Beautiful music together

Earlier this month, the faith group Worldwide Marriage Encounter recognized a husband and wife in Fairfield, Conn., as the country’s “longest married” couple.

The New York Daily News and other media ran stories about the honor and the couple’s 80th anniversary.

The fine print says the award goes to the longest-married couple among those nominated.

Next year, we know who to nominate.

A reader alerted us to longtime Lancaster residents Marlo and Cleta Schermerhorn, who were married June 29, 1932, five months before the Connecticut couple.

Marlo, who taught music in the Lancaster School District, and the former Cleta Dromgoole, who taught music at Amherst Middle School, met in 1928 as students at Ithaca College.

Their honeymoon was a monthlong drive out West in a Model T Ford, passing a still-under-construction Mount Rushmore and stopping in Los Angeles, according to a profile in the IC View magazine, which identified the Schermerhorns as the college’s oldest alumni.

The Schermerhorns, both 102, moved from Lancaster to an assisted living facility in Dalton, Mass., a couple of years ago to be closer to their son, Pete, and his family.

The secret of their long marriage?

“Mom always gives the same answer,” Pete told us. “Mutual respect.”

A couple of hot topics

Lee Chowaniec regularly attends town and school board meetings in Lancaster, where he scrutinizes public documents and offers thoughtful observations during public comment periods.

So at the last school board meeting, when Chowaniec commented on the sparse public attendance, board member Patrick Uhteg seized on Chowaniec’s demonstrated interest in district affairs.

Uhteg suggested Chowaniec run for a school board seat.

“You’re here anyway,” Uhteg said.

“I’m too old,” the 76-year-old Chowaniec replied.

Other board members joined the impromptu lobbying campaign.

“Just move your seat,” said Wendy Buchert, speaking from the table for board members and district officials that faces the audience.

“Face this way instead of that way,” added Brenda Christopher.

Chowaniec again begged off, saying board elections are for the young.

Besides, he’s not missing many perks on his side of the table. The temperature in the middle school auditorium that night matched his response to the board members’ suggestion: cool.

Some board members complained about a state legislator’s suggestion that school districts cut out “luxuries” from their budgets.

“We gave up the luxuries – no heat,” Board Vice President Marie MacKay quipped.

On closer inspection

Count on East Aurora officials to find humor amid confrontation.

Roycroft collector Boice Lydell, who owns the rundown Stockhouse on the Roycroft campus, engaged in a back-and-forth with village officials about when improvements to the building will begin.

The matter seemed calm for a while, but when the board asked Lydell to permit the village’s engineer to inspect the interior for structural safety, Lydell dug in his heels – insisting his engineer’s satisfactory report should suffice.

“This sounds like absolute hogwash to not allow a structural engineer in there,” Village Trustee Randy West told Lydell.

When Lydell continued balking, Trustee Ernest Scheer pointed out that anyone could pay anyone to say something favorable about them.

“I could pay someone to tell me I’m good looking,” Scheer said.

Trustee Kevin Biggs, who sits a few seats away from Scheer, took a quick look at him, and objected.

“I don’t know about that,” he said.

By Patrick Lakamp with contributions from Stephen P. Watson and Karen Robinson.