What’s Your Retirement ‘Magic’ Number: $1 Million?
Issue 78 – Dec 2018 - Jan 2019
For Active Adults in the Central New York Area
RETIRED... AND BROKE
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Financial crisis is looming for people near retirement and already retired. Most carry tens of thousands in debt
GOING THE DISTANCE
Rosemarie Nelson, one of CNY’s premiere runners, has run hundreds of races — Boston, Atlanta, NYC, Adirondack, you name it. At 63, she is as busy as ever
Charities: Is the Agency You’re Donating to Legitimate?
Nationally Recognized Stroke Care. Say “Take Me to Crouse.” As one of just 10 hospitals in New York State to have earned Comprehensive Stroke Center certification, Crouse Health is proud to provide the full range of stroke care services.
Minutes Matter Comprehensive stroke centers are the best-equipped medical centers in a geographical area that can treat any kind of stroke or stroke complication. At Crouse, receiving fast stroke diagnosis and treatment starts even before patients arrive at the Emergency Room. Once on the scene, our Emergency Medical Services partners start communicating with our ER and stroke teams, providing information vital for immediate treatment. Working together, we’re consistently meeting — and exceeding — aggressive door-totreatment times that surpass the U.S. average. Crouse provides options for post-stroke rehabilitation, as well as continuing education to patients, our EMS partners and the community about the risks factors and signs of stroke.
Advanced Stroke Rescue Crouse is the only hospital in the region equipped with two hybrid operating room suites, allowing our multidisciplinary stroke team to provide the most advanced endovascular stroke rescue capabilities 24/7.
Exceeding Stroke Treatment Standards Median Time (minutes)
Source: AHA/ASA Get With the Guidelines
If tPA is given within three hours of symptoms, the effects of stroke decrease significantly. Crouse has earned the American Heart/Stroke Association’s Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite Plus recognition for meeting — and exceeding — AHA guidelines for giving tPA within 45 minutes.
Community Partner KNOW YOUR STROKE SIGNS
F. A. S. T.
TIME TO CALL 911
S T R O K E ? C A L L 911. crouse.org/stroke
As a New York State-designated Primary Stroke Center since 2007, we’ve worked to raise awareness in our community about the warning signs of stroke. With our designation as a DNV Comprehensive Stroke Center and home to the region’s newest ER, Crouse Health continues to deliver superior stroke care to Central New York patients.
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BroadwayInSyracuSe.com December / January 2019 - 55 PLUS
December 2018 / January 2019
20 Savvy Senior 6 Gardening 8
22 12 AWARD • 55 PLUS magazine selected as one of top “over-50 magazines”
Dining Out 10 14 MONEY My Turn 18
• Retired... and broke. Study paints bad picture of soon-to-be retirees, retirees
Aging 27 17 RETIREMENT Golden Years 37 • What’s your ‘magic number’ for a Life After 55 42
comfortable retirement life? $1 million? $2 million?
Druger’s Zoo 45 20 CARTOON LAST PAGE Tom Henery, 65, is the instructor of one of the most popular classes at Oasis — on American presidency. 4
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• Meet Bernie Hurlbut of Rome — he has drawn cartoons for eith decades and counting
22 MAGIC • Cicero twin brothers have entertained audiences for more than 40 years
25 CHARITIES • How can you know that the
organization you’re donating to is legitimate?
30 COVER • Rosemarie Nelson has run hundreds of races. At 62, she’s as active as ever
35 SNOWBIRDS • Couple loves Central New York, but spending a month or two in Florida has become a tradition in the winter
38 ARCHERY • Archery instructor hones marksmanship skills of many in the area
40 PASSION • Professor helping inmates write their owns stories.
48 VISITS • The best of Houston, the Space City.
Bleed: .25” = .125” on all sides
E M PAT H E T I C Women are intuitive and empathetic. At St. Joseph’s Health, we’ve designed our Breast Care and Surgery Program to have these strengths, too. We’ve brought our services together, under one umbrella, and backed them with the mostexperienced surgeons and specialists in the region. Our Breast Care Navigators support you through the entire process, coordinating every facet of your diagnosis and treatment — while answering your questions and helping you process new information. We partner with St. Joseph’s Imaging to offer the latest technologies, caring for both your physical and emotional well-being.
HEALTH CARE FOR WOMEN THAT IS FEMALE BY DESIGN | visit womenshealthsjh.org to learn more © 2018 St. Joseph’s Health. © 2018 Trinity Health. All rights reserved.
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savvy senior By Jim Miller
Financial Aid for Family Caregivers
aring for an elder parent can be challenging in many ways, but it can be especially difficult financially if you have to miss work or quit your job to provide care. Fortunately, there are a number of government programs, tax breaks and other tips that may be able to help you monetarily while you care for your mother. Here are some options to explore. State assistance: Most states have programs that help low-income seniors pay for in-home care services, including paying family members for care. These programs — which go by various names like “cash and counseling” or “consumer-directed” — vary greatly depending on where you live and, in some states, on whether your mom is on Medicaid. To find out what’s available in your state, contact your local Medicaid office. Veterans benefits: Veterans who need assistance with daily living activities can enroll in the Veteran-Directed Care program. This program, available through VA Medical Centers in 40 states, as well as in Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, provides as much as $2,000 a month, which can be used to pay family members for home care. Visit the “Home and Community Based Services” section at VA.gov/ geriatrics for information. Also available to wartime veterans and their surviving spouses is a benefit called Aid and Attendance, which helps pay for in-home care, as well as assisted living and nursing home care. This benefit can also be used to pay family caregivers. To be eligible, your mother must need assistance with daily living activities like bathing, dressing or going to the bathroom. And her annual income must be under $14,133 as a surviving spouse or $21,962 for a single veteran, after medical expenses. Her assets must also be less than $80,000 excluding her home and car. To learn more go to Vets.gov/pension.
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Tax breaks: If you pay at least half of your mom’s yearly expenses, and her gross income is below $4,050 (in 2017) not counting her Social Security or disability, you can claim her as a dependent on your taxes and get a $500 tax credit. For more information, go to IRS.gov/help/ita and click on “Whom May I Claim as a Dependent?” If you can’t claim her as a dependent, you may still be able to get a tax break if you’re paying more than half her living expenses including medical and long-term care costs, and they exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. You can include your own medical expenses in calculating the total. See IRS publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses (IRS. gov/pub/irs-pdf/p502.pdf) for details. Long-term care insurance: If your mother has long-term care insurance, check whether it covers in-home care. Some policies permit family members to be paid, although they may exclude people who live in the same household. Paid caregiver leave: A small but growing number of companies offer paid caregiving leave as a way to recruit and retain their workforce. Additionally, some states provide caregiver benefits or paid leave to take care of ailing family members. Check with your employer to see what, if any, benefits are available to you. Family funds: If your mother has some savings or other assets, discuss the possibility of her paying you for the care you provide. If she agrees, consult with an elder law attorney about drafting a short written contract that details the terms of the work and payment arrangements, so everyone involved knows what to expect. You should also check benefitscheckup.org, a free, confidential web tool that can help you search for financial assistance programs that your mom or you may be eligible for.
Editor and Publisher Wagner Dotto
Associate Editor Lou Sorendo
Deborah J. Sergeant Mary Beth Roach, Cheryl Costa Christopher Malone Aaron Gifford, Will Phillips
Bruce Frassinelli Marilyn Pinsky, Harold Miller Jim Sollecito, Marvin Druger Michele Reed, Sandra Scott .
Amy Gagliano Cassandra Lawson
Office Assistant Kimberley Tyler
Chuck Wainwright 55 PLUS –A Magazine for Active Adults in Central New York is published six times a year by Local News, Inc., which also publishes In Good Health–CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper. Published at 185 E. Seneca St. PO Box 276 Oswego, NY 13126. Subscription: $15 a year; $25 for two years © 2018 by 55 PLUS – A Magazine for Active Adults in Upstate New York.
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
To care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honors. Since 1974 the Loretto Foundation has helped support individuals served by the Loretto family of care. Through fundraising initiatives and a variety of giving opportunities, the Loretto Foundation provides additional funding to help enhance safe and secure facilities and deliver enriched programming for over 9,000 individuals in Central New York each year. Help us continue to support our community by giving a gift or volunteering.
