55 cny june july final

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Does it Pay to Take Social Security Early? St. Joe’s CEO Kathy Ruscitto: What’s on Her Bucket List

55 PLUS Issue 63 June / July 2016

For Active Adults in the Central New York Area

NEW BOOK Read all about the new book by former Oswego Mayor John Sullivan


Miss New York 1981

How a Syracuse organization is getting more people to play chess

As she turns 55, Suzanne Alexander of Marcellus reflects on career, beauty pageants and how she found a niche where she’s making a difference

Rock ‘n’ Roll Remembering when it was considered ‘Devil’s Advocate’


Revved Up for CNY’s Car Shows

Superior stroke care. It’s about time.


eceiving the area’s fastest stroke diagnosis and treatment starts even before you arrive at Crouse Hospital. That’s because our EMS

partners start communicating with our team the moment they arrive on the scene. Once here, our stroke specialists immediately assess your condition. And if more advanced care is needed, our boardcertified, fellowship-trained neurosurgeons use the most progressive stroke-rescue therapies and technology available. When it’s about time, say “Take me to Crouse.”


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June/ July 2016

30 44

10 20 Savvy Senior 6 Financial Health 8 Gardening 10 Dining Out 12 My Turn 16 Golden Years 38 Aging 40 Life After 55 42 Druger’s Zoo 46 Last Page 50 LAST PAGE Kathy Ruscitto, 62, St. Joseph’s Hospital CEO, talks about her decision to retire and what’s on her bucket list 4

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• Collector accumulates more than 5,000 postcards

• Syracuse Chess working to make the game more popular



• Former Mayor John sullivan writes book about Oswego

• As she turns 55, former Miss New York reflects on life, career



• Into classic cars? Region has wide variety of shows


• Boomers and the love affair with cars


• Syracuse mom helps others put their lives in writing

• The Syracuse Cyclones are getting ready to hit the softball diamond again.


• Ten sites to explore along St. Lawrence River

New Non-Surgical Protocol for Neuropathy What is Neuropathy?

Neuropathy is a collection of disorders that occur when nerves of the peripheral nervous system are damaged. The condition is generally referred to as peripheral neuropathy. In the United States, over 20 million people suffer from peripheral neuropathy. Neuropathy can be brought on by a number of different causes including Diabetes, Back Problems, Chemotherapy and certain prescription drugs such as Gabapentin, Lyrica, Neurontin and Cholesterol Lowering Drugs (statin drugs). Damaged nerves send incorrect signals back to the brain causing scattered signals resulting in numbness, burning, tingling and sharp pain sensations that are usually felt in the feet, legs, hands and arms. Symptoms associated with the motor portion of the nerve may include muscle weakness, cramping and spasms as well as a lack of coordination and poor balance.

Are you Experiencing Pins & Needles? Numbness and Tingling? Pain or Burning in your Feet or Hands?

Traditional Treatments:

Over the years neuropathy treatments in general have had poor results at best. Many medications are used that have significant side effects and poor treatment outcomes. Only recently have we had a promising breakthrough to help reduce symptoms of neuropathy with lasting results.

New Non-Surgical For Neuropathy:


A new development in Class IV laser technology called Deep Tissue Laser Therapy has been shown to improve the function of the blood vessels and tissues that surround the injured nerves. This improves the elasticity and function of the blood vessels. As the blood vessels become healthier, the nerves begin to thrive. Another choice of treatment, Peripheral Neuropathy Vibration Therapy, is used to

expedite healing by increasing blood circulation to the muscles by repeated contraction and relaxation of your muscles. This brings freshly oxygenated and nutrient rich blood to all tissues causing accelerated healing. This treatment also increases the transmission of nerve signals to the affected area to reduce neuropathy pain. Additionally, a landmark study demonstrates the benefits of an arginine based nutritional protocol for patients. This pharmaceutical grade supplement containing L-Arginine boosts the production of Nitric Oxide in your body and has been labeled The Ultimate Cardio Health Solution. The Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded in 1998 validating the effects of nitric oxide on the cardiovascular system and how L-Arginine is critical to the production of nitric oxide in the body. Ironically the use of L-arginine was also found to deliver dramatic results to patients with diabetes and peripheral neuropathy by improving circulation.

If you would like to learn more about this successful drug-free and pain-free protocol for neuropathy and other nerve and pain conditions call 622-0102 Mention This Article to Qualify For A Free Consultation.

Home Treatment Program Now Available! 3452 Route 31 • 622-0102 • Baldwinsville, NY 13027 (located across from Hickory Hill Golf Course) June / July 2016 - 55 PLUS


savvy senior By Jim Miller


Does it Pay to Take Social Security Early?

ost financial planners agree that waiting to take your Social Security retirement benefits is a smart financial move. Why? Because each month you defer, from your 62nd birthday to your 70th, your monthly benefits grow. That adds up to around 6 to 8 percent higher payments for every year you delay. Yet despite the financial incentive to wait, most people (58 percent of men and 64 percent of women) claim their benefits before full retirement age, which is currently 66 for those born between 1943 and 1954. But speeding up the clock isn’t always a bad idea. Here are some scenarios where it may make sense for you to collect early. You need the money: If you’re retired and don’t have enough savings or a pension to cover your living expenses, you’ll probably have to start early. But if you decide to work, be aware of the earnings test. If you claim Social Security benefits before full retirement age (and you don’t reach 66 this year), you’ll forfeit $1 for every $2 you earn over the earnings limit of $15,720 in 2016. It usually doesn’t make sense to take benefits early if you’re working, unless your income is below the earnings limit. You have poor health: Having a serious medical problem that is likely to shorten your life is another reason to start your benefits sooner rather than later. Consider the “breakeven point” — the age you need to reach to come out ahead by waiting to claim Social Security — is 78 for someone who claims at 62 versus waiting to 66. If you don’t anticipate making it to 78, go ahead and claim early. However, if you are married or have other dependents at home that depend on your benefit, you may want 6

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to hold off because starting early will reduce their survivor’s benefits. You’re a lower-earning spouse: If you’re married and your lifetime earnings are much lower than your spouse’s, you could take your benefit early but your higher-earning spouse should delay. This lets you increase your household income now, while the higher-earning spouse’s benefit grows, therefore increasing the survivor benefit. This strategy is best suited when a lower-earning wife is three to six years younger than her husband and her earnings are 30 to 40 percent of his. She should claim at 62 and he should claim at full retirement age, or better yet wait to age 69 or 70. Because the husband is likely to die earlier, the wife’s reduced benefit will be temporary and she will then qualify for the higher survivor benefit. Skeptical of Social Security: Many people take their retirement benefits early because they fear Social Security will go bankrupt, but this not a good reason to start collecting early. While it is true that the Social Security trust fund will become insolvent around 2033 — 17 years from now — if no changes are made, that doesn’t mean there will be no more money for benefits. It means that the fund is no longer taking in enough money to cover all promised benefits. Thus payment checks are likely to end up shrinking by about 25 percent. But, if the thought of losing out on your benefits keeps you up at night, then it may be better to start claiming early instead of holding off for more later. To see how much your benefits will be affected by your claiming age, use the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new planning for retirement tool at consumerfinance. gov/retirement/before-you-claim.

55PLUS cny55.com Editor and Publisher Wagner Dotto

Associate Editor Lou Sorendo


Deborah J. Sergeant Aaron Gifford, Sandra Scott Matthew Liptak, Mary Beth Roach Maria Welych, Jacob Pucci Ken Little, Hannah McNamara


Eva Briggs, M.D., Bruce Frassinelli Marilyn Pinsky, Harold Miller Jim Sollecito, Marvin Druger Michele Reed .


Amy Gagliano Cassandra Lawson

Office Manager Alice Davis

Layout and Design Eric J. Stevens

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 © 2016 by 55 PLUS – A Magazine for Active Adults in Upstate New York.

No material may be reproduced in whole or in part from this publication without the express written permission of the publisher. Third class postage paid at Syracuse, NY. Permit Number: 3071

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

June / July 2016 - 55 PLUS


financial health

By David J. Zumpano

Do You Know Lorraine? Get your affairs in order before it is too late

R HERPES BUT HONEST Professional Male Seeking physically fit female companion, age 45-59. Must be understanding or share same experience. If interested... Reply by email @

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ecently, while reading the obituaries, I saw that Jeff, my neighbor’s father, died at the age of 78. While viewed as somewhat ordinary, it immediately made me flash back to my childhood and growing up in a neighborhood of over 25 kids, 10 of which were myself and my siblings and seven were Jeff and his wife, Lorraine’s, all the same age as one of us. We grew up in the ‘70s playing kick the can, red rover, red light/green light and many other outdoor games to keep ourselves busy. There were no video games in those days. With Jeff dying, it symbolized the end of an era we see as the “good old days” when you can relate back to where you came from and appreciate the simple things. I made it a point to visit Lorraine and her children, several of whom I was still casually in touch with, to express my condolences. Unfortunately for Lorraine, she not only had to deal with the loss of her husband of 55 years, but also had to deal with the tremendous unknown of having to maintain her life without him. You see, Jeff did everything. He paid the bills, managed the finances, and handled all the financial responsibilities of the household, while Lorraine managed the family. Lorraine did not even know how much money they made each month. She was unsure of what bills had to be paid and she was scared to figure it all out now, without her most important ally with her. As an estate-planning attorney, the family naturally started to ask me questions, which began with, what we in the business often refer to as, “the morbid scavenger hunt.” That is, the hunt for information after someone

has passed to try and figure out what was being done.

Left in the dark They were unaware of insurance policies, financial accounts, bank accounts, and in fact, Lorraine did not even have power of attorney for Jeff in his final phase of life. Exacerbating this very stressful time leading up to Jeff’s death and after his passing was the unknown and the additional fear created by it. Do you know someone like Lorraine? The truth is, estate planning is ensuring you have a plan in place to handle the legal and financial matters while you are alive and healthy, after you become disabled, and after you pass. Ultimately, a properly drawn estate plan will also provide for a smooth transition after the passing and, most importantly, avoid family fights. Lucky for Lorraine, I am an estateplanning attorney and do this every day of my life. And because I have a strong affinity to her, I was willing to sit in her kitchen and go through information with her and her children to try to assemble the past, resolving all the unknowns. We began calls to the insurance companies and some miscellaneous names she had given me all to try to discover the pieces and parts that made up her financial life. The good news is we are making headway; but it didn’t have to be this stressful. I feel for Lorraine and I encourage those of you who are not actively involved in your estate to begin the journey of knowledge now to alleviate the unnecessary pain created by the unknown after the pain of losing your loved one.

