Care One resident Nancy Osborn raises her hand for a military salute to CDR Tracie Smith-Yeoman, USN (ret) when the Senior Naval Instructor at MAST at Sandy Hook, stopped at the King James to chat with veterans.
MIDDLETOWN – It’s been decades since Nancy Osborn served in the United States Navy, but when this nonagenarian saw a female military officer in uniform, it didn’t stop her from smiling broadly and from her wheelchair, saluting the Navy Commander who simply stopped to say hello and thank her for her service.
This quiet spoken, genial lady who hails from Newark is now a resident of the King James at Care One facility on Route 36, and recalls the two years she spent as a teletype operation for the Navy in Philadelphia and New York during the war. She had enlisted, she recalls, because it seemed the right thing to do at a time the military needed both men and women. Besides, employment in the civilian sector was more difficult to find and joining the Navy added the promise of a bit of adventure.
Nor was Nancy the only one in her family to serve. Of her five brothers, three served in the Army, one in the Marine Corps, and a fifth was deferred because of poor eyesight. “But they all came home safely,” she explains, smiling and reminiscing about an earlier century.
Her own time in the military was fun, interesting, and while she worked around the clock, fascinating. The operators were housed at the Benjamin Franklin Hotel in Philadelphia at one time, she recalls, because they were serving on call and had to be ready on a minute’s notice.
A creative lady with a natural artistic talent, Nancy also studied art at the Academy of Arts in Newark, favoring charcoal and oil, though she also drew people and her unique designs in other forms of art as well. Although she was excellent in her artistry and creativity, Nancy said she never pursued art as a profession, simply for enjoyment.
After the war, Nancy went back to civilian life in November, 19345, and got a job in a health food store, staying in the industry for 35 years. Her position with the Olive May health food store in East Orange left her with lifelong healthy habits, expanded knowledge about the effects of diet on everyday life, and a life style that to this day keeps her healthy as well as a wealth of information on the right things to eat, the impact of starches and sugars on the body, and the importance of drinking water and eating green leafy vegetables.
Olive May was started in 1924 by two sisters and is regarded as the first health food store in New Jersey. A physician whose office was across the street from the store often sent his patients to Olive May to purchase kale in pill forms. “It always seemed to solve their problems, no matter what they were,” Nancy recalls. The store is still thriving in East Orange today, and employees there have their own stories about Nancy’s dedication to her job and her knowledge of its products.
“You can always see it in their faces and hands,” Nancy says softly. “Just by looking at a person’s hands, I was able to tell what was bothering them. These parts of the body tell a lot about the overall condition of the person.”
Even in today’s busy world, which Nancy now only observes from her residence at the Route 36 facility, the learned lady has tips for better health. “You should never have two foods that grow underground on the same plate,” she advises, which puts an end to carrots and mashed potatoes at dinner. “And you should always have a leafy vegetable on the plate,” which speaks a lot for that kale, or spinach or lettuce varieties, hot or cold. Another hint from a very healthy lady. “Eat Romaine lettuce every day to prevent viruses.” The healthy senior citizen also suggests drinking water a lot of water and eating green leafy vegetables every day, because “the chlorophyll in them is liquid sunshine. And that’s also necessary.”
But the wisdom of modern day philosopher Nancy Osborn extends far beyond the dietary tips, although it is aligned with them. “Too much starch is no good, because starch turns to sweets and sweets to fat,” she admonishes, saying she was 75 years old before she learned that. Then Nancy adds, with a knowing smile, something else she has learned throughout her life, “You should never harbor negative thoughts.”