Show you care by giving a gift today. • Give a gift in honor or in memory of a loved one • Give a gift to the Loretto Foundation’s Founders Endowment Fund • Give a restricted gift to any of the 19 affiliated Loretto sites and programs • Give a gift of appreciation toward the 2,500 amazing caregivers of Loretto • Give a the gift of your time and volunteer
For more information, visit us at lorettocny.org/foundation or contact Katie Mondrick at 315.413.3909.
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December / January 2019 - 55 PLUS
3/14/18 3:08 PM
By Jim Sollecito
The Five O’clock Shadow
like dogs. I am a dog kind of guy. Dogs seem to sincerely understand and care when I talk to them. They get it. When I come home, my dog is there by the door waiting for me. No matter the time of day, she sits patiently anticipating my arrival. As our eyes meet, we immediately know what kind of day each of us had and there is an exchange of unconditional mutual respect and adoration. I grew up around dogs of various sizes, shapes and colors. My job was to mix canned Ken-L Ration with dried Purina and give fresh water. I am not telling how I know but I can share that a 50-pound bag of dried Purina dog chow stays crunchy a lot longer than one might expect. Marriage and our first house purchase were soon followed by our first dog together. Our current dog Lucy is an intricate part of our lives, as were her predecessors, Lady, Jasmine and Stella. When I see a particularly interesting relationship between a dog and its person outdoors in their landscape, I take notice. I have routinely witnessed a woman and her black dog playing catch by the same blue spruce trees pretty predictably at five o’clock every day. Introducing myself one day I learned that 5-year-old Penelope is a Helping Hounds Rescue Dog from Alabama. She was taken in by Laura, a retired nurse whose career took her to Community Hospital. Nowadays Laura does not get around easily. She uses a cane but that has not dampened her enthusiasm or very apparent affection for these daily workouts with her best girl, familiarly known as Penny. As you can see from the photo, they are a team. Loyal Penny shadows her friend and they are most certainly stronger together than they would be apart. As usual, we ask: who rescued whom? Their connection is undeniable.
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Laura, a retired nurse, and Penelope, a Helping Hounds Rescue Dog from Alabama. “Their connection is undeniable,” says Jim Sollecito.
No matter how many times Laura throws the ball, her faithful friend retrieves it. Regular volunteers at St. Camillus, Laura and Penny exchange smiles, wiggles, wags and unconditional love with people unable to keep their own pets anymore. By this simple gesture, what a gift they give. Those two provide a very real and lasting impression. Life could be viewed as a long string of memories. Or it can be what we’re doing right now and what we will do. Like anticipating the visit of a volunteer and her
dog. Many of us have experienced change through giving. We are better because of it. If you see your glass half empty, pour it into a smaller glass. And then share it with someone else. Giving can change you as much as the people you reach. 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 email@example.com.
As an Ameriprise private wealth advisory practice, we can help you grow and preserve your wealth to put your vision of a confident retirement more within reach.
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Randy L. Zeigler, CFP®, ChFC®, CLU® Private Wealth Advisor CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner 97 W Utica St Oswego, NY 13126 315.342.1227 firstname.lastname@example.org ameripriseadvisors.com/randy.l.zeigler
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Playing & Singing songs from the 30’s, 40’s & 50’s Offering 2, 3 or 4 piece combos ~ creating soft jazz from the standards
Also, The Goodtime Party Band, a 7 piece line up of talented entertainers featuring Golden Oldies from the 60’s & 70’s. Available for Club Dates, Weddings, Private/ Christmas Parties, Adult Living Facilities. Reasonable Rates Available New Year’s Eve Call Mickey today @ 315-345-1002 email: email@example.com www.mickeyvendetti.com
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WE MAKE IT EASIER TO FIND BETTER CARE FOR YOUR FAMILY. We offer personalized care in a small office setting, with all procedures performed by Dr. Melfi. After injections, patients experience very little down time and avoid the long, painful rehabilitation that can follow surgery. Specializing is diagnosis and treatment of spine, joint, muscle, and nerve pain disorders: • Back and Neck Pain • Joint and Arthritis Pain • Muscle, Tendon, Ligament Injuries • Sport/Work Injuries • Regenerative Orthopedic Injections • Integrative Medicine • Acupuncture
Your CNY home for regenerative injections: • Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections • Cellular (Stem Cell) Injections • Prolotherapy
Coming October 2018: Vampire® PRP Aesthetic and Restorative Injection Dr. Renée S. Melfi is quadruple certified: • Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (ABPM&R) • Pain Medicine (ABPM&R) • Integrative Medicine (ABIHM) • Medical Acupuncture (New York State)
Renée S. Melfi, M.D.
Regenerative Spine & Musculoskeletal Medicine 3400 Vickery Road Syracuse,NY 13212
315-701-4000 rsmmd.com December / January 2019 - 55 PLUS
DiningOut By Christopher Malone
Chicken/Risotto: Grilled chicken and mozzarella sit atop a bed of creamy, tomato-based risotto.
Should We Stay or Should We Retreat?
he village of Liverpool is home to many notable places and activities that can be enjoyed year-round — no matter the weather. The scenic neighborhood welcomes visitors from around the region for a taste of the outdoors and comfort food from different cultures and staples like pizza to burgers. One particular restaurant, The Retreat at 302 Vine St., tries to accomplish a lot. It’s been operating for nearly four decades, which boasts seniority in itself. There is ample outdoor seating and a bar for fair weather, a place which hosts bands almost every night of the week. The interior décor is rustic, which goes well with all seasonal décor. There is also that notable mannequin on the roof. Decked out in Syra-
55 PLUS - December / January 2019
cuse University garb, it may not scare the crows away, but it does a great job at keeping Georgetown fans out (or keeping them on leash). It wasn’t a busy night, and the sign at the host station read to seat ourselves, which we did, and our server was promptly over to offer us water and ask if we needed anything else. After taking a few minutes to glance over the menu, it was decided we’d go with the Utica greens as an appetizer. Why not challenge The Retreat, which dishes up American fare, with a local nod? What’s more American than a local staple? The greens ($8.75) were served up in a metal server. It was a sizable appetizer and worth the price tag. The CNY staple featured standard
hot peppers and pancetta. Our batch wasn’t very spicy, however, so the heat sensitive won’t sweat it. The garlic and onions made themselves present, but weren’t overwhelming. The breadcrumb coating was a nice golden brown, and the asiago cheese made a fashionable entrance. The only aspect that was a little off-putting was the soupy broth pooling in the grooves of the plate. With greens there will be some water or broth that may slide off and through the ingredients, but the amount seemed a little too much. Regardless, I’d probably order this appetizer again, plus ask for a little more heat. The Retreat presented a bread and butter basket to share. The bread, which was topped with an oil and rosemary coat, came out warm. The
butter proved to be a great topic of conversation and fascination. The garlic and chive butter, which was cradled in a plastic dipping sauce cup, was very flavorful. I’m not one to use a lot of butter on bread, but this was an exception with spreading a little extra. The appetizers we sank our teeth into were the chicken Caprese risotto ($16.99) and the lamb chops Albanese ($17.99). Each entrée comes with a side salad, which is a nice addition to hear about when ordering from the adult menu. (The Retreat also offers a kid’s menu with burgers, chicken, pasta, and grilled cheese.) The salads were basic and epitomes of sides with messy piles of iceberg lettuce, olives, onions and tomatoes. Despite the underwhelming veggie pile, the entrees were pieces of art. Each dish presented significant, yet not overwhelming, amounts of food. Sure, there is a chance a Retreat patron would feel guilty eating the entirety of these, but that’s due to not saving room for dessert. Case in point — the lambchops did not make it to leftover status. The chops’ bones stood up and connected to a point, similar to that of The Three Musketeers’ swords. Some would say these were giving each other a high-five. The tender lambchops were cooked wonderfully — I actually told our server Melissa to give compliments to the chef. Each piece of meat was flavored with garlic and rosemary. The lamb came with soft and fluffy mashed potatoes, which was topped off with a chianti demi-glaze. The potatoes were fresh, and the glaze was rich with flavor. When paired
The Retreat Address 302 Vine St., Liverpool, NY 13088 Phone (315) 457-6358 Website/Social retreatrestaurant.com www.facebook.com/ TheRetreat-118676264824175 Hours Open daily: 11 a.m. – 2 a.m. Kitchen closes daily at 11 p.m.
The garlic and rosemary-topped bread with garlic and chive butter.
Three lamb chops and prosciuttowrapped asparagus nestle into a bed of mashed potatoes.