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June / July 2016 - 55 PLUS


gardening By Jim Sollecito

Pain is Price for Love


hen I meet people and we begin discussing landscape improvements, they are usually hopeful that whatever we create will last a lifetime. That might be true, but who knows how long a lifetime really is? We recognize, but don’t always acknowledge, that the plants we’re planting today won’t last forever. Transience doesn’t diminish their value and beauty. Our sweet Hannah Rose completed her life in 26 years. Our bond has not ended. It has merely changed. Hannah was an amazing person. It was impossible not to like her. Her profound empathy came from deep within her heart. She could not lie, and would not speak badly of people. But she had absolutely no patience for people who were thoughtless or unkind. She changed the way I think about things. She had an extremely well developed sense of humor. When she laughed, you had to laugh with her. Many times the laughter was so infectious that it went on until we cried. She formed

All I ever wanted was to be called ‘Dad.’ My greatest joy was to hear ‘Hi Dad,’ see a smile, and get a big hug from one of our daughters. All was well in our world for at least that moment. 10

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friendships everywhere she went, and treasured them all forever. She had a deep sense of compassion for everyone and everything. One of my special connections with Hannah was through Cornell University. Oh, how she embraced Cornell. She loved those with whom she laughed, drank and studied. She found joy and enduring friendships through the Big Red band. She recognized and knew every plant on campus, besides the gardens she visited around the world. Sure, throughout the years she helped out our family business, and certainly could have easily taken over someday. But that wasn’t her dream. She pursued her passion for women’s healthcare, working in development at Planned Parenthood. We all miss those times when our children were growing up, because those days are not coming back no matter what. And with a loss, we find ourselves sad because the future’s potential is lost; but that future was not guaranteed anyway. Today, our friends cry and we sob because someone so precious is gone from our lives. The smell, the touch, and the sound of her voice became a memory sooner than we planned. Pain is the price we pay for love. All I ever wanted was to be called “Dad.” My greatest joy was to hear “Hi Dad,” see a smile, and get a big hug from one of our daughters. All was well in our world for at least that moment. I want to share something that has been on my desk since Hannah wrote it over 20 years ago. I believe it was the last piece she gave me: “Dear Dad, Happy Father’s Day. I like you because you are so nice, because you take me places I have never been before. Love, Hannah.” It was Hannah who took me to places I had never been. It was not the last time that she said, “I love you,” that I am grateful for. It was an entire lifetime of them.


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 jim@sollecito.com. June / July 2016 - 55 PLUS





Façade of Apizza Regionale, across the street from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Syracuse. The restaurant opened in March and features a patio outside.

Apizza Regionale The specialty is wood-fired pizza —all made with local ingredients


o open an Italian restaurant in a city where old-school red sauce joints are held in reverence is a daunting task. But in 1988, the idea of opening a barbecue restaurant in an area where at the time, people’s idea of barbecue started with slathering grilled meat with thick, syrupy sauce and ended with disappointment and confusion, was also a daunting task. But it worked out for John Stage and company and their latest venture, Apizza Regionale, should work out just fine too. Stage, the brain behind Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, and Paul Messina, former bar manager at Dinosaur, opened the Neapolitan pizza joint — across the street from Dinosaur — in March. The dark wood walls and honky-


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By Jacob Pucci tonk vibe across the street are absent at Apizza Regionale, replaced with bright windows, exposed brick walls and a large terrace open during the warmer months. There’s no pulled pork pizza, beef brisket bruschetta or any other Italian barbecue hybrids on the menu at Apizza Regionale. The only thing Stage and Messina brought with them from across the street was decades of experience and the knowledge that everything tastes better when cooked with wood. The restaurant was mostly full when we arrived for dinner around 6:30 p.m. on a recent Wednesday evening, but we were able to immediately snag a table. Of course, the best seat in the house is at the counter overlooking the open kitchen and wood-fired oven.

The chef’s table, if you will. The bare-bulb lights, brick walls and large windows that retract like a garage door create a distinct industrial vibe. The bar, which was full and vibrant despite an early hour on a weekday, is finished with period metal details for a modern feel. Dinner started with an order of wood-roasted Brussels sprouts ($9). Two diners at an adjacent table started their meal the same way, presumably drawn in by the housemade pancetta, toasted hazelnuts and zippy vinaigrette that caught our eyes. In between bites of Brussels sprout — deeply browned but still firm — we heard one of our fellow diners mention to the other that she was a vegetarian and did not know what pancetta was. I watched in horror as the waiter took

The Calabrian pizza at Apizza Regionalle is topped with tomato sauce, soppressata, house-made mozzarella, caciocavallo cheese, fresh oregano, Calabrian chili and a drizzle of honey. It goes for $15. away the plate, still filled with porky goodness. The bulk of the entrées at Apizza Regionale are — you guessed it — pizza, but they do offer a couple pasta specials each day. We opted for their take on the classic pasta con le sarde ($14), or pasta with sardines. The bowl of radiatori pasta was perfectly al dente; cooked so that each piece of pasta can stand on its own. The dish has both anchovies and sardines and the fish flavor is deep, but not overpowering. The sweetness of the soft golden raisins, crunch of the toasted almonds and breadcrumbs and the acidic punch from the white wine and capers provided the right contrasting textures and complementary flavors to create a Interior of Apizza Regionale.

delightful dish. Apizza Regionale has eight pizzas on the menu. Four have a tomato sauce base, while the other half are “white pizzas,” topped with anything from wood-roasted cauliflower to shaved asparagus and Brussels sprouts. We went for The Calabrian ($15), topped with tomato sauce, soppressata, house-made mozzarella, caciocavallo cheese, fresh oregano, Calabrian chili and a drizzle of honey. The crust, made from flour milled in Trumansburg and fermented for 48 hours, was perfectly chewy, but still thin and not too airy. The raw honey, sourced from Angry Bee Acres in Hannibal, along with the oregano, provided a bright floral flavor, a great pairing with the salty, rich soppressata

Apizza Regionale

Address: 260 W Genesee St, Syracuse, NY 13202 Phone: 315-802-2607 Hours: 5-10 p.m., Tues to Thursday 5-11 p.m., Friday 4-11 p.m., Saturday 4-9 p.m., Sunday Website: www.apizzaregionale.com/ and funky caciocavallo. Many of the other ingredients are sourced locally, a feat they’re proud to boast on a chalkboard map of New York hanging on a wall, labeled with each provider. Among the many Upstate New York products include Café Kubal coffee and Gianelli sausage from Syracuse, the soft Lorenzo cheese from Meadowood Farms in Cazenovia, the gin for the negronis from Prohibition Distillery in Sullivan County and the pork comes from Lucki 7 farms in Jefferson County. Even the wood used to fuel the oven comes from Baldwinsville. A sign of a pig, with a diagram showing the different types of charcuterie made from each part of the animal, hung on the wall near the wood oven. Underneath the diagram are the words “in lode del maiale,” or “in praise of the pig.” John Stage has been praising pork for nearly 30 years. Why should he stop now? June / July 2016 - 55 PLUS




Derwin “Doc” Jones of the village of Phoenix in Oswego County has devoted most of his retirement time working on his collection of post cards. He has accumulated more than 5,000 cards. Jones has been the president of the Post Card Club of Oswego County since 2000.

Love of Old Postcards Leads to Great Collection Collector has accumulated more than 5,500 postcards. At 86, he wonders about the future of his hobby in a new, digital age By Matthew Liptak


erwin “Doc” Jones of the village of Phoenix in Oswego County has been retired for over 27 years, longer than he held his position of athletic director in his community's school district. From the beginning of his retirement in 1989, Jones showed a love of history through the collection of old postcards, many now dating back more than 100 years. The 86-year-old's collection, estimated to be around 5,500 individual cards, all began when his wife Lora gave him a book to read. It was called “Heartwood,” written by Marylee Armour of Liverpool. The book details the Adirondack


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homestead life of W. Don Burnap. “Burnap, who this book is about, drove the mail boat up and down the Fulton Chain of lakes,” Jones said. Jones met Armour and they found they had some things in common. Both were teachers. Both had a love of the Adirondacks. He called her a “super lady.” She even inscribed his edition of Heartwood. Sadly, Armour passed away in 2014 but a map in her book of the Fulton Chain had inspired Jones to start collecting postcards that documented a bygone era. Doc’s first three cards were of the Bald Mountain House on Third Lake, a hotel that existed in the early 1900s. That was the same place he brought

his family to vacation at their camp each summer. He, wife Lora and their five daughters explored the Adirondacks from the comfort of their mobile home, which was positioned up against the back wall of the original foundation of the hotel. Many postcards that followed were of other hotels that once serviced tourists around the lakes or of local landmarks. In some instances Jones has postcards of the same building that may have had a name change when ownership changed hands. “My concentration for quite a few years was just from Thendara, where the train station is, up to Inlet, that area, and out to Big Moose,” Jones

said. Jones decided to arrange his postcards geographically. “Book No. 1 I start in lower Old Forge and I come to the north side [of the chain] and I cover everything in the geographical location into Inlet and then down the South Shore Road. Then I made another loop that went up to Big Moose and that area. I have five volumes of cards of that part of the Adirondacks and that's a little over 1,900 [postcards].” The value of an old postcard is determined by both its quality and its scarcity, Jones said. Prices can range from pennies for finds at a garage sale to $100 for high quality and rare Labor Day cards. Jones has two such cards he showed off proudly.

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Jones gravitated toward others who shared his passion. There has been a Post Card Club of Oswego County since 1980. The club has members who meet to trade and sell postcards among members and sometimes put on a program. “I got involved in it just about the time I got started collecting in ‘89 or ’90,” he said. In 2000 he volunteered to accept the presidency on a temporary basis. He remains president today. Jones’ collection now includes albums of postcards detailing the history of the communities of Phoenix and Oxford, a village southeast of Cortland and major athletic stadiums. His enthusiasm for collecting has been contagious. His late wife Lora developed a collection of postcards detailing holidays of years past. “I think it's a great hobby as I say if you like history,” he said. The future of his collection and for the hobby itself seems uncertain. As new generations turn toward online and digital past times, the attraction of old postcards may be waning. “It's been the older generation that seems to have had the interest to keep that kind of thing going,” Jones said. “I'd like to see it preserved. What's going to happen to these one day? I don't know. I might end up giving all these to the historical society. Who knows?” If you want to trade a postcard or two with Doc Jones give him a call at 315-695-5089.

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June / July 2016 - 55 PLUS


my turn

By Bruce Frassinelli Email: bruce@cny55.com

When Rock ‘n’ Roll Was Considered ‘Devil’s Advocate’ Witnessing the birth of and the explosion of rock ‘n’ roll


eeing the “Golden Boys” — Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell and Fabian — in concert recently brought back a wave of youthful memories. My friends and I were sandwiched into that age group that was part of the birth of and the explosion of rock ‘n’ roll. It was 1954. We were freshmen. When we went to the weekly dance at the school gym, we slow-danced to the top hits of the day — Tony Bennett’s “Rags to Riches,” Doris Day’s “Secret Love,” Eddie Fisher’s “Oh! My Papa” and Kitty Kallen’s “Little Things Mean A Lot.” But from late July until October of that year, the hottest record going was “Sh-Boom” (“Life Could Be A Dream”). The big hit was sung by a white quartet, The Crew Cuts, but another earlier version was cut by a black group, The Chords, which we liked better. At the Friday night dances, we jitterbugged to “Sh-Boom,” but the priest in charge of the dance would allow only the Crew Cuts’ rendition. At the time, I didn’t know why. It became clear when my friend, Tommy, told me that when he bought a copy of The Chords’ version of “ShBoom,” he rushed home and played it on his 45 record player. His father yanked the record off the spindle and bent it until it snapped in two. (The 45s were supposed to be unbreakable, but only if they fell on the floor.) “Why the heck did he do that?” I asked Tommy. He said his dad yelled, “We ain’t gonna have no n---- singing in this house.” There is no question that race was a big factor in our community and in the rock ‘n’ roll world. In the


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fall of 1955, Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock” soared to No. 1 on the Billboard top 100 chart, and rock ‘n’ roll was on its way. Until I saw Haley and his group, the Comets, on Bandstand, I thought they were black performers. The same was true of the Diamonds, who sang the big hit, “Little Darlin.” I didn’t know it at the time, but “Little Darlin” was a white cover record of the same song originally sung by a black group, The Gladiolas, and written by Maurice Williams (of The Zodiacs fame). Other famous cover records of that era included: “Tweedle Dee,” sung by La Vern Baker and covered by (her Nibs, Miss) Georgia Gibbs (1954), “Tutti Frutti,” sung by Little Richard and covered by Pat Boone (1955), “Ain’t That A Shame,” sung by Fats Domino, also covered by Boone (1955), “Good Night, My Love,” sung by Jesse Belvin and covered by the McGuire Sisters (1956), and “I’m Walkin,” sung by Fats Domino, and covered by Ricky Nelson (1957). Nelson sang the song on “The Adventures of Ozzie and

Harriet” show, a sitcom about life in the Nelson family, and the recording became an overnight sensation. At a Fats Domino concert, Domino showed off an enormous diamond ring he was wearing. He invited Nelson on stage and thanked him for helping make the ring possible. Since Domino wrote the song, he received handsome royalties from the Nelson recording, in addition to his own. It was no accident that the white singers who covered the black artists’ versions of these songs were cleancut, all-America types. Boone, with his strong Christian values and white buck shoes, was the quintessential boynext-door whom dad wanted for his chaste daughter. Nelson’s boyish good looks sent teen-age girls into frenzied hysteria, a 1950s version of a young Justin Bieber or a skinny Frank Sinatra. With few exceptions — The Diamonds’ “Little Darlin’” and the McGuire Sisters’ cover of the Moonglows’ “Sincerely” — the cover records were dreadful compared to the black artists’ originals. “Black artists with more talent but less pull were muscled aside by an industry playing to the bland taste of the casual mainstream,” said David Hinckley in a 2011 column for the New York Daily News. Although Elvis Presley had had modest success on the Sun label, “Heartbreak Hotel,” his first recording with RCA Victor in 1956, made him a star. Later that year, the Elvis phenomenon took off like a meteor when his double-sided hit — “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Hound Dog” — dominated the airwaves for weeks.

