Five years ago, a woman walked into Reel Pro Video in downtown Batavia with a paper bag full of audiotape.
Little did Richard LaVoy know that it was going to be the start of what would end up being his fondest memory in 35 years of operating the video, photo and audio restoration shop.
"It looked like spaghetti, there was tape all over," said LaVoy, who revealed at a recent Batavia Chamber of Commerce event commemorating Reel Pro Video's longevity that he was retiring and turning the business over to his son Brian.
"She asked if we could convert it to a CD, and I told her there was no way we could do it -- and she started to cry," LaVoy recalled.
Then Brian came out of the backroom and said he could at least try.
"Brian is the expert at restoration," LaVoy said. "I never asked her how the tape got so destroyed."
He later found out that the tape was a recording from the woman's fiancé from back when he was deployed in Vietnam. Soldiers stationed there on occasion sent audiotapes home to update their families.
The fiancé was killed shortly after sending the tape, and after all these years, the woman determined she finally wanted to hear it.
LaVoy and his son spent three hours flattening and rerolling the tape on a cassette.
"We didn't know if we had it spooled upside down, or backward or what," LaVoy said. "We had one chance to play it and convert it to a CD, and it turned out that we captured pretty much everything this man said."
Upon getting the CD back and playing it, the woman called in tears to thank LaVoy for the effort.
"Brian and I probably felt better than she did about it," LaVoy said. "We felt like a million bucks for helping her with that."
It's a great memory for an 81-year-old fellow who has more than 50 years of doing business in Batavia under his belt.
LaVoy opened Plaza Liquors in the Batavia Plaza in 1962 when it first opened with a Ben Franklin store and then a Colonial restaurant.
He opened a Laundromat right next to the liquor store about 10 years later. He sold both a few years later, "retired" for a year, and then opened Reel Pro Video 35 years ago.
Helps the brain:
An item in a health magazine caught my eye when it noted that ballroom dancing was one of the best activities for brain health. In other words, learning new dance steps and keeping them locked into memory was an excellent way for seniors to thwart off dementia.
Now, a note from the Fred Astaire Dance Studios is telling me the same thing, citing a New England Journal of Medicine study that says ballroom dancing led to a 76 percent risk reduction in dementia.
November is Alzheimer's Awareness Month, so it seemed like a great time to mention this. Plus, I greatly enjoy dancing when the opportunity presents itself.
We have a Fred Astaire studio on the east side of St. Charles, Nelson Dance Center on the west side, and Vargo's Dance studio in downtown Geneva, as well as area park district programs. They are all good options for seniors to get better balance and give their brains a nice workout.
Just one bite:
In the past month, I have mentioned my fondness for doughnuts at both Dunkin' Donuts and Dimple's Donuts stores in the Tri-Cities.
Truth be told, for the longest time I really couldn't eat doughnuts, as there was something about how they are made -- that would be the grease -- that bothered my stomach a bit.
So, I discovered a way to get around that. I eat just a small piece of the doughnut at a time, so a single doughnut can last me a few days. Of course, it takes some freshness out of the equation, but it still tastes good to me.
It's also not a bad approach for the various other foodstuffs I write about that would generally not be considered good for you on a frequent basis -- cookies, pizza, Italian beef sandwiches, etc. Basically, it is best to not go overboard in terms of consuming this stuff.
Readers who have never met me in person are inclined to think, based on what I write about, that I am a jolly old fellow toting around a couple hundred pounds or more. That is not the case. In boxing parlance, I'd be a welterweight.
Another free supper:
St. Patrick Catholic Church near downtown St. Charles is joining the list of area churches offering a community dinner to area residents.
St. Patrick's first one is set for 5 to 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 18, in the Father Carse Center at the church at 400 Cedar St.
Like the other events in the Tri-Cities, this dinner is designed to attract those who would benefit from a free meal and companionship, but everyone is invited to attend. Donations are accepted at the event.
The dinners will be offered every third Monday of the month.
Having taken my mother-in-law to the Third Tuesday Suppers at Geneva United Methodist Church for about five years before her passing, I know firsthand how important and effective these types of events are for those who otherwise wouldn't get out too often.