The Retreat’s take on the Upstate New York Utica greens staple. with a piece of lamb, the triple threat of flavor deserved a standing ovation. Three prociutto-wrapped asparagus were part of the meal as well. The green stems were generously and heavily wrapped in the Italian ham. Although tasty, the entrée probably didn’t need the inclusion of this extra aspect; however, it was a fine added bonus to enjoy. The chicken Caprese risotto was a pleasant surprise. Three pounded chicken breasts sat on a bed of the risotto, which spread out evenly across the plate as an Italian would present it instead of balled or plopped sloppily. The chicken was joined by pieces of mozzarella cheese, and balsamic glaze was drizzled across the top. The risotto was tomato-based, based off of its red-orange color and flavor. To describe the taste will come across unappealing, just as a warning, because it was very reminiscent of the sauce found in SpaghettiOs or some
Chef Boyardee canned pasta. This is simply due to the tomato. However, and this is a very large and bold exception, the flavor of The Retreat’s sauce is much better. The chicken risotto dish was very filling, and leftovers were taken home. It’s a great cold weather entrée, which can easily be shared. Aside the food, the service was really good; Melissa was very attentive, and a couple of the waitstaff who did not know I was writing a review, were very friendly and interacted professionally with the other customers. The amenities — table, utensils, and bathroom — were clean and sanitary. Before tip, the total came to $47.23, which isn’t bad for three courses and no adult beverages. Although the menu doesn’t get a seasonal or regular update up with new offerings, The Retreat does offer a variety of dishes for everyone. December / January 2019 - 55 PLUS
55 Plus Recognized as a Top Over-50 Magazine By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
ou hold in your hands (or on your screen) a top magazine. It’s not just the staff who think so. Anuj Agarwal, founder of Feedspot (www.feedspot.com) recently recognized 55 Plus as one of its Top 10 Over-50 Magazines. Agarwal said that his editorial team selected the best Over-50 Magazines on the web and ranked them based on several factors such as content quality, average number of shares on social sites and website traffic. “I personally give you a highfive and want to thank you for your contribution to this world,” stated Agarwal in an email message. “This is the most comprehensive list of Top 10 Over-50 Magazines on the internet and I’m honored to have you as part of this!” “It’s always great to receive this type of recognition,” said Wagner Dotto, editor and publisher of 55 Plus. “Our team of writers, salespeople and designers work very hard to produce an interesting, informative publication. “I was very excited when I read the email from Feedspot with the news we had been selected as one of the top magazines for Top 10 Over50 Magazines on the web. It’s pretty cool.” Dotto began publishing 55 Plus in 2005 as a quarterly periodical, all in black and white. After a few issues, it became and has remained bimonthly. The magazine also went color on all glossy stock. Dotto also added feature stories and regular columns to the news pieces. “The commitment to produce a publication that’s interesting and relevant has remained,” he said. Local News Inc., the parent company, prints and posts editions for
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Central New York and Rochester. About 70,000 people read each print issue, in addition to several thousand online. The print issue is available at grocery stores such as Wegmans, Price Chopper and Tops locations and in many high traffic venues throughout the region. The online edition, also launched in 2005 and revamped in 2017, has grown in readership as the convenience of electronic reading has made this format attractive. “We have had more than 6,000 unique visits to the site,” Dotto said.“The number of unique visits is growing recently, especially after we revamped the site, which can be viewed at cny55.com.” Despite the growth in technology use, there’s still plenty of appeal in the spontaneity of grabbing the latest glossy issue from the rack. Dotto strives to place eye-catching photos and intriguing headlines on each cover. The periodical’s target demographic also helps promote its success. “This is a unique publicaWagner Dotto tion,” Dotto said. “There is no other magazine for active adults in Central
N e w York. Besides, this group of the population — baby boomers — is growing very rapidly. It’s the fastest growing part of the CNY population.” He thinks that the original and hyper-local aspect of the magazine has helped it achieve success in developing a strong readership. “No one else is addressing the topics and the people we feature in the magazine,” Dotto said. Instead of fleshing it out with stories seen elsewhere, such as Associated Press stories, for example, 55 Plus’ stories feature local interviews, local writers and local issues. As for 2019, Dotto said he hopes to “maintain and improve the quality of the publication.” The complete list of Top 10 Over -50 Magazines is available at https:// blog.feedspot.com/over_50_magazines.
Mark and Karla Hall stand on the porch of their home in Jamesville.
One of the things that have been critical to us as we age is living by example. Our common threads of love for family, devotion to faith and dedication to bettering our community led us to establish a donor-advised fund at the Community Foundation. Through our giving, we hope to provide opportunities for people to better themselves and know that somebody else cares. With the help of our fund, we will enrich the local community that we care so passionately about.
Mark & Karla Hall
The Community Foundation staff has always been there to support us. They are a part of our family. Itâ€™s gratifying to share in our vision with them.
Read more of the Hallsâ€™ story at CNYCF.org/Hall
cnycf.org (315) 422-9538 December / January 2019 - 55 PLUS
Retired, and Broke Study: A retirement income crisis is looming for people near retirement and already retired. Most carry tens of thousands in debt By Aaron Gifford
ost Americans who are retired or approaching retirement age won’t have nearly enough money to sustain the standard of living they enjoyed while working, a recent national study reports. In fact, that’s putting it mildly. The study by the Employee Benefits Research Institute, released in March, calls the situation a retirement income crisis, noting that 77 percent of households headed by persons 55 and over carried some type of debt. In 2016 (the most recent data that was available), among those with debt, families with heads aged 55–64 had a median debt of $68,300, compared
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with $20,900 for families with heads aged 75 or older. While there was an overall decline in the average debt level from 2010 to 2016, the study indicates the average debt level of various categories of elderly and near-elderly families had both increases and decreases. For example, the average debt of families with heads aged 75 or older increased from $30,288 in 2010 to $36,757 in 2016, compared with a decrease from $78,319 to $65,686 for families headed by persons between 65 and 74. Housing debt for the 55 and over American population has nearly doubled in the past quarter century, from 24 percent in 1992 to 40 percent in 2016, though the percentage change
fluctuated during that time period as opposed to a continual increase. As for credit card debt, the percentage of such households was in the low 30 percent range through 2004, fluctuating in the next 12 years and tallying 38 percent in 2016. The report did note that increasing debt is as much of a problem, if not a bigger problem, with younger families. Households headed by individuals younger than age 55 with debt ranged from 81.2 percent in 2013, to 84.4 percent in 2016. Local experts aren’t surprised with the study’s findings. They were well aware of the looming retirement income crisis years ago. Eric Kingson, a professor of social work and public administration at Syracuse University and a founding member of the Washington, D.C.based Social Security Works agency, attributes this situation to a few key factors: Wages in the past 40 years have decreased in comparison to inflation and skyrocketing health care costs. Labor unions have declined,
“Sometimes I feel like my generation may be the last generation to have it fairly decently. The crisis is in full swing.” - Bill Spreter, president of the local chapter of the New York State Alliance of Retired Americans. and most private sector companies have stopped providing pensions. Federal entitlements like Social Security and Medicare fall way short in helping retirees make ends meet and avoid taking on mountains of debt. And people are simply living longer. “I’d say this is disturbing, even alarming,” Kingson said in a recent interview. “We have not been living in a time where middle class incomes are growing.” Now, more so than ever before, America has a “sandwich” generation of citizens who are still financially supporting their grown children, via paying for college and other major expenses, while also physically and financially caring for their own parents. The middle class sustains the most visible damage in this trend, Kingson said, but he cautioned that folks who are considered upper middle class and even wealthy to a degree feel the pinch as well, mainly due to out of control costs for long-term care. “I don’t see where increased retirement savings come from,” he said. “It’s not a matter of just telling people to buckle down and save more. But you can’t forget the low-income households either. People who have always worked long and hard for low wages must continue that into old age. It’s just not right.” He fears that continued tax cuts, which he calls a disaster, will only
