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The Arlene chronicles

A life in 25 albums and counting

Created date

November 6th, 2015
Arlene poses with her Photo albums

When she was 25, Arlene Hetrick began collecting information about her parents, her grandparents, and her family history. She stored it in a plastic container and added to her collection through the years.

It wasn’t until she moved from nearby Kennett Square to Maris Grove, Erickson Living’s retirement community in Delaware County, Pa., that Arlene found time to turn her collection into albums of family photos and neatly typed genealogy.

She’s still at it. Her home at Grove holds at least 25 albums that contain memories and mementoes of people she’s met, places she’s visited, and activities she’s been involved in. 

Keeping track 

Arlene and her late husband were among Maris Grove’s early residents, and they helped start the community’s train club. 

He was a model railroad enthusiast with a basement full of trains, says Arlene. In fact, the Hetricks were married on the scenic railway train that runs between Unionville and West Chester, Pa.

When they moved in 2007, Maris Grove had nowhere near the 180-plus groups and activities it boasts today. But the community resources team was there to partner with residents in launching special-interest groups.

“Everyone pitched in to start the train club,” says Arlene. Some residents donated their train sets, “And we had residents who were engineers, carpenters, electricians. They helped design the layout and did the electrical work.” 

When the club was firmly established, Arlene returned to her chronicles. She started compiling a customized album for each of her six grandchildren.

She’s put together an album or two every year since. And except for two train club albums, these are just for her.

One of Arlene’s albums highlights her long affiliation with Kennett Fire Company No. 1. As an active member of the company, she helped provide food and beverages to fire crews on the job at accidents or active fires. 

Later, as a member of the fire police, she was on call any hour or in any type of weather for efforts such as directing traffic around fires and accident scenes or searching for lost children.

Island of calm

Arlene leads a less challenging life now, which means she has more time for her albums and other pastimes she enjoys.

She works on her albums and crochets for the Blanket Circle, which donates blankets to Project Linus. 

A woodshop member, she crochets inserts for doll cradles crafted by other members. 

And she dotes on her pride and joy, a large dollhouse perpetually decorated in holiday  finery. It reigns in the great room of Arlene’s one-bedroom apartment home.

The only things that disturb her these days are evening news reports, but they also make her grateful she lives at Maris Grove. 

Maris Grove is an island of calm, says Arlene: “When you come through the entrance gate, you know you’re safe.”