice. They are fair and good to everyone who lives here.”And I do hope to play the piano again, once my hand gets better.” Yes, “Play it again, Art!”