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85 IS SOMETHING TO SMILE ABOUT.

Byline: BETTIE RENCORET Senior columnist

PALMDALE - When Dr. Haldane Cummins came to Palmdale from Pomona to set up a dental practice in December 1949, he became the town's first dentist - and stayed its only one for several years.

A U.S. Army dentist during World War II, Cummins set up practice in a little office on the south side of Palmdale Boulevard between Ninth and 10th Street East - the tiny town's downtown, a half-block from the elementary school.

He rented a house for his family in front of the old Gigliotti Hall.

After he outgrew his first office he built his own building on 12th Street East and moved the family into an adjoining house.

Cummins retired in 1999 after 61 years of dental practice.

``Fifty-six of them were right here in Palmdale,'' he said.

Cummins celebrated his 85th birthday with a surprise party whose guests were mainly his old patients and included local historian Milt Stark and early Antelope Valley Fair manager Mark Marquardt.

``This has really been a great day,'' Cummins said at his party.

Born March 25, 1918, in Alaska, where his father was stationed in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War I, Cummins moved around as a boy with his father's changes of station.

He graduated from the University of Southern California School of Dentistry in 1942 and was called almost immediately into the U.S. Army Medical Corps.

He served on South Pacific islands, including New Guinea.

``We did what we had to do to take care of our patients at that time under less-than-desirable conditions,'' he said.

One of his passions has always been boats. He was building one when he and his current wife, Jean, met. She was a Realtor when she and Cummins met, and they both had grown families.

``After we got to know each other, he told me he wanted to introduce me to three of his loves. Then he took me to meet his sisters, his mother and, finally, his boat,'' she said. ``He was so involved with building that boat that I decided to quit real estate and help him get it finished.''

Last year they brought the 28-foot, power- and sailboat home from its ocean mooring; it now sits in their back yard.

``We've had a lot of fun in that boat,'' Jean said, ``but we couldn't justify the cost of the tie down when we aren't able to use it much anymore. We'll always have memories, though.''

They once pulled the boat on a trailer to Washington state, where they put it in the water and sailed the inland passage up to Ketchikan, Alaska.

``We wanted to go on up to Sitka, where he was born, but we had to give that idea up because of strong winds,'' she said.

The couple will celebrate their 29th anniversary on Oct. 15. Between them they have five children, 13 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Seniors booster Raedell Simon arranged the celebration through the sponsorship of the Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA), Robertson Honda and High Desert Medical Group.

Menus for the week at the senior life nutrition sites in Lancaster, Palmdale and South Valley have been announced. All meals include bread, margarine and coffee, tea or milk for a suggested donation of $2.

Monday: Polish sausage, parsleyed potatoes, cooked cabbage, garden salad, tapioca pudding.

Tuesday: Pinto beans with ham, corn bread, parsleyed carrots, marinated salad, cheesecake.

Wednesday: Beef tips and noodles, broccoli, lettuce and tomato salad, juice, peaches.

Thursday: Turkey and gravy, bread dressing, Normandy vegetables, tossed salad, pineapple juice, Jell-O with fruit.

Friday: Creole chicken or fish fillet, rice pilaf, beets, creamy coleslaw, orange.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 30, 2003
Words:612
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