The Art of Living at PPH
Ron Hugo and Harry Morrissy are two talented resident artists (and friends) that share a love for creating stained glass art and living at PPH. One of their favorite spots on campus? The Art Studio and Epicurean Glass Works in the Arts, Culture & Education (ACE) Center. “From my apartment to the ACE Center is just two right turns, and I’m there,” says Ron. Harry and Ron both use the foil and solder technique for stained glass art, and Ron also works in mosaics.
Here is a little background on their art and lives.
How long have you been making stained glass art, and why did you start?
Ron: I started in about 1970. I wanted to do something while I was teaching. I discovered that teaching alone would, at times, be a frustrating experience without something else to do in my spare time. (Ron is a former physics teacher.) Stained glass requires the same exactness. The exactness and predictability and reliability of the physics transfers into the glass because it all has to fit.
Harry: I’ve been working in stained glass for about eight years. My wife, Patty, (a talented textile artist) belonged to the Dover Art League, and they offered a beginner’s class in stained glass. I took the class — and fell in love with it. It was just so much fun. That got me started, and I just went from there.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Ron: It’s just with me all the time. I’m just always thinking about the next thing to do, because you have to have the design, select the glass, order it. So you’re always working on one project and preparing the next one.
What are some of your favorite pieces you’ve created?
Harry: One is a blue heron standing in a swamp. l love that piece. Another is of morning glories climbing an arbor.
Ron: The doors that I made for a friend’s business. Because I was given the overall colors, I had the freedom to select the glass colors and proportion the glass to fit within a given frame, which was part of the creative process. It sounds restrictive, but it really is creative.
How has the art studio helped you continue making your art?
Ron: I have a home for my artwork. I can come and go as I please and don’t have to clean up my materials after each session.
Harry: Everything I have is downstairs — I don’t need anything up here (in my apartment) to work on. With glass, things get a little messy. When I come down, I can sweep it up when I’ve finished. I can go there anytime I want. I’ve spent 3–4 hours a day for the last week in there. Right now, I am working on a Scrooge McDuck for my son’s birthday who is going to be 51 years old. He and his wife are rabid Disney freaks.
What do you do with your pieces?
Ron: I sell them through PPH, and the proceeds go to the Benevolent Care Fund. It’s an important, ongoing need. It helps the folks who have run out of money stay here and get the same level of care that they’ve always gotten.
Was the art studio a factor in your decision to move to PPH?
Harry: Oh, definitely. I had my own studio in the back of my property, so I thought, “What am I going to do when we move?” When we came up here for a visit, I looked into the art studio and said, “My gosh, this is delightful!” There is a big, open area in the back where I do my work, and I l look out into the courtyard. The setting for me is just ideal — it’s like I’m in Heaven.
Does working in the studio help you connect with other residents?
Harry: I offer help to anybody that wants to come on in. I’ll walk people through the process of stained glass and get them going. Like me, as soon as they started cutting the glass and getting it soldered and all that — it gets in your blood.
Ron: Yes, absolutely.
What other interests do you pursue at PPH?
Harry: There’s so much to do here. PPH has a bowling alley and all kinds of exercise equipment, and they have a swimming pool, and I still like to swim laps. They also just completed a bocce court, and that’s right outside of my apartment. In fact, today there’s a bocce tournament. I’m involved in that. You can be as busy as you want, or you can just sit back and do nothing.
Ron: When I came in, the center for activity for men was the train room, so I became a member of the train room. I immediately met a lot of people.
Why did you move here?
Harry: When I lived in Delaware, we had a large property. I did all the grounds-keeping and landscaping, and it was just wearing me out. With the heat from the last couple of years, we said, “It’s time.”
Do you wish you moved sooner?
Ron: Oh, absolutely. I stayed in the house 19 years. I should have come in sooner. I no longer enjoyed keeping up with the house.
Is life at PPH different than you thought it would be?
Harry: I had an aunt that lived here for 30 years before she passed away. I knew exactly what we were getting into. This was part of our long-range plan.
Ron: I thought it would be more compartmentalized, but it’s a total mix of friendships. I walk down the hallway, and so many people say, “Hi, Ron. How’s it going?” Everyone who is here comes from different neighborhoods, different work backgrounds, different religious backgrounds. This is the best thing that has ever happened to me.
What is your favorite part of living at PPH?
Ron: The friendships and relationships with the residents that I didn’t have when I lived alone in my own home.
Harry: When I get up in the morning in the summertime, and I hear this noise outside, I walk over to the window with a cup of coffee in my hand, see the people cutting the grass, and then I say, “Oh, I don’t have to do that anymore.”
What would you say to people who are considering PPH?
Ron: Moving into PPH made life simpler, and I don’t have to worry about the responsibilities of owning and maintaining a home and the different taxes and bills that come with it. I just get on the phone and call 8571, and up comes maintenance.
Harry: It’s a friendly place. When we walked in here the first day, we felt like we were welcome. We’re trying to get all of our friends who are our age to come here. I can’t believe how busy we are! It’s just the greatest place in the world as far as I’m concerned, and it’s affordable. We have looked at other retirement communities, and this is the best bang for your buck.
Call 215-697-8086 to schedule your tour of the PPH campus and experience our beautiful ACE Center for yourself!