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Customers, employees celebrate Francis Bailey’s 90th birthday

By Staff | Apr 26, 2011

Francis Bailey, right, gets a little assistance from son-in-law Richard Johnson while cutting his 90th birthday cake on Monday afternoon at Bailey's General Store.

Dozens of customers, employees and well-wishers gathered at Bailey’s General Store on Monday afternoon to make the occasion of Francis Bailey’s 90th birthday. The affair was celebrated with party hats and horns along with cake, ice cream and accordion music.

“Attention, Bailey’s customers!” Richard Johnson, general manager of the store and son-in-law of the guest of honor announced over the loudspeakers. “Please join us in celebrating Francis Bailey’s 90th birthday today!”

Johnson’s announcement was accompanied by a rendition of “Happy Birthday,” played by local resident and ice cream mogul Vanessa “Queenie” Viglione on her red accordion.

After Johnson brought Francis — unaware that the festivities were taking place inside the store at 1 p.m. — down from his office upstairs, the smiling and waving party honoree emerged from the stairwell to a chorus of cheers and singing.

“Thank you!” said Bailey. “What a surprise!”

Seated on his birthday "throne," Francis Bailey is congratulated by longtime customer Evelyn Spencer.

After the guest of honor cut the ceremonial first slice of cake, Johnson presented Francis — wearing a gold and red king’s crown and seated in a rocking chair “throne” — with two giant birthday cards signed by all of the store’s employees.

Asked what words of wisdom he could offer on the occasion of his 90th birthday, Francis grinned before stating, “Don’t get old!”

Longtime customer and fellow nonagenarian Evelyn Spencer, 96, added with a laugh, “Well, the alternative is worse!”

Richard Johnson holds two giant birthday cards signed in honor of Francis' 90th birthday.

As Richard Johnson, left, makes the announcement over the store's P.A. system, Vanessa "Queenie" Viglione plays "Happy Birthday" on her accordion.