widen the retirement income gap. He also believes that Social Security and Medicare remain vulnerable and easy targets under the nation’s current leadership. Kingson noted that about 155,000 people in the 24th Congressional District (Central New York) receive Social Security. A small tax hike of about 50 cents per week from every wage earner for the next 20 years could shore up the program and allow life-long taxpayers to live out their remaining years a bit more comfortably. “This could remove a lot of pain,” he said. “There are bumps, but the shortfalls we’ve projected can be addressed.” In lieu of strengthening the Social Security and Medicare programs, Kingson offers some advice to those approaching retirement: If you are healthy enough and can find work that is tolerable, postpone retirement past 65. Likewise, avoid collecting Social Security in order to maximize the benefits in a time when you may need them more. Bill Spreter, a retired teacher from the Hannibal Central School District in Oswego County, is president of the local chapter of the New York State Alliance of Retired Americans. While he is thankful for having a pension that helps support him financially, he has friends who are scraping money together to cover medical and dental emergencies even though they worked for decades, always paid their bills on time and attempted to save money after their children were out of the house. One of his friends just learned that her diabetes medication will cost $6,700. In the 1980s, he explained, 60 percent of employers had pension plans, and workers had the ability to calculate their retirement savings and make a plan for living debt-free. It is “unconscionable,” Spreter says, that companies abandoned pensions long ago and are getting huge tax breaks. Meanwhile, 401K plans have been very unpredictable and simply haven’t done enough to prepare wage-earners for retirement. “It just isn’t working,” he said. Like Kingson, Spreter is a big proponent of increasing wages and strengthening unions. But he cautions that returning organized labor to what it once was is a daunting tasks when existing unions continue to lose
Bill Spreter, president of the CNY chapter of NYS Alliance of Retired Americans. power and influence. “The present administration in Washington is counterproductive in many ways to the economic stability of future retirees, Generation X and the millennials,” Spreter said. “Look for more corporate-inspired lawsuits to diminish the power of unions that will economically jeopardize young people approaching retirement.” Kingson and Spreter both acknowledged that societal values have changed over time. Those who were alive during the Great Depression and World War II learned real life lessons about the benefits of thriftiness, and may have been more disciplined about saving money. But American culture and economics have changed so much since then. A college education, for example, is no longer viewed as a rite of passage for only the wealthy. If the retirement income crisis is not addressed, Spreter says, millions more Americans will fall into the low-income brackets, and the population of those who are stuck in the generational poverty cycle will continued to grow. “Sometimes I feel like my generDecember / January 2019 - 55 PLUS
New York State Old Tyme Fiddlers Association
FIDDLERS’ PICNIC FESTIVAL
July 27-29, 2018
Beloved Word Spiritual Care Bennett Manor 1121 Comins Road, Osceola, NY Amy Speach Apartments Friday, July 27 Gentle one-to-one listening
• 12:30 - 5 pm: Fiddle workshops with featured guests; and spiritual support $40 non-members; $30 members Featuring • 7 pm: Free Jamamyspeach12@gmail.com Session Don Perkins, Chazy, NY George Wilson, Wyantskill, NY Saturday, July 28 In Residential Section. • 9:30 am: Free first-time/Beginning Fiddler Workshop E. Irving and Dausman Sts • 10:30 am: Free Advanced Fiddler Workshop East Syracuse • 12:30: Gates Open, $8 admission • 1 - 2 pm and 7 - 8:30 pm: Perkins & Wilson in concert Rent Based on Income • 2 - 3 pm: Induction Ceremony; 3 p.m. Open Mic Many Outstanding Features • 8:30 pm: Square dancing February 3, 2019
Senior Housing (Elderly and/or Disabled)
New York State Old Tyme Fiddlers Association
Housing debt for the 55 and over American population has nearly doubled in the past quarter century, from 24 percent in 1992 to 40 percent in 2016.
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ation may be the last generation to have it fairly decently,” said Spreter, 69. “The crisis is in full swing.”
Working after 65
Still, that’s not to say that everyone who is still working past the age of 65 does so because they have no choice. Many older adults maintain part-time or even full-time jobs on their own terms to stay busy, remain sharp physically or mentally, to remain in touch with people they enjoy, or to make a little extra money for vacations. Linda Cook, for example, returned to a job at Loretto Health and Rehabilitation in Syracuse 14 months after retiring in May 2011 at the age of 65. She spent her career as a public health nurse, but had the chance to come out of retirement to help with marketing efforts with Loretto’s Pace program. “I wasn’t bored in retirement,” she recalled, “but I missed the social part of working. I do feel like I’m making a difference, and the extra money is great for travel and vacations. I have no mindset about quitting at all. I’ll go for as long as I want.” Fred Deuel, 69, went to work in the maintenance department of Loretto three months after being fully retired. He still collects a pension from his previous career and Social Security. In his second career, he no longer had to work weekends, which he spends at a camp at the Thousand Island. “I hesitated [to come out of retirement], because I didn’t like getting up at 5:30 a.m.,” he said. “Working has been good for me mentally and physically. In retirement, you can lose that motivation and mobility to stay active. I’ve seen too many people who retire and dwindle away.”
$2 Million? What’s your ‘magic number’ for a comfortable retirement life? By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
emember when $1 million represented the “magic number” for a dream retirement? Those days are long gone. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that people aged 55 to 64 need more than $56,000 per year minimum for household expenses, including health care. For someone who will live 25 more years (80 to 89), that’s $1.4 million. If one lives frugally in retirement, less would work, right? “No,” says Randy Zeigler, certified financial adviser with Ameriprise Financial in Oswego. “One million dollars doesn’t go as far as it used to,” he said. “It seems like a lot more than it really is. Inflation is critical.” Zeigler has been a financial adviser for 32 years. He has some clients who have been retired 30 years and have been retired as long as they’ve been worked. “How well they manage money is really critical,” Zeigler said. He added that generally speaking, many people need between 65 to 75 percent of their pre-retirement income in the year that they retire; however, that income needs to be adjusted for inflation. If they’ve been contributing to a 401k or IRA plan while working, the difference once they retire may help make up for inflation. “I do a cash flow worksheet to figure out what their needs are and compare it with their pensions, Social Security and investment savings
to determine what kind of position they’re in.” Lee M. Gatta, a chartered life underwriter, chartered financial consultant, accredited estate planner in DeWitt, said that many people forget to think about increases of health care insurance, replacing vehicles, emergency funds and taxes — and those are some of the biggest mistakes made in financial planning. Some people don’t understand how Social Security works when one spouse dies. The income from spouse with the bigger check continues to arrive; the other payment discontinues. Many people often don’t realize that early in retirement “many spend a lot of money,” Gatta said. Whether it’s to fund new hobbies, take a few trips or a general shopping spree, many retirees spend a goodly amount right away, according to Gatta. He recommends clients save enough to replace 70 to 80 percent of their working income. Chris Gardner, president of FMF&E Wealth Management in Syracuse, encourages clients to begin by determining their goals for retirement, looking at their budget and then trying to quantify expected expenses
during retirement. For example, if a client should have his house paid off by retirement, then the monthly mortgage payment would no longer remain in his budget. “There’s no rule of thumb or back-of-the-envelope answer because everyone’s so different,” Gardner said. “It depends upon what someone’s lifelong goals and dreams are. That includes how much they’re going to spend and what lifestyle they want and what family members and institutions they want to support and the legacy they want to leave behind.” Longevity also makes a difference. Instead of saving for enough until age 80, people should really consider more, especially if longevity runs in the family. “I don’t work with a lot of folks who want to distribute their assets and go into a government home,” Gardner said. Gardner said that statistics from the Society of Actuaries estimate that for a couple aged 65 exists a 43 percent chance one of them will make it to age 95 and many of those will need long-term care for more than 90 days. “Making the right decisions when you are a few years out from retirement and being careful about distribution planning is extremely important and takes skill,” said Sonnet Loftus, certified financial planner with Michael, Roberts Associates, Inc. in Syracuse. “It is better to prepare than repair. Having a plan makes a difference when trying to ensure that you have adequate savings for retirement.” Financial planners can help formulate a workable plan and offer advice that’s tailored to the individual’s life and goals.
