Wanted at White Birches Retirement Residence: dance partners for 101-year-old Minerva Boran.
The resident has become a social media star after White Birches employee Jean Robinson posted a video clip of Boran dancing to Elvis Presley’s “Blue Suede Shoes” on Facebook. In less than a week, the video has been viewed more than one million times.
“I just like the movement,” said Boran, who lets her feet do most of the talking.
Whether it’s in the common room at White Birches, or at Dick’s Jamboree, which the residents attend regularly, once the music starts she does not need any convincing to get up and move.
“When we do have music here, some of the ladies love to get up,” said activity director Cathy Wilson. “But Minerva is up for every dance. She wears me out.”
This comes as no surprise to her nephew, Bill Spence, who said she “loves to party.” His wife, Ruth, said Minerva has always been the social butterfly of the family, and is known by all of her nephews as their “senior teenager.”
“We’re not allowed to have a family gathering without her, and they would be pretty empty if she wasn’t there,” she said.
Born and raised in Springhill, Boran attended Normal College in Truro in 1932, after which she returned to Springhill to teach elementary school. From 1943-45 she served as a member of the Canadian Women’s Army Corps until the end of the Second World War, when she attended Acadia University and received her masters degree in education.
She taught school in the Kentville/Wolfville area, and also spent two years teaching near London, England, later becoming a school principal in Kentville. During those years she traveled the world, visiting Asia, Africa and Europe.
She never married or had children, which she claims is one of the reasons for her longevity, according to Wilson. She has always enjoyed reading and music, and is a diehard Star Trek fan.
She retired from her career as an educator in 1980, but remained in Kentville until 1992, when she moved back to Springhill. Mrs. Spence recalled many gatherings at the family cottage, where Boran would drive there herself, all 4’11” of her, and be the life of the party at the age of 80.
“It would be time for her to leave, and she’d be sitting up straight in her car, with the pedal to the metal,” she said. “We would just say, ‘Lord, take her home safe’.”
For the past six years Boran has resided at White Birches, where she is a delight to the staff and other residents.
Music is a big part of their life at the retirement home, according to Wilson.
“A lot of these ladies say they’re too old for exercise, but if you put music on, they don’t even realize it but you’ll see their hands going, their feet going, even in the chairs they are moving,” she said. “It keeps them active. Music is really good for them.”
They play a variety of music, including gospel, but it is the rock and roll that usually gets Boran up on the dance floor. The only complaint is a lack of male dance partners.
Boran couldn’t decide on her favourite song to dance to.
“I just don’t know the names of the pieces,” said Boran. “But whatever is nice and makes you move.”
Elvis is always a hit, as was evident in Robinson’s video.
“She is always up dancing, and I think she should be noticed for what she does for her age,” said Robinson. “Not too many people at 101 can dance.”
Boran has seen the video, and does not mind all the attention it has received.
She shows no signs of slowing down, getting up to dance during a recent reporter’s visit.
“I feel pretty good,” she said. “I feel good everyday.”