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As teenagers, we found rock ‘n’ roll as our rebellious outlet. Our parents branded this new music as “degenerate noise,” which made us play it all the louder to annoy them. Who could ever forget when “The Pelvis” first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show? He was not shown from the waist down, because his gyrating hips were “too obscene.” Ah, the good old days! Radio stations were pressured not to play Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Elvis Presley and other big stars of the era because critics said they promoted “sex and delinquency.” They targeted these talented performers for censorship or ridicule. Christian fundamentalists burned piles of rock ‘n’ roll records in an effort to rid society of this “devil-inspired evil.” There was grave concern, particularly in the South, that the music would promote a mixing of the races. Rock ‘n’ roll spoke to us and the growing-up experiences we were

‘It is inexplicable to me why I can’t remember where I put my keys five minutes ago, but I can remember my favorite songs from 57 years ago.’ having during the difficult teen years. When Paul Anka crooned “Lonely Boy,” girls may have wept for the chance to comfort him, but he spoke to my awkwardness in dealing with girls. When I was going steady, and my girl and I had a major fight, Dion and the Belmonts’ “Teenager in Love” made me feel as if someone understood the crushing pain I was feeling. Certain songs marked milestones in my life. My steady girl and I always waited for “our song,‘’ The Platters’ “That Magic Touch” when we went

parking under a bright August moon and listened to Cousin Brucie (Bruce Morrow) on WABC, radio 77 in New York. Then, there were my goofy moments, when I would walk around campus as a college sophomore singing, “Ooo eee, ooo ah ah, ting tang walla walla bing bang. Ooo ee, ooo ah ah, ting tang walla walla, bang bang.” (“The Witch Doctor” by David Seville (1958). My date and I jitterbugged frantically to “At the Hop” by Danny and the Juniors (1958), but when we snuggled outside her dorm hall for a good night kiss, she was more likely to respond to “All I Have to Do is Dream” by the Everly Brothers (1958). It is inexplicable to me why I can’t remember where I put my keys five minutes ago, but I can remember that one of my favorite songs from 57 years ago, “It Was I,” was sung by Skip and Flip, and was released on Brent Records, which had a red label with white lettering. Go figure! June / July 2016 - 55 PLUS





with John T. Sullivan Jr. By Hannah McNamara

Former Oswego mayor and co-chairman of the NYS Democratic Party inks book about Port City J o h n T. S u l l i v a n J r. has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in law, politics, higher education and journalism — he is a former Oswego mayor, and has served as co-chairman of the state Democratic Committee. The native Oswegonian and resident of Saratoga Springs recently published a new book, “Forks in the Road,” which is a compilation of newspaper columns that previously appeared in Oswego’s The Palladium-Times. Q.: Can you tell us a brief outline of what your new book, “Forks In The Road,” is all about? A.: My book is a compendium of 28 articles I’ve written previously for The Palladium-Times in a monthly column called “Forks In The Road.” In essence, it’s a book about people from Oswego and small-town America. You don’t have to be from Oswego to be moved and touched by the lives and stories of people in the book. It’s about heart, lives that are well lived, and a series of inspirational short biographical articles that you can enjoy no matter where you’re from. 18

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Q.: What was the motivation behind writing the book? A.: Since I’ve retired, I’ve been doing a lot of writing. I thoroughly enjoy writing and as I get older, I’ve had more opportunity and time to spend writing. I’ve been telling these stories for years and I feel like I might as well put them down on paper, get them off my chest, and get them into print so I can engage readers outside of just the Oswego area. Q.: You are quite active as a writer. Have you always been interested in expressing yourself in written form? What do you find most enjoyable about writing columns? A.: When I was a student at SUNY Oswego, I wrote a weekly column for The Oswegonian called “Politics Darn Quick” or “PDQ.” It was a take from the “TRB From Washington,” which was a very famous liberal column in The New Republic. I’ve been writing ever since then. I haven’t always written as often as I would like, but now that I have more time, I have a lot to say. I’ve always been a preacher and a selfstyled pontificator. I’ve been giving speeches my whole life and I really enjoy proselytizing. It gives me great

satisfaction when I see I’ve had a positive impact on people’s lives as a teacher, educator, political leader, mayor or human being. Whatever role I have played in life, I’ve tried to uplift people and that’s been the most rewarding course for me in life. Q.: What is your impression of social media and how do you think it benefits society? A.: For me, social media just replaces the water cooler at work. I’m not going to the office every day like I used to, so I enjoy it because of the social interaction and it’s the validation that I get. I also feel like it’s given me a platform to express myself politically and through social commentary. I largely attribute the success of my book sales to Facebook. People from various phases of my life and various places are still following what I’m saying so it compelled them to buy my book. Q.: What are you presently doing now in terms of your career? Are you still practicing law? A.: I’m not practicing law a lot,

but as much as I want to. Currently, I have a website for my law office and I’ve got about six or seven cases that I’m handling. It keeps me occupied, interested, and it allows me to keep doing what I’ve done my whole life — help people get from point A to point B. However, I don’t want to get exhausted doing it, so I like to keep busy in other ways. I travel, I write a lot, I’m doing some legal work, and I also enjoy the social life here in Saratoga. Q.: You headed the attorney general’s office in Watertown from 2003-2008 and were co-chairman of the state Democratic Committee. Are you still involved in government and/or politics on any level? A.: Not really, although last year I did work for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s campaign as a part-time consultant where I did a lot of traveling and speaking. Prior to that, I was working for a government group called EffectiveNY where I traveled around the state promoting its agenda. But currently, I stay active as an observer and stay-up-to date on everything so I’m poised and current if need be. I’m staying engaged in a detached, pundit and commentator way. Q.: Do you visit the Port City on occasion? What do you like to do when visiting? A.: I visit regularly. I have friends and family there and it’s still my hometown. If I’m away too long, I need my Oswego fix. I need to stop into Canale’s and Vona’s or just stand at the top of the hill and look at the lighthouse and absorb it all. You can take the boy out of Oswego but you can’t take Oswego out of the boy. Oswego is still the greatest little city on a great big lake that I’ve ever had the opportunity to experience. Q.: What are your plans in retirement? A.: Retirement for me is a relative concept. It is about engaging myself in several different ways. I’ll always need to have something going on that lets me feel like I’m contributing in some way and I’m going to keep paddling along until I lose my paddle. • For a link to John T. Sullivan Jr.’s book, visit http://bookstore. authorhouse.com/Products/SKU001063289/Forks-in-the-Road.aspx.

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55+ car show Get Revved Up for CNY’s Car Shows

Cars on display at a recent PPG Syracuse Nationals at NYS Fairgrounds in Syracuse. The event is the largest of this type in Central New York with more than 8,000 cars. This year the event will take place July 15 to 17.

Region offers wide variety of shows for car aficionados By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


oak up some sun and the sights of local classic cars. The area's vintage car owners will have them all shined up for your enjoyment at various car shows and community events that include car shows. Here’s a summary of the main car shows in the area: June 12 —Mexico for the 6th Annual Mexico Car Show. The show includes many vendors and chicken barbecue. You may also pick up some parts you seek for your own classic at the swap meet. Registration 9 a.m.; show noon to 5 p.m. VFW Field, Route 3 North. 315263-2055. June 18 — Clayton for the Classic Cars Classic Wines Car Show and Cruise In Do you and dad love wine and classics? Then drive to Clayton for the Classic Cars Classic Wines Car Show and Cruise In on June 18 to celebrate Father's Day early. Live music, food, wine, beer, wine slushies and craft vendors. Free. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 17371


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E. Line Road. 315-686-5600. June 19 — Auburn's Prison City Rambler’s Car Show The event, on Father's Day, June 19, offers over 500 classic and antique cars. $2 parking. Emerson Park. 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. 315-252-1516. www. prisoncityramblers.com. July 4 — Car Show A car show is part of Fair Haven's Fourth of July Celebration, along with the Mile Long Parade down Main Street, chicken barbecue, carnival,

car show, arts, crafts festival and live entertainment in Cayuga Street Park. Check the website for times and details. 315-947-5737. www.fairhavenny.com/ calendar.html. July 15 to 17 — Annual PPG Syracuse Nationals If you attend only one car show this summer, make it the 17th Annual PPG Syracuse Nationals classic car show July 15 to 17. Featuring more than 8,000 cars and 400 vendors who converge at the New York State Fairgrounds, you'll see plenty of

automotive eye candy. Live music, swap meet, food and more. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday until 3 p.m. New York State Fairgrounds, 581 State Fair Blvd. 315-668-9703. www.rightcoastcars. com/contact.php. July 22 — Newark Firefighters Family Festival The event features a car show in addition to its 5K run, live music, rides, craft and food vendors, and fireworks. Firefighters Field, 100 Barker Parkway. Aug. 13 — Founder's Day Auburn celebrates Founder's Day Aug. 13 with a car show and live music from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Genesee Street, downtown Auburn. 315-253-6227 ext. 313. artflaire@unityhouse.com. www. unityhouse.com/about.html or 315252-7874. www.auburndowntown.org.

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Aug. 13 — 18th Annual Car Show The Schuyler Corn Competition & 18th Annual Car Show in Utica on Aug. 13 also includes a dog show, comedy act featuring Owen Murphy, corn eating competition, car show, hula hoop contest, food vendors, and fireworks. The admission is free, but it's $2 to compete in the corn eating contest. 3 to 8 p.m. 315-404-6847. www.facebook. com/Schuyler-Corn-Competitionand-Car-Show-189274821241027. Aug. 14 — Show-N-Shine Car Show Aug. 14 event in Sodus includes a flea market and food served by Timeless Classic Car members. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The judging begins at noon with awards at 3 p.m. Richard's Auto, 7892 Ridge Road. 315-946-4751. Aug. 20 — Wolcott Lions Club Annual Car Show Event features some very nice classic cars lining both sides of Main Street. Trophies are awarded in several categories. Free to attend. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Make the most of the car shows you attend by calling in advance to confirm times and dates. Outdoor car shows are usually rescheduled in case of rain. Bring along cash for admission (if applicable) and food vendors; most events are cash-only. Sunglasses and sun screen will keep you more comfortable. Bring your camera to take plenty of snapshots. Most venues don't permit dogs, so leave your furry pal at home.

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Smart Giving Forever

Catherine Winger at home with her dog, Jolie.