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my turn By Bruce Frassinelli Email: email@example.com
What’s Your Name Again? Is this inability to recall names the onset of something ominous?
r, what’s your name? I don’t know about you, but it drives me crazy when I do not remember names of those whom I have met previously. Putting names to faces is often an exercise in futility for me. Have you ever gone to a function and seen a person whom you had met on numerous previous occasions but can’t for the life of you remember his or her name? So frustrating. What is really depressing is when I go to a big function and am introduced to maybe a dozen people I never met before. Within a minute, I cannot remember a single name. Of course, the first thing I conclude is that I am getting so old that I am forgetting names. Then I catch myself. Wait a minute! This is nothing new; I have been doing this since I have been in my 30s. I am told that I am not alone. Of all the social “senior moments,” none is more common than meeting someone, introducing yourself, then immediately forgetting the person’s name. When I encounter someone I had met a while back or someone whom I have not seen in a long time, I start the conversation with “Hi, I’m Bruce Frassinelli.” In my own mind, I am taking the person off the hook in case he or she has forgotten my name or can’t put the face with the name. I get a variety of responses to this approach. Sometimes, it seems that the person is offended and replies, somewhat in a huff, “I know who you are.” Being in the public eye, I at times encounter people who greet me as if they are a long lost friend. “Bruce
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Frassinelli! How the hell are you?” one person greeted me recently. I, on the other hand, hadn’t a clue as to who the person was. In situations such as these, I am upfront and admit, “I’m sorry, but I can’t recall your name.” Sometimes the person is startled by my admission. “It’s Jerry,” comes the unhelpful reply. My quizzical look cues the person to add a last name and, at times, a helpful description of a job or some other identifier. This usually triggers recognition and elicits from me a “Oh, right, Jerry. So sorry.” Is this inability to recall names the onset of something ominous? Not at all, say researchers who have studied this phenomenon. The simple explanation is that it is normal to forget from time to time. It is also normal to become somewhat more forgetful as we age. Of course, the $64,000 question is how many memory lapses are too many? And is all of this just the normal progression of things, or is it a symptom of something more serious? Healthy people can experience memory loss at any age, but unless it is extreme or goes on for a long time it is not considered an indicator of Alzheimer’s, dementia or other memory-afflicting diseases. Experts point to these as some of the reasons why we experience memory problems: • We tend to forget facts or events over time. How many times do I have to consult Google to determine whether one of the movie or TV stars I followed during my childhood is still alive? Often I knew the answer once
but forgot. • When we don’t pay close attention, we are likely to experience absentmindedness. Where did I put my keys? Why did I miss taking my medications at the prescribed time? • How many times do we try to think of something, saying it is right on the tip of our tongue. You know the answer as well as your own name, but you just can’t think of it at the moment. An hour later, when doing something else, the answer comes to you. • Sometimes you remember part of a fact correctly but get part of it wrong. This is called misattribution. • On occasion, our memory will play tricks on us. We may have made up a story about something in our youth or, more likely, enhanced the details of an event in our favor. Over the years, we have told and retold the story so many times that we forget it is fiction and now portray it as fact. On occasion, we even convince ourselves, and fiction becomes fact even in our own minds.
So what to do about this? Well, I have tried some of suggestions the experts have given me — repeat the name after being introduced, ask the person to spell out the name (especially if it is unusual) and associate the name with something familiar (Oliver from Oswego, George as in George Bush). I am told that one of the main reasons I have trouble remembering names is that I am not focused or interested enough. So, shame on me. It’s scant comfort to know that I am not alone. One of the most bizarre moments came a number of years ago when the president of a Central New York women’s organization was introducing me as its guest speaker. She went into this five-minute litany on my background and raved about how wonderful it was of me to agree to speak to the group of about 40 club members. She concluded the introduction this way: “And now, ladies, I am so happy to introduce Mr. Bruce….ah, Mr. Bruce…Oh, what the hell is your name?”
Q&A Q: How are my retirement benefits calculated? A: Your Social Security benefits are based on earnings averaged over your lifetime. Your actual earnings are first adjusted or “indexed” to account for changes in average wages since the year the earnings were received. Then we calculate your average monthly indexed earnings during the 35 years in which you earned the most. We apply a formula to these earnings and arrive at your basic benefit. This is the amount you would receive at your full retirement age. You may be able to estimate your benefit by using our Retirement Estimator which offers estimates based on your Social Security earnings. You can find the Retirement Estimator at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator. Q: I’m retired and the only income I have is a monthly withdrawal from an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Are the IRA withdrawals considered “earnings?” Could they reduce my monthly Social Security benefits? A: No. We count only the wages you earn from a job or your net profit if you’re self-employed. Non-work income such as pensions, annuities, investment income, interest, capital gains and other government benefits are not counted and will not affect your Social Security benefits. For more information, visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov or call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800325-0778). Q: I currently receive Social Security disability benefits. I now have a second serious disability. Can my monthly benefit amount be increased? A: No. Your Social Security disability benefit amount is based on the amount of your lifetime earnings before your disability began and not the number of disabling conditions or illnesses you may have. For more information, go to www.socialsecurity. gov/disability.
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Bernie Hurlbut of Rome has been drawing since he was 6 years old.
Drawing on Life, Drawing on Paper By Will Phillips
or over eight decades, Bernie Hurlbut of Rome has been wearing out pencils faster than Usain Bolt wears out running
shoes. “I guess I started when I was about 6 years old,” Hurlbut said. “My teacher said, ‘I need to talk to your parents. What would you think if someone told you that? Not good! But my teacher told my dad that I had a marvelous talent for drawing. That was a real sigh of relief to me.” 20
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Hurlbut carried the drawing bug with him throughout high school, contributing pieces to his school’s newspaper. In study hall, he would even draw tattoos on his classmates’ arms with a ballpoint pen. “I was quite popular,” he said. After graduating from Verona High School in the late 1940s, Hurlbut attended Albright Art School in Buffalo. He completed art school, spent time in the U.S. Army, then returned to the Mohawk Valley to work at Nel-
son’s Department Store as a display man. “What I did then, nobody does anymore,” Hurlbut said. “Everything was hand lettered. I made show cards, which had the item listed, the price, and put it in the window, that sort of thing. Then a friend of mine said, ‘You should open your own sign shop.’ I did that in 1957 and made about $30 a week. I think I had six grocery stores that I’d do signs for. I’d letter buses, trucks, cars, and posters for organizations. I’ve had a lot of fun over the years.” Hurlbut even did the lettering on stockcar racer Richie Evans’ vehicle. Evans won nine NASCAR National Modified Championships and was elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame posthumously in 2011. Now 88 years old, Hurlbut — along with his wife, Joan — can be spotted at any number of his favorite area diners with his trusty drawing pad in tow. “I’ve always got a pad with me,” he said. “We went on a little trip to Lowville the other day. We stopped for some lemonade, and while I was there, I drew two pictures, and gave one to the lady standing in line. And I do a lot of drawings for kids, which is fun.” “When he goes anyplace, he’s drawing,” his wife Joan said. “When he watches television, he’s drawing. If he could draw in his sleep, he would.” “People are usually impressed with how fast I do them,” Hurlbut added. “My eyesight’s not as good as it once was, but I can still do this.”
All ears Hurlbut says he’s almost never short of ideas. “It pays to listen,” he said. “I hear things all the time and it gives me ideas. The other day somebody was talking about having shingles, which is a very annoying thing. So, I came up with a cartoon about it. All I have to do is hear something, and I can twist it around into something funny.”
Hurlbut says he has a backlog of over 1,000 cartoons at home, each cataloged according to topic. He says he enjoys drawing animals more than people, but does occasionally venture into the political realm. “I’ve got a political file, but I’m a little scared to use it,” he said. “There are a lot of people that hate politics.” Hurlbut has illustrated six of his own books and has had work published in various area newspapers over the years. These days, he cartoons mostly for the fun of it, but part of his disciplined regimen is to continue trying to get his work in front of others. “I’m always submitting work,” he said. “I’m trying to get into as many places as I can, because I enjoy it. Sometimes I make a little money to pay for breakfast, art supplies, whatever.” “It’s a strange subject, but I do a lot of cartoons on funerals,” he added. “I contacted a local funeral director and asked him, do you guys have any trade magazines? The more you do it, the more chance you have of getting in somewhere. I take that attitude.” On Nov. 17, Hurlbut was scheduled to appear at a special event at the New Hartford Shopping Center drawing cartoons for children. Cartoons will be free, but tips are appreciated and encouraged. Hurlbut says the key to his longevity is to just keep the pencils moving. “I have times when I’m not doing much, and I feel sorry for myself. But if you stay creative, you’re going to live a lot longer. Plus, my wife is behind me all the way.” Even though Hurlbut’s eyesight isn’t what it once was, his sense of humor remains as sharp as ever. “I wanted a new recliner,” Joan said. “So, he drew a picture of me in a new recliner, but it’s actually an electric chair. Those are the kinds of things he does to me.” Samples of cartoon drafts by Bernie Hurlbut. “When he goes anyplace, he’s drawing. When he watches television, he’s drawing. If he could draw in his sleep, he would,” says wife Joan. December / January 2019 - 55 PLUS
David and Paul Jackman, who perform as the Twin Magicians, finish their show by making Presto, their rabbit appear. The Jackmans perform 200-250 shows a year, about a third of which are birthday parties.Â
Meet the Twin Magicians Cicero brothers have entertained audiences for more than 40 years. For them, magic is a way of life By Ken Sturtz
aul Jackman hands a girl a strip of white tissue paper and instructs her to follow his lead. They each fold and tear their piece of paper several times. But when something goes wrong and the pieces arenâ€™t magically restored, Jackman suggests they put the shredded paper in their mouths. With that, he pops the balled up
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tissue paper into his mouth and poof! Out comes yard after yard of dry paper streamers. The children squeal in excitement. Paul and David Jackman have crisscrossed Central New York for decades entertaining audiences. Billing themselves as the Twin Magicians, the identical twins have been performing together for more than 40 years.
