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VINTAGE VERSE FROM COLD WINTER NIGHTS

Something good has come of Buffalo's last bitter winter.
A collection of verses by Beatrice Haniford called "Elder Berries."

"At night, during the winter, I'd write a verse," said Mrs. Haniford, who is a vital 82. "Then, at 10 o'clock when my daughter called to say good night, I'd read it to her. If she laughed, I'd keep it. If not, I'd throw it out."

"Tears" was one of the keepers.

"You're too old to drive,"

My children said

So I gave my car

To my grandson, Ted.

Soon after

My husband died

I just stayed home

And cried and cried

The family tried to comfort me

But didn't get far

Because I wasn't crying for my husband

I was grieving for my car."

"I absolutely knew someone who did that," said the gracious and friendly woman.

Mrs. Haniford has written all her life -- she was the first woman invited to write for the Capitol Hill Show, a spoof at the Statler Hilton that roasted local politicians and judges. When she retired after 20 years, she was vice president for television at Ellis Advertising.

"I have a box full of plays, children's books and rejection slips," she said.

When she continued to get compliments from friends to whom she'd read the verses "for an evening's entertainment," she decided to try to publish them.

After one rejection, she self-published the small booklet with an initial run of 300.

"I'm in my second printing now," she said, adding that Barnes & Noble bookstores and Jenss gift shop at the Boulevard Mall carry the books.

"Friends have sent them to friends, who've sent them to their friends," she said. "I've gotten letters from Iowa, Michigan, California, Florida."

Most popular are "Senior's Lament," which recounts a mall shopper determined to change her ways and remember where she parked her car. There is a triumphant return to the exact spot where she finds "my keys in my car."

Another is the tale of a grand and exorbitantly priced wedding, which has parents still in debt a year later. It ends: "And life has taken a strange course. We are still paying. My daughter is getting a divorce."

Mrs. Haniford was married to Sidney Haniford, an optometrist, who died five years ago.

"He was the one who taught me to enjoy life so much," she said. Their life together was a round of concerts, sporting events, friends and family.

"I have gobs and gobs of friends," she said, adding quickly, "but you can never have too many."

Now, she walks a mile every day, first thing in the morning. She plays word games. She sees her two children and three grandchildren, all of whom live in Western New York. Then, there's her weekly bridge club, the mahjongg group and the "Sunday Night Supper Club," which has met (on Saturday nights) for more than 50 years and is down from its original eight couples to half that number.

She explains that the club -- as life itself -- has evolved. First, it was everyone contributing something to the meal. Then, the host couple did all the cooking.

"Now," she says with a ready laugh, "we just go out to eat."

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