(photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
"Something's always going on around here," Cecil Shelby, Wendell resident, said. "If you get bored, you can almost always come to the community room or lobby. Someone's always here. And if not, just wait. They'll come."
It's at the community room where puzzles are put together, board or card games are played and gossip is shared. Bible studies take place every Wednesday at 2 p.m., and occasionally the residents will come together, usually for a birthday, and have a potluck dinner.
Sometimes during an intense game of Aggravation, a little bickering might take place, but it's all in good, clean fun, 83-year-old Shelby assured. "We get aggravated sometimes," he laughed. "But that's the name of the game."
Wendell Apartments were built in July 1982. The Sikeston Housing Authority manages the 75-unit apartment building for its owner, Senior Citizens Bootheel Inc. in Sikeston.
Bobby Henry, executive director of Sikeston Housing Authority, thinks part of the reason the apartments are so popular with the elderly is because it's such a secure building.
"Only residents with keys are allowed to enter the building at night because the doors are locked (at 5 p.m.)," Henry said. "And there's a sprinkler system in case of a fire. Another plus is it was built to the existing earthquake standards."
For Pauline Tisdel, who's been a Wendell resident since 1982, it's other things that make the apartments so well-liked. "There are good things and there are bad things," she said. "But there are more good than bad."
Tisdel, 83, likes the fact her neighbors are so friendly, and the mail is delivered to her front door each day. She really doesn't have any complaints, she said, although there is a cracked window she would like to see replaced.
Something else that's handy for residents is the Sikeston Senior Center is next door. The nutrition center has daily meals, and for those who can't get out, like Tisdel, the Meals on Wheels program delivers them a hot lunch five days a week.
Tisdel doesn't drive anymore so something that she's gotten a kick out of over the years is listening to residents complain about someone "stealing" their parking spot.
"Nobody is assigned a specific parking spot," Tisdel said. "We all have access to every spot, but sometimes people get attached to a certain spot, and if they leave and come back -- and someone's in their spot -- well, they don't like that."
And then there's the fire alarm issue. Within the apartments, it has become expected for a fire alarm to go off at least once a day. In fact, a majority of the residents have accidentally sounded the alarm, prompting the fire and police departments to respond to the scene.
It happened to Tisdel once when she overcooked a sweet potato in the microwave. It was really embarrassing, she said.
Most of the residents insist it's easy to set the alarm off, especially when cooking. There are fans above the stove, but sometimes people forget to turn them on when cooking. A little smoke will set off the alarms, she said.
Everybody here is beginning to get older, Tisdel said. Some are sick and stay in there rooms, and others are well and on the go all the time, she explained.
After Willie Lee Duke, 87, lost her husband, she decided to move into the new apartment building over on Cresap Street. It seemed like the right thing to do since Duke's daughter lived in Sikeston. Twenty years later, Duke still lives in the apartments, and after all this time, she doesn't have one complaint about her residence.
"I like my apartment," Duke said. "I like the people here, and Mr. (Bobby) Henry's a nice guy."
Although Shelby's only been living at Wendell a little over year, he couldn't be happier about his living conditions.
"We're one big family," Shelby said. "It's a good place to live."