The Cicero brothers focus on magic, but theyâ€™re also experts in juggling and fire-eating. They can twist balloons into hats, swords and just about any animal imaginable. And they travel the country putting on game shows for colleges and universities. Magic is their bread and butter though and, after years performing
in the area, they get a lot of repeat business. Recently the magicians performed at a birthday party for the daughter of a woman whose birthday they’d performed at 24 years earlier. “So that makes you feel old,” Paul says with a laugh. “It was neat though.” “It’s nice that they have fond memories though and want to pass that on,” David says.
An Early Start The Jackmans grew up in Fayetteville and got their first taste of magic when they were just 5 years old, watching a magician perform at a Cub Scout Blue and Gold Banquet. “And we were both so enthralled that my mom hired the same magician to come and perform at our sixth birthday party,” Paul says. They were hooked from then on. Paul obtained his first magic kit — produced by famed magician Harry Blackstone Jr. — by collecting and mailing in the box tops off Jiffy Pop popcorn. They began learning magic and in the early 1970s, when they were 12, started performing shows together. But magic remained squarely in the realm of hobby until they reached their teens. They joined Ring 74, the local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, and soaked up lessons from older members. Lectures by professional magicians stoked their interest as well. After one such lecture David went home, rounded up a few softballs and taught himself how to juggle on the spot. As teens, their mother took them to nursing homes each month to perform for the residents, which gave them experience in front of audiences. From there they moved on to performing at birthday parties. “So we were doing quite a few shows even then,” Paul says. In 1976, while still in high school, they landed jobs at the Sterling Renaissance Festival after a magician from the local magic club couldn’t finish the festival’s 14-week run. The brothers still relied on their parents for rides to and from the festival. They performed as many as five shows a day, two days a week. It was hard work, but they loved it and it gave them even more experience in front of
Paul Jackman after he and his brother David made a dove and a cane appear at the beginning of a show. The pair usually open their show with a dove appearance.
David Jackman in a lighter moment as he juggles for an audience. When Jackman was a child he saw a lecture on juggling, went home and taught himself how to juggle on the spot. December / January 2019 - 55 PLUS
audiences. “You had this whole group of people that were playing with you, 60 to100 people who were all working toward the same thing,” Paul says. “There was a huge amount of camaraderie.” They played the festival each summer for a decade after that first year. After graduating from Fayetteville-Manlius High School and then Onondaga Community College, the brothers did different jobs. The renowned Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College accepted David into its program. He toured with Cole Brothers Circus for a year. He later worked at the Hotel Syracuse and did magic shows part time. When the hotel closed, David joined Paul full time. “So we did other things, but we also kept doing the shows and then finally, after about 10 years of doing that, we decided OK let’s see if we can actually make a living at it,” Paul says.
Working with Family There’s a saying that family and business don’t mix well together. And magic lends itself to creative differences between magicians. But after 46 years performing together, Paul and David say they get along well and have never had a disagreement remotely serious enough for them to contemplate splitting. “I don’t know that we would’ve stayed working together if we weren’t so close,” David says. “He’s my twin brother,” Paul says. “We get along; we know each other really well. It’s like growing up with your best friend.” As it turns out, the biggest challenge they face working together is scheduling their shows. They use a shared calendar to help keep track of each other’s availability, though they’ll work solo on occasion if necessary. Game shows sometimes demand two people to run and help with loading all the equipment in and out. There are advantages to working with a partner besides being able to divide the work. If a microphone fails or a trick fizzles, for example, there’s someone on stage to step in and help, Paul says. Because they’re so in tune with each other, it’s easy to rely on the other person’s judgment during a show and 24
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to add or drop tricks based on the audience’s reaction. That also means they usually know immediately if a new trick they’re practicing is going to work, David says. Despite being a double act and occasionally finishing each other ’s sentences during shows, each brother has his own specialties, many of which manifest themselves during performances. Paul is more theatrical and outgoing. During shows, he does more of the talking and often narrates tricks with the energetic self-assuredness of a radio pitchman. David is soft-spoken and fancies himself more of a technician. He’s a stronger juggler and has spent decades perfecting the Chinese linking rings, a classic illusion. David also has lockpicking skills. Through thousands of shows, they’ve honed their performance into a seamless, polished piece of entertainment. Nearly every joke hits its mark. The impressiveness of the tricks builds throughout the show. If a trick goes wrong the recovery is so seamless that it almost seems to the audience that it was part of the show. “We know each other so well, even closer than family I would say,” David says. “It’s really much easier to have somebody who you know and can rely.”
The Magic Business Legions of people take an interest in magic, learning to perform a few tricks. Thousands enthusiastically pursue it as a hobby. Few people succeed as professional magicians and most rely on scale to make a living. Paul and David do between 200 and 250 shows a year. About a third are birthday parties the magician’s bread and butter. Another third are college game shows. The remainder include events such as fairs, festivals, company picnics, Christmas parties, schools and libraries. Sometimes they do several shows in a single day. The trick to booking hundreds of shows a year is trying not to turn down a show, Paul says. Sometimes that means fitting in three shows at different locations in a single day. Other times it might mean performing outside at the mercy of wind, rain or scorching summer heat. Inevitably, some shows are easier and more fun
than others are. “Schools and libraries are some of the most rewarding, as are the birthday parties for that matter,” David says. Corporate events can be more challenging, but often lead to people booking birthday parties as a result. Game shows are relatively easy to host, but require hauling a lot of equipment, Paul says. Most of the tricks don’t change from show to show and with such a polished performance, they can easily adjust their presentation style depending on the audience. But they do a lot of repeat business — one library hired them seven years in a row — so they occasionally work a new trick into the act, which helps keep them and the show fresh, Paul says. They also keep abreast of what’s new in magic and who’s doing what on television, David says. Recently audiences have frequently mentioned Shin Lim, who won “America’s Got Talent” with his close-up card magic.
Still Going Strong For Paul and David, who turned 59 in November, magic is a way of life. They have no plans to give it up anytime soon, but 250 shows a year can be a grueling pace. After decades of entertaining audiences, has it gotten tougher to keep up that pace? “Well if you’d asked me that a couple years ago I would’ve said ‘Nope, no difference,’” Paul says. “But, yeah, it’s starting to catch up to me.” Now they try not to schedule shows back to back so they don’t have to pack up and rush from one place to the next, Paul says. They’ve also looked for ways to lighten some of the equipment they use. They’re looking forward to being a bit more choosy about the kind of work they take, David says, such as shows that require them to be in the sun on hot summer days. They say it’s only a matter of time before they start doing shows at birthday parties for the grandchildren of people they’ve performed for. And that’s fine, they say, because they still love what they do. “It’s the one gift that I have to give and I’m glad to be able to offer it,” David says.
Checking Out Charities How can you know that the organization you’re donating to is legitimate? By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
n 2017 Americans gave about $410.02 billion to charities, according to Giving USA 2018, the Annual Report on Philanthropy. The organization also reported that 9 percent of all donations are by bequest ($35.70 billion in 2017) and that gifts from individuals plus bequests accounts for almost 80 percent of charitable gifts, compared with 20 percent of financial gifts originating from companies. When you choose to give, how can you know that the organization is legitimate and significantly benefiting the cause you support?