After my retirement, I longed for a deeper connection to my community and the nonprofits that interested me. I spent many hours volunteering for several organizations that focus on the arts. I enjoyed my time so much that it seemed natural to find a way to continue giving to those organizations beyond my lifetime. That opportunity came when my attorney suggested developing a charitable plan at the Community Foundation that could be implemented when I passed away. Community Foundation staff helped me identify and document the charitable focus for the portion of my estate that is set aside for charity. Though I hope it is many years before the plan is implemented, it feels good to have my estate plan complete. I also have the flexibility to adjust the charitable plan over time, which can be done easily without disrupting my formal estate documents. I feel so fortunate to be able to create a charitable fund that will provide for the community. I am proud that my hard work will reap benefits for the many amazing local arts organizations, hardworking animal charities, and deserving students seeking scholarships in Central New York. The Community Foundation helped make that possible, making it Where the Smart Money Gives.

Read more of Catherine’s story at Winger.5forCNY.org

Where the Smart Money Gives. 431 East Fayette Street, Suite 100 Syracuse, NY 13202 (315) 422-9538 www.cnycf.org


55 PLUS - June / July 2016


love affair

1957 Chevy Bel-Air Convertible

Boomers and the Love Affair with Cars Baby boomers’ favorites go from the 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air to 2016 BMW Series 6 convertible By Ken Little


merica brimmed with confidence in the 1950s, embodied in spirit by the beginnings of the space race with the Soviet Union. Many cars of the era were styled to reflect supersonic aircraft. Distinctive models designed by Harley Earl and others remain favorites to many Americans of a certain age. As the 1960s dawned, a new youth-oriented mindset swept popular American culture as baby boomers started to become consumers. Giant fins gave way to muscle cars and the VW Beetle. Gas remained cheap, and there were plenty of roads to cruise along in beefed-up cars with powerful V-8

engines. What was your first car? 1950s Favorites Cars in the 1950s became lower, longer and wider. Many were designed by forward-thinking stylists like Harley Earl who were heavily influenced by the transport industry, and incorporated ideas from both trains and aircraft. Here’s a few favorites: • The 1957 Chevrolet: The Bel Air and other models, with their distinctive tailfins and dual bullet tail lights, remain popular among collectors. The car's image has been frequently used in toys, graphics, music, movies and television.

• The 1959 Cadillac is remembered for its huge sharp tailfins with dual bullet tail lights and jewel-like grille patterns and matching deck lid beauty panels. Elvis Presley’s pink Cadillac became almost as much of a cultural icon as the singer himself. • Corvette: Although many could argue the Chevrolet Corvette sports

1957 Studebaker Silver Hawk June / July 2016 - 55 PLUS


2015 Mercedes Benz SL Roadster

1955 Ford Thunderbird car may have really come into its own in the 1960s, it began life in the 1950s and included several classic models. • The Ford Thunderbird began life in response to the Corvette. The 1955 T-bird had single, circular headlamps and tail lamps and modest tailfins. The first two-seat Thunderbirds were sleeker and more athletic in shape than later models, which became four-seaters and emphasized the car's comfort and convenience features rather than its inherent sportiness. • The Studebaker Silver Hawk was produced between 1957 and 1959 by the Studebaker Corp. of South Bend, Ind. Its low, rakish lines and stylish design caught the eye of a particular group of car enthusiasts. • Nash Metropolitan: The tiny import is still a favorite at auto shows, and was among the first “economy” cars sold by an American manufacturer. In 1954, the American Motors Corp. was formed from the merger of Nash-Kelvinator and the Hudson Motor Car Co. After the merger, Ramblers were marketed as both Nashes and Hudsons, with no visible difference between the two. The Nash and Hudson makes were continued through 1957, after which all of AMC's offerings were marketed as Ramblers. The sole exception was the imported 1958-1962 Metropolitan. • Among American auto manufacturers, Chrysler Corp. cars — like the lost and lamented DeSoto — may have best personified the excess of 1950s car styling best. The late 1950s models all featured oversized tailfins and a wealth of chrome, along with other styling features that helped Chrysler products to personify the era. Along with DeSoto, the 1950s spelled the end of many well-known 24

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automobile makes like Hudson, Nash and Packard. Others, like the unusually styled Ford Edsel, never caught on with the public. New Generation The 1960s gave birth to a whole new breed of cars and driver preferences that catered to a generation just coming of age. In the 1960s, many 1950s-styled cars remained popular until mid-decade. Cars still featured lavish chrome and flamboyant taillights. In the mid1960s car companies began to manufacture high-performance cars, which ultimately replaced the extravagance of the 1950s styles. Cars that remain classics include the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and Nova, Dodge Challenger, AMC Javelin and Chevrolet Corvette, along with the distinctive VW Beetle. In the late 1960s, strange-looking compact imports with names like Datsun and Toyota began appearing on American roads, foreshadowing the future in ways few people realized. Current Boomer Favorites Baby boomers these days, especially those with some disposable income, have a yen for some of the more

2016 BMW 6 Series Convertible

exotic cars on the market, according to www.Forbes.com. Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. Topping the Forbes list is the Porsche Boxter convertible. Porsche sells more than 84 percent of its Boxster sports cars to baby boomers. Next is the BMW Series 6 convertible, a speedy V8-powered car. Nearly 80 percent of all Series 6 cars are purchased by empty nesters. Also popular is the Mercedes-Benz SL two-seat roadster. About 70 percent on Mercedes’ SL roadster are sold to baby boomers. Another popular option for boomers is the Land Rover LR2 sport utility vehicle. More than 67 percent of LR2 SUVs are boomers. Listed fifth in popularity by Forbes is the Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder sports car. Other vehicles popular among baby boomers are the Audi A5/S5 Cabriolet, the Volvo C70, the Mercedes-Benz M-Class Hybrid and Corvette. Another car on the list, the Chevrolet Aveo, is clearly popular among those boomers on a fixed income. The subcompact is not known for its power and racy lines. More than 65 percent of all Aveos are purchased by those in the baby boomer age bracket.

At St. Joseph’s, Connecting Lives is something we take to heart Cardiovascular Services When you come to St. Joseph’s, you’re connected to some of the best care in the region, with faster times to treatment, advanced technology and award-winning services. But you’ll find an even greater connection with our people – doctors, nurses and staff who are emotionally invested in healing, and making you and your loved ones comfortable along the way. It’s our way of connecting lives – and that’s what it means to provide A Higher Level of Care. To see why more patients in the region choose us for cardiovascular care, visit www.sjhsyr.org or call 315-703-2138.

June / July 2016 - 55 PLUS



writing Cindy A. Fox spoke to members of the public during a recent event at Liverpool Public Library. She co-authored the book “Is Writing and Publishing a Book on Your Bucket List.”

Helping Others Write Their Stories

Motivated by a tragedy in her personal life, Syracuse mom now helps people put their life stories in writing By Maria T. Welych


ife changed for Cindy A. Fox on Dec. 17, 1993. That was the day her daughter, Leann, picked up a gun and killed herself. Fox was numb for a few months, but decided to take action. In 1994, she quit her well-paying job at Niagara Mohawk Power Co. and started a new career as a speaker and seminar leader. “I needed to take my daughter’s horrific act and create something useful out of it,” said Fox, 67, of Syracuse. “[My daughter’s suicide] didn’t happen to me; it happened to her. But it happened for me so I could take this horrible situation and make it better.” Fox became an inspirational speaker, drawing on that tragedy to help others turn difficult times into motivation for making their dreams come true. She also found that writing about her daughter’s death helped her learn to deal with the pain. “Getting over it … you can’t get over it,” she said. “You never really heal. It just gets different.” Her stories were published in two


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anthologies, “Honoring Our Voices: Speaking as Mothers, Speaking as Daughters” in 1997 and “Waking Up Is Not Hard to Do” in 2012. She also recorded five CDs of her motivational talks, including a speech she gave at the 50th Tri-State Al-Anon Convention in Evansville, Ind., in 2010. Last year, Fox took another big step: She co-wrote a book that aims to help other people write, self-publish and promote their stories. The book, “Is Writing and Publishing a Book on Your Bucket List,” is written by Fox and M.K. Dougherty, of Rochester, and sells on amazon.com for $12.99. “When I write, it literally transforms me,” Fox said. “When someone else reads what I’ve written, it transforms them. It’s powerful. Writing can heal the past. We can write the wrong to make it right again. It’s exciting!” In early April, Fox brought a stack of her books and CDs to Liverpool Public Library for a two-hour session for the public to meet local authors. A steady stream of people, many who also are authors, stopped by Fox’s

table to chat. “I love the title of your book,” Rachael Ikins, a published poet, told Fox. “This would be an awesome book for writers groups. A lot of people in writers groups don’t know where to start.” Fox agreed. “This book is full of hundreds of ideas, telling you how and where you can sell your book,” she said. “One of the biggest things with self-published authors is that they don’t sell their books. They don’t like promoting themselves. But selfpublished authors who do lectures and workshops, they sell their books.” Since Fox made the transition from speaking to writing, she’s a natural at selling herself and her book. In fact, her section of the book offers tips on how to be a good public speaker, something she urged every author she spoke to at the library to start doing. She’s planning to take her own advice. Fox is contacting senior living facilities to arrange workshops and seminars for seniors to learn how to tell their stories. It’s important that their stories don’t get lost when they die,

she explained to Eric Norton, a local poet and short story writer. “I listened to a woman speak, a black woman, and she told us about her past, that she came from a family that had been slaves,” she said. “Other women in the room were sad because they didn’t know their families’ histories. It’s important for people to leave a living legacy.” Norton agreed, adding that he has lost the history of his mother’s side of the family because her father, Norton’s grandfather, tried to hide his background. That’s why Norton is currently writing a book about his wife’s struggle and eventual death from cancer. “I’m working on a book dedicated to her,” he said. “That’s wonderful!” Fox responded. Just before the end of the meetand-greet, a Navy veteran stopped by Fox’s table to ask a few questions. “Do you have a story in you?” she asked him. “Actually, I do,” Jack Quinlan replied. “It’s been rattling around in this echo chamber for a long time.” Quinlan spent two and half years in the U.S. Army, then another 17 in the Navy. He’s been through wars and seen a lot. But his favorite story is about a very smart dog he once owned. He pulled out cash and purchased a copy of Fox’s book. “I’m going to write my story,” he said. “Let me know when you do, because I want to read it,” Fox responded.


We reach baby boomers. To advertise in 55 PLUS, call 315-342-1182 June / July 2016 - 55 PLUS


Social Security


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Q: What is the benefit amount a spouse may be entitled to receive? A: If you’re eligible for both your own retirement benefit and for benefits as a spouse, we will always pay you benefits based on your record first. If your benefit as a spouse is higher than your retirement benefit, you will receive a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse's benefits. A spouse generally receives 50 percent of the retired worker's full benefit, unless the spouse begins collecting benefits before full retirement age. If the spouse begins collecting benefits before full retirement age, the amount of the spouse's benefit is reduced by a percentage based on the number of months before he or she reaches full retirement age. For example, based on a full retirement age of 66, if a spouse begins collecting benefits: • At age 65, the benefit amount would be about 46 percent of the retired worker's full benefit; • At age 64, it would be about 42 percent; • At age 63, 37.5 percent; and • At age 62, 35 percent. However, if a spouse is taking care of a child who is either under age 16 or disabled and receives Social Security benefits on the same record, a spouse will get full benefits, regardless of age. Learn more by reading our Retirement publication at www.socialsecurity. gov/pubs/10035.html. Q: If I call 1-800-7721213, can a Social Security representative take my application for Medicare prescription drug help over the phone? A: If an interviewer is available when you call the 800 number, he or she can take your application over the phone. If an interviewer is not immediately available, we can schedule a telephone appointment for you.


