Life is a journey of accomplishments. Babies are joyful when they stand and take a tiny step forward. The successes continue in varying forms through their teen years, school, work, marriage and having children, and even into their senior years. Can you describe an experience in your life of which you are especially proud?
Several years ago I went to a Halloween ballroom dance in Mt. Kisco, where I saw a man wearing a white jacket with a medal hanging from his neck. I was curious. I thought it might represent a fencing outfit, but I wasn’t sure. He told me the medal was for Pickleball. “What’s that?” I asked since I had never heard of this sport.
When I got home I checked the internet and watched several tournament matches as well as games played by seniors. I discovered there are over 500 venues in New York State hosting games, the nearest being in Yorktown Heights. The Yorktown Recreation Department said it is played in a small park on a specific day and time.
I asked my friend, Rosalie Lee, also a Heritage Hills resident, if she wanted to join me in this investigation. We went, but, alas, we discovered an empty basketball court. When I got home and called the recreation department again, I was told it was moved indoors to the Jefferson Valley Racquet Club.
A few Pickleball games were being played when we got to the club. We rotated in and were taught rudimentary skills and rules. We returned for several weeks, really enjoying the game. When we were introduced to the Ambassador of Pickleball of Northern Westchester, Jim Geary, Rosalie asked him if he would bring a net and equipment and introduce the game to Heritage Hills residents.
When he came to Heritage, Jim faced 60 curious residents who showed up to learn about the game. He returned for several weeks, continuing to teach rules, skills and strategies. Rosalie and I went to the Society and requested and were granted funds to purchase our own net and equipment. Now this game is played here three times a week. The following year four of our players competed in the Connecticut Senior Games, which were held in Ridgefield.
An unexpected and gratifying surprise of bringing Pickleball to Heritage is the popularity of the game within our community.
Ina Becker has lived in Heritage Hills for 19 years. Along with Pickleball, she plays tennis, ping pong and platform tennis. Another hobby is ballroom dancing with a special interest in the Argentine Tango. She has two sons and one granddaughter.
I was born with severe dyslexia. Years ago, it was not diagnosed and I was put in the dumb classes. My answer to all this was to try harder, especially talking with people. I was also good at sports like track and basketball and not afraid of new challenges. In other words, I was a gutsy kid.
During World War II, I joined the Combat Engineers and fought in The Battle of the Bulge under General George Patton. I was among the troops that liberated Buchenwald concentration camp. Ironically, after that, I was wounded by a mortar shell that hit a tree and exploded on my foot and leg causing me to spend seven months in an Army Hospital.
After the war, I had several careers. I joined a multi-million dollar fabric and apparel firm of which I became president. I was affiliated with a group that bought a Staten Island ferryboat called the Miss New York and turned it into a restaurant in Bridgeport. Conn. This led to my opening four specialty food stores in New York City on University Place.
But my main love was theater. It can open you up and even crack through the world you have built for yourself. It stimulates activity in the brain. With a science degree in drama therapy from SUNY, I began acting off-Broadway and teaching acting at the Dramatic Workshop, which is where folks like Marlon Brando and Shelly Winters studied.
With the help of Lee Strasberg, the guru of the method and Stanislavski acting techniques, I acquired the title of artistic director at the Eugene O’Neil Provincetown Playhouse in Rhode Island. Strasberg’s Actor’s Studio also produced my play, “The Common Touch.” At this point in my theatrical journey, I wanted my own theater and acquired The Producers Club on 45th Street and Ninth Avenue, where I produced the works of new playwrights.
I feel that acting is in my blood. Currently, I run improvisation workshops at the Mahopac and Somers Senior Centers. Mary White, the director of the Mahopac center, has said, “Dyke’s workshops offer cognitive, emotional and psychological benefits because it stimulates activity to the brain. Every Friday seniors eagerly await Dyke’s arrival to participate.” I am proud of the work I do.
I thought the “improv” workshops would be a natural for Heritage Hills’ aging population and am beginning a monthly series on June 30 at 7 p.m. in the Game Room.
I may have been put in the dumb classes, but I’ve had many successes. It’s a good thing I was a gutsy kid.
Dyke Kolbert and his wife, Joan, have lived in Heritage Hills for 17 years. They have a daughter and one grandchild. Dyke has been part of the theater community at Heritage Hills for many years. He directed the play, “Tall Paul: The Legend of Paul Bunyan,” written by Skip Reiss, another Heritage Hills resident who passed away.