Chris Gardner, president of FMF&E Wealth Management in Syracuse, likes to reference www.charitynavigator.org. “You can plug in any charity by name and you can find what you want,” he said. “If you can’t find it, it’s not a legitimate, 501(c)(3) charity.” The site shows what percentage of every dollar donated goes toward overhead and what goes toward programming. Gardner said that 80 percent or more going toward the mission indicates a pretty good organization. Gardner serves on the board of
Rescue Mission of Syracuse. He advises people to visit the charity of their choice to see what they’re doing. Lee M. Gatta, a chartered life underwriter, chartered financial consultant and accredited estate planner in DeWitt, advises clients to visit the website of the organization as well as www.irs.gov. “There is a site within the IRS site that lists bonafide public charities,” Gatta said. “Their annual reports and tax forms are there. You can see their expenses, salaries, HR benefits and how much they give towards grants and research. To be a 501(c)(3), they December / January 2019 - 55 PLUS
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have to submit this information.” Becoming involved can also help you gain a better understanding of an organization. Randy Zeigler, certified wealth planner with Ameriprise Financial in Oswego, said that volunteering for a charity can help you know where the money goes. “You can see the quality of their mission and know if they’re focused on it,” Zeigler said. “If they spend two-thirds of their time on fundraising, that might not be the best place for your money to go.” Zeigler is chairman of the Oswego County Community Foundation. He said community foundations have track records where contributors can find out plenty of information. “Focus on some of the local organizations like the Literacy Volunteers and Oswego County Human Society,” Zeigler suggested. “Call the charity and ask for a list of their board. Contact the president and talk with the person. There’s no prohibition on that. I’d think most people would be happy to talk with someone.” Charities can highlight their transparency by quantifying their outcome and sharing their budgets. Givers can select the charities that meet their expectations. Carol Schmeiser, registered representative and chartered financial consultant with Urist Financial and Retirement Planning Inc. in East Syracuse, recommends considering the Central New York Community Foundation as a vehicle for making charitable contributions. Contributors can give a sum all at once for tax benefits (if you itemize your deductions), and then disburse the money from the fund later. “If you’re over 70 and a half years old and want to give to charity, it might be best to do a charitable donation directly from your IRA to the charity itself [not to the foundation] because at that point, you have to take a minimum distribution,” Schmeiser said. “Doing it this way, the money that you’ve given isn’t taxable to you and at the same time, you’ve satisfied your minimum distribution requirement.” She said to confirm these tax benefits with your tax professional before executing.
aging By Marilyn L. Pinsky
From Revolution to Recipes A Q&A with foreign correspondent Reese Erlich, an expert in Middle East issues and author of the recently released “The Iran Agenda Today”
Writer Reese Erlich will be in Syracuse in December.
y children and I sponsor an annual lecture in my husband’s name, the Philip C. Pinsky Lecture, and this year ’s speaker is foreign correspondent Reese Erlich, an expert in Middle East issues and author of the recently released book, “The Iran Agenda Today.” He was the New York Times expert on a trip I took to Iran last year and his perspective was very thought-provoking. This interview took place upon his return from Turkey and Lebanon in October. Q. How did you become an international reporter? A. I was a leader in the student and anti-Vietnam War movements in the 1960s. I was indicted on felony conspiracy charges, along with
six others, for organizing a militant anti-war/anti-draft demonstration in 1967. Members of The Oakland 7, as we were known, were acquitted of all charges. I went to work for Ramparts, an investigative reporting magazine in San Francisco. I later taught journalism for 10 years at several Bay Area universities and have continued to work as a freelance journalist. Starting in the early 1980s I began reporting from abroad. I now write a nationally distributed column called “Foreign Correspondent.” Q. I know you disagree with the United States’ Iran policy. What is it that you believe is wrong with our policy toward Iran? A. Ever since the popular revolution overthrew US-allied Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi in 1979, the US has
tried to isolate Iran. Instead of treating Iran as a sovereign nation with the right to control its own economic, military, religious and social policies, the US sought to bring Iran back into the US sphere of influence. As I detail in “The Iran Agenda Today,” the US-backed Saddam Hussein’s attacks on Iran in the closing years of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. President Bush supported ethnic minority terrorist groups in Iran, particularly in the Balouchi region in the southeast, and imposed horrific sanctions on Iran from 2010-14. President Trump’s current policies are an intensification of actions that have been continuing since 1979. Iran engages in many domestic and international policies with which I disagree. It brutally represses its own people and violates the rights of women, for example. It seeks regional hegemony in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. But over time I think the Iranian people will change those policies. They don’t want the current government replaced by a US-imposed strongman. They already had that experience when the CIA overthrew the nationalist government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh and installed the shah as dictator. Q. Is Iran a nuclear threat to the US or Israel? A. My book details how even major US intelligence agencies admit Iran has had no nuclear weapons program since 2003. The Iranian government argues strongly that it never had such a program. But both the US and Israel use the myth of an Iranian nuclear bomb as a means to scare people and to justify military assaults on Iran. Iran has one of the largest oil reserves in the world. It occupies a strategic geopolitical position near the vital shipping lanes of the Straits of Hormuz. Successive US governments have sought to return Iranian oil to control by western oil corporations and to establish military bases in the region. But US presidents can’t argue “we are waging war for oil.” So they demonize Iran with false claims of a nuclear bomb. Former Israeli government officials and experts know that Iran poses no danger of an offensive nuclear attack on Israel. Right now Tehran has the capability of launching a conventional missile attack on Israel but will December / January 2019 - 55 PLUS
not do so because it would justify the all-out destruction of their regime by the US and Israel. Tehran does fund and arm the Lebanese group Hezbollah and supports the Palestinian party Hamas. Israel’s security can only be guaranteed by the creation of two states, Palestinian and Israeli, living in peace. With a two-state solution, Iran’s views of Israel becomes irrelevant. Q. We have a view that the US is the world’s peacemaker. What do you think is a superpower’s responsibilities?
A. I strongly disagree with the US’s self-appointed role of peacemaker. Where exactly has the US created peace? The US is currently at war with six countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Somalia. Those countries have many internal problems but the US military only makes the situation worse. The US responsibility is to stop intervening militarily and economically, close its 750 military bases around the world, and use the money for much needed programs at home.
Q. Do reporters from different countries all see the same events the same way? A. Mainstream reporters tend to reflect the debates occurring within their governments. During the Iraq War, for example, the New York Times and other major media reported with certainty that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Mainstream media in the UK and France were much more skeptical. That reporting reflected the wider opposition and debate about the war in those countries. al:
And now, a switch to the person-
Q. In Iran you bought a rug that you had obviously researched quality, color and dimensions. What else have you bought on your travels? And what advice would you have on shopping for other travelers? A. If you’re considering a major purchase, figure out what you want in advance. It makes no sense to buy a beautiful rug if it won’t fit in your room. Figure out how much you might pay for the item in the US. If you are visiting a country where bargaining is normal (which is much of the Third World), don’t be afraid to bargain, even in stores.
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Q. Given your years of travel all over the world, what is your favorite cooking cuisine? A. I do all the cooking in our house and specialize in kitchen confusion cuisine. I get recipes from all the countries where I travel and then adapt the food to American ingredients and tastes. I like spicy food, for example, but would never serve Pakistani food as eaten in Islamabad. It’s too hot! There’s a reason they call it the nuclear option.
Meet Foreign Correspondent Reese Erlich Readers are invited to attend this year’s Philip C. Pinsky Lecture, which will feature foreign correspondent Reese Erlich, an expert in Middle East issues and author of the recently-released book, “The Iran Agenda Today.” The lecture is part of the Thursday Morning Roundtable, which will take place at 8 a.m., Dec. 6, at Goldstein Student Center, 401 Skytop Road, room 201ABC, Syracuse, NY 13210. For more information, call Emily Winiecki at 315443-4137.
