Wednesday, May 18, 2011


My dear friend Martha Hoffman died at age 96. We became friends through the Arthritis Foundation's Water Exercise Program at The Fitness Center. Martha was nearly blind and hard-of-hearing, but she always recognized my voice and told me how much she appreciated the fact that I could "project" my voice so she could hear the instructions. She was well-informed, quick-witted and a delight to have in class. As the Instructor, I had songs to accompany the exercises. Martha would suggest different songs, usually prefacing her remarks by saying, "You're probably too young to remember this one." One time I started the "Side Step" exercise to which I usually sang "Side By Side"; Martha asked, "How about singing "Steppin' Out With My Baby"?" I immediately started singing:

"Steppin' out with my baby,
Can't go wrong 'cause I'm in right,
It's for sure, not for maybe,
That I'm all dressed up tonight."

Martha laughed and said, "You're older than I thought." When I said, "That's an Irving Berlin song," she answered, "NOW I know you're really old!"

I usually sang "Zippedy Do Dah" to the Zipper exercise, but I had been thinking about my mother singing "Good Morning, Mr. Zip, Zip, Zip" and I sang that instead. Martha asked, "Just how old are you?" I said, "My mother used to sing it to us to wake us!" Martha was one year younger than my mother. Another friend, Lee Reno recalled that her mother also sang it to her! I learned from the Internet that it was a song from World War I.

My favorite memory of Martha: another woman at the pool was talking about her various ailments and she said, very dramatically, that she couldn't wait to die and would be happy to receive her "glorified body"; Martha turned to me, and in a sotto voce voice said, "I can wait--how about you?"

Martha Haas was born June 6, 1914, in Lancaster, OH; she married Tracy Hoffman and moved to Washington C.H. in 1939; preceding her in death were her husband Tracy, her son Dr. James Hoffman, her grandaughter Tracy Hoffman, her brother Bernard Haas and her sister Eileen Smith. Martha worked at the Aeronautical Products Company during World War II while her husband served in the Navy. After the war, she operated a drapery, upholstery and alterations shop for more than ten years. She began going to college after her children were in school and graduated from Ohio University and taught Elementary Education at Bel Aire School for eighteen years. She loved to travel and until her sight failed, she loved photography and had marvelous photographs of her world travels.

RIP, dear Martha!

1 comment:

Mona Lisa said...

"sotto voce"? You keep enlarging my vocabulary. But how can I work that into a normal conversation?