Diane Feine is our able, efficient, slim, trim, and vivacious administrator at St. Marys Magnolia Manor. There is never a dull moment with Diane. Sporting a Master’s Degree in Education and loaded with a world of experience, she keeps Magnolia Manor in tune and humming. Diane sees to it that the place is kept immaculate and that the residents are carefully cared for. Nevertheless, Diane has a keen sense of humor and loves to pick on her Chaplain--that’s your’s truly.
Magnolia Manor St. Marys is a retirement and assisted living community; it does not have a big medical facility like Magnolia Manor St. Simons.
There is no chance for the residents to get bored when Diane is around and that is most of the time. Fun-filled, colorful and lively activities abound and Diane insists that the Chaplain be present to participate in all the exuberance.
The entertaining activities are gala affairs. Diane and the staff are geniuses when it comes to decorating. There are low-country boils, antique car shows (although he is far from an antique, Big Red loves to nuzzle in on the car shows), 50’s shows where we all dress us in the attire of the 50’s and the bands play music popular in the 50’s and there is an ice cream parlor. The lovely and talented Laurie Jo Upchurch is in demand at Magnolia Manor. She will return after this year’s production of Tales from the Altamaha.
Another popular feature at Magnolia Manor St. Marys is the food. Professional Chef Don Petrie is unlimited in his talents at preparing an unnumbered variety of foods from fine dining to hamburgers and hotdogs. His desserts are fantabulous and fundelicious. When B. J. is not with me, Diane always slips a double portion of dessert beside my plate and in a shushed tone whispers, “Don’t worry; I won’t tell B.J. What happens at Magnolia Manor stays at Magnolia Manor.”
The high point came, though, with Big Red. Diane had been telling me that she wanted to go for a spin in Big Red. My high-powered red 5.0 Mustang Convertible with 435 horses under the hood is a muscle horse just a step down from the Super Snake. Big Red handles like a normal horse as long as he is treated thusly. However, he is a Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde horse. When tampered with, he can go from 0-60 in three and one-half seconds.
Well, Diane insisted. Then there came the day that B. J. and I rode Big Red to Magnolia Manor St. Mary’s ready for action. B. J. had serious reservations about it all.
Diane’s tidy office is just inside the front entrance to the institution. We always drop by for a friendly howdy when we arrive.
On that eventful day, I peeped in her door and said in a low voice, “Big Red is here and ready to ride.”
Without hesitation, Diane flashed an excited smile and jumped up from her seat and headed out the door with a “Let’s go! I’m ready to ride, too!”
B. J. climbed into the back seat. Diane bounced playfully into the passenger seat beside me.
I spurred Big Red and with an eager snort, he came to life. He knew something was up. He was wound up and ready.
As I bridled Big Red out of the parking area, I turned to Diane and asked, “Where do you want to go?”
“I want to show you where I live,” she replied with a frolicsome smile.
“And where is that?”
“Go out to the main road and turn left,” she came back with a giggle.
The main road runs parallel to the Kings Bay Submarine Base toward the Crooked River State Park.
Just as I turned onto the main road, Diane’s smile grew even more impish, “Floorboard it!” she said.
Already idling along at about 50mph, I “floor-boarded” Big Red. He reared and leaped forward. His devilish nature was taking over. In no time, the speedometer needle had moved past fast and was headed for faster (with Big Red that can happen in seconds). “Go for it preacher! I love it!” she laughed. The Crooked River was coming up fast and there is no bridge. I had to decelerate quickly. B.J. was holding on tightly.
When we were down to normal speed, she said, “Turn left preacher and I’ll show you where I live. We rounded a few curves and corners in the ritzy little neighborhood on the Crooked River and then she pointed to an imposing house and said, “There it is! there’s my house!”
Then she told me that she was an avid motorcycle enthusiast and that speed was her middle name.
When we were back out on the main road headed back to Magnolia Manor, I “floor-boarded” Big Red again to Diane’s delight and B. J.’s warning look.
Well, it had been a fast trip with my fast Magnolia Manor Administrator. She being a speed demon of sorts, hadn’t seemed all that impressed by Big Red. She did say that she wants to do it again with his top back.
Later, B. J. asked seriously, “What if we had gotten killed?”
I could see the headlines: “Chaplain and wife and Magnolia Manor Administrator of prestigious Methodist Institution crash while driving at breakneck speed.”