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Going the Distance By Mary Beth Roach
Rosemarie Nelson, accomplished business consultant, goes the road least traveled “Anybody can do it. You’re putting one foot in front of the other. Sometimes, somebody does it faster than somebody else.” That’s how 63-year-old Rosemarie Nelson, one of Central New York’s premiere runners, defines running. And Nelson’s usually the one doing it faster than anyone else. She’s been named the Road Runners Club of America State Half-Marathon Female Senior Grand Master Champion. She’s run hundreds of races, including the Adirondack Marathon in 1997, and the Boston Marathon twice (in 1998 and 1999). She’s been the race director for the annual 10-mile Mountain Goat Run, and is president of the Mountain Goat Foundation. She is slated to take over as treasurer of that organization at the end of the year. A runner for about 35 years, Nelson also helps and mentors others preparing for races. She is a petite powerhouse. When she’s not running races, she’s running her own consulting business. She heads up the Pointe 30
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East Homeowners Association in Jamesville, and will become president of the board of directors of Hospice of Central New York in November. Both she and her husband, Tim, are Syracuse University alumni, and as such, have become staunch SU
supporters, not only attending the football and basketball games as season ticket holders, but as donors to both the academic and athletic programs at the school. “When she takes on anything, she jumps in 100 percent. She just blows
Rosemarie Nelson photographed by Chuck Wainwright near her home in Jamesville. December / January 2019 - 55 PLUS
Virginia 10-Miler in Lynchburg, Va., in 2015.
Empire State Half-Marathon in Syracuse. 2017.
Atlanta Marathon in Atlanta, Ga., in 2004.
you away,” said Margaret Hartmann, president of the Syracuse Track Club. Where does she find the energy to accomplish all this? A lot of it comes from running, of course. “I’m actually more energized the mornings I run,” she said. She runs four mornings a week, and does boot camp at a local fitness center the other three days. It’s all part of her daily routine, and one that she believes keeps her fit, both physically and mentally. “It’s like brushing your teeth. I’m not brushing my teeth because I hope they stay really good and I can chew till I’m 95. You just get up every day and do it,” she said. She will often run by herself, which “is a great time to reflect, whether you’re problem solving or just thinking of things, or planning,” she said. It’s this cross training, she believes, that has enabled her to improve on her running time. “My times were getting better as I was getting older,” she said. She has said she’s not competitive against others, but it’s about doing her best. She wanted to run her first
marathon by the time she reached 40. She beat that goal by two years, running the Wineglass Marathon in the fall of 1994 at age 38. She keeps a spreadsheet to track her PRs (runners’ code for personal records). Her best time, she said, depends on the event, but to date, for a marathon, it’s 3 hours and 28 minutes, and she’s done 5Ks in under an 8-minute mile pace. She’s tenacious in all categories, according to Maryann Roefaro, CEO of Hematology-Oncology Associates of CNY, a friend of Nelson for about 25 years. “Unstoppable when she runs. Unstoppable when she volunteers for something. Unstoppable when she was the race director for the Mountain Goat,” Roefaro said. Nelson had been working at Welch-Allyn when a colleague, about 25 years her junior, approached and said she had heard she did marathons. While previously working for Health Care Data Systems, she came to know Roefaro, who was a vice president at Crouse Hospital at the time. “I immediately loved her because she’s so positive, so bubbly, so filled with life and love. You just are drawn
to her,” said Roefaro.
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On the run Nelson wasn’t a born runner. In fact, the Warners native was in the marching band while attending West Genesee High School. She graduated in 1974 and started at SUNY Albany. She realized that she was gaining a little weight, and thought she’d start running. “It wasn’t so cool back in the ‘70s,” she said, so she’d run at night, doing a few laps around the quad. She’d run about three months, lose a few pounds, stop running, gain weight back, and start running again. “I got into a cycle,” she said. “I wouldn’t call myself a runner then.” She left Albany after three semesters and returned to Central New York. She got a job as a teller at the then-First Trust and Deposit Bank, now KeyBank, in 1976. Her time at the bank would end up altering her life. She would meet her husband there, and he helped to re-ignite her passion for running — she’d enter her first race; she’d get back on track to earn her associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees; and
Rosemarie Nelson running in the Willow Bay 5K in Liverpool in 2017. At 63, she has run hundreds of races. She’s been named the Road Runners Club of America State Half-Marathon Female Senior Grand Master Champion.
she’d be on a career path that would ultimately lead to her to becoming an independent contractor. After work at the bank, she and Tim would often head to the downtown YMCA and run laps. However, while doing a run on the east side of Syracuse one day, Tim tripped and broke his ankle. While he was recovering, she used the time to improve her running so that when he healed, they could run together. That’s when she felt that she’d become a runner, she said. “Running with Tim, it was our time together,” she said. “We’d run together before work. Sometimes you’re chatting the whole time, sometimes you’re just together. I think that connection was really good.” She entered her first race in 1980 — a 3.5-mile United Way run in Jamesville. She won her age group, and was awarded a United Way coffee
mug, which she still has and brings out every so often. It was at KeyBank that she returned to school part-time; took advantage of the Bank Administration Institute, a program between the bank and Onondaga Community College; and earned an associate’s degree in banking/business. She had begun taking classes at University College, and she was able to continue those classes when she went to work at Planned Parenthood, since that organization had a remitted tuition program with Syracuse University. At Planned Parenthood, she helped the organization implement a computer system that streamlined a lot of the paperwork it had been doing manually. It was through her work there that her career evolved into health care, she said.
She moved in the mid-1980s to Health Care Data Systems, a company affiliated at the time with Crouse Hospital. It was an era when a lot of medical practices were still using paper, she explained, and the company was helping bring technology to many of those offices. However, with all the newly emerging technology, some customers were having problems making adjustments. So, she approached the company’s vice president of sales and suggested they provide a consulting service along with the implementation. When he asked who was going to do that, Nelson, with her usual can-do style, responded, “I’ll do it.” She became so highly regarded that people were calling her at Health Care Systems to ask for help, even if they weren’t using her company’s systems. December / January 2019 - 55 PLUS
Rosemary Nelson: Her Giving Side Rosemarie Nelson’ greatest accomplishments, ironically enough, have nothing to do with running, she said. The first one she mentioned was being there for her mother, Loretta Crossett, and supporting her during her final days. Crossett died in December of 2015. Because Nelson was so appreciative of the care her mother received during that time from Hospice of Central New York, she has become involved with that organization. It just spoke to her, she said. The second achievement has been, she said, getting her degrees while continuing to work. As longtime friend Maryann Roefaro, CEO of HematologyOncology Associates of CNY, said, “Rosemarie is great at everything she decides she’s going to do.” Long before earning her diplomas at Syracuse University — and before there was a Carrier Dome and the Orange basketball team was playing games at Manley Field House — she had been an SU supporter. “I grew up a fan,” she said. “I have three brothers, but I was the oldest. My father would get two tickets to a game at Manley, and I would get to go a lot, and that was the best time ever. Partly it was because it was me and my father.” Her husband, Tim, is also a graduate of SU. He had been in the Army serving in Vietnam and learned of a government program that enabled him to attend SU. “He says when he got here, he couldn’t take the smile off his face. I think that was very, very meaningful to him. It was a good experience,” she said. Today, they are committed to making good experiences for students. April Mazza, director of gift planning at the Office of Advancement and External Affairs at SU, related a story about how the Nelsons became so involved. They had attended a football banquet where they heard a former student-athlete talk about how he was a first-generation student and how he was able to earn a scholarship to come to Syracuse to play sports. “It drew them into the studentathletes’ experiences and their 34
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workloads, and how much they have to carry,” Mazza said. According to Doreen Henson, senior director of gift planning, the Nelsons annually support the Martin J. Whitman School of Management, where both she and Tim earned their degrees. Some of the other most impactful areas that they have supported, Henson pointed out, include the Executive Education Breakout Room in the Whitman Building; initiatives in the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center; and the primary medical care lab in the Barnes Center at The Arch, SU’s new health, wellness and recreation complex under construction next to the dome. The Tim and Rosemarie Nelson Endowed Scholarship, through their estate, will provide scholarship and financial assistance to undergraduate students who are members of nonrevenue sports, Henson added. They also support the Life Skills Program in Athletics, which helps SU student-athletes with the skills and knowledge they will need to have a successful career at the school and beyond, and that have underwritten challenges within the athletics program that urge former student-athletes to give back to their team. “As a couple, they like to make sure that they’re having an impact on our students,” Henson said. Nelson also donates her time and energy and even some pushups! For example, she serves on various committees at SU, including the ‘Cuse Council, which tries to improve upon the fan’s experience. Nelson has been known to get so into these games, that several years ago, while on the sidelines with Tim, she dropped and began doing seven pushups for every touchdown the Orangemen scored. By the end of the game, Mazza estimated, she did about 95. She’s “the perfect ambassador for any organization, and thank God one of them is Syracuse University,” Henson said. Roefaro seems to sum Nelson up quite aptly: “She’s kind and loving and compassionate and adorable and smart. She’