55 PLUS - June / July 2016

June / July 2016 - 55 PLUS


55+ game of chess Checkmate! Chess Resurgence in Syracuse

Group behind Syracuse Chess works with students and adults to make the game more popular By Aaron Gifford


lthough it may not be at the same level as the Bobby Fischer era, a chess resurgence is taking place in Central New York, thanks to a group of Syracuse men who are old enough to remember the times before the game was played online. The nonprofit organization Syracuse Chess has solidified chess clubs in local schools, organized scholastic chess tournaments and has its sights set on teaching or re-teaching the game to older adults. “Everyone knows it improves memory and thinking skills and can stave off dementia or Alzheimer’s,” said Anton Ninno, the group’s president. “And with the kids, they learn about the immediate consequences of their choices.” “At some point, you get enough of the screens,” Ninno continued, referring to television, computers and video games. “It’s more fun to gather with real human beings. It’s just different.”


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Ninno, 64, learned the game at the age of 8. At first, he didn’t like chess because it seemed too difficult. But Ninno experienced a renewed interest in the game when he taught his son Andy and daughter Kate how to play, though the family also enjoyed a variety of board games, including Monopoly. Andy later joined his high school chess club. Ninno actually preferred “Go,” a two-player game in which the goal is to secure the majority of territory on a game board by strategically maneuvering player pieces. Its origins are traced back to ancient China. He established a Syracuse Go club 14 years ago. Enthusiasts of the game held gathering at local Wegmans cafes. Ninno, a teacher at Southside Academy in Syracuse, used a chess set to teach sixth graders about medieval times. Many students took a serious interest in learning more about the game, so Ninno started a chess club. A decade later, the club is going stronger than ever.

Photo above: Bob Nasiff, 73, a certified chess master with the U.S. Chess Federation, playing chess with students at Southside Academy in Syracuse. “I taught a few how to play, and we were playing at lunch,” he said. “Then I volunteered to stay after school so more could play. It went from six kids to 16, and a week after that I had to lock the doors because we didn’t have enough seats.” Parents and grandparents came to watch the afterschool matches. With so much enthusiasm surrounding the club, Ninno decided to show the young players and their fans something truly remarkable. He invited friend and fellow chess enthusiast Bob Nasiff to play all 24 students in the club simultaneously. “The kids figured, he couldn’t beat all of them at once,” Ninno recalled with a laugh. “They figured they’d get at least one. But it could have been 100

of them against Bob. It wouldn’t have mattered.” Nasiff, 73, a certified chess master with the U.S. Chess Federation and a former assistant director with the federation, beat all 24 opponents with ease. The kids left school that day with a new appreciation and level of commitment for the game. “The kids like competition, and it’s fun,” Nasiff said. “It’s easier to learn the rules of chess than you think. The more difficult part is learning to pay more attention to what your opponent is doing. Chess takes a huge amount of patience. I probably spend 75 percent of my time thinking about what my opponents are doing.” Nasiff, a retired special education teacher, didn’t start playing chess regularly until he joined his high school chess club at the age of 15. “I remember seeing the old men playing in the park and wondering, what is the fascination with that game? So, since the club was open to all, I figured I’d try to understand it more.”

In training Nasiff got a cheap chess set and played his brother every day. A few weeks later, he beat the best player in the high school chess club. Nasiff said he was told he had strong spatial skills for his age, was strong in math and had a knack for solving problems in his head — abilities that translated well onto the chessboard. After graduation he enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he spent much of his down time playing chess and reading books about the game. While stationed in Hawaii, he entered high-level competitions and won a state championship. While working as a teacher, Nasiff earned extra money on the side giving private chess lessons. He also established chess clubs in local school and organized scholastic tournaments. He continues to play competitively as his schedule allows and admits that while he’s still a master-level player, his speed game is gradually slowing down with age. “In the five-minute games, I’m not as strong as I used to be,” he said. “On the Internet, I find myself getting into time trouble faster. I think your thinking slows down a little bit.” But Nasiff stresses that older

Anton Ninno, 64, is the president of Syracuse Chess Inc. Next to him is student Kaleb Shelton of Syracuse, who recently received an award. adults should not be deterred from learning or relearning chess if they are worried about not being as competitive at a game as they once were. It’s a great workout for the brain regardless of skill level. “It’s like anything else,” he explained. “You have to exercise physically, and you have to do the same with your brain. It goes a long way in your health. Chess is a sport of the mind.” He also thinks chess is an attractive activity for retirees because it’s an inexpensive way to socialize, whether you choose to gather for competitions in a city park or a mall food court. It’s also a nice activity for those who are shy, because you don’t have to talk when you play chess. “There’s a ton of potential to do more outreach to seniors,” Nasiff said. Jim Gonnella, 65, a Syracuse Chess board member who volunteers with chess clubs in Syracuse city schools, has a similar chess background with the students in that he worked his

way up to chess from checkers. He first played as a teen-ager but didn’t start taking the game seriously until college. The retired radar engineer still competes in adult tournaments, where he has noticed many players 20, 30 and even 40 years his junior. “I do think there’s a renewed interest in chess, but definitely not like what we saw in the 1970s,” Gonnella said. “The best players in the world are pretty young now, so that may be part of it.” Gonnella has provided chess lessons to entire families. He’s learned there are many adults in the area that might enjoy playing chess again or even teaching others how to play, but they are unsure of their knowledge and skills because they haven’t played in so long. “They are unsure of their own abilities even though they know they really like the game,” he said. “We really need an initiative to teach the teachers.” Syracuse Chess is still a new organization. While members have enjoyed success in their scholastic endeavors, they have only just begun to brainstorm ideas for bringing the game to older adults. Ninno has already held family chess nights at a local YMCA and the Westcott Community Center, which included a presentation on the history of the game and a thorough explanation of the rules and how the pieces can be moved. Then the participants were invited to play as Ninno introduced himself to each participant, answered questions and offered tips. “We would like to do the same thing at senior centers,” he said. “This could complement existing bridge clubs or bingo nights.” Ninno expects to retire from his full-time teaching job within a year. He hopes to spend much of his free time expanding Syracuse Chess programs to more communities. Chess will be an easy sell, he says, to young and old. “I think many people will like it for the same reason that I like it — chess is like a puzzle. It’s not as much about winning or losing as it is working on something and always learning from it,” Ninno said. To learn more about Syracuse Chess, contact Ninno at 315-350-1157. June / July 2016 - 55 PLUS




Suzanne Alexander

Miss New York 1981 As she turns 55, former Miss New York reflects on career, beauty pageants and how she found her niche where she makes a difference By Aaron Gifford


hirty-five years after claiming the Miss New York crown, Suzanne Alexander continues to wow an audience. And yet, the Lewis County native avoids touting herself as the woman who also represented New York state at the Miss America pageant, winning the talent portion of that nationally televised competition. She’ll also downplay her career as a model and professional opera singer. Thousands of people have seen her on stage or in advertisements, but the small-town tomboy turned glamour girl turned grandmother prefers an audience of 5- and 6-year-olds. “It took me awhile to find out what I wanted to do,” Alexander said during an interview from her Marcellus home a few months before her 55th birthday (she is turning 55 June 16). “But, thank God, it found me.” Alexander grew up in what she described as a religious, caring and enlightened household in Lyons Falls, a rural farming community of less than


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Pageant winner Suzanne Alexander’s attractiveness extends far beyond looks 600 people on the Tug Hill Plateau, just north of Oneida County. She is the second-youngest of six children. Her mother, Roxane, taught first grade and kindergarten. Her father, William, was a district principal for six different schools in the area. The Alexander children enjoyed exploring the woods, climbing trees, chopping wood and rehabilitating injured wild animals they found on

their property, whether raccoons, skunks or foxes. “With the newborn raccoons,” Alexander said, “Dad was the first one they saw, so they thought he was the father and we were the rest [of the litter]. Birds would just land on Dad’s shoulder. He was like Dr. Doolittle.” Although the family embraced education, Alexander says she was a terrible student in elementary school, struggling with the material due to not being able to focus and sit still for long periods of time. She believes she had attention deficit disorder or other impairments, but back then, such problems were not commonly diagnosed. She said she didn’t learn how to read until she was in sixth grade. “There was too much noise in my head, but eventually I learned to manage it,” Alexander said. “I was terribly turned off from school and more into singing. We learn to live with what God gave us.” She became fixated on music at

Suzanne Alexander photographed by Chuck Wainwright May 3 at Sycamore Hill Gardens in Marcellus.

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Alexander being crowned Miss New York of 1981. the age of 3, singing in church where her mother played the organ and then attending operas in New York City when her father was there working on a doctorate degree. William Alexander was also very musical, learning to play piano by ear without ever taking a formal lesson. They brought opera records with them when returning home to Central New York, and Alexander listened to them constantly, dreaming of performing in New York City herself someday. As she got older, Alexander improved in academics and excelled in music, earning all-state chorus honors as a high school freshman. Outside of school, she took on private vocal lessons from a Juilliard School of Music graduate who had just happened to settle in Lowville. During their high school years, all six children were required to maintain summer jobs. But at the close of one semester, Alexander ’s father broke tradition with a unique offer: Instead of working, enter the Ms. Lewis County Pageant and dedicate your best full-time effort to winning it. The local Lions Club desperately needed a contestant. “I said ‘Dad, you’ve got to be kidding me,’” Alexander recalled. “I mean I was a country kid who wore flannel and boots. I thought, there’s no way they’re gonna pick me.” But indeed, Alexander, who wore 34

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a gown and sang a song, was picked over the 19 other young women who entered the competition. The Lions Clubs throughout the area were so impressed that they pledged to cover her trek to the state pageant. Alexander also began college at that time, majoring in music at the University of Hartford’s Hartt School of Music. To prepare for the state pageant, Alexander cut off three feet of hair, learned how to properly apply makeup, practiced walking in high heels and concentrated on improving the way she spoke. She also studied up on American history, international affairs and literature. “I was still a country girl,” she said. “It was a lot of preparation. Most of the girls coming in were from cities, but I was more comfortable with animals. The other kids coming in had more money, more etiquette.” Alexander played the role of a pageant contestant to a degree, but refused to change her laid-back personality, maintaining that it was not in God’s plan for her to change the person she was. She wore boots and jeans during the rehearsals and always felt like she was watching the event up close but not really in it. Some of the contestants, she said, were ultra-competitive, vain and conniving. Given the intensity of the competition, Alexander doubted that she had enough spirit to impress the judges beyond the talent portion of the contest, where she also sang. And yet to her surprise, Alexander was crowned Miss New York of 1981. “I guess they did like my personality,” she said. “I guess being myself paid off.”

really was.” Alexander was not relying on the Miss America Pageant for future opportunities, but it was still a lot to juggle. By then, she had put college on hold to perform with the New York City Opera and make some money in modeling on the side. The Central New Yorker was not crowned Miss America, but she did win the talent portion of the competition with her singing of opera classic “Vissi d’ Arte.” Alexander was the first Central New Yorker to reach the national competition since Jeannine Bowman of Rome won Miss New York State in 1953. She also set a high standard for other competitors in the region to follow. Two years later, Syracuse University student Vanessa Williams won the Miss America pageant, becoming the first African-American to do so. And in 2014, Nina Davuluri of Fayetteville brought the crown back to this region, becoming the first IndianAmerican to win it. The Miss America Pageant is often confused with the Miss USA Pageant. While both are extremely competitive, the biggest difference is that the winner from the Miss USA Pageant continues on to compete in the worldwide Miss Universe Pageant. The Miss America Pageant, however, includes a talent competition, while its counterpart does not. After the competition, Alexander returned to the arts, accepting a fulltime position with the Montreal Opera. While she loved singing, she never

