Sandra Scott: 10 Things to Do in Oswego County
55 Issue 75 • June/July 2018
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Jeff Kramer Humor columnist shows his more serious side, shares his new life working with refugees
INSIDE • Do you really need a lawyer to write a will? • The ups and downs of downsizing: A first person account
12 Offbeat Museums You Shouldn’t Miss This Season
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I invite you to join me in creating a legacy gift through your will or financial plans. Together we can do great things for Central New York. – Jack Gorham
UPSTATE LEGACIES: Lifesaving and life-changing “She and I were one. What they did for her, they did for me.” The appreciation is evident in Jack Gorham’s voice when he talks about the “angelic” way Upstate University Hospital physicians, nurses, physician assistants and staff treated his wife Colleen throughout her 17-year journey with cancer.
For Jack it’s personal!
Jack and Colleen were overwhelmed by the compassion of the Upstate team, particularly in the radiation oncology department. Over the years, Colleen was treated for three different cancers beginning with breast cancer, followed by skin cancer and eventually throat cancer. As she came out of her 60th (and final) treatment, the physicians and staff gave her a standing ovation for her courage and bravery. Jack wants to help maintain this level of care and compassion for future cancer patients. That is why he has remembered The Upstate Foundation in his will. It’s also personal for you. Every dollar donated to the Upstate Foundation has an impact on our community’s health and well-being as every dollar stays right here in Central New York to help assure happy, healthy and longer lives for your loved ones, friends and neighbors.
For free and confidential information on how to make a low cost, high impact legacy gift contact, or have your professional advisor contact, John Gleason at 315-464-4416 or email us today at FDN@Upstate.edu Our legal name is THE UPSTATE FOUNDATION INC.
www.UpstateFoundation.org June / July 2018 - 55 PLUS
CONTENTS 55 PLUS
Sandra Scott: 10 Things to Do in Oswego County
Issue 75 • June/July 2018
June / July 2018
Jeff Kramer Humor columnist shows his more serious side, shares his new life working with refugees
INSIDE • Do you really need a lawyer to write a will? • The ups and downs of downsizing: A first person account
12 Offbeat Museums You Shouldn’t Miss This Season
Savvy Senior 6 12
Gardening 8 SENIOR OF THE YEAR • Eighty-year-old Dottie White
Dining Out 10 gets Senior of the Year award My Turn 26 15
Golden Years 32 ENGAGEMENT
• “The Campbell Conversations”
Aging 36 host talks about public engagement Life After 55 42 18
Consumers Health 44 DOWNSIZING
• The ups and downs of
Druger’s Zoo 45 downsizing: First person account LAST PAGE Pat Donnelly, coach of Bishop Ludden High School basketball boys team, talks about his 30year career at the school, new life 4
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• Mickey Vendetti and his band still keep local audiences swinging
• Oasis, JCC, YMCA offer variety of programs for people over 55
• Jeff Kramer: Humor columnist shows his more serious side
• Do you really need a lawyer to write a will?
• ‘Retirement for me has become the never-ending fourday weekend from hell’
• Twelve offbeat museums you shouldn’t miss
• Ten things to do in Oswego County
Carlton and Shirley West sit in the living room of their home overlooking Owasco Lake.
We are both natives of Central New York. This community is where we chose to raise our family. We now live south of Auburn where we have been for the past 34 years. We are grateful to be a part of the Central New York community that we love.
Carlton & Shirley West
After the tragic passing of our daughter, Michele, we established a scholarship fund at the Central New York Community Foundation in her memory. The fund encourages and assists other bright, driven young students to achieve in the way that Michele had during her life. We have also written our estate plan to include a bequest to the Community Foundation. This money will provide perpetual support to several local charities that are important to us. We envision our fund will continue to make a positive impact in our community for generations and are confident the Community Foundation will honor our wishes for this legacy fund in perpetuity.
since 1927 June / July 2018 - 55 PLUS
Read more of the Westsâ€™ story at
savvy senior By Jim Miller
All About Reverse Mortgages
or retirees who own their home and want to stay living there, but could use some extra cash, a reverse mortgage is a viable financial tool, but there’s a lot to know and consider to be sure it’s a good option for you. Let’s start with the basics — A reverse mortgage is a unique type of loan that allows older homeowners to borrow money against the equity in their house (or condo) that doesn’t have to be repaid until the homeowner dies, sells the house or moves out for at least 12 months. At that point, you or your heirs will have to pay back the loan plus accrued interest and fees, but you will never owe more than the value of your home. It’s also important to understand that with a reverse mortgage, you, not the bank, own the house, so you’re still required to pay your property taxes and homeowners insurance. Not paying them can result in foreclosure. To be eligible, you must be 62 years of age or older, own your own home (or owe only a small balance) and currently be living there. You will also need to undergo a financial assessment to determine whether you can afford to continue paying your property taxes and insurance. Depending on your financial situation, you may be required to put part of your loan into an escrow account to pay future bills. If the financial assessment finds that you cannot pay your insurance and taxes and have enough cash left to live on, you’ll be denied. Loan Details — Around 95 percent of all reverse mortgages offered today are Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM), which are FHA insured and offered through private mortgage lenders and banks. HECMs also have home value limits that
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vary by county, but cannot exceed $679,650. How much you can actually get through a reverse mortgage depends on your age (the older you are the more you can get), your home’s value and the prevailing interest rates. Generally, most people can borrow somewhere between 50 and 65 percent of the home’s value. To estimate how much you can borrow, use the calculator at ReverseMortgage.org. You also need to know that reverse mortgages have recently become more expensive with a number of fees, including: a 2 percent lender origination fee for the first $200,000 of the home’s value and 1 percent of the remaining value, with a cap of $6,000; an upfront 2 percent mortgage insurance premium (MIP) fee on the maximum loan amount, plus an annual MIP fee that’s equal to 0.5 percent of the outstanding loan balance; along with an appraisal fee, closing costs and other miscellaneous expenses. Most fees can be deducted for the loan amount to reduce your out-ofpocket cost at closing. To receive your money, you can opt for a lump sum, a line of credit, regular monthly checks or a combination of these. More Information — To learn more, read the National Council on Aging’s online booklet “Use Your Home to Stay at Home” at NCOA.org/ home-equity. And see the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association self-evaluation checklist at ReverseMortgage.org/consumerguides. Also note that because reverse mortgages are complex loans, all borrowers are required to get face-to-face or telephone counseling through a HUD-approved independent counseling agency before taking one out. Most agencies typically charge around $125. To locate one near you, visit Go.usa.gov/v2H, or call 800-5694287.
55PLUS cny55.com Editor and Publisher Wagner Dotto
Associate Editor Lou Sorendo
Deborah J. Sergeant Aaron Gifford, Mary Beth Roach, Margaret McCormick Christopher Malone, Anne Palumbo, Cheryl Costa, James Morabito
Eva Briggs, M.D., Bruce Frassinelli Marilyn Pinsky, Harold Miller Jim Sollecito, Marvin Druger Michele Reed, Sandra Scott .
Amy Gagliano Cassandra Lawson
Office Assistant Kimberley Tyler
Chuck Wainwright 55 PLUS –A Magazine for Active Adults in Central New York is published six times a year by Local News, Inc., which also publishes In Good Health–CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper. Published at 185 E. Seneca St. PO Box 276 Oswego, NY 13126. Subscription: $15 a year; $25 for two years © 2018 by 55 PLUS – A Magazine for Active Adults in Upstate New York.
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How to Reach Us P.O. Box 276 Oswego, NY 13126 Phone: 315-342-1182 Fax: 315-342-7776 Email: editor@CNY55.com Editor@cnyhealth.com
Making every day extraordinary. Let’s face it, life can be full of unexpected events. At Loretto, our 2,500 dedicated caregivers and 19 facilities and programs help ensure those events don’t get in the way of life. Whether you or a loved one requires assisted living, short-term rehabilitation, memory care, or virtually any other specialized need, we’re here for you. In fact, just last year, we helped nearly 10,000 individuals live their lives to the fullest. Visit lorettocny.org/extraordinary to see how we deliver extraordinary. Every day.
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3/6/18 9:52 PM
By Jim Sollecito
am always on the lookout for plants that will stop traffic — and that discourage weeds, are not palatable to deer, require very little care and are reasonably priced. If I can get four out of five of these criteria, then I have a winner. Oh yeah, in an assortment of colors, preferably the berry colors. They always seem to put smiles on faces. And don’t forget yellow, which captures available light in cloudy environments — like Central New York. It’s the reason road signs are that color, so they can be easily seen under any conditions. If something isn’t in flower right now, then your landscaping isn’t meeting its full potential. Probably you started with plants you liked, but things change as they age. It’s interesting that we don’t notice the
change from day to day. But when you look farther back, everything is different than it once was. In a modern commercial orchard apple trees are excised after 20 years. They are replaced by new varieties with more features and, pardon the pun, appeal. You might think that trees are around forever, but nothing really is. When it’s time for change, I like to design with double feature plants that glow in a crayon box full of color. Something that offers a neat flower, interesting fall color or a persistent fruit that creates winter interest. Newer named varieties of landscape roses, winterberries, dwarf spireas and weigelas are just some of the many possibilities. I also try to double crop an area, which means getting two out of the same plot. This form of intensification
This rose and the accompanying bellflower are planted close enough to touch each other. This kind of dense planting discourages weed growth while giving a nice complementary or contrasting color display. 8
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can really pack a wallop of color. This planting method becomes even more attractive when you learn it crowds out weeds. Notice this rose and the accompanying bellflower that are planted close enough to touch each other. This kind of dense planting discourages weed growth while giving a nice complimentary or contrasting color display. An overlooked opportunity in many landscapes is around the light pole. This could be a real vertical focal point, instead of the usual drab color with an uninspired black fixture on top. Dull. Fresh options range from a coat of paint in a snappy color, a planting around that pole, or rest something interesting against it. And then plant around that. Maybe your home could benefit from all these techniques. When first planning out an area, try to plant things that are friendly to pollinators, which I refer to as “flying flowers.” Reduce or eliminate pesticide use in your landscape and incorporate plants that attract beneficial insects for pest control. Of course, you probably won’t have to even think about ever spraying chemicals that might harm pollinators if you: 1) place the right plant in the right location, 2) use plenty of organic compost and crab shell in the hole that you dug wide enough to allow for ample root growth, then 3) keep it watered until it becomes established. Accept some minor plant flaws because life is not always about being perfect. But it is about being dynamic and allowing your personality to show in what you grow. Besides, planting today shows that you believe in tomorrow. Jim Sollecito is the first lifetime senior certified landscape professional in NYS. He operates Sollecito Landscaping Nursery in Syracuse. Contact him at 468-1142 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q&A Q: When a person who has worked and paid Social Security taxes dies, are benefits payable on that person’s record? A: Social Security survivors benefits can be paid to: • A widow or widower — unreduced benefits at full retirement age, or reduced benefits as early as age 60; • A disabled widow or widower — as early as age 50; • A widow or widower at any age if he or she takes care of the deceased’s child who is under age 16 or disabled, and receiving Social Security benefits; • Unmarried children under 18, or up to age 19 if they are attending high school full time. Under certain circumstances, benefits can be paid to stepchildren, grandchildren or adopted children; • Children at any age who were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled; and • Dependent parents aged 62 or older. Even if you are divorced, you still may qualify for survivors benefits. For more information, go to www.socialsecurity.gov. Q: I work in retirement. How much can I earn and still collect full Social Security retirement benefits? A: Social Security uses the formulas below, depending on your age, to determine how much you can earn before we must reduce your benefit: • If you are younger than full retirement age: $1 in benefits will be deducted for each $2 you earn above the annual limit. • In the year you reach your full retirement age: $1 in benefits will be deducted for each $3 you earn above a different limit, but we count only earnings before the month you reach full retirement age. • Starting with the month you reach full retirement age: you will get your benefits with no limit on your earnings. Find out your full retirement age at www. socialsecurity.gov/pubs/ageincrease.htm.
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DiningOut By Christopher Malone
The Evergreen on Hanover Square in downtown Syracuse. The restaurant will turn 3 later this year.
