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BOONE LIFE: Life at Oak Towers

It’s more than just a residence. It’s a community fo people age 50 and older.
Sunday, April 22, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:46 p.m. CST, Monday, February 9, 2009
“We used to mow lawns together,” said Robert Wainscott, left. He and Carl Richardson grew up together on the same street in Fayette. “The first time I saw him I was riding my bicycle,” Richardson said. “My family was too poor for a bicycle,” Wainscott said. The two live in adjacent apartments inside Oak Towers. Things have changed since then, they say. “People were friendly back then,” Wainscott said. “You don’t hardly know your next-door
neighbor now.”

     

Mike Palmer sits inside his apartment at Oak Towers holding a picture of himself when he was 25 years old. Palmer is known as a jokester: A sign on his door reads, “No rides, insurance reasons.” “I put that up there as a joke,” he said, explaining that he wouldn’t allow anyone to ride on his motorized wheelchair. “I must be a people person,” Palmer said. “Since I lived in here, I like it.”
Marty Kracht stuffs his cream wafers into his pocket and takes off on his new bike he got from a donations agency. “I go shopping, sometimes to visit friends... the mall,” he said. This time, he said he was going to find some money to buy cigarettes. “I’m having a hard time... no money.”
Duarley Gettis smokes a cigarette outside Oak Towers on April 15. Gettis got the room mostly because of a disability. “I feel relaxed,” Gettis said in a mumble. “I love it here. I find it more peaceful than livin’ at Paquin. It’s a family-like community here.”
Edward Bailey smokes a cigarette inside his apartment at Oak Towers, which is on north Garth Avenue, on April 12. Bailey has lived in the complex for two years.
He has milled around in Miami and Tennessee, sailed in the Caribbean and did less than a year in prison. “I wanted a change,” he said. “You get old and you get tired. The streets ain’t everything.”
Gerald Lewis’ apartment inside the Oak Towers apartment complex is decorated with photos of family and friends. Lewis’ apartment stays at a swampy 85 degrees. “Most of the time, I walk around here in the nude,” he said. Lewis added that the thick socks are more for foot support than warmth. He acts as treasurer for the complex and unofficial ambassador.
Kay Bolin attempts to kiss Gerald Lewis outside Oak Towers on April 10. “He’s my cut-up buddy,” Bolin said about Lewis, who has a reputation for his sense of humor. Bolin has lived at Oak Towers for a year and said she enjoys it. “People here are like my family,” she said. “We all try to look after each other.”

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