To the next level So Alexander was even more laid back when she prepared for the Miss America pageant the following year in 1982. She wanted to enjoy this, not be stressed out over it, and never really saw it as a competition. She was also pleasantly surprised with the demeanor of the other contestants. Contrary to the Miss New York pageant, all of the Miss America contestants seemed sincerely kind and unselfish. “It was not cutthroat and we became friends,” she said. “The media couldn’t believe it, but that’s how it

Taken during the filming of the commercial for the spring I love New York campaign. 1982.

adjusted to the lifestyle of a performer. She began to rethink her career choice. “The partying, it wasn’t for me. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke,” she said. “It just wasn’t for me. The money wasn’t important to me. I said, ‘I’m not supposed to be here.’ I just wanted to be a hometown girl.” So Alexander returned to Central New York and enrolled in the education program at SUNY Cortland, where she studied to become a teacher in grades kindergarten through six, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She got married, had two daughters (Rox and Alexandra), endured a stormy marriage and got divorced, raising both kids as a single mother while working full time. As a parent, Alexander did not push her daughters into beauty or talent pageants, and they never expressed an interest in them anyhow. These types of competitions are unhealthy for young girls and should never be taken too seriously, she said. “They don’t develop the whole person,” Alexander said. “You run the risk of low self esteem and eating disorders. Sports can have the same problem if you let it get out of hand. If they want to try it [pageants] when they are older teenagers, I guess that’s

Singing the national anthem at the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Islanders and the Rangers at Madison Square Gardens in New York City. 1982

Focus on Health

Former Miss New York is now a vegan, has no TV at home and makes her own almond milk


utside of teaching and spending time with her daughters and granddaughter, Alexander enjoys exercising and promoting a healthy lifestyle through her “FountainOfYouth” Web page (www. fountainofyouthtv.org/). She collects her drinking water once a week from a natural spring and makes her own almond milk. She hasn’t had a television in her house since her daughters were in middle school. She also doesn’t have a microwave oven. She became a vegetarian after her father died of prostate cancer. “When I was doing the pageants, I would get acid reflux and migraines,” she said. “I don’t have those problems anymore. We aren’t meant to eat that stuff. I feel like I’m 16 again.” Her exercise regimen includes

the use of free weights and her Bowflex machine for up to 90 minutes a day. She’s been involved in strength training since she was 12. “The body is a temple,” she said, “and my body craves it.” Alexander explained that she incorporates her love of physical fitness into teaching. She wants to combat the obesity epidemic and teach the kids to find the world around them more interesting than what they can find on a television, smart phone or video game console. In some way or another, the students are always moving during class. Her method of teaching is based on the whole body. Using your own moving arms, legs, fingers, toes and torso goes a long way in learning math, just as sign language is a colorful and active way to learn communication skills.

“I developed this because of my inability to learn how most children learn,” she said. “It’s amazing to see all students, no matter what their ability, succeeding in school using these methods. And it’s so much fun! Life is too short; make the most of what we do each day.” Alexander said she still loves teaching and plans to reach the 30year mark, if not longer. After that, maybe she’ll dedicate more time to her website. And she is only half joking when she talks of appearing in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue if such an offer were made to “older” models. “Age is just a number. Embrace it,” she says. “I want to be better than the year before. Let’s just get out there and live!”

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OK, but let them be kids. I told my kids to find their own path.” And they did just that: Alexandra is studying economics at Monroe Community College in Rochester and raising her 18-month-old daughter, Claire. Rox chose music and plays trumpet in the Camp Smith 42nd Infantry Division Band in Cortlandt Manor, an Army National Guard installment downstate.

Professional studio photo for Miss New York State publicity photos. 1981

Finds her niche

Suzanne Alexander with George Burns in Atlantic City, 1981.


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For a woman who has always had a hard time sitting still, talks at a rapid pace, becomes fixated on certain topics and prefers to communicate with music at times, an elementary school classroom was the perfect fit. Now in her 26th year at the K.C. Heffernan Elementary School in Marcellus, mostly as a fourth-grade teacher and in more recent years as a kindergarten teacher, Alexander has found a way to make school as fun as it is educational. Gary Bissailon, the school’s principal, said Alexander’s passion for teaching is unprecedented. Even though her tenure is solid and she’s way past the point of having to prove her commitment level, Alexander still arrives at school much earlier than she is required to and leaves well into the evening, the principal explained. “That’s a level of preparation you don’t always see,” he said. “She has a passion for what’s good for the kids. She’s very concerned — always — about being the best she can be. Parents request her to go up to the next level with their kids for the next school year.” Alexander sends daily email summarizing the school day to all the parents, and often attached videos of their activities. On any given day, Alexander has her students speaking French or using sign language. For the character education lesson, the students brought items to food pantries and placed the paper kindness hearts that they made in class on several windshield wipers, said Deb Glisson, district director of staff development and training. “You’re talking about a top-notch teacher,” Glisson said. “She talks to them like little adults in a very positive way, and they respect her and want to please her. They are little sponges and they absorb it all.”

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golden years By Harold Miller hal@cny55.com

Where Did Family Go?


Sense of family diminishes in present-day society

he television series of this iconic family comedy starring Robert Young — “Father Knows Best” — debuted in 1954 just a year before Janet and I were married. The show depicted the conservative and paternalistic American family life during the postWorld War II era. Father ruled the household with teachings of honesty, virtue and discipline, while mother ruled with love, solid reasoning, social graces, common sense and patience. The 1950s were a continuation of America’s history — although with the

emancipation of our women (women worked while their husbands went off to war) that usually meant both parents worked for a living. Even so, families almost always had dinner together, sharing the problems and triumphs of the day (salted with some arguing among the siblings, of course). The family was always the core of life and living. We laughed and played together, went to church together, and we vacationed together. Holidays were always special family times. Our family started a Thanksgiving clan gathering in 1950 that included aunts, uncles and cousins

of both the Millers and the Hirsh’s (Janet’s family). This special event continues today when up to 100 of us travel from New York City, Florida, New England, California, and Colorado to gather at the Sheraton University Conference Center in Syracuse on Thanksgiving Day. Leonard Pitts Jr. — noted columnist for the Miami Herald — has written an editorial on the need for fathers in our increasingly singleparent families entitled “Kids need fathers — period!” “I believe that our slide toward a fatherless society, a society where

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the male parent is considered optional, irrelevant, or interchangeable is toxic for our children. That concern is buttressed by a growing body of research which tells us that a child raised without his or her biological father is significantly more likely to live in poverty, do poorly in school, drop out of school altogether, become a teen parent, exhibit behavior problems, drink, smoke, or wind up in jail.”

Mold the child Children need molding into responsible adults. Sometimes discipline is necessary, with the understanding that discipline is never being abusive. The old adage, “This hurts me more than you” is often true but the misguided feeling that a child will not like you if you punish them sometimes keeps parents from the necessary discipline. If a child can put up a tantrum and get away with it, the chances are that you have lost control and almost certainly that child will be spoiled. I happen to think that pediatrician

Benjamin Spock, who published the best seller, “Baby and Child Care,” in 1946 was largely responsible for repealing the old adage “spare the rod and spoil the child,” and did more to damage our country’s social fabric than anyone. The family is the core of all civilizations and the successful family must work as a team. Mother needs help with house cleaning and help in the kitchen; Father needs to help with the yard work, somebody needs to drive Junior to soccer practice, etc. There is much discussion among our politicians today about income and social inequality. Indeed this is true, but the solution is beyond government entitlements (tax the rich and give to the poor). The problem basically starts with the fact that half of all children born today are born into single-parent families, and usually the single parent has to work for a living. This leaves the grandparents, babysitters or (God forbid) the government to raise the child. A lonely child left to his or her

devices needs a sense of belonging. Thus the street gangs that flourish in the ghettos of our towns and cities, which in turn almost always breed criminal activity. Alienated young men and women join radical political organizations to have a sense of being a part of society. Young people can pursue their goals only when they know who they are and when they establish firm identities. The fabric of American society is being torn into two pieces: the haves and the have nots. All the welfare programs in place today will not put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Most of you reading this are family- oriented responsible people (that’s what the demographics tell us) so might I suggest that you send along a copy of this article to your children or grandchildren. We might even promote an “America is Families” movement. • This column is an excerpt of Hal Miller’s upcoming book, “Memoirs of a Patriarch.”

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aging By Marilyn L. Pinsky

With Aging Comes Sense of Caution

t o N r



don’t smile at older men anymore. Why? Now that I’m older too, it looks like I’m flirting and not just being friendly. After my dad got sick, I used to make a special point of smiling at older men who seemed like they could use a bit of cheering up. Of course then I was in my 40s and 50s and what I considered older men were in the range of 70 to 90 years of age. Now that I’ve gotten older, within the dating age range of these older men, I realized my friendly behavior could be seen as flirting as opposed to just being friendly.


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Let me explain the smiling thing. I grew up in a small town where it felt like everyone knew each other and we would smile and say hello as we passed on the street. The expression “you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl” applies to me. Smiling and saying hello to everyone I meet is a habit that followed me to college, into adulthood and all the way to my many years in Upstate New York. And it doesn’t help to say, “don’t take my behavior the wrong way, I’m from Port Jervis and we just smile a lot,” because then, in addition

to looking like I’m out to pick up men, I would sound like a crazy old woman out to pick up men. I’m working on a new smiling protocol but it needs some explaining. First, it’s not entirely correct to say “I don’t smile at older men anymore,” but rather, “I don’t smile at ‘strange older’ men anymore” because there are exceptions even to that rule. In this case I mean I don’t smile at older men who are total strangers to me, as opposed to older men who may appear to be strange because they are dressed in outrageously great outfits — them I still smile at. Then there are older men I know casually. I still smile at them. So that leaves the next category, the men I don’t know that I would have smiled at in the past but don’t anymore. And that is the problem area because despite my new resolution, there have been occasional lapses such as lonely looking men passing through Wegmans, or those at the doctor’s office who look worried, or if they’re sitting around the mall waiting for their wives to finish shopping and look sad or ... OK, so I guess I still do smile at older men but the thing is, I know I shouldn’t and I’m planning on stopping soon. Here are some options that are presently under consideration to help cut down on the smiling thing. Option A: Shopping at night when no one’s around so I can’t smile by accident. Option B: Hanging around the bus station where I could practice not smiling at strangers. Option C: Eating a lot of spinach before I go out that would stick to my teeth and make me think twice about smiling. Any other options are welcome.