Hanover Squareâ€™s restaurant in Syracuse remains true to its promise to keep things fresh
he Evergreen planted itself in Hanover Square in Syracuse late 2015. As it steadily approaches its third anniversary, it has garnered a lot of attention. Its predecessor Bull & Bear Pub left a big hole to fill, but the latest restaurantâ€™s roots have appropriately secured itself in place as part of the downtown culture. The name of the restaurant not only pays homage to the northeast biome and year-round destinations found in the Adirondack and Catskill mountain regions, but its promise to keep things fresh. The eatery opened 10
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up with a promise to source local ingredients and an ever-changing tap line, which stands at 20 beers. Since the doors, a opening, the restaurant has added a supplemental list of canned and bottled microbrews. The Evergreen is one of those places whether youâ€™re out solo, on a date or with a group of people, the dimly lit restaurant with wooden aesthetics is sure to make a person feel warm and cozy on a winter evening, but not stifling in the warmer months. The practical floor-to-ceiling windows
facing Hanover Square let in an incredible amount of light as well. Patrons have the ability to choose their seating and when they decide to eat. Upon entering, take the nearest table to seat your party; also, there are no reservations. The kitchen window is the place to order food, and a member of the staff will schlep out the meals to you as soon as the orders are ready. Beverages, of course, are ordered at the bar. There is plenty of space for elbow room for eating at the bar. There are a more than a handful
Address: 125 W. Water St., Syracuse, NY 13202 Phone: 315-870-3500 Hours: Monday & Tuesday: 3p.m.-Midnight Wednesday - Saturday: 3 p.m.-2 a.m. Sunday: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. Web / Facebook: www.theevergreen.co/ www.facebook.com/ evergreensyracuse/ of tables for two (or one) to sit comfortably as well. Two are placed near the back door, the Erie Boulevard East side of the restaurant, but the draft is minimal when the door pulls open. Every good meal begins with a great appetizer. The Evergreen has an appropriate number of small plates to choose from: flatbreads to poutine and fried pickles to macaroni and cheese (with bacon optional). Most of the items can also be supplemented with vegetarian and gluten-free options, which is a plus. I went with the cauliflower wings ($9.50), which were seasoned with cayenne hot pepper. They were crispy, but not burnt; they were flavorful, not too spicy and definitely not too salty. The dish comes with a serving of blue cheese, homemade buffalo sauce and celery. Although I am not a fan of blue cheese, I tried the dipping option anyways. I’m still not a fan of blue cheese. The hot sauce, however, was wonderful. There’s a fair amount of heat, but the heat isn’t drastic to turn the sauce-curious or aficionado away. The consistency isn’t watery and coated the cauliflower really well even after drowning a “wing” in it. The Evergreen Burger ($13) basked in the natural sun spotlight next. The sirloin burger was cooked perfectly medium as requested. In between two halves of a brioche roll, the burger is complemented with roasted red peppers, beer battered pickles, Swiss cheese and a slather of green goddess dressing. As far as signature items
Evergreen Burger, one of the specialties at The Evergreen, and sriracha fries basking in the sunlight.
The Evergreen’s angle on wings: appropriately seasoned cauliflower paired with celery, blue cheese and homemade hot sauce. go, this ranks in the top three in my list of burgers in Syracuse. According to recipes found online, the dressing is composed of mayonnaise, sour cream, parsley, basil, chives, lemon juice, cloves and anchovies (or anchovy paste). The latter ingredient came as a shock to me, being not the most favorable of ingredients, but it works well, especially with the melted Swiss and the crunchy pickles. As a side, sriracha fries filled the rest of the plate. The paprika-covered house-cut potato wedges were everything to expect from homemade fries. The amount was great, but not overly generous. Although they were pretty salty for my liking, the crispiness made up for that aspect.
To wash it all down, Common Roots Brewing Company’s Shadow Figures ($6 for 10 oz.). The American porter proved to be a flavorful and light brew with distinctive coffee and chocolate notes. Common Roots is located at 58 Saratoga Ave. in South Glens Falls. The Evergreen is simply a cool, comfortable venue. It’s conscious of food and beverage trend, especially with its local focus. It’s an easy place to designate as a go-to and there aren’t too many extraordinary waits as most sitdown restaurants. It doesn’t claim to be a specialty restaurant for a particular niche, but it holds steady with food and hospitality. June / July 2018 - 55 PLUS
Dorothy (“Dottie”) White teaching kids at Southwest Community Center in Syracuse the basics of quilting.
Meet Onondaga County Senior Citizen of the Year Dottie White selected for the annual award. At 81 years of age, she continues to be engaged in volunteer work
here’s little doubt as to why Dorothy (“Dottie”) White was selected as this year’s Onondaga County Senior Citizen of the Year. The Syracuse resident embodies the theme of the annual celebration, “Engage at Any Age,” and she has lived that message for nearly all of her 81 years. White was acknowledged at a celebration luncheon for Onondaga county Seniors held in May in honor of Older Americans Month. “I observed my parents helping 12
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By Mary Beth Roach others in the community, and it’s just a part of my everyday life,” she said. She’s been a nurse with the Veterans Administration and the U.S. Army Reserve Nurse Corps. She volunteers with her church, where she has helped make more than 1,500 pillowcases for nursing homes and hospitals. She’s been involved in teaching young people the art of quilting for more than 10 years. A member of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority, which does a number of youth-related activities, she worked with the Elmcrest Children’s Center
in their horticulture gardening programs for 13 years. She also puts her gardening skills to use as a member of the Men and Women’s Garden Club of Syracuse, the Men’s Garden Club of America, the American Rose Society and the Syracuse Rose Society. With this latter group, she helps tend the E.M. Mills Memorial Rose Garden in Syracuse’s Thornden Park. This idea of giving to others was something that her parents, Allen and Jessie White, instilled in their six children, growing up
sister, uncle or aunt,” she remarked. She remained with the corps for 30 years. And while she may have retired ® from the nursing profession, she certainly has not retired from giving. Gainesville, FL - If you’re one of the Through the Sankofa millions of Americans that have been Piecemakers Quilting Group, she diagnosed with high cholesterol, “Natural” help is now available from the creator of met Ossie Edwards, a librarian Gatorade®! The highly regarded late Dr. with the Onondaga County Public Robert J. Cade, while at the University of Florida, did extensive clinical trials Library system, and the person who utilizing a special formula he developed nominated White as the county’s containing soluble fiber (Acacia Gum). Senior Citizen of the Year. About 12 This formula, “Cholesterade”, proved to lower cholesterol in the humanPAID blood by years ago, Edwards was working PAID ADVERTISEMENT ADVERTISEMENT over 17% during an 8-week period. Not at the library at the Southwest only is this special soluble fiber proven Community Center and wanted to to lower cholesterol naturally but, other positive effects showed weight loss and ® teach the kids there the basics of improvedof bowel functions, which canhelp. creator Gatorade can quilting and how to use a needleThe the chances of many showed weight loss and forms improved bowel Gainesville, FL -help If you’rereduce one of the millions of have cancer. and thread. White volunteered to of Americans that been diagnosed functions, which can help reduce the chances Dr. Richard MD,of FACS, the high cholesterol, “Natural” help is Goldfarb, now of many forms cancer. help her out. To this day, the pairwith Director available from the Medical creator of Gatorade ! The for Go Epic Health, Dr. Richard Goldfarb, MD, continues to meet with the kids at the highly regarded lateInc. Dr. Robert J. Cade,“CholesterAde while at states is a natural FACS, the Medical Director for Go Epic Health, Inc. the University of Florida, did extensiveto clinical alternative statins and other drugs center on Wednesday afternoons. states “CholesterAde is a natural alternative to trials utilizing a special developedmany thatformula can hecreate types of health “She’s just such a giving statins and other drugs that can create many containing soluble fiber (Acacia Gum). problems.” types of health problems.” spirit,” Edwards said of White. This formula, “CholesterAde”, For the firstproved time Dr. Cade’s For the first time Dr. Cade’s original delicious original delicious tasting formula, to lower cholesterol in the human blood by One of the first projects the tasting formula, “CholesterAde”, is now available “Cholesterade”, now available at the over 17% during an 8-week period. Not only is group took on was an Underground at the retailer below. Call 1-877-581-1502 retailer below. Call 1-877-581-1502 or go ext.1 is this special soluble fiber proven to lower cholesterol naturallyto but, other positive effects or go to www.gocholesterade.com. www.cholesterade.com Railroad Quilt. “It was a teaching moment,” Edward said, “to take the fabric and convert it to something really beautiful.” It took two years These statements have been evaluated by the FDA. This product in not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or to finish, and upon completion, prevent any disease. they presented it to White. But it might not just be sewing and quilting that White and Edwards are teaching the youth. There are life lessons. White said that these skills can also teach leadership, fellowship, respect for Senior Housing each other and help them focus and (Elderly and/or Disabled) learn to pay attention to detail. With her church group at In Residential Section. St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in E. Irving and Dausman Sts Syracuse, White has been involved East Syracuse in their pillowcase ministry. She Rent Based on Income began with providing pillowcases Many Outstanding Features for every bed at the former Castle Rest Nursing Home, and over the • On Bus Line years, the group has provided cases • All One Bedroom Units for nearly every nursing home or • 24 Hour Maintenance hospital in the area and even as far • Secure Building away as Oriskany, White said. • Wall to Wall Carpeting “I enjoy doing these things • One Pet Welcome because I like a person in a • Total Electric w/ nursing home to know that they Individual Controls are not forgotten,” she said. But she is quick to add that Apply Rental Office those in the nursing homes or the 100 Bennett Manor Drive, E. youth she teaches are not the only Syracuse ones benefiting from her work. “Being a volunteer helps other Mon-Fri 7:30–3:30 people. It helps you also. It keeps you engaged. A mind engaged, 437-4864 that’s active, stays active,” she said.
The creator of Gatorade can help.
Dorothy (“Dottie”) White has been selected as Onondaga County Senior Citizen of the Year. At 81 years of age, she continues to volunteer. “She’s just such a giving spirit,” said Ossie Edwards, a librarian with the Onondaga County Public Library system, who nominated White for the award. in Greenwood, S. C., she said. “They wanted the children to be successful in life, and then they wanted them to help each other and pass along the help to others who are in need,” she said. “If you can change negative behavior in one person, unacceptable behavior in one person, you have made a difference in that person’s life. And hopefully, that person will go on to do bigger and better things.” Upon graduating from Tuskegee University, she became a registered nurse. She went on to earn a degree in personnel management. She went to work at various VA hospitals, including those in Tuskegee, Ala., Baltimore, Richmond, Pittsburgh and Hampton, Va. She was transferred to the Syracuse VA in 1984, and stayed at that facility until retiring in 1995, after a total of 31 years. Inspired by her brother, Allen White Jr., she also joined the U.S. Army Reserve Nurse Corps in 1966. “My brother was in Vietnam, and I felt that there were nurses to help in the event that he needed help. And I felt an obligation to do the same thing for someone else’s brother,
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Grant Reeher, the host of Campbell Conversations, with Onondaga County Joanie Mahoney and former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner discussing the disagreement between the city and the county over the Inner Harbor development. Photo provided.
Grant Reeher: All For Civic Engagement SU professor, host of “The Campbell Conversations” on NPR affiliate WRVO-FM, talks about public discourse, participation By Aaron Gifford
rant Reeher developed an interest in government and democracy at the age of 8 while going door-to-door during an election season in Northern Virginia. Nearly a half-century later, he’s rediscovered the thrill of why he got involved with politics in the first place. “The community aspect of it — that’s what was fascinating to me then and is still fascinating to me now,” Reeher said. “I still love talking to people about the issues of the day.” Reeher, 57, is a political science professor at Syracuse University and
the director of SU’s Campbell Affairs Institute. As part of that job, Reeher took it upon himself to create, produce and host “The Campbell Conversations.” The program, broadcast by National Public Radio affiliate WRVO, has been a huge success so far, and has re-invigorated Reeher. He enjoys balancing the roles of political scientist, educator and journalist. The professor took some time out of his hectic schedule to explain how taking a chance on an unfamiliar environment paid off for him. Reeher, the younger of two children, grew up in Springfield, Va., on the very outer edge of the Capital
Beltway. Prior to working for a nonprofit research organization, his father, David Reeher, served as a B-24 co-pilot in World War II, flying combat missions in 1944 and 1945. He was shot down on what would have been his final mission, and was a POW for several months. The elder Reeher later became the first person in his family to go to college, taking advantage of the GI Bill. “He was an avid reader, and pushed for the value of education, and of the life of the mind,” Reeher said. Reeher’s mother, Betty Reeher, was politically active in the RepubJune / July 2018 - 55 PLUS
dreaming, sleeping or side conversations. Now, phones in the classrooms complicate things.” Another change Reeher has witnessed is the mindset of students. They seem to be more career-oriented and are eager to apply what they learn outside of a college campus. “It changes the nature of a conversation to what job they are going to get as opposed to what this material is about,” he said.
