The Write Stuff: Independent Living at Ginger Cove

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Residents of Ginger Cove Retirement CommunityWhen entering Ginger Cove, a continuing care community nestled along scenic Gingerville Creek in Annapolis, you may be tempted to step into the handsome library where any genre can be enjoyed in front of the fireplace. Do not be surprised, however, if you find among the well-stocked shelves the literary work of a resident: Ginger Cove is home to five published authors.

From memoirs of vacations past to a standard naval reference, the work of these individuals showcases their experiences, wisdom and talents. Most importantly, they exemplify how residents of Ginger Cove stay active intellectually while enjoying the perks of retirement.

How do they feel about their literary accomplishments? Perhaps Thea Lindauer summed it up best for the group when she said, “I’m cautiously optimistic, but I’m on cloud nine.”

And they have every right to be. Thea’s recently published memoir, There Must Be an Ocean Between Us, relates her experiences as a one of a thousand children brought to the U.S. from Europe in 1934, ostensibly for “an experiment in education.” In reality, she was among the first of the Kindertransports, now known as A Thousand Children, Inc., which brought children to safety from Nazi Germany.

In preparing for her move to Ginger Cove, Thea rediscovered the letters her father wrote to her during that period, and rereading them inspired her to share her story.

“Writing this book has become my life now, and all the traumas I should’ve gone through when I was a child, happened in the last three years of reliving it,” she said.

Thea has a long history in cultural arts, having served as President of the Annapolis Opera and being the recipient of honors from the State of Maryland and the Anne Arundel County Arts Commission.

“The education I received in all the arts as a child is what stimulated me and fostered my tremendous interest in the arts,” she said.

Thea moved to Ginger Cove with her late husband, Harry, in 2001. “Ginger Cove has opened up a new world of family relationships, a closeness I have never before experienced,” said Thea.

Retired Navy Admiral Bob McNitt proves that being a published author does not require a formal writing background. The former Dean of Admissions for the Naval Academy and recipient of the Academy’s Distinguished Graduate Award realized that as the institution approached its 150th anniversary, one key element of its heritage had never been recorded.

“Having been involved with the offshore sailing program as a midshipman, and later as a coach, I thought it was a good time to write its history,” said Bob.

His published work, Sailing at the U.S. Naval Academy: An Illustrated History, has proved to be a useful standard reference for sailing within the academy.

“One book is about all I have in my system though,” he said, “And that book has done its job.”

Residents of Annapolis for 30 years, Bob and his wife, Pat, watched Ginger Cove grow from its earliest days. In 1998, they happily gave up the care of their large garden and the overall upkeep of their home.

“We were looking for a place where there would be a community of lively, interesting persons we could enjoy spending the rest of our lives with, and we found it here,” said Bob.

Not only did he find others with common interests at Ginger Cove, Bob found an old friend, Jim Winnefeld. Jim, also a retired Navy Admiral and published author, moved to Ginger Cove with his wife, Fredda, in 2002, and is grateful for making the decision when they did.

“The decision to move from your home of many years is never easy and it is easy to talk yourself into waiting,” said Jim. “You think tomorrow is another day or I’m not going to get older. But then you find out that when the time comes, you probably should have done it earlier.”

Throughout a long writing career that overlapped his naval career, Jim wrote for a nonprofit corporation and was a sports editor. Having recently published two works of fiction, he finds the genre more challenging. He also enjoys writing for Ginger Cove’s resident quarterly publication, Literary Lite, which serves as a creative outlet for those with literary interests and talents.

“It’s great fun to read,” he said, “You find out a lot about your fellow residents, such as what is important to them and how they think.”

His fellow residents, however, also enjoy learning about Jim’s writing style and mindset. Although he keeps his fiction paperbacks, such as To Maine with a Vengeance, supplied in Ginger Cove’s library, they have all but disappeared from the shelves.

“They are somewhere around Ginger Cove,” he said with a laugh, “Trying to find them is like an Easter egg hunt.”

Virginia Pritchett has also enjoyed a warm response from fellow residents with her recently published work, Beautiful Land Across the Waters. A journal of vacation memories enjoyed on Maryland’s Chincoteague and Assateague Islands, the book was launched at a publication party held at Ginger Cove in February 2007.

“I talked to Beth Thomas, director of Resident Services, and she said, ‘We’d love to have it here,'” said Virginia, “It was a wonderful party and I was able to sell my book.”

Virginia began writing poems as a child in Illinois. As time went on, her poetry was published in literary magazines and performed at various venues. She has also published a book of poetry.

Virginia came to Ginger Cove a little over two years ago. “I have found it to be a very stimulating place,” she said, “There are so many opportunities here to cultivate and share your talents.”

And she certainly has been sharing her talent. Having led a ‘Poets Night Out’ group at Barnes & Noble for the past seven years, she plans to start a poetry group at Ginger Cove. Like Jim, she has been a member of the writers group and written for Literary Lite, as well as the residents’ monthly newsletter, The Ginger Cover.

Among Ginger Cove’s group of talented authors, Byron Lee is the newest member, having moved there several months ago.

Byron decided to move after his wife, Donna, passed away and he found that the upkeep of their large home in the country was too much to manage alone. “I really had a hard time coping with the cooking part,” he said with a laugh.

Although he investigated other places, he already knew several people at Ginger Cove and was impressed with its Board of Directors, whom he felt had the residents’ best interests in mind.

“As soon as I could empty and sell my house, I moved here, and haven’t regretted it,” he said, “I’m learning who the people are and I’m making many friends.”

It was the retired naval officer’s successful book on his former historic home, “Parkhurst,” which prompted the Anne Arundel County Historical Society to seek him out to write his latest book, a biography of an early American naval hero.

The work, Naval Warrior: The Life of Commodore Isaac Mayo, turned out to be a bigger job than he had originally thought as he searched through letters and information in Navy Department records and national and state archives. Three years later, the book was completed.

These five individuals prove how following one’s passions can lead to great satisfaction throughout one’s life. And with new opportunities for collaboration, creativity and friendship within the active community that is Ginger Cove, an inviting horizon for these Annapolis residents lies ahead.

As Thea said, “Let’s see where we go from here.”

_The writing life is just one way residents stay active and healthy. The community hosts a robust fitness and activities program, and recently announced expansion and renovation plans that will further enrich living at Ginger Cove. _

_Its new Health and Wellness Center, a project three years in the planning, will expand opportunities for wellness, enhanced amenities, and flexible service programs for residents now and in the future. _

_The Wellness Center will provide expanded space for fitness classes and exercise equipment, multiple indoor pools, and a spa, complete with massage therapy. Adjoining it will be a casual dining room, offering one a choice of indoor or outdoor terrace seating, and additional classrooms to house the residents’ many special interest gatherings. _

_An expanded and renovated Health Center, centered around an outdoor garden and designed to provide a homelike setting, will provide private rooms for all residents with the latest technologies, within the context of four residential “neighborhoods,” each with its own family room and caregiver station. _

_Construction of the project is expected to begin soon. _

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