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Protect the ones you love June / July 2016 - 55 PLUS


life after 55 By Michele Reed michele@cny55.com

Little Gifts of France


n my birthday back in late March, my favorite French clothing store gave me a raincoat and a set of scissors. Not because it was my birthday, but “just because.” There would be a birthday gift from them, too, but more about that later. The giving of small gifts or “petits cadeaux (puh-TEE cadOH),” by merchants is a sweet custom in France. At first it shocked us, and even though we are now used to it, it still regularly amazes us. We were caught off guard the first time it happened. The olive seller we frequent at the market put a container of his homemade garlic and lemon relish into the bag with our other purchases. When we looked quizzical because we hadn’t ordered that, he announced, “Un cadeau!” — a gift. Over the following weeks he regularly put something extra into our bag — some tapenade, a little burlap tote bag, a jar of gourmet mustard — after we had paid for our order, so there was no misunderstanding. The organic vegetable seller will throw a bunch of parsley or other herbs gratis into our bag, and the lady at the fromagerie, or cheese stall in the market, will make a “cadeau” out of a piece of cheese we are considering buying. Bruno, the baker just two doors down from our house, does it too. Every time I ask about some delicacy I hadn’t seen before, he will just give me the pastry, loaf of bread or whatever it was — for free. I’ve gotten free samples of his specialty, the Royaume (delicately flavored with fleur d’orange), corn bread (which unlike our sweet cornbread is a loaf of savory bread made with cracked corn and sunflower seeds), and a crusty country style round of bread. Monsieur Ramos, our village butcher, first surprised us with


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Genuine pearl jewelry from Majorca for my birthday? No purchase necessary? Yes, please! sausages en croute, which turned out to be just like our American “pigs in a blanket.” Since then, he frequently gives us some little treat, including his house-made fricandeau, which is like an individual rich meatloaf, goose paté, and generous helpings of his homemade sausages. Even the bus driver does it! When there was a strike in protest of a new labor law and the earlier, local bus, wasn’t running because its driver was on strike, we took the regional bus, with our regular bus driver (who loves practicing his English on us). After hearing we had waited two hours in the drizzly cold for a ride home, when we tried to hand him our tickets, he declared — in English — “It’s free!” So the week that ended in my birthday was a banner one for gifts. The week started off at the butcher’s on Sunday. He has a big rotisserie outside the shop and every Sunday he roasts chickens and various other meats, their awesome aroma permeating the Place de la Mairie or City Hall Square. We alternate between a chicken and a rolled roast of pork or turkey. For Easter Sunday, he deboned and rolled a shoulder of lamb, which he roasted for us. On the Sunday in question he slid our roti chicken into a bag, and then added a four-helping package of readymade scalloped potatoes, just

A raincoat, cutting boards, knives and scissors were all gifts from Michele’s favorite French clothing store. Photos by Bill Reed heat and serve and dinner was on the table. No-work Sunday dinner? I was in heaven. On Tuesday, the baker gave us a package of half a dozen of his delicious croissants, and later that day, at the market, the cheese lady made a gift of a delicious pepper-infused soft cheese that went great on them. On Thursday I was shopping for an Easter outfit and my favorite clothing store gifted me in return with three cutting boards and knives. The next day, I received a coupon in the mail for the aforementioned raincoat and set of three very useful scissors from the same store. I was thrilled since I hadn’t brought a raincoat with me from America and rain was in the forecast. About half an hour after returning home from that shopping

Croissants from the baker, wine from the butcher and a nice chunk of bleu from the cheese shop, were all Easter week gifts from our French merchants. trip, the same store sent me an email, wishing me happy birthday, and promising a necklace and bracelet of pearls from Majorca on my next trip into the boutique, absolutely free, no purchase required. I didn’t need the certificate of authenticity and 10-year guarantee to know they were the real thing. The weight and luster was incredible. Later, when we were in Barcelona to catch our plane home, I saw similar pearl jewelry from Majorca in the high-end jewelry stores, and Bill promised to add to my collection on our return trip. On Friday the cheese lady provided another gift, a chunk of bleu cheese she saw Bill eyeing. When we stopped in on Saturday afternoon at the butcher’s to get some ham and sausage for a Polish Easter brunch, he presented us with a bottle of a local aperitif — a carbonated beverage made of rosé wine and grapefruit juice, from an organic winery in our village. As the week ended, we celebrated Easter thankful for our many gifts. High on that list was the kindness and generosity of our French neighbors. 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.

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The Syracuse Cyclones’ over-60 team during the 2014 tournament: Bottom, from left: Tom DeRito, Jack Hale, Jim Ranucci, tournament director, Bob Darnell , Joe Versace and Steve Tompkins. Top, from left,: Chris Bell, Pete Mazza, Roger Merritt, Tom Maroney, Rich Iuele, Tom Desimone, Gary Lasko, Paul LaPan, Jeff Frankel and Tom Mirande.

The Cyclones Descend on Syracuse Local players ready to storm back onto the field By Matthew Liptak


he Syracuse Cyclones are getting ready to hit the softball diamond again. The venerable team's manager said he is hoping for the best for the new season and invites those interested to find out more about them. The Cyclones’ senior softball teams have had a lot success since their inception in the late 1970s with the most recent being just a couple years ago, according to team manager Jack Haggerty. The Cyclones won the Triple Grand Slam three times since 2005. It is considered by the Senior


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Softball USA to be the holy grail of senior softball. The Cyclones won in both the 65- and 75-year-old age brackets in 2012 and in the 70-yearold age bracket in 2005 and 2014. Hundreds of teams from around the country vie for the title each year, but few attain that level. The Triple Grand Slam requires winning an east or west Nationals tournament, the U.S. nationals and finally the World Masters Championship in Las Vegas. “That's one of the most elite things you can do in the league,” Haggerty said. “Our team is like [Syracuse University men’s basketball coach Jim] Boeheim.

He put basketball on the map for Syracuse. I think the Syracuse Cyclones have put Syracuse on the map as far as softball goes. We're known all over the country and we've had a lot of good years. We've won a lot of tournaments.” Mike Fitzgerald, a 79-yearold Cyclone from Camillus, is looking forward to getting on the field again. He knows victory can come at the price of hard work and staying in shape. “You just don’t walk in and take the glove out of the truck or the car,” Fitzgerald said. “It doesn’t work that way. You’ve got to earn it. How

you earn it is through hard work and being able physically to play the game at that level. It's tournaments. It's not a weekly recreation league. It's nothing like that.” But although Fitzgerald values winning, he may value the friendships he's made through playing for the team even more. “That's part of playing senior softball with the Cyclones —the tournaments, traveling, friendships and camaraderie, it's great,” he said. “I love it. I'm still playing. I'll play as long as I can.” Since the former Niagara Mohawk team is aging out of the 75to-79 age bracket team soon, he hopes the Cyclones will come up with an 80-to-85 option. He sees no reason not to keep going and said there might be others up for it too. Both Haggerty and Fitzgerald admit that how good the team is each year can depend on who can come out and play. Health challenges can play a big factor in the roster as teams get older. “As you grow older, those things just happen,” Fitzgerald said. “Your body just breaks down. You try to keep in the best shape you can, which everybody does.” “The first thing that goes unfortunately are your legs and then your arms go,” Haggerty said. Haggerty, who is going to be 80, has enjoyed baseball and softball all his life. He first played baseball in the Pennsylvania coal-mining town he was born in and then moved on to play both baseball and softball in the military. The game seems to give back more to its players than it requires of them. It has given them a lifetime of camaraderie, competition and good memories along with the hope of hitting the diamond again with each new season. “You look back and I say 'I can't believe I'm still playing,'” Fitzgerald said. “I always say we don't stop playing ball because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing ball. That's how I keep going. That's kind of my motto and my philosophy.” To find out more about the Cyclones, call Haggerty at 315-6994509.


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druger’s zoo By Marvin Druger

Gift of Gab


Over-talkative? Take time out to really listen

bservations of humanity have convinced me that most humans are very selfcentered. There is a wide spectrum of being self-centered. Some individuals talk incessantly about themselves and their own experiences. At the other end of the spectrum, some people rarely talk about themselves and thrive on listening to others talk about themselves. I once gave a small class an assignment to eavesdrop on a conversation and analyze it. As expected, each conversation was about “I, mine, me, me and me.” Most people tend to talk about themselves: “I hurt my leg yesterday.” “You hurt your leg. I did the same thing last week” or “I had a horrible cold.” “You had a horrible cold? You should hear about the cold that I had.” I have the tendency to talk about myself, to the point of ignoring what someone is saying to me. It was not uncommon for me to have a conversation with my late wife, Pat, at the breakfast table when she would tell me something and I would ask a question about what she just had said. “I just told you that,” she would say impatiently. I think this tendency to talk mostly about oneself is built into our nature as humans. Maybe it’s because we know most about ourselves and our own experiences. When a friend accused me of always talking about myself, my response was, “If I didn’t talk about myself, I’d have nothing to say.” Boasting is another human instinct that can be annoying. When I was accused of boasting, I replied, “If I didn’t tell people how great I was, nobody would.” I explained my actual viewpoint in one of my poems that appears in my poetry book for adults and children, “Strange Creatures and Other Poems:” The poem is titled: “My


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Greatness.” Nobody says I’m great, So I have to tell them all That I’m the greatest person That anyone can recall. Why do I boast so much, Much more than someone should? ‘Cause if I didn’t praise myself, No other person would. But someone who is truly great Has no need to say, ‘Cause others do that job In an enthusiastic way. People like others who are selfconfident, but not egotistical or narcissistic. Some people, like myself, are talkers; others are listeners. Pat always jokingly criticized me about excessive talking. I once told her, “I’ve been exercising so much that my shoulders are getting too broad and my neck is getting too thick.” Her reply was, “That’s from talking too much.” On another occasion, Pat had a sore back. I said, “Can I help?” Her reply was, “Yes, you can stop talking.” Another time, I needed an endoscopy to check my gastrointestinal system. This procedure involved inserting a flexible stem with a tiny camera into the esophagus. A questionnaire item before the procedure was “Do you have trouble opening your mouth?” Pat immediately quipped, “That’s not a problem for you.” I have a legacy of talking too much, mostly about myself. Everyone loves a good listener. I once attended a workshop on listening. The participants were paired off and we were told to face each other and first pretend we were not listening, then pretend that we were actively listening, and tell our feelings. The results clearly demonstrated that we

feel good when someone listens to us — “What a terrific person Sam is. He’s so nice.” The workshop didn’t do much to change my talking about myself, but it provided an important point to think about in the future. We all need to learn how to be better listeners and restrict the tendency to talk about ourselves too much.

Get brain in gear first One problem with talking too much is that words sometimes come from the mouth without being first processed in the brain. We have all experienced saying something that was inappropriate or offensive to others. The problem is that once words leave our mouths, we cannot get them back. So, it’s important to think about what we say before we say it. I wrote a poem that appears in my book “Strange Creatures and Other Poems” that expresses my thoughts about words and insults. The poem is titled: “Words.” Words are sort of fun to use, They also can be strange, Rambunctious, rambling, elevate, Ambitious, stress, arrange. Words are an important way To tell the way we feel, They help us tell to others What’s fantasy or real. Words can act as weapons, They can hurt and sting, They can make you laugh or cry, They say most anything. So, think before you speak, Let words come from your brain, For once they’ve left your mouth, You can’t take them back again. No matter how hard we try not

Bennett Manor Apartments Senior Housing (Elderly and/or Disabled) In Residential Section. E. Irving and Dausman Sts East Syracuse

Rent Based on Income Many Outstanding Features • On Bus Line • All One Bedroom Units • 24 Hour Maintenance • Secure Building • Wall to Wall Carpeting • One Pet Welcome • Total Electric w/ Individual Controls to, we are bound to sometimes say something that is offensive to someone else. Unintentionally, our words may hurt someone’s feelings. Even minor insults may stay in someone’s mind for a long time. That’s why it is so important to THINK before we speak. Talking a lot is not always a bad thing. After all, it is a major way of communicating and relating to others. I once told a student in my class, “I talk too much.” The student replied, “But you have a lot to say.” This student earned an “A” in the course. I once gave a lecture to medical students at Upstate Medical University. My talk went on and on and on. Then, a student started waving a white flag of surrender in the back of the auditorium. I glanced at the clock on the wall. Oh no! I had talked for an hour over time. Then, I realized that someone had moved the clock hand an hour ahead to give me a signal to stop talking. I once taught a graduate course in the evening. Again, I couldn’t stop talking. Then, students started bringing dinner to the class. I asked why they did this? “A full mouth is a quiet mouth,” was the reply. It was their way of curtailing my endless talking. I believe everyone should take a course in public speaking. No matter what you do in life, you will sometimes have to give a presentation

to a group. So, learning how to speak and communicate well is an important skill in life. However, some people, like myself, can’t seem to stop talking, especially about myself. I want to share my personal experiences with others. However, I recall an incident when I was exercising in an active older adults exercise class. I had a bad cold. I usually spent a lot of the class time exercising my mouth and yelling out jokes and comments. One time, I announced to the class, “I can’t talk today because I have a cold. That’s bad!” A voice responded, “That’s not bad for the rest of us!” Another time, I yelled, “Today I’m only going to make trivial remarks.” A voice responded, “I thought they were all trivial!” People tend to shy away from excessive talkers. Once, I arrived late at an exercise class. One lady was sitting in a chair with her head buried between her hands. “Do you have a headache?” I asked. Her quick reply was, “I didn’t have one until I saw you coming.” Obviously, excessive talking does not result in popularity. I guess the best procedure for talkative people is to become more aware of self-centered tendencies and to learn to focus on what others are saying and try to become good, active listeners. The ultimate cure may well be Pat’s last words to me, “Marvin, shut up!”