Grant Reeher is an avid outdoorsman. He is shown holding a smallmouth bass on the Connecticut River. lican Party. She organized campaign efforts at the local, state and national level. At that time, civil rights were at the heart of politics, and the push for better treatment for African Americans in the state of Virginia was coming from the Republican side. Betty Reeher enlisted her son to help with campaigns, first for candidate Nelson Rockefeller and then for candidate Richard Nixon. Reeher still has his mother’s invitation to attend Nixon’s 1969 inauguration. Reeher was a very strong student, graduating as high school valedictorian. Outside of the classroom, he competed on debate teams and worked part-time as a tutor. As a teenager, he was interested in studying public policy, but did not envision himself teaching. He chose Dartmouth College because of its strong academic reputation as an Ivy League school, and also because its proximity to mountains and outdoor activities. Reeher loved being a student, continually earned high marks, and enjoyed the college campus atmosphere. It struck him that he should make a living at something he knew he was good at, so he set his sights on becoming a college professor and furthered his education at Yale University, earning a master’s degree and a Ph.D. Despite a very tight job market 16
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for college professors, Reeher landed a job at Union College, where he taught for a short time before getting hired at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. While SU certainly had a great reputation and offered longterm career opportunities, Reeher admits that he was still a little unsure about the place when he first set foot in Central New York. It was much bigger than the small liberal arts schools where he had envisioned working. Within a short time, however, Reeher found that SU was a very supportive environment. He was pleasantly surprised to see how easy it was settling into such a big school. “For a university of its size,” he said, “it took its teaching very seriously. The students get a lot of attention from the faculty.” In teaching political science, the base of knowledge is always growing, but Reeher was also entrenched in a technological revolution that provided professors and students new tools and enhanced learning environments. While the digital age has afforded those on both sides of the lectern more conveniences for completing their work, it also presented new challenges. “You still have distractions,” Reeher said. “Before it was just day-
The Campbell Public Affairs Institute at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School was established in 1996. It promotes civic involvement in the areas of citizenship, public leadership and governance. It is heralded for hosting numerous lectures that are of interest to the university and regional communities. Reeher, who has written books and contributed opinion pieces and columns to newspapers across the United States, served as a senior research associate for the institute and became its executive director in 2009. Reeher really enjoyed his new career. One of the highlights was last year, when he moderated a debate between the campus Democrats and Republicans. The forum was jam-packed and the environment was lively, heated, and loud. It was a far cry from the energy, or lack of it, he had witnessed back in 2000 during the presidential election. “It was standing-room only,” he said. “I was seriously worried about the fire marshal coming in. You wouldn’t have been able to get it going like this 15 years earlier. There had never been a debate like this publicly. It touched my soul to see that level of interest. There were a couple times I got civically verklempt!” As a writer, Reeher went against the academic grain to some degree by gravitating toward personal interviews with sources over the more standard practice of researching journals, books and other types of publications. “The knock on my work,” he said, “was that it was too much like journalism.” Still, Reeher’s columns for the Syracuse Post-Standard’s “Rethinking Albany” series were very well received. Over time, he thought he could contribute more in his area of
have it, Reeher’s very first guest was Elliot Spitzer, who had only recently resigned as New York state governor SAGE Upstate offers programs,under potlucks, socializing scandalous circumstances. “He was authentic and engaging Health and Wellness Programs to the questions,” Reeher said. “He Potlucks in Syracuse, Cortland, Oswego & U� ca really game with this.” was Socials and Support Groups Reeher aims to present converEduca�on on LGBT Aging Issues sations that are topical and related to the issues of the day, but not necessarily driven by what’s happening at the moment. As a political scientist, he does not approach this role as someone who has more insight. Instead, Contact SAGE Upstate: he just sees himself as someone who 315-478-1923 or can approach a topic from a different www.sageupstate.org light. “It’s not an advantage,” he cauServing older gay, lesbian, bisexual andtioned. transgender adults in CNY perspec“It’s just a different tive.” Reeher added that producing “TheX Campbell Conversations” is CNY & MC IGH 1/8C = 4.7917 3.3472 (H) much more difficult than his academic colleagues think. The order of how the questions are asked matters, and forecasting the length of a conversation is not something that can be done A the top of Mount Moosilauke in by scribbling some notes on a matchNew Hampshire last summer. book a few minutes before the taping starts. Reeher and his wife, Kathy Soexpertise by way of newspaper piec- wards, have one son, David Reeher. es and broadcast news interviews as They live in Manlius. David is a colopposed to scholarly journal articles. lege student and Sowards works as His heart was in civic engage- a psychotherapist who specializes ment. He approached WRVO, which in EMDR, a therapy that focuses on he has always considered a true talk talking and eye movement. GLBT adults: radioOlder station, with his idea for a proAn avid outdoorsman, Reeher’s SAGE Upstate ers Wellness Programs, Socials, Support gram thatoﬀ serves an attentive public. favorite hobby is fishing with his son. Groups &The Educa� on in Syracuse, Oswego & U� ca station and SU Cortland, loved the David Reeher is advanced in the art idea, and “The Campbell Conversa- of flyfishing, while Grant Reeher 315-478-1923 or pretions” was born. fers traditional sageupstate.org angling techniques on Limestone Creek or Otisco Lake. Reeher used to in play Serving older gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender adults CNYsquash and The Campbell Conversations run long distances to stay in shape, For the program, Reeher has in- but two major back surgeries have terviewed a fair share of local and sidelined him from those activities. regional leaders, but1/16C he also strives CNY & MC IGH = 4.7917 (H) rides As part of X his1.5972 recovery, Reeher for variety, and tries to make the a stationary recumbent bicycle. So program eclectic. Recent guests have far, he’s gained enough strength and also included a woman who survived mobility to return to one of his oththe atomic bombing of Hiroshima in er long-time hobbies, hiking. This 1945, and a local author who pub- past summer, he made it to the top lished a book about his teenage battle of Mount Moosilauke in New Hampwith alcohol and drug abuse. shire, which is 4,802 feet high. It’s the Around the time of this interview, same mountain Reeher climbed on Reeher was planning an upcoming his first day of orientation back when conversation with a Medicare expert he was a freshman at Dartmouth. in New York City. “The main challenge so many During the program’s infancy, years later was just having the wind every guest was asked to identify to do it,” he said. “Getting to the top, their worst trait, and then note what looking around and thinking about accomplishment or achievement has how much has changed since I first most surprised them. As luck would came here, it’s pretty special.”
Older GLBT adults:
Older GLBT adults: SAGE Upstate oﬀers programs and socials for older gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender adults in Syracuse, Cortland, Oswego & U�ca
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The Ups and Downs of Downsizing: My Own Experience The ups and downs in the downsizing process By Anne Palumbo
always thought downsizing was going to be a breeze. I don’t know why I thought that, because my parents never made the leap, but the word itself suggested “ease” to me, a pared down way of living. I imagined the process would take but a few months. My husband and I would easily find a ranch that needed a bit of updating; we’d put our own house on the market and it would quickly sell; we’d reduce all our stuff; pack; and then make the actual move. One, two, three; a walk in the park. Well, it has not been the breezy walk in the park I imagined. Indeed, our downsizing journey has been a highly unusual one; but, uniqueness aside, I believe there are aspects to downsizing that are universal. For starters, we could not agree on a house, other than we wanted it smaller. While I was good with many ranches in older neighborhoods, my husband preferred a more unique setting. And so we searched for nearly five years, all the while readying our own house for sale. Though trying at times, I don’t think we’re alone here in our prolonged search. Since the 18
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downsized house most likely will be your “final” house, it’s important that you both really like it. Here’s where our journey takes an unusual turn: We found a foreclosed house that met many criteria — smaller, nice layout, great location — except one: it was a disaster inside. We discovered this unfortunate fact by walking around the perimeter and peering in any window we could. Naturally, we asked ourselves: Did we have the energy to take on this monster project? I mean, we’re no longer spring chickens, if you catch my grizzled drift. If one of us isn’t releasing the sigh heard ‘round the world, the other is complaining about an aching back. Plus, we’ve come to like our quiet time and routines: “Look, a chickadee at the feeder!” “Oh, lovely, my day is now complete.” Back and forth, back and forth— could we? should we?—until, finally, one day we decided to go for it and bought the house. That was a year ago and we are finally ready to move in. What took so long? Well, we encountered a variety of obstacles and challenges — from warped
wooden floors to clogged drains to a lawn that could float a boat. Plus, renovating and decorating a house when you’re both older is more complicated — and that’s something to consider when you decide to downsize. For example, we built a house when we were in our 30s and had two young children. At that time, I don’t recall laboring over every decision. The builder suggested the majority of design details and we just went with it, from cabinets to doorknobs to trim. Thirty years later, we each have honed what we like in a home; and while we agree on many details, we don’t agree on all. Translation? Expect some ups and downs in the event that you have many design decisions; expect to compromise; understand that you may not get your man-cave with the 65” TV or your she-shed with the deep soaker tub. We’ve also spent the year making sense of the contents of our current home, all the while acknowledging that our downsized home has much less storage space. Let me tell you, it’s not easy dealing with stuff, especially if you’re a sentimentalist (like me) and particu-
larly if your kids don’t have homes of their own yet (ours don’t). Throughout the culling process, I have continually asked myself: “Will the kids want this someday?” On top of the kids’ stuff, I’ve also had to deal with my own stuff: clothes, shoes, framed photos, decades of greeting cards, hordes of hair products, and more. Honestly, it’s kept me up at night: What to do with stuff? And, mysteriously, despite my donations and tossing and giving stuff away, it kept (and keeps!) accumulating. Two books helped: “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning.” The guiding question of the first is, “Does this item spark joy?” while the guiding question of the second is, “Will anyone be happier if I save this?” I confess to struggling at times with both guiding questions, hemming and hawing over beloved items I’d saved since forever. For example, “Yes” my beat-up Frye boots sparked joy. But, “No,” no one would be happier if I saved them. So, out they went. Purging is a good thing; and downsizing demands it. Since moving, I’ve purged again, letting go of all the things I was on the fence about but now, clearly, have no room for. What has helped me with both purges was recalling how difficult and time-consuming it was to clear out my parent’s loaded house, and that I did not want to pass along that task to my kids. The smaller house turned out well, and we are slowly finding our way. It’s a big adjustment though — living in more confined quarters and not having the privacy we each once had. But that’s to be expected with downsizing. On the up side, tighter living space means closer contact. Who knew that flossing, side by side, while watching chickadees at the feeder, could ever be so entertaining? Anne Palumbo writes the column SmartBites that is published monthly in In Good Health, Rochester Healthcare Newspaper. To contact her, email email@example.com.
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June / July 2018 - 55 PLUS
music Mickey Vendetti, 75, is the bandleader, keyboardist and singer at Mickey Vendetti and the Goodtime Band. Vendetti, who plays alongside his two sons, Mickey Jr., 56, and Josh, 47, has been in the local music business for 60 years.
‘Jump, Jive an’ Wail’ Musician Mickey Vendetti and his band still keep local audiences swinging
o r S y r a c u s e b a n d l e a d e r, keyboardist and singer Mickey Vendetti, it’s all about music, family, and making his audiences happy. With his career that has spanned six decades, he’s been able to bring all that together in harmony. In the band that bears his name — Mickey Vendetti and the Goodtime Band — he performs alongside his two sons, Mickey Vendetti Jr., 56, and Josh Vendetti, 47. The band features Vendetti on lead vocals and keyboards and occasionally the accordion; Mick Jr. on drums, and Josh backs up his father on vocals and does a lot of the preshow setup. Rounding out the band are Tom Crosier (aka “Commander”), Dick Guyer, Marc Cassele, and Frank “Otis” Vincent. At the age of 75, Vendetti has been in the local music business for 60 years. He started at the age of 15 at the Seneca Grill, which had been located on Syracuse’s near west side. With the mix of people the bar attracted,
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By Mary Beth Roach it was a great learning experience, he recalled. “I’m the oldest fart in the whole band,” he said, with a hint of pride. Music “gives you life. It makes people happy,” he added emphatically. Family figures into his audience too, as was evidenced at a recent gig at the International Pavilion at the New York State Fairgrounds, with members of the Vendetti family occupying tables along the front section of the venue. His family was also with him recently when the musician, then 74, went through open-heart surgery, the first operation he’s ever had. ”My whole family was right there with me,” he said. “I never would have pulled through without them, no way.” And pull through, he most definitely did. Three months later, he was back on stage. “As soon as I got on stage, it was like it never happened,” he remarked. His family has also inspired one of his more successful recordings. Dedicated to his mother, Mary Vito, “Sentimental Journey Unplugged”
features tunes that were some of his mother’s favorites, including classics done by legends Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. That CD, Vendetti said, sold more than 3,000 copies in Syracuse. Apparently, the recording was emotional for him to produce. “An album that should have taken 20 minutes to do, because we know the songs so well, took me two hours to get them out,” he said. Those were the greatest songs ever written, he claimed. “That’s why I start the band out with music of your life, pointing right at that era,” he said.
Have a good time The group’s name — Goodtime Band — tells audiences what kind of music they can expect, such as tunes from the 1930s to the 1970s and into the ‘80s, Vendetti said. The band’s website — www. mickeyvendetti.com — describes its music as “a bit of Sinatra, a dash of Elvis, a touch of The Temptations, and now sprinkle in some Bob Seger and
with featured guests; $40 non-members; $30 members • 7 pm: Free Jam Session
Don Perkins, Chazy, NY George Wilson, Wyantskill, NY Saturday, July 28 • 9:30 am: Free first-time/Beginning Fiddler Workshop Promotional photo used • 10:30by am: Free Advanced Fiddler Workshop • 12:30: Mickey Vendetti, who hasGates Open, $8 admission - 2 60 pm and 7 - 8:30 pm: Perkins & Wilson in concert played in the area• 1for • 2 - 3 pm: Induction Ceremony; 3 p.m. Open Mic years. Photo courtesy of • 8:30 pm: Square dancing
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a little bit of country, and frost it with golden oldies topped off with some classic Louis Prima swing tunes and you have the Mickey Vendetti formula for a good time.” According to the bandleader himself, “It makes people happy. Good time fun music. You can’t help but tap your fingers, move your feet.” He may even begin finding a new audience among the younger generation. People of all ages can connect with it, he noted. “The kids are relating to it because the music is coming back in films as key songs — “Lean on Me” and “My Girl.” They’re all coming back as classics,” he said. Making people happy is keeping him quite busy these days. He estimated that he does about 100 gigs a year, and a recent ad for the band in a local Pennysaver that ran for two weeks generated 25 calls and at least 12 bookings. Part of their popularity, he believes, is not only the wide range of music they can play, but the band’s ability to be flexible with people’s schedules and budgets. Although the group is often seven pieces, he can
tailor it to be two- three- or four-piece combos. This is all on top of owning two restaurant/taverns in Syracuse — Mickey’s Goodtime Saloon, near Shop City, and Gilligan’s Pub on James Street in Eastwood. Over the years, Vendetti has owned or leased other similar locations that have provided venues for local musicians to perform. “Wherever we have a place where we can use them, of course, we’re going to,” he said. “Local talent is where it’s at for me.” His biggest musical inspiration is also homegrown — Jimmy Cavallo, a legend in the industry. Cavallo is well known to Syracuse audiences of a certain age, having played extensively in clubs in and around the Syracuse area. Some of Vendetti’s fondest memories of his musical career have been sitting in with Cavallo. Another inspiration, Vendetti said, is Prima. Although not a local musician, Prima is well known for his tune, “Jump, Jive an’ Wail,” which is, appropriately enough, a standard on the band’s playlist.
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315-342-8020 June / July 2018 - 55 PLUS
Programs Offer Learning Opportunities, Exercise, Social Life Oasis, JCC, YMCA offer variety of programs for people over 55 By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
ou may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but with older humans, learning can provide lifelong enrichment and interest. Just ask Craig Peets, a 64-year-old Liverpool resident who attends classes at Syracuse Oasis. Peets wanted something to do with his time after retiring from engineering at New York Air Brake in Watertown in June, 2016. He had read books on retirement and felt he needed to keep active to give his life purpose. A friend showed him a catalog of Oasis classes. He thought it looked similar to BOCES classes, but oriented toward the interests of people 55plus. Now, Peets volunteers weekly at the administrative desk and assisting class leaders. He has taken classes on environmental topics, history, art and computers. â€œVolunteering here and the hungry committee at my church, St. Jo-
55 PLUS - June / July 2018
Craig Peets (left) with Oasis instructor Harry Schwarzlander. Peets volunteers at Syracuse Oasis and also attends some courses.
seph The Worker, and taking classes keeps me busy enough,” Peets said. He tries to select one to two classes per semester, usually classes to expand his knowledge on a subject without the homework and assignments associated with school days. He encourages people interested in Oasis to find classes that pique their interest and help them connect with others. Tracie Alexander, program and volunteer manager of Oasis Syracuse, said that’s the mission of the organization. In addition to the cognitive merits of learning something, the social connections provide invaluable benefits. “It helps them get sociable with other adults if they’re otherwise home alone,” Alexander said. Oasis also coordinates trips, a boon to single adults who want to enjoy the increased safety and camaraderie of traveling with others. Oasis Syracuse has trips abroad planned, including Ireland and Toronto, as well as local day trips to Canandai-
gua and Clayton. “I think we change people’s lives,” Alexander said. “Widows and widowers have told me they don’t know what they would do without Oasis. It’s a way to get back into life.” She added that some couples use time at Oasis to pursue separate interests, too.
Other Options In addition to Oasis, there are a number of places where boomers can go to further their education and get social — and active. The JCC of Syracuse in Dewitt is one of those places. Patrick Scott, director of the JCC fitness center, said that people of all backgrounds are welcome. The JCC fitness classes include those for mature adults, such as Senior Strength and Balance and Chair Yoga. Fitness at 55-plus is helpful for socializing and strengthening. “Every year starting at age 30,
Instructors Find Reward in Tutoring Kids Program has more than 50 instructors taking turns volunteering in many area schools — more are needed, say Oasis By Mary Beth Roach
nette Herndon calls it one of the most rewarding experiences of her life, and Rosalind NaPier says it allows her to continue her love of reading and pass it on to the future generation. The “it” they’re referring to is the tutoring program that Upstate Oasis runs at some area elementary schools. Both retirees give two hours each Tuesday morning at McKinley-Brighton Elementary School, on Syracuse’s south side, to assist first-grade students to develop their reading skills.
They each work with four students, providing individual instruction for 30 minutes each week over the course of the school year. Herndon has been a tutor with Oasis for nine years. “I always try to encourage that whatever they want to do, they can do it if they apply themselves and believe that they can do it and try, put the effort in,” Herndon said. Before retiring, Herndon had worked for the state of New York. She later went to work at National Grid
you lose 3 to 5 percent of your muscle mass per year,” Scott said. “These classes help preserve that so you can keep living on your own, going up and down stairs and taking care of your home. You’re at lower risk of falling. It promotes quality of life.” Scott said that many classmates get lunch together after and become friends, which he thinks is a good opportunity for people who live alone. At www.ongov.net/aging/documents/SeniorCenters.pdf, Onondaga County Office for the Aging lists numerous sites that offer programming for older adults. Other organizations providing enrichment classes include Cooperative Extension of Oswego County, YMCA, and senior centers and houses of worship in various municipalities. Many colleges offer older adults free class auditing when space allows, such as State University of New York (315-312-2500), for example. Audited classes do not earn credits and do not include tests.
and retired from its human resources division. “One part of my job was to process new employees, tell them the benefits of working there,” she said. “I liked talking with people, and I thought I would volunteer after I retired.” Upon leaving National Grid, she worked at the Oasis office, then located in the ShoppingTown mall, but then decided she would really enjoy going into the schools. Her first school was Elmwood, on South Avenue in Syracuse, but when that closed, she moved to nearby McKinley-Brighton. NaPier, who has been a tutor for five years, had worked at the Onondaga County Public Library for 31 years, and among her roles there, she was the youth services coordinator. She had always been interested in early literacy and the Success by Six initiative, which helps to prepare children to succeed when they enter school. She was looking for a way to keep that going once she retired, she said. “This helps me to really share my love of reading and my love of children’s books with some individual children,” she said. “It’s working with individuals, and I really like getting June / July 2018 - 55 PLUS
to know the children, trying to motivate them to read, trying to get them enthusiastic about learning to read.”
Moreover, the tutoring program enables her to become involved in the community.
Inette Herndon, a retired National Grid human resources professional, says working with students at McKinley-Brighton Elementary School, on Syracuse’s south side, is the most rewarding experience of her life.
Rosalind NaPier worked at the Onondaga County Public Library for 31 years. Now she is an instructor at McKinley-Brighton Elementary School in Syracuse. “This helps me to really share my love of reading and my love of children’s books with some individual children,” she says. 24
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“It gets me into the community, “ she added. “I’m hoping that I’m making some kind of contribution to the community.” According to Shelly Lee, the Oasis intergenerational tutor coordinator, “it’s a win-win for everyone.” Lee works with liaisons from different schools, putting the tutors and students together and coordinating schedules. “We’re looking for those kids that need a boost, that need a friend, that need someone to believe in them,” Lee added. Oasis is also looking for more volunteer tutors. Currently, there are more than 50, instructing at Meachem, McKinley-Brighton, Franklin and Huntington schools in Syracuse; at the Central Square School District; and at Willow Field Elementary in Liverpool. And although the numbers have increased in the last few months, there is still a need, Lee pointed out. They are in need of more diversity among their tutors in terms of their experiences, she said. No teaching experience is required, she noted, although many of the tutors are retired educators. This is the perfect outlet for those who perhaps miss their grandchildren, Lee said, or want to stay productive after they retire. The tutoring sessions occur within the school day, so there is some flexibility to the scheduling, but there needs to be consistency, which is critical for small children, Lee said. The minimum is one hour each week, but Herndon and NaPier do two hours a week. The tutors can give the preference for the school they go to and the grade level — kindergarten through third grade. But the most important part, for Lee, is the connection between the tutor and the students . There is a one-day training session that Lee conducts for potential tutors that follows the plan provided by Oasis National. The tutors often have mini-meetings throughout the school year, as well, to discuss different strategies and methods to better engage the students. She has planned a training session from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sept. 18 at the Oasis Center in East Syracuse. Those interested in becoming a tutor can contact Lee at 315-464-1746 or LeeShe@upstate.edu.
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Kicking a Tech Addiction ‘We really must ask ourselves what is so compelling about cellphones?’
recently had dinner with a friend at an upscale restaurant, and while we were enjoying a drink before dinner, I checked out the other clientele to convince myself that I was not underdressed for the location. In a corner table, I noticed an older couple — he was busily scanning his cellphone, and she was doing the same. During the course of our 90-minute long dinner, I occasionally glanced toward this couple only to find them in essentially the same activities as when I first spied them. This provoked a conversation between my friend and me about the “rules of eating out.” I told him that I thought it was horrible that a couple would go out to eat and essentially ignore each other in favor of their phones. “Can’t they get off those phones long enough to talk to each other?” I wondered. My friend said that most of the time in situations like this both parties are staring at their phones rather than staring at each other. “It seems
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as if they cannot give up their phones even for the short time that they are having dinner,” he said. The next day, as I thought more about this, I wanted to see whether any research has been done on this topic and, if so, what have been the conclusions. I found that two researchers from British Columbia — Elizabeth Dunn and Ryan Dwyer — have been working on this, and they definitely noticed a trend. Dwyer told Time magazine: “We were really curious. Is the amount of time they are spending on their phones having an impact on people’s social interactions and on how much they’re enjoying the time they’re spending with other people?” They found that the answer is “yes,” but not in a good way. They found that phone use during a meal decreased the diner’s enjoyment of the event. If you can resist the lure of your device, Dunn said, you may actually enhance your experience. One of the interesting findings of the research is that phone use could be
contagious. “People are more likely to use their phones when others around them are also using their phones, so that suggests there may be this sort of domino effect,” Dunn said. “By putting your own phone away, you might be creating a positive domino effect.” So why do we have this fascination with phones, especially when most of the messages we get can be classified as inconsequential or “junk?” Phone use can become habit-forming, Dwyer believes. “You’re used to pulling your phone out and looking for new notifications,” he said. “Have a rule that if you’re going to dinner with some friends or family members, you’ll put your phone on silent and leave it off the table. Try to stick to these rules so you can form new habits.” Kicking a tech addiction is right up there with trying to quit smoking or cutting down on alcohol consumption or heading to the casino every week. When I told my friend the results of my research, he didn’t believe me. “Oh, come on,” he said, “it’s not
I gave him these specifics:
• Almost half of respondents in a survey said they would experience a great deal of anxiety if they lost their phone and couldn’t replace it for a week. • Seventy percent said they checked their smartphone within 30 minutes of getting out of bed in the morning. • Fifty-six percent said they check their phone just before going to sleep. • Nearly half check their phones constantly during the weekend, even when vowing that they will put away their phones from Friday afternoon until Monday morning, but they just can’t do it. • More than half of the respondents said that they check their phones continuously while they are on vacation. When you see people texting and driving, which they know is wrong and could be deadly, we really must ask ourselves what is so compelling about cellphones. There are ongoing studies looking into whether smartphones really hook us into dependency and whether phone-makers have a hand in this mission. When you think about it, the lights, the sounds, the siren song of an important message or news story instantly transmitted, all of it has the allure which some can just not ignore, regardless of how hard they try and how they have resolved not to be hooked into “checking in.” According to David Greenfield, a Connecticut psychologist, emails give us satisfaction, because we never know when we are going to get an exciting message. “So we keep checking our phones, over and over again,” Greenfield said. “It’s like a slot machine; we’re seeking that pleasurable hit.” Remember the anticipation we have waiting for the daily mail? Will there be a check? Will there be a letter from a good friend or relative? Most of the time, we are disappointed to find mostly junk mail and bills, but the next day the anticipation builds again. Well, now we have this anticipation and discovery not just once a day but, potentially, hundreds of time a day.
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Second Coming of
Jeff Kramer Well-known humor columnist shows his more serious side By Margaret McCormick
eff Kramer steps into a conference room at InterFaith Works in Syracuse and takes a seat at a horseshoe-shaped table where six newcomers to Syracuse, far from their homes in Colombia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan and Ukraine, watch a presentation and converse with instructors and among themselves in broken English. Some have jobs here and some do not. All are getting acclimated to life in a strange city. Kramer pulls a smartphone out of his pocket and shows a member of the group how to access an online dictionary, where she can type in a word, read its definition and hear a pronunciation of it. It’s a useful tool, he points out, and it helps if you know how to spell the word, or even the first few letters of it. Kramer, 56, a big bear of a man 28
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with fuzzy silver hair — what there is of it — and a wide, toothy smile, is wearing baggy blue jeans and a black T-shirt that reads, “Anyone With a Brain — 2020,’’ which sums up his opinion of President Donald Trump and his hopes for the next presidential election. He has been volunteering his time as an English instructor several times a week with the refugee resettlement agency’s Center for New Americans. Later that week, he will accompany two young refugees, one from Sudan and one from Afghanistan, to Syracuse Opera’s production of “La Traviata,’’ sung in Italian, with English subtitles. The volunteer gig is a departure for Kramer, a writer and playwright who is perhaps best known for his stints as a contributing humor columnist for The Post-Standard
(2003-2011) and the Syracuse New Times (2013-2017). These days the wise guy, who once sampled a dozen slices of gas station pizza in one day and went for a swim in a wetsuit in Onondaga Lake to celebrate Earth Day, feels compelled to take action in his own special way. “I think it’s a challenge right now for all people who are not by nature political to stand up in ways big or small and try to make a difference for the country,’’ Kramer says. “I feel like if you’re not doing anything, you’re complicit in what is happening.’’ Like many Americans, Kramer says he felt sad and angry after the 2016 election that put Trump in the White House. News reports about building a wall along the U.S.Mexico border, about undocumented people being detained and deported — tearing families apart — left
Jeff Kramer photographed by Chuck Wainwright May 11 at Butternut Creek Recreation and Nature Area in DeWitt.
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him feeling upset, unsettled and wanting to do something. But what? Some internet research led him to InterFaith Works. In addition to serving as an instructor, he has written several stories about refugees for the organization’s website. “The lives these people left behind … you wouldn’t believe the stories you hear,’’ Kramer says. “Some of these folks have some English,’’ he adds. “They need to improve it. English is the passport to a better life here.’’ Some in the community might say: Who knew Jeff Kramer had a heart? The “humorist emeritus,’’ as he has called himself, is known for poking fun at local politicians, at the “bustling cosmopolis’’ of Syracuse, at sports fans and coaches, at quilters at the New York State Fair, at Saint Marianne Cope and the Sisters of St. Francis — at just about everyone and everything, including himself. Once a week, he made people laugh — and often got under their skin. “People here are not in denial about where they live,’’ Kramer says. “They just don’t want an outsider picking on them. The teasing came from a place of generosity and love.’’ He left The Post-Standard, he says, after management took issue with the subject matter of a couple of his columns, and, without his knowledge, decided not to run them. He left the New Times for personal and professional reasons. He had witnessed the departure of several talented colleagues, and says he had concerns about editorial content and quality. But the election of Trump was “the most determinative factor’’ in his decision to quit. “I have written newspaper humor since high school, but never from a partisan viewpoint,’’ Kramer says. “‘Equal opportunity cheap shot artist’ is how I liked to think of myself. Trump changed that. I saw him as such a dire threat to the country and the world that suddenly there was no middle ground. You were either for him or against him. He was so easy to satirize, and in the earlier months of his campaign, I took pleasure in that. But that got repetitive fast. A joyless humor columnist is a retired one.’’
Heart of the matter
In addition to feeling “frivolous’’ 30
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Jeff Kramer, center, accompanies two refugees he works with at InterFaith Works in Syracuse to the Syracuse Opera production of “La Traviata” recently. as a humor columnist writing about government goofs and gaffes and the latest misadventures of his dogs, Kramer was dealing with some serious and stressful personal issues. In September of 2016, he checked into Upstate Medical University to have a pacemaker installed to
help his heart beat properly. For several years, he had been living with a sometimes wildly irregular heartbeat and the unanswered medical questions and feelings of uncertainty that come with it. “With a pacemaker, you don’t just put it in and the
problem is solved,’’ he says. “I was having a lot of anxiety.’’ A few months later, in January 2017, Kramer lost his mother and “No. 1 fan,’’ Jeanette, who until a few months earlier had been living an active life. “It changes you when they go,’’ Kramer says of her passing. “The one-liners were in short supply for a while.’’ Syracuse New Times Publisher Bill Brod says Kramer’s absence leaves a void in the newspaper’s pages. “One of the things that is really special about Jeff is that he can find humor in even the most serious subjects,’’ Brod says. “We definitely miss having him here.’’ Kramer says he misses writing columns and being a columnist, but times and priorities change. “I’m a local columnist at heart,’’ he says. “I don’t miss deadlines.’’ Kramer has been chasing stories and deadlines for most of his life. He grew up in Seattle and attended Western Washington University, where he studied journalism and political science and played football. His first newspaper job after college was in Idaho. He later worked as a freelance reporter for the Los Angeles Times and
as a reporter and columnist for the Orange County Register. In 1992, as a freelance reporter covering Southern California for The Boston Globe, he was asked to get a story on the reaction in Los Angeles’ African American community to the Rodney King verdict. He filed his story from a pay phone and quickly became part of the developing story: He was beaten and shot multiple times by a group of black men before managing to drive himself out of the chaos. An African American woman and her son came to his aid and risked their own lives to get him to the hospital. Kramer wrote about the experience for People magazine in 1992: http://people.com/archive/ delivered-by-angels-vol-37-no-20/. And last year, 25 years after the verdict and riots, he recalled the experience in a story that appeared in Newsweek magazine: www.newsweek.com/ journalist-shot-l-riots-looksback-25-years-later-592032. After recovering from his injuries, Kramer resumed his career as a reporter and writer. He and his wife, Leigh Neumann, moved to Central New York in 2003. Neumann
Feeling the Age For a man in his 50s, Jeff Kramer has faced his fair share of health and medical issues. He has to be careful when going through security at airports because he’s packing some metal. • Bullets: Kramer was shot in the leg and back multiple times during the violence that erupted in Los Angeles following the Rodney King verdict in 1992. One of the bullets remains in his body, at his shoulder, and causes no problems. • Knee replacement: In January of 2013, Kramer had his left knee replaced. As usual, he managed to find humor in it. “Feeling great nine weeks after knee replacement AND I still have a valid handicapped parking placard,’’ he posted on Facebook. “Can life be any better in Syracuse in March?’’ • Pacemaker: After living with
arrhythmia issues for about five years, Kramer checked in to Upstate Medical University in Syracuse to have a pacemaker installed in 2016. “The pacemaker procedure is considered routine, mainly because YOU are not getting it,’’ he wrote on Facebook. Two years later, Kramer says he is doing great. “I don’t like to throw the word ‘miracle’ around,’’ he says, “but I’m very fortunate. I feel good. And I’m lucky to have insurance.’’ Kramer says he has always carried extra weight, but he stays fit. He goes to the gym several times a week, has a stationary bike set up to ride at home and has multiple choices of bikes to ride outside, in season. He hopes to participate in several road races this summer. “I feel really crummy if I don’t get physical exercise,’’ he says.
grew up here and has family here, Kramer notes. They live in DeWitt with their daughters Miranda, 17, and Lily, 15, and three rescue dogs. Kramer joined The PostStandard as a contributing humor columnist the same year and soon started taking part in play writing workshops at the Downtown Writers Center in Syracuse. He has had three full-length comedic plays produced locally, “Lowdown Lies’’ (2007), “Reaching for Marsby’’ (2012) and “The Golden Bitch’’ (2017). Len Fonte, a distinguished educator retired from the Syracuse City School District who serves as an adjunct instructor in Syracuse University’s Department of Drama — and a theater critic for The PostStandard — has directed all three of Kramer’s plays. Fonte says current events have influenced what his friend wants to do right now and that writing will hopefully resume when he is ready. “We’ve had a lot of conversations about the current world situation,’’ Fonte says. “He hasn’t talked much about it yet, but he’s doing something practical. I really admire that. He’s showing a side of Jeff that people don’t see very often. They see his wild side in his writing.’’ When he posts something funny on Facebook, friends sometimes suggest that Kramer needs an outlet for his humor, like a blog. He says he is not working on anything at this time, but adds that elements of his work might someday work their way into a new play. For now, he enjoys his ongoing volunteer work and says it feels good to do something positive for people starting new lives in this country. In addition to helping newcomers learn the language, he shares his knowledge of the community and spreads kindness and compassion: a ride to work or the grocery store, assistance with money management and navigating the health care system, or helping a man with no hot water at his apartment. “The simple things, like a visit to the post office — they don’t always know these things,’’ Kramer says. “This is an organization I feel proud to be part of. It’s not my whole life, but it’s a nice part of it.’’ June / July 2018 - 55 PLUS
golden years By Harold Miller
How to Climb the Ladder of Success Success comes through education, hard work
he American Dream is generally only available to those who work for it — not those who consider it an entitlement. The only thing that our great country guarantees is opportunity. Today, America finds itself in a pending trade war with China, the world’s second largest economy. However, the real battle will be technological superiority in a world that will be ruled by technology. Actually, there is much more to it than that. Wendy Wang, director of research at the Institute for Family Studies, tells us, “I learned from my Chinese parents at an early age the importance of working hard and getting a good education before beginning a fam-
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ily. Having a child outside marriage never crossed my mind. Even today less than 4 percent of births in China are out of wedlock — and the same is true in India, Japan, and South Korea. The steps to success run through education, work and marriage — in that order.” The last time I lectured at Syracuse University’s engineering school on my book, “Memoirs of an Entrepreneur”, more than half of the students who sat in the session were Asian. Later, at the book signing, most of them came forward and enthusiastically asked questions. Most planned on staying in America and working in a free environment. Today a college degree is a pre-
requisite for jobs that didn’t previously require one — secretary, rental-car clerk — even a high-end waiter. Fulltime workers with a bachelor’s degree, on average, are making 73 percent more than high school graduates. Workers who finished high school but not college earn 30 percent more than high school dropouts. While it is an inescapable fact that college graduates generally have higher incomes, you don’t have to have a Ph.D. from MIT to make a good living. There is an old story about the doctor who hired a plumber to fix his leaking toilet. The plumber fixed the leak and handed his customer a bill for several hundred dollars. The doctor quipped, “I don’t make that kind of money in my business.” The plumber said, ”Neither did I when I was a doctor.” Now that our economy is picking up steam and unemployment is at its lowest level in decades, our labor unions are finding that there is a severe shortage of skilled workers to build our cars and trucks and airplanes and infrastructure. Not every young person can benefit from a college education and not every family can afford sending their children to college. For those, trade schools provide the answer by pouring useful skills into young men and women who can go and use directly on a job. Usually, there are long lists of employers waiting to hire the graduates. The third and final step of a successful and fruitful life is family upbringing. Our nation is rapidly failing in that arena. The sad statistic is that almost 50 percent of the children born in America today are either born out of wedlock or into broken marriages. These children have two strikes against them from the outset. Many of our politicians mourn about inequality but the solution to this problem lies not with entitlement programs but with education, hard work and good old Yankee ingenuity. The family is still at the core of all civilized and industrialized countries, and our core is drifting. We need a steady hand at the helm as well as a steady head of every family. I fear for our country if we cannot achieve this in the 21st century.
Not Feeling Half My Age Anymore… By James Morabito
ntil about 10 months ago, I had been telling my doctors that I felt great. For a guy in his 60s, I had been saying that I felt like I was half my age. I was walking about an hour a day, I had lost about 40 pounds, I had lots of energy, and I had nothing to complain about. One day, in my brother’s office, I opened my mouth to talk, and everything that came out was nonsensical garbage, not even real words. At first, as he looked at me, my brother thought something was wrong with his hearing. “Wait. Are you trying to talk? Sit down. I think you are having a stroke,” he said. He called my doctor, who told him to rush me to the hospital immediately, and not even wait for an ambulance. It was a stroke. Intellectually, I knew that such things happened to people, obviously, but there is something very sobering about having it happen to you. You can’t help but feel older when you have a medical event most people associate with older people. My recovery was quick and easy,
and the holiday season went well. In January, something very unusual happened that was unrelated to the stroke. My pulse was about three times its normal rate. In order to solve the problem, I had what is called a cardioversion, during which your heart is shocked in order to stop it, and then shocked again in order to reset its rhythm. The procedure was successful. The problem was that during the procedure itself, I kept waking up, and the doctors had to keep giving me more anesthetic in order to do what they had to do. As a result, I have been suffering from about several days of amnesia. I don’t remember the lead up to the cardioversion, the cardioversion itself, or the aftermath.
To make matters worse, my wife had to rush me to the hospital for another suspected stroke, and I don’t remember any of that either. Now on new medicines, I have been light-headed for the last week or so, and yesterday I had a kidney stone, which is a very painful experience.
What is the point of all of this? Clearly, I am not feeling half my age anymore. The last couple of months have given me insight into the kinds of suffering and problems that people go through, and it has all been beneficial. I have more empathy for others even more than I thought I had before. The kinds of inconveniences and suffering that older people and the handicapped have on a daily basis means a lot more to me now. A great many people need a lot of courage just to get through the challenges of their day. As my 91-year-old Dad says, “It takes guts to get old.” I think I was always a nice, friendly person, but now I make a point of saying sincere, nice things to people in public. I tell people that they look nice, or that they are doing a good job, or that their children are cute. I pay more attention to handicapped people, smile at them, and try to see if they are OK as they maneuver through public places. There is some truth to the saying, “If you have your health, you have everything.” On the other hand, my recent health problems have made me a better person. James Morabito is a Western New York businessman, who stays optimistic in the face of challenges. He writes for www. robertsons.website.
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Do You Really Need a Lawyer to Write a Will? By Jim Miller
ewer than half of American adults have a will, mainly because they either haven’t thought about it or gotten around to it, or they’ve put it off because they don’t want to think about dying. But having a will is important because it ensures that your money and property are distributed to the people you want to receive it after your death. If you die without a will, your estate will be settled in accordance with state law. Details vary by state, but assets typically are distributed using a hierarchy of survivors. Assets go to first to a spouse, then to children, then your siblings and so on. You also need to be aware that certain accounts take precedence over a will. If you jointly own a home or a bank account, for example, the house, and the funds in the account, will go to the joint holder, even if your will directs otherwise. Similarly, retirement accounts and life insurance policies are distributed to the beneficiaries you designate, so it is important to keep them up-to-date too.
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Do You Need a Lawyer? Not necessarily. Creating a will with a do-it-yourself software program may be acceptable in some cases, particularly if you’re single and have a modest bank account. But if you have significant financial assets or a complex family situation, like a blended family or child with special needs, it’s best to seek professional advice. An experienced lawyer can make sure you cover all your bases, which can help avoid family confusion and squabbles after you’re gone. The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA.org) and the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC.org) websites are good resources that have directories to help you find someone in your area. Costs will vary depending on your location and the complexity of your situation, but you can expect to pay somewhere between $200 and $1,500 to get your will made. To help you save, shop around and get price quotes from several different firms. And before you meet with an attorney, make a detailed list of your assets and accounts to help make your visit more efficient.
If money is tight, check with your state’s bar association (see www. FindLegalHelp.org) to find low-cost legal help in your area. Or call the Eldercare Locater at 800-677-1116 for a referral. If you are interested in a do-ityourself will, one of the best options is the Quicken WillMaker Plus 2018 software (available at NOLO.com) that costs $70, works with Windows personal computers and Macs, and is valid in every state except Louisiana. It’s also recommend that if you do create your own will, it’s wise to have a lawyer review it to make sure it covers all the important bases.
Where to Store It?
Once your will is written, the best place to keep it is either in a fireproof safe or file cabinet at home, or in a safe deposit box in your bank. But make sure your executor knows where it is and has access to it. Or, if a professional prepares your will, keep the original document at your lawyer ’s office. Also, be sure to update your will if your family or financial circumstances change, or if you move to another state.
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aging By Marilyn L. Pinsky
Good Girls Don’t Go To Bars Alone
’ve been noticing more women drinking and dining alone at bars than I have seen in the past. Let me clarify that to say “nice women.” And further, nice, older women. So you might ask, “How do I know they’re nice women?” You’ll just have take my word for it. OK, so maybe not all are nice, but let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. While men feel comfortable sitting alone at a bar, in the past I never saw many woman of my generation just walk in by themselves and order a drink. When I traveled alone for work, I’d either order room service or ask to be seated in a quiet corner of the restaurant where I could read and be left alone to eat my dinner — and most other women travelers did the same. In discussing why that was, my friend Helen pointed out, “It was only 50 years ago that Syracuse attorneys Karen DeCrow and Faith Seidenberg tested the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment that public establishments couldn’t discriminate whom they served.” When they tried to enter McSorley’s bar in NYC, whose motto was “Good Ale, Raw Onions, and No Ladies,” they were refused service, and well... the rest is history. But in addition to women’s growing independence, there are also more single women around, whether those who chose to never marry or those single through divorce or being widowed. And some women who are married may want to eat out some nights even if their spouse doesn’t. I spoke both to bartenders and to women eating alone at a number of bars and asked about their experiences. Jessica, a bartender at a very trendy restaurant, said, “You have 36
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to be ready for the experience of walking in alone and taking a seat at the bar for the first time. Get yourself into the right frame of mind where you feel comfortable with the situation. Most of the mature women that I serve have reached a point where they just don’t want to sit at home alone.” The bartender continued, “When you’re single it can get lonely sometimes and at a bar you run into people who are also in the same situation. I think a lot of your experience depends on the bartender. My fellow male bartenders are gentlemen and family-oriented and look out for women patrons sitting
alone. It’s important to us in our bar that we create a safe space.” Dario, a maitre d’ at a very conservative, elegant restaurant, said, when I asked him about women sitting alone at his bar: “Why not? But try to go where you know somebody, either the manager, the bartender or the wait staff, so they’ll watch out for you.” A bartender at an establishment where there is music and dancing, Justin said, “A good bartender looks after their guests. You should always feel comfortable talking to us because by the nature of the job we chose, we are conversationalists. I always tell women that’s it’s OK
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to get up and join others on the dance floor. As I get to know my customers, if they want to engage in conversation, I’ll often introduce them to others at the bar.” “The women I see who sit alone at the bar are self confident and usually talkative,” said John, a bar manager at a hotel. “Bartenders learn when to talk and when to leave you alone, if that’s what you’d prefer.” But if you’re not acquainted with the bartender, how do you start a conversation? “As a for instance, say you’re drinking wine, you could ask ‘what do you suggest,’ then, ‘may I try it’ and that will lead to conversation.” But he also issued a couple of caveats — “Be aware of how much you drink, both for how you come across to others and for your own safety. Also, be considerate of the bartender’s time; if they are really busy trying to keep up with orders, that’s not a good time for conversation.” Diane, a bartender, said that location is important. “I would only
go to well-established places in safe neighborhoods and would first go online and read reviews about the place. If it’s your first time there, be open with the bartender and ask them to take care of you. It’s also important how you connect to a place and there’s many elements to consider. For instance, do they play music that you like? Is the ambience and food to your liking? And try to find those places where the bartender is consistently there.” I really liked the women I spoke with and got into some great conversations. I sat next to a lovely woman, Randi, who having left work late, just wanted a drink and a good meal and didn’t feel like going home and eating alone. “People don’t look twice anymore at a woman alone at a bar. It also depends on how you feel with it and I’m good with eating alone. If I like the bartender and they’ve made me feel comfortable, then I tend to go to that place more often.” BJR from Ontario, Canada, said, “I always feel OK alone but I also try
to be aware of the vibe I’m giving off. If I feel like talking, I will, but on the rare occasion the conversation becomes uncomfortable, I don’t hesitate to make eye contact with the bartender and have him move me to a different seat. The bartender is always your connection — I’ve never been anywhere that they haven’t made me feel comfortable.” “Sitting at a table, you’re lonely,” said Roseanne. “At a bar there’s always people to talk to and when you want to get up and leave, you do.” OK, having read this far, are you willing to give it a shot? What I found out certainly made me feel comfortable with this option. Think about a place you’ve been where you like the food, the music and the general ambience. For me the music is important because while some people like loud, pounding music, I don’t. Then pick a night that isn’t crazy busy and you can get to know the bartender. Let me know how it goes. June / July 2018 - 55 PLUS
Suddenly Retired Within a month, the reality sunk in that retirement for me was quickly becoming the never-ending four-day weekend from hell By Cheryl Costa
had been an industrious kid, landing my first part-time job at a local radio station at age 16. After 50 years of a military and civilian career, I really hadn’t given any thought to the idea of stopping. A t m y a e ro s p a c e i n d u s t r y employer of 32 years, my peer-aged colleagues all told me they were just chomping at the bit to go! Some of them had plans to spend their “golden years” playing golf. Others told me they planned to spend great amounts of time with their grand kids or traveling. Still others told me they were all pumped to go fishing indefinitely. One or two folks even expressed desires to go to divinity school and become men or women of the cloth. The truth was I had no plans. I didn’t play golf, I had no grand kids, and I certainly didn’t fish. Even my 45-year hobby of community theater had grown stale to me. So suddenly one day I was driving full steam in my corporate career pursuit, until I was involuntarily retired at 3 p.m. The next day I was home with nothing to do. As a vocational writer, I figured that perhaps I could keep myself busy with writing and publishing my short stories. My first naive impression of retirement was: I can goof off, I can coast, I can do this. Day after day, I kissed my wife goodbye as she went off to work. But gradually, after she closed the door and backed out of the driveway, I was filled with an aching sense of aloneness. During 50 years of working, I was always around people, day in and day out. Within a month, the reality sunk in that retirement for me was quickly becoming the never-ending four-day 38
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weekend from hell. Several times I remember mumbling to myself, “My kingdom for some water cooler talk!” Sure, I could jump in the car and go someplace but hanging out at the mall or the coffee shop haunts quickly got old. Despite my outgoing personality, I found it incredibly hard to find fruitful conversational engagement in these public places.
The invisible woman As an elderly woman, I knew I was somewhat invisible. How was I going to make friends and have meaningful conversation when most people filter out older women? But now as a senior, I found myself either invisible or at the very least underfoot. The other problem I had was that while I lived in a lovely neighborhood, I barely knew my neighbors. Most of these families had kids and that put them in a different age class who didn’t have time for old folks like me. I found myself in a kind of social solitary confinement. My solution was structured activity. I took on a bigger portion of the household chores. As I was already a freelance writer, I decided to expand that sphere by actively project managing my brand. After a book I wrote hit the market, I found myself busy with promotional tasks, radio interviews and actively involved with daily interactions and business conversations. Yes, I was working again, but now I was working for myself. I kept my own calendar and worked my own hours. But there was still an issue. While I was active with my own writing, brand projects and getting a great deal of interpersonal contact, the vast majority of it was virtual, on the phone and
online. Rarely was there an up close and personal cup of coffee or perhaps lunch with another human being. Because of this virtual environment, there were days I literally never got out of my pajamas, especially during the winter months when the weather was inhospitable. Add to that, I was living in a multistory colonial house near Onondaga Hill. The simple matter of daily household tasks of repeatedly going up and down stairs for chores or for a cup of coffee was beginning to become risky. Then one day I had a minor head cold, my inner ear filled up and my balance became wobbly. Needless to say, I had a terribly scary event on a flight of stairs. Had I not caught myself and fallen hard, I could have died or laid there for half a day before my spouse came home. The solution needed to be to eliminate the daily challenge and risk of all those stairs. The decision to move out of that big old house was one of the best ones we could have made. That’s when I found an active adults 55-plus apartment complex. I’ll tell you more about that amazing discovery in my next article. Cheryl Costa of Syracuse retired after a three-decade career in the aerospace industry. She’s a published playwright and mystery writer. She’s best known for her popular UFO blog, New York Skies, published on SyracuseNewTimes. com. Email her at blogger@ cherylcosta.com.
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ego Do in Osw Things to Scott: 10 Sandra
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12 Offbeat Museums You Shouldn’t Miss That includes the Museum of Intrigue in Syracuse By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
useums don’t have to display fine paintings or sculpture. Pop culture, specific interests and the downright quirky comprise the collections at the following 10 offbeat museums.
Redfield’s North American Fiddlers Museum and Hall of Fame in northern Oswego County pays tribute to the stringed instruments and those who saw and twang them. Some of the displays include 200-year-old fiddles. Visitors also see fiddling memorabilia, repair tools and more. The Museum and Hall of Fame self-bills as “a place to jam” so bring your fiddle along. www.nysotfa.com/NYSOTFAMuseum.html
Visit Norwich to tour the Northeast Classic Car Museum, comprised of almost 200 classics, including the Franklin, a car built in Syracuse in the early 1900s, as well as other models. See vintage airplanes and motorcycles and period costuming at the museum, too. www.classiccarmuseum.org.
DIRT Museum and Hall of Fame in Weedsport, Cayuga County, speeds through the history of East Coast auto racing. Housed on the grounds of Weedsport Speedway, the museum features vehicles from 1975 to more recent times. Check the website for listing of Hall of Fame inductee events and speakers. www.dirthalloffameandmuseum. com.
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Daniel Parrish Witter Agricultural Museum at the New York State Fairgrounds. The museum displays ever-changing exhibits that honor the state’s agricultural and rural heritage.
Get into the ring — figuratively, at least — at the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota. The organization inducts fighters annually. Anyone who loves boxing would enjoy viewing the artifacts and exhibits relating to boxing’s superstars like Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and “Sugar” Ray Robinson. www.ibhof.com.
Sweeten your day at the American Maple Museum in Croghan near Lowville. The museum chronicles the progression of syrup making from native Americans’ early discovery of sugar maple tree sap to the technology used in current times to collect and boil sap. In 2017,
the museum bested 200 applicants worldwide to win the coveted Media and Technology MUSE Award. In 2016, the Smithsonian won, which demonstrates the quality of the Maple Museum’s immersive audiovisual exhibits. They include the sounds of tree tapping, for example, so visitors feel like they’re spending a day in the forest. www.americanmaplemuseum.org.
The Museum of Intrigue in Syracuse is less of a “walkthrough-and-see-stuff” type of a museum, but more of an experience. Visitors select a “story” upon entering, and then tour the museum’s exhibits and artifacts
while interacting with various characters to solve a mystery. www.museumofintrigue.com
Follow the yellow brick road to All Things Oz Museum in Chittenango. You won’t need ruby slippers to enjoy learning about L. Frank Baum, author of The Wizard of Oz, who was born in Chittenango. The museum includes all manifestations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, from print to film to stage. View props, L. Frank Baum artifacts and more. www.allthingsoz.org.
While at the New York State Fairgrounds, don’t overlook the Daniel Parrish Witter Agricultural Museum. Free to visit with fair admission, the museum displays ever-changing exhibits that honor the state’s agricultural and rural heritage, including life-sized dioramas. Numerous vintage implements overflow the museum’s exhibits. www.nysagsociety.org/witter-agricultural-museum.
Northeast Classic Car Museum, comprised of almost 200 classics, includes 1957 Chevy Bel Air.
Oswego’s John D. Murray Firefighters Museum displays vintage firefighter tools, equipment, trucks and artifacts. View photos of the firefighters of yesteryear. Though it’s small, admission is free. 315-343-0999.
All aboard! Check out the Oswego Railroad Museum, dedicated to exhibiting all things related to railroading, including artifacts, photos, and a model train exhibit. It’s near the more famous H. Lee White Maritime Museum, so why not do both in one outing? www.oswegocounty.com/oswegorailroadmuseum.html
In Newark, check out the Hoffman Clock Museum. Housed in a wing of the public library, the museum displays more than 300 timepieces and tools of the clock repair trade. Plus, the museum features a mural-sized stained glass window. Call ahead to meet with the curator for a more informative tour of the museum. (http://hoffmanclockmuseum.org).
An often overlooked museum, The Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum memorializes the 982 European refugees who temporarily stayed at Fort Ontario in Oswego. President Franklin D. Roosevelt welcomed the guests who stayed from August 1944 through February 1946.
The museum includes numerous historic photos and artifacts. www.safehavenmuseum.com. Smaller museums may not keep regular hours, so contact the museum before making plans to visit.
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life after 55 Photos by Bill Reed
By Michele Reed email@example.com
Exploring Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in the South of France
n the South of France, it’s possible to walk the high ramparts of Sleeping Beauty’s castle. Not the real one, but the inspiration for the Disney movie version. It’s the medieval walled city of Carcassonne — the third most visited city in France and a mecca for British vacationers who get cheap flights on Ryan Air and other UK carriers. We were able to do a day trip. It was easy and affordable, since the train arrives in Carcassonne at 10 a.m. and the afternoon one leaves at 5 p.m., getting us home by 7 p.m. All for only $60. W h e n w e a r r i v e d w e w e re pleasantly surprised at how beautiful the city appeared. Surrounding the train station are art deco buildings, including an old railroad hotel. As we made the 45-minute walk to the medieval part of the city, we had to stop and stare at beautiful architecture from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Even public bathrooms were interesting to see, freestanding round structures of metal topped with wrought iron tracery and elegant signs proclaiming Toilettes. To get to the walled medieval city we crossed the Pont Vieux (the old bridge), which arches over the River Aude — a formidable barrier but hardly the evil fairy’s thorny branches. The bridge has stone balustrades and beautiful copper light fixtures suspended on wrought iron arches in the center of the roadway. Exactly halfway over, a stone cross stands, worn by the ages, but still a moving sight. As we entered the bridge on the city side, built into its foundations was the tiny chapel of Notre Dame de Santé (Our Lady of Good Health). “Tiny” barely describes the size of it. Picture a small American bedroom, with an altar and church pews. The statue of Notre Dame stands upon the altar and another holy statue venerated by the people is on a side wall enclosed 42
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in a metal grate and glass covering. A special prayer is posted to ask the Holy Mother’s help, especially in times of ill health. Those who were blessed with restoration of health have placed marble blocks on the wall, most saying only “Merci” — thank you. Approaching the medieval city is truly awe-inspiring. It rises out of the hill and you at first see a portion and think, “That’s pretty impressive.” Then a little more is visible and then more and then more, until you are in the shadow of a massive fortified city that has stood for centuries. Visitors can enter via the Narbonne Gate and despite the flocks of school kids from several countries massed around it with their teachers, you can’t help but be impressed. You cross
a drawbridge of massive proportions flanked by two towers. Surely any enemies approaching would have been warned that this city and its defenders meant business. Just inside the gates there is a dry moat with tiny plots where a man in costume tended ancient varieties of fruits and vegetables. Upon paying our fee and going into the vast courtyard, we looked up at the ramparts. They were so high we declared, “No way we are climbing those!” We agreed that we would just follow the tour and turn around before it got too high. Oh, silly us. This is France. Once you enter a historic site, you have to follow the designated path until the end. There is no going back. A modern visitors’ gallery traced
The Canal du Midi winds through the city of Carcassonne.
the history of the chateau from its Roman-era beginnings through the Albigensian crusades in the 1200s, when the castle withstood a siege by the forces of Christianity massed against the Cathar heretics. Then under King Louis IX the city fortifications were extended and improved. During the French Revolution of 1789-99, however, much was destroyed and the place fell into ruin. In the 19th century, French architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, famous for his work on Mont Saint-Michel and Notre Dame Cathedral, undertook a massive project to plan restoration work on the chateau and city. We started the tour and it led up and up via stone stairs worn by the passage of a thousand years of feet. Soon we found ourselves at the very top the medieval tower that we had marveled at from below. Twisty paths and narrow staircases led up and out onto the ramparts we had sworn not to walk. It was worth the effort and the views out across the Aude River and the surrounding countryside were magnificent. We could even see as far as the Pyrenees Mountains. (The Spanish were a major enemy that the castle defended against.) There was a tower with a window seat, and I gave myself the luxury of sitting on that and looking out the leaded glass windows to the mountains far away. The ramparts were quite open; we could touch the stones where defenders would shoot their arrows or drop rocks upon invading forces. Viollet-le-Duc had added heavy boards with small arrow slits on the outer walls. The tour ended in a simple museum of statuary and other art. Unlike in most American museums, you could actually touch the medieval statues and Roman antiquities. Little children played on ancient artifacts and no one stopped them. The museum finished up with modern depictions of the castle. In addition to Disney books, displayed here in French translations, the walled city appeared in various models, toys and video games. In the summer Carcassonne can be a kind of Disneyland, crowded and crazy with tourists. We visited on a cloudy and chilly day in March, but still we were surrounded by school groups and tourists from all over the
We walked along the ramparts between the towers of the medieval city of Carcassonne, with a beautiful view of the surrounding countryside, all the way to the Pyrenees Mountains.
Ancient stone capitals and columns are on display in the castleâ€™s museum. world. We heard German, Spanish and Italian being spoken, as well as of course, French and English. Shops and food kiosks abounded. Here you could buy toy crossbows and swords, there medieval armor costumes and princess hats. A few more upscale stores sold ProvenĂ§al table cloths and local pottery. We still had plenty of time to kill, so I got to fulfill a long-held dream to see the Canal du Midi. We walked along the towpath under the shade of the plane trees for a stretch and basked in unexpected sunshine on a park bench watching the ducks swim by, until it
was time to catch the train home. We were home by dinnertime, marveling at our fairy-tale adventure in the history-rich South of France. Michele Reed retired after a career spanning four decades in public relations, advertising, journalism and higher education. She now writes travel articles, book reviews, haiku poetry and fiction. Bill Reed retired after four decades in social services with the county of Oswego, and now works at travel photography and photojournalism, along with writing book reviews. June / July 2018 - 55 PLUS
consumers corner By Eva Briggs, M.D.
Yes! Risk of Stroke Can Be Drastically Reduced
very year about 800,00 people in the United States suffer strokes, making the disease the fifth-leading cause of death. Strokes involve blockage of blood flow to the brain, causing cells to die. It’s an emergency: a brain attack. There are two basic types of stroke. Hemorrhagic strokes, bleeding from the brain, cause about 15 percent of strokes. Ischemic strokes, the most common type of stroke, account for about 85 percent of strokes. In this column I’ll talk about ways to reduce the chance of recurrence after a first ischemic stroke. B u t f i r s t a re c a p o f s t ro k e symptoms and what to do if you think someone might be having a stroke. The following comes from the National Stroke Association, urging people to act FAST.
F: FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop? A: ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? S: SPEECH Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange? T: TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately. That last item — time — is critical. Time is brain. If you see those symptoms call 9-1-1. Don’t stop at the urgent care or your doctor’s office first. About one-half of patients who survive an ischemic stroke or TIA (sometimes called a mini stroke, a brief episode similar to a stroke that resolves on its own) are at risk for another stroke within days or weeks. But modifying risk factors can 44
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Obstructive sleep apnea. About 50-75 percent of ischemic stroke patients have sleep apnea, often undiagnosed. So testing for sleep apnea is indicated for patients with ischemic stroke. Sleep apnea may cause symptoms such as daytime sleepiness, loud snoring, breathing interruptions or awakenings from gasping or choking.
CT scan of brain show ischemic stroke or hemorrhagic stroke. reduce this chance.Here’s what you need to know. Hypertension. This major risk factor can be treated in part with changes to lifestyle, such as weight loss, reduced salt intake, a Mediterranean-style diet, and regular aerobic physical activity. Patients whose blood pressure exceeds 140/90 may need blood pressure lowering medicine. For patients who don’t want to take medicine but have hypertension, it’s OK to start lifestyle changes and medication together, and wean off the medicine if the lifestyle measures are successful. Diabetes. All patients with ischemic stroke should be tested for diabetes, and treated if present. Hyperlipidemia. The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology no longer recommend specific target levels for cholesterol. Instead, every patient with ischemic stroke due to atherosclerosis should take a statin regardless of cholesterol level.
Tobacco. Tobacco use is a risk factor for ischemic stroke, and just one more reason to quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoke. Alcohol. Drinking more than two drinks per day or more than four drinks at a sitting increases ischemic stroke risk. Exercise. Regular physical activity improves stroke risk factors such as diabetes and hypertension. The goal is at least 120 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous intensity exercise. Patients whose stroke symptoms make exercise difficult (weakness, balance impairment, altered thinking) may benefit from other physical activities. Blood thinners. Antithrombotic medicine (drugs that reduce blood clot formation) often help reduce the risk of another ischemic stroke. These medicines include aspirin, clopidogrel, and dipyradamole, sometimes used in combination. The patient’s physician will individualize the preferred drug regimen. Eva Briggs is a medical doctor who works at two urgent care centers (Central Square and Fulton) operated by Oswego Health.
