April 2, 2007

Resident finds happiness in local nursing home

By Kelsey Linden
Staff Writer

Happily greeting his friends as he wheels on by, Ray Knapp is more than glad to be at the Golden Living Center in Delano, as he looks back on his life over the years and smiles.

Knapp has been living at the nursing home for three years, but before, he had lived at home in Rockford for 30 years with his wife, Marietta.

When asked how he felt about leaving his home, he replied, “It’s only six miles away, but it’s always harder being away from home.”

Knapp was happy to report that his wife visits often, and that even though he hasn’t even seen his home for some time, he is still happy to be at the nursing home.

As far as activities go, Knapp enjoys gardening, playing bingo, and he especially likes being the caller for bingo every Saturday.

He also likes to work with leather, but just recently, he has almost loss the use of his hands, so it is hard for him to do as much as he would like to do.

At the moment, he is unaware as to why his hands are the way they are, but he has been regularly seeing the doctor for treatment.

Before the dysfunction of his hands, Knapp touched on the story about his legs, which is the reason he is living at the nursing home.

“Three years ago, I got a sore on my left leg which got so bad, they had to take it, and then a year ago in February, they took the right one because I got a blister on the heel, and it just got bigger and bigger,” he said.

Trailing back to the early years in Knapp’s life, he said he grew up on a farm in northern Minnesota near Verndale. Up in the northern region of Minnesota, the farm life was far from easy, but to Knapp, it was a way of life.

“There was always something to be done,” he said with a smile.

Knapp agrees that he learned the importance of having a good work ethic on the farm and, like any farm, there were lots of animals.

“We had them all,” he said about the animals he took care of.

He moved to Columbia Heights when he was in the seventh grade, and during his years in high school, he played softball in summer and wrestled in the winter.

After graduating from Columbia Heights High School, Knapp worked in the machine shop for a few years, and after a several other odd jobs, he enlisted in the US Army, and served in Korea for three years.

Knapp never wanted to go to college. When asked why, he said he just had no desire for it.

Laughing, he added, “All they do is party for two years, and then they try and figure out what they want to do for the next two.”

Knapp took a two-year course at Dunwoody, and influenced his son, Trevor, to go to trade school instead of college.

“If you really want to do something, go to trade school because you really got to know what you are going to do,” he said. “It’s a hard school to get into, and the first three months are designed to flunk you out.”

It was clear that he found most of his enjoyment in life working in a machine shop, making parts, and also doing mechanic work.

Over his years of working, Knapp said he felt privileged to make rocketship parts for NASA.

“We were told the parts were going to be used for rockets they were shooting off,” he said.

At 65 years old, Knapp had little to say about how life has changed over time, but he did emphasize how technology has amazed him.

“I remember on the farm when they put out the electric poles, and we still used lanterns. The first telephone we had was the old crank phone and we hadn’t had television til the ‘50s,” he said.

“When I started working at the grocery store, I was making 50 cents an hour,” he said. “Everything has gotten more expensive, but that’s just the way it goes.”

Nowadays in Delno at this stage of his life, Knapp keeps busy.

“Three days a week, I have to go in for dialysis, and then on Wednesdays and Fridays, I go in for therapy. I’m busy. I’m either here or at the hospital,” he said.

However, no matter where life may lead Knapp, he is happy to be in the nursing home.

“This is as close to being home as you’re going to get. This is a good place to be. If you have to go to a nursing home, it’s a good place to be. They help us. If you got a problem or something, they get right on it,” he said.

“I really like it here,” he said. Knapp has made lots of friends over these past three years and agrees that he would not be who he is today without them.

Offering advice for younger folks, Knapp said, “It’s tough. Just figure out what you want to do and go for it. It’s just experience. What goes around, comes around.”

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