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The five-story Singer Castle on Dark Island was built in 1905 by Frederick Bourne, president of Singer Sewing Machine Company. It’s one of main attractions in the Thousand Islands region.

Sites to Explore Along St. Lawrence River

From castles to wineries, lighthouses, and islands, St. Lawrence River region is a great destination in the summer By Sandra Scott


rom Tibbetts Point in Cape Vincent, where the St. Lawrence River gushes out of Lake Ontario, to the Akwesasne, the territorial home of the Mohawk Nation, where the St. Lawrence leaves New York state and continues through Canada to the Atlantic Ocean, there is a wonderful diversity of places to visit. The 100-mile trip along the river via NY-12 and NY-37 is dotted with castles, art, culture, golf, wineries, and great views. There are accommodations to suit everyone from the beautiful new 1000 Island Harbor Hotel in Clayton to the Akwesasne Casino Hotel in Hogansburg and in between hotels, motels, B&Bs, and campgrounds. Here are 10 of the best things to see and do in the area:


Lighthouses: Tibbetts Lighthouse near Cape Vincent, the only original working Fresnel lens on Lake Ontario, is still an active lighthouse maintained by the Coast Guard. It is a state historic site with a visitor center and a hostel. It is just one of the many lighthouses along the 48

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river some of which can only be viewed from a boat; but Sunken Rock Lighthouse can be viewed from downtown Alexandria Bay and the light still guides mariners.


On the river: It is not necessary to have your own boat to explore the St. Lawrence River. Uncle Sam Boat Tours in Alexandria Bay offers several options for visiting the castles, sailing past Millionaire’s Row, and several lighthouses. Classic Island Cruise out of Clayton has a couple unique water trips. The Antique Boat Museum offers sightseeing speed boat rides. One of Clayton Island Tours includes a glass-bottom boat. There are several boat rentals and fishing charters. It is also possible to rent a houseboat. Blount Small Ship Adventures travels the river from Quebec to Lake Ontario, continuing on to NYC.


Castles: During the Gilded Age the rich and famous built incredible summer homes in the Thousand Island area. The five-story Singer Castle on

Dark Island was built in 1905 by Frederick Bourne, president of Singer Sewing Machine Company. It has underground tunnels, secret passageways, and a dungeon. Most popular is romantic Boldt Castle. George Boldt, owner of the Waldorf Astoria, was having a castle constructed for his wife. The story goes that in 1904 his wife died and Boldt telegraphed the island commanding that all work stop immediately.


Wellesley Island: Wellesley

Island State Park is the largest camping area in the Thousand Island region offering a variety of options from tenting to cottages. They have a full service marina, four boat launches, a sandy beach and their own nine-hole golf course. It is home to Thousand Island Park, a lovely Victorian village that was founded in 1875 as a Methodist campground and thrived as a family retreat in the spirit of a Chautauqua. Today it is still retains its Norman Rockwell ambiance.


Antique Boat Museum:

Boat lovers will revel in the great collection of boats at the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton. The museum has the largest collection of antique boats in North America. Some recreational boats have their purchase price listed. In 1946 the 40’ Express Cruiser was $21,700 putting it out of the realm of the average person. An entire building is devoted to “The Quest for Speed” with a display about Guy Lombardo, The World’s Fastest Bandleader” and his love of racing.


Arts: The Thousand Island

Arts Center in Clayton is home to the Handweaving Museum with a permanent textile collection and studios for weaving and pottery. Classes are available. Clayton is home to the Clayton Opera House, a Nationally Registered Historic Place, presenting live concerts and other performing art events. The Breakwater Gallery is a summer show place for area artists and is just one of the art venues offered by the Cape Vincent Council on the Arts. The Frederic Remington Art Museum in Ogdensburg houses a comprehensive collection of original Remington paintings, sketches and sculptures, as well as a broad array of personal effects.


Beverage Trail: The region

along the St. Lawrence is home to several wineries. The 1000 Island Seaway Wine Trail has a “passport” promotion whereby, after visiting four of their member wineries, passport holders

Coyote Moon Vineyard offers 20 different wines and one of the few vineyards in the area bottling Frontenac Blanc. can enter a drawing for prizes. On their list is Coyote Moon Vineyard offering 20 different wines and one of the few vineyards in the area bottling Frontenac Blanc. There are several distilleries, including Clayton Distillery and Dark Island Spirits in Alexandria Bay. The Wood Boat Brewery in Clayton makes craft beers using locally grown hops and barley. Kanab Orchards in Massena produces hard cider.


Golf and more: The area offers

golfers a wonderful variety of experiences. Whether you’re a newbie or a pro there’s a scenic course for you. At one time it cost $100,000 to join The Thousand Island Country Club but now anyone can stay and play. Wellesley Island State

Park has a $10 weekday special for senior citizens. The Massena Country Club’s course has magnificent views of the St. Lawrence River. Of course, there is fishing, hunting, tennis and other sports with the river a magnet for boaters.


Nature: The Minna Anthony Common Nature Center on Wellesley Island is one of the largest nature centers in the New York state park system with hiking trails and cross country ski trails. The center has scenic views of the Thousand Islands, a summer ride in the 36-foot Voyageur Canoe, a butterfly house, which features native flora and butterflies. There are 14 New York state parks in the region, including a nature center at Robert Moses State Park, which was devastated by fire but it will reopen at the end of the year; meanwhile, there are still trails to walk. A few of the parks are on islands but most of them are accessible by automobile.

10 The Sunken Rock Lighthouse along St. Lawrence River can be viewed from downtown Alexandria Bay.

Events: The area is a happenin’ area with events all year long. The 1000 Island Harbor Hotel hosts “Fire & Ice” in February, Massena is home to the Heritage Festival in June, and the Antique Boat Museum has an Annual Antique Boat Show in August. There are events offered by local communities and wineries. June / July 2016 - 55 PLUS


last page Kathy Ruscitto, 62 By Matthew Liptak

St. Joseph’s Hospital CEO talks about her decision to retire and what’s on her bucket list Q. We were all surprised to learn you’re retiring. Why did you decide to do it? A. Well, I have worked for close to 40 years in this community in a lot of leadership roles and it felt like I had checked off the last goal last year. It felt that the pieces were coming together for me to move to a different stage of my life. I'm very proud of my 16 years here at St. Joseph's. [It's] a great team. We've accomplished a lot. As a leader I think it's important to know not only what to focus on but to know when it's time to pass the baton. For me all those pieces came together late last year. Q. What was the last goal? A. For St. Joseph's to be positioned for the future of health care and we accomplished that in our joining together with Trinity Health as our system partner. [We're] really beginning now the journey to develop a people-centered system of care. Q. What's the first thing you will do when you retire? A. I’m planning to take three months to go through a period of really reflecting on what I've learned and how I want to use that learning in the next quarter. I read a great book called “Halftime.” The author's name is [Bob] Buford. In it he talks about your career, [which it] is generally about building success; when you retire, you want to think about its significance. What are the things that you want to contribute? I've been so busy being a leader I feel like I've got to take some concrete time to reflect on what’s next. Q. Will you consider moving out of the area? A. This is my home. My family and my husband's family are still here. My mom is still very active in the community. She's 93. We're still going 50

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to be very focused here, but we do spend a lot of time in the Adirondacks. That's kind of our second home. It is just a very quiet, peaceful place — great people. I do a lot of hiking and a lot of kayaking. It's a place where I go to think. Q. Will you remain involved in the community? A. Absolutely. This community nurtured my career and I owe a lot of gratitude to a lot of leaders. Partly I want to use everything I've learned to do some writing and teaching and coaching about the community. More to come about all that. Q. What will you miss the most about the job? A. The people. The colleagues that work here are really just wonderful, passionate healthcare providers. I don't care if it's our OB unit, our NICU, our cardiac unit or our home care program, or primary care physicians all over this community. St. joseph's has a unique culture — really compassionate healthcare providers. I will miss being with them every day but I intend to keep very close going forward. Q. What will you miss the least? A. I think a leader in healthcare has so much packed into their daily agenda that some days there is not the time to think and reflect that I'm feeling a need to do right now. The fact that I'll now have that time is something I'm excited about. Q. Do you have a bucket list? A. I have 18 things on the bucket list. I looked at it the other day and No. 1 on the bucket list is my family and being able to spend some more time with them. [Also] a lot of reading; a lot of reflecting of my career and what I've learned from others; some gardening,

Kathy Ruscitto and some kayaking. Q. What advice would you give to the new CEO who follows you? A. I think there's a culture. That culture is what has made St. Joseph's successful and what makes patients say all the time this is where they want care. It's about the people. It's about the colleagues who provide the care. We've done a lot to engage the community, whether it be housing or job training. We've learned that healthcare and good schools, a clean environment, jobs...if you don't pay attention to the other things in the community healthcare access alone is not going to solve all the problems. We are proud of our legacy in community engagement and hope to see that continue and know that it will. Q. Is there a chance that you'll work again? A. [I'm] very, very much focused on contributing to the community in a much more limited way. I think it would be something very part-time. I'm turning 62 in May and just feel pretty strongly that I'm moving to a different way of living my life in this next quarter.

2016 SUMMER SERIES AT THE SHERWOOD 6-7:30PM | Sherwood Inn, Skaneateles



Presenter: Kevin Setter, MD

Upstate Orthopedics, Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery Board Certified, Fellowship Trained in Shoulder & Elbow Chief, Shoulder and Elbow Division, Upstate Orthopedics Upstate Medical University, Upstate Community Campus Orthopedics


Presenter: Warren E. Wulff, MD

Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon, Fellowship Trained Spine Surgeon, Partner, Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists, Upstate Community Campus Orthopedics Join us for the kick off of our Summer Series at the Sherwood to learn about shoulder pain as well as how to keep your spine healthy.



Presenter: L. Ryan Smart, MD



Presenter: Timothy Damron, MD

Upstate Orthopedics, David G. Murray Professor of Orthopedic Surgery Vice-Chairman, Department of Orthopedic Surgery; Board Certified, Fellowship Trained in Orthopedic Oncology; Upstate Medical University, Upstate Community Campus Orthopedics Learn how the newest advances in hip and knee replacement surgery including Makoplasty robotics may help you or a loved one!


Presenter: Todd Battaglia, MD

Fellowship Trained in Sports Medicine; Director, Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists Cartilage Center of New York; Head Orthopedist, Syracuse University Football, Partner, Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists; Upstate Community Campus Orthopedics Learn about treatments for knee pain including treatment of ligament, cartilage, and meniscal injuries.

Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon, Syracuse University Team Physician, Fellowship Trained in Sports Medicine, Partner, Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists, Upstate Community Campus Orthopedics Learn about causes and treatments of shoulder pain including non-joint replacement surgical options.


Presenter: Emil Azer, MD

Upstate Orthopedics, Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery; Orthopedic Trauma/Adult Reconstruction; Board Certified, Fellowship Trained in Orthopedic Trauma; Upstate Medical University, Upstate Community Campus Orthopedics Learn about causes and treatment options to relieve your joint pain.

Call now! Space is limited! To register, call Upstate Connect at 315-464-8668.



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