druger’s zoo By Marvin Druger
Syracuse: Home, Sweet Home Trip to New York City helps author see the bright side of Syracuse
y first reaction to hearing about Syracuse was, “Where is it and how do you spell it?” When I first visited Syracuse for a job interview at Syracuse University in 1962, I was impressed by the large, red “Syracuse” sign at the airport. When I explored the area, I was impressed by the beautiful countryside. To me, a young man from a poor, urban section of Brooklyn, Syracuse was the “country.” I immediately fell in love with Syracuse, and I have enjoyed living there ever since. What are some of my impressions of Syracuse? Beautiful surrounding
countryside, four seasons (even though the winters may be a bit long), little traffic compared to other urban areas, reasonable living costs, decent schools, Syracuse University as a major focal point, significant cultural events, abundant medical facilities, a modern international airport and friendly people. I also recognize a number of deficiencies in Syracuse — social inequalities, lack of strong economic growth, crime, the Interstate 81 that divides the city with socio-economic consequences. Many would list abundant snow as a negative feature, but many people love the snow and winter sports. One of the many benefits of living in Syracuse is that it is reasonably close to New York City. My companion, Victoria, and I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and drive to NYC for a few days of pre-
Christmas entertainment. Things went wrong from the very start. I booked a Hampton Inn hotel for Sunday and Monday nights on East 43rd Street near Grand Central Station in Manhattan. Then, I remembered that my son’s birthday was that Sunday, so I decided to cancel the first night’s stay at the hotel. My request came after the penalty deadline, but they waived the penalty. However, they raised the rate for the second night. I knew that hotel rates fluctuated widely, especially at Christmas time, but I didn’t make a fuss. While driving to NYC, I decided that I should make a fuss about the rise in rate for the second night of my initial reservation. I made several phone calls, and was told that only the manager of the hotel could resolve the issue. The manager was not there when we arrived at the hotel. The next day, I did speak to the manager and she restored the initial rate for the second
photo here Coming
Skyline of Syracuse seen from the Onondaga Lake Park. Photo courtesy of Chuck Wainwright. June / July 2018 - 55 PLUS
night’s stay. An excellent hot breakfast was included in the rate, and we made the most of it. We walked on Fifth Avenue Monday night and enjoyed the spectacular window displays for Christmas, especially those in the windows of Saks Fifth Avenue. We then walked to West 47th Street ticket office to purchase tickets to a show. We ended up seeing the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall, anther memorable experience. When I entered Radio City Music Hall, I was greeted by a security guard. “Empty your pockets,” he ordered. I emptied my pockets and he saw my penknife. “I can’t tell you what to do with it, but you can’t bring the penknife into the theater.” What to do? I noticed a small garbage pail nearby. I put the penknife at the bottom of the garbage pail and covered it with a piece of paper, so that I could pick it up after the show. The penknife was gone when I tried to retrieve it after the show. Certainly, the security attendant took it, since he was the only one who saw where I had hidden it. My favorite penknife was gone forever, and I still mourn its loss. Also, my faith in humanity had been violated. We ate dinner at Dallas BBQ on West 42nd Street. The chicken and ribs were really good, and inexpensive. We had eaten at a Dallas BBQ restaurant once before, and Victoria had a spare rib that was big enough to come from an elephant. The next morning, we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the exhibit of works by David Hockney, another enjoyable New York City experience. We expected to leave for Syracuse in the early afternoon on Tuesday, so
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that we could get to Syracuse in time to watch the Syracuse University men’s basketball game on TV. But this was not to be. Victoria made arrangements for us to drive her nephew, a student at Fordham University, home to Syracuse for the holidays. Fordham is located on West 60th Street, near Lincoln Center. I paid the exorbitant $57 fee for one night of garage parking near the hotel and drove from East 43rd Street to West 60th Street. The drive was memorable. I had to weave through heavy traffic and was nearly clobbered several times. I learned not to drive in the far left-hand lane, since cars and trucks would often double-park in this lane. Also, I tried to avoid the bus lane. Driving in New York City requires intense concentration, alertness and prayer. Finally, we arrived at Fordham to pick up Victoria’s nephew. He then told us that he had a paper to write and that he couldn’t come to Syracuse with us. He dumped his baggage in the car and went back to his apartment. Meanwhile, I had contacted my granddaughter who is a student at Pace University in Lower Manhattan, near the Brooklyn Bridge. She wanted us to drive her luggage and her betta fish home to Syracuse for the holidays. Betta fish are also known as Siamese fighting fish. They are aggressive fish that can live up to about 10 years. Knowing my ineptitude at caring for pets, my son in Syracuse texted me, “Don’t kill the betta fish.” I drove to the West Side Highway, thinking that this was the fastest route to downtown. The West Side Highway was packed with cars, and they were barely moving. I then decided that maybe the way to drive downtown
was via the East River Drive. So, I inched my way cross-town to the East River Drive. Since it was late in the afternoon, rush hour traffic had started and that highway was also packed with cars that were inching along. I phoned my granddaughter, “The traffic is horrendous. I’ll never make it.” She suggested meeting her halfway, at Hunter College, on Park Avenue. I maneuvered my way to Hunter College and managed to actually find a parking spot on the street. She took the subway there and found my car. She couldn’t leave for Syracuse that day. She dumped her luggage in the car, and kept the betta fish. She would take the betta fish home to Syracuse with her on the bus the next day. Meanwhile, I realized that we would never make it back to Syracuse to watch the basketball game on TV that night. I was annoyed and frustrated. At that moment, I received the following text message from a senior vice president, representing the chancellor at Syracuse University:
“Hi Marvin, I just left you a voice mail as we have a special opportunity. Would you like to join Kent and Ruth for the basketball game tonight? We have tickets (courtside) and do a reception beforehand at 6 p.m. Would love to have you join us if that works and on short notice. If so, let me know (call or e-mail) and we will work out the logistics.” You can imagine my reaction, and several expletives were uttered by me. The final frustration in NYC was finding and entering the Lincoln Tunnel. This involved the challenging task of merging with several lanes of traffic to enter the tunnel without smashing the car. I discovered that NYC drivers are very skillful and courteous. It’s a matter of survival. Other cars came within inches of hitting my car, but, miraculously, it didn’t happen. Traffic was fairly heavy much of the way back to Syracuse. The excitement of New York City was well worth the trip, despite the anxiety and frustrations. When I finally reached home, I breathed a sigh of relief… at last … Syracuse, home, sweet home!
Salmon River Falls
Attractions to Explore in Oswego County
By Sandra Scott
swego County has lakes, rivers, a canal, and waterfalls plus history, arts, festivals, and more providing plenty of fun and learning for everyone year round. Wars: History happened here including battles during the French and Indian wars, Revolutionary War, and the War of 1812. In the city of Oswego, visit Fort Ontario built on the ruins of three earlier fortifications dating to the French and Indian wars, Revolutionary War, and War of 1812. At Mexico Point Park take a short walk to Spy Island, the site of Silas Towne’s grave. Towne warned Fort Stanwix that the British were coming. Brewerton’s Block House was not only a fort but also a trading post and home of Oliver Stevens. Historical: Besides the historic significance of the forts there are a myriad of other historical sites to visit. Learn about the area’s 400 years of maritime history at the Oswego’s H. Lee White Maritime
Museum. The Starr Clark Tin Shop and Underground Railroad Museum in Mexico details the area’s role in the Underground Railroad and more. While at the RichardsonBates House in Oswego see how the well-to-do lived 100 years ago. Fishing: The area is a fisherman’s dream, be it fly fishing for
brook trout on one of the many rivers or trolling on Lake Ontario for trout, salmon, and walleyes. See if you can beat the record for the largest chinook salmon that weighed in at 48 pounds. Visit Salmon River Fish Hatchery where three million salmonids are produced annually. There are Fort Ontario
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charter companies just waiting to take fishing parties out on the lake. The Arts: Be it art, music or theater Oswego County has it all. The Art Association of Oswego has changing exhibits and offers art classes, as does the Salmon River Fine Arts Center in Pulaski. Plus there are several galleries including one at Tyler Hall, Riverside Artisans in Oswego, and Art of the Wilderness in Cleveland. Take in a live performance by Oswego Opera Theater or Oswego Players or by one of the local theater groups. Dinner theater is live and well in the county. Music lovers will enjoy unique performances at Oswego Music Hall and Osceola’s Fiddler’s Hall of Fame. During the summer there are many band concerts in a variety of locations including weekly concerts during the summer at Breitbeck Park located on Lake Ontario in Oswego. Lighthouses: At one time the waterways of New York were the main means of transportation with lighthouses as important navigational aids. The Oswego Harbor West Pierhead Lighthouse has become the iconic image of Oswego. Built in 1934, it stands at the end of a 2,000-foot-long break wall at the mouth of the Oswego River. There are now tours of the lighthouse during the summer. The Selkirk Lighthouse near Pulaski also is a fully-equipped rental for those who wish to stay in a lighthouse. The Brewerton Lighthouse in Hastings protected the area where the waters of Oneida Lake enter the Oswego River. Winter Fun: Oswego County is noted for its snow especially the Tug Hill area so enjoy it. There are 360 miles of groomed snowmobiling trails with cozy accommodations and restaurants along the way. For snowmobilers with a cell phone there is a free trail app of the Tug Hill region. For a more serene getaway there are over 150 miles of cross country skiing and snowshoeing trails through the pristine woods — or blaze your own in public parks and forests. Farming: Get in touch with your agricultural side. There are many u-pick farms including Behling’s Orchard where they have an oldtime cider press and family fun activities from zombie paint ball to
H. Lee White Maritime Museum
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Osceola’s Fiddler’s Hall of Fame
Revolutionary War encampments. At Christmas time cut your own tree at one of several farms. Chengerian Tree Land also has a gift shop of handmade decorations. Most of the villages have a weekly farm market vending fresh produce and other local products. Out of doors: There are several golf courses including Battle Island State Park. Go swimming at Mexico Point State Park or Sandy Island Beach State Park. Hike the more than 200 miles of trails including the one to majestic Salmon River Falls or to the unique sand formations at Chimney Bluffs State Park. Explore nature at Rice Creek Field Station in Oswego or at Camp Zerbe near Williamstown. Adirondack Kennels near Sandy Creek will take you on a dog sledding tour. With proper permission, visitors can go ice climbing in the Salmon River Falls area. Unique: Safe Haven in Oswego is the only place in the United States that accepted refugees during WW II. Over 50 years ago a carriage house at Mexico Point Park was transformed into Casey’s Cottage, an 11th century manor house. Also in Mexico, at the high school, is “La Guerre d’Independence” a massive French woodblock mural of the Revolutionary War. It is the only complete set; some panels are in the White House and in NYC’s Fraunces Tavern. . Festivals: Oswego’s Harborfest has been named by the American Bus Association as one of the top 100 events in the United States. The four-day admission-free event is held the last full weekend in July and features 100s of performing artists, a midway, craft vendors and ends with a Grucci fireworks display in the harbor. Kayakers and canoes can join the annual Rock the Locks Paddlefest for a four-mile trip down the Oswego River. In January check out the Salmon River Winter Festival with live music, snow sculpture contest, free snowmobile rides and much more. For more than 160 years the Oswego County Fair in Sandy Creek has provided family entertainment, rides, animals, and much more.
Oswego Railroad Museum
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last page Pat Donnelly, 60 By Mary Beth Roach
Recently retired coach of the Bishop Ludden High School basketball boys team talks about his 30-year career at the school, new life Q: What made you decide to go into coaching? A: I g raduated from SUNY Potsdam in 1980 and was working on my master’s and was looking for something else to do. Ron Margrey, the East Syracuse-Minoa High School coach, was looking for a junior varsity. I was at ESM for two years at JV and then four years at varsity, and then moved to Bishop Ludden High School when I took over at for Jerry Wilcox for the ’87-‘88 season. Q: What made you decide to retire? A: It was a combination of things. There was a little bit of a health scare. I had prostate cancer. Everything’s OK there. I’m doing fine, but I was kind of losing the passion for the off-season
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work — the summer leagues, the fall leagues and strength and conditioning. My wife, Laurie, was one of the biggest factors by behind me and working with me every step of the way. It was time for us to do something else. And I think the deciding factor was having Gallagher Driscoll in the building and having, what I consider, the perfect hand-off for the program. [Driscoll, Ludden’s athletic director and a one-time player for Donnelly at Ludden, will assume the head coach duties next season]. Q: What is your overall record and record for titles and championships? A: I’m going on what was in the paper. I think I’m at 571 wins. We have two state championships, 12 sectional championships, and I think we have 17 or 18 league championships. We’ve got four New York state regional titles. Q: What was it like to coach at the same high school where you played during the 1970s? A: I think for anybody that is fortunate enough to go back to one of the schools they attended — whether it was high school or college — it’s a thrill of a lifetime. It’s also very intimidating. You remember when we were walking around
there as students. I never envisioned myself being the basketball coach at Bishop Ludden. But it was an absolute great thrill. I’m a real proud graduate of Bishop Ludden, and couldn’t be prouder to have been the high school basketball coach there for 30 years. Q: You were a coach for 31 years at Ludden. What are some of your favorite memories? A: Basketball-wise, there are a million of them — the two state championships and the trips to the state’s Final Four. I find myself thinking more about where our players are and what they’ve done and less about the wins and losses. It’s an exciting thing to see how successful they’ve become, and you hope that basketball somehow played a small part in it. But I’m just really proud of where these guys have turned out to be. Q: As a coach for 30 years, you’ve seen a lot of players go through your program. If there is one lesson you hoped to have left them with, what would that be? A: I think the respect and caring about each other and being part of a team. I always talked about looking to the left, looking to the right. Maybe someday you’re going to need somebody in this room. I think they bought into that — of being good teammates and working well with others. Hopefully, that led to some success in their family lives, and also their professional lives, in not always making it about “me” and making it about “us.” That’s one of the biggest lessons — we want to make it a team effort. Q: So what’s next for you? A: I retired from National Grid in 2013 and then there’s four or five of us that have started a digital marketing company called Textster. My wife and I are going to do some traveling. Maybe sometime I will be an assistant coach someplace to keep my hand in basketball. That’s never out of the equation.
IT’S ALL CONNECTED
KNOW THE SIGNS OF A HEART ATTACK.
• Chest discomfort: pressure, squeezing, fullness or
pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body: one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach. • Shortness of breath: with or without chest discomfort. • Other signs: breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or light-headedness.
KNOW THE SIGNS OF A STROKE. THINK FAST. F • Face droops on one side A • Arm drift downward S • Speech sounds slurred T • Time to call 911.
IF YOU SUSPECT A HEART ATTACK OR STROKE, CALL 911 AND ASK FOR THE EXPERTS. ASK FOR UPSTATE.
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Oasis 50? OVER
Stay healthy and engaged through OASIS, a community learning center for those aged 50+. OASIS oﬀers classes in the arts, history, technology, ﬁtness, science, travel and more. Start anytime. Enjoy learning and being connected with others. Session class prices range from free to reasonable. Easy access and free parking. OASIS is located at 6333 State Rte 298 in East Syracuse, next to the DoubleTree Hotel, oﬀ Carrier Circle.
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