"Margaret, come take dictation," the military commander said.
"My name is Peggy," replied Peggy Rachford, responding to her boss while working during World War II as a secretary at a military base in New Jersey.
He continued to call her Margaret; she ignored him.
"Come take dictation ... Peggy," he finally said.
"I rushed up and took that letter, and he never called me Margaret again," Peggy recalled with a laugh.
Now living at Claremont Manor, the spirited and adventurous resident tells the story with pride. It’s one of many tales from her life she’s written about and published in a book for her family, a memoir titled, “Peggy, Not Margaret.”
Her birth name is indeed just Peggy and not Margaret (her father liked the song "Peg O' My Heart"). She penned the memoir 10 years ago. Although she hasn't published a sequel, she's continued to write stories about her family history that she turns into books, with covers she makes herself. She then gives them to the "youngsters" in her family -- five children, 12 grandchildren, and a few great-grandchildren -- as gifts.
Writing about her full, vibrant life is just one of Peggy’s passions she continues to enjoy at Claremont Manor. Another is staying active. For five years, she taught a weekday 30-minute exercise class. She signed up as a student, but the gentleman who taught the class was so impressed with her prowess and enthusiasm that after a few months he invited her to take over. She calls herself "an eager walker," who has logged countless miles on Claremont Manor's meandering walking paths and throughout the quiet neighborhood that surrounds the campus.
In high school in Iowa, she played basketball on a championship team, was a catcher on the softball team and an avid tennis player. She did all of this while maintaining a high grade point average, which lead her to graduate third in her class at age 15.
"My entire life, anytime someone suggested an activity, I was usually game," Peggy said. "It's no different here at Claremont Manor. There is no shortage of activities here and I am anxious to try them all."
Peggy is proud of her family’s musical roots, which she celebrates as a singer in Claremont Manor’s choir - as a tenor, which is unusual, because women usually sing alto or soprano. A traveling choir she used to sing with, performed at Claremont Manor twice before she lived there herself.
With a full schedule, Peggy continues to enjoy the freedom and opportunities that come with Claremont Manor. And although she no longer teaches the exercise class, she was happy to mentor a fellow resident in becoming the new instructor.
“I’m seldom sitting around in my apartment,” she said. “What for? There’s so much to enjoy at Claremont Manor.”
Peggy said she wouldn’t mind teaching something else at Claremont Manor and is looking forward to “lots more adventures. If I find something I like to do, I do it.”
And teach it, and write about it.
About Claremont Manor
Claremont Manor is an eclectic Claremont senior living community surrounded by lush gardens where both intellect and spirt thrive. Offering four levels of care including Claremont assisted living, Claremont independent living, memory care and skilled nursing and rehabilitation, Claremont Manor Retirement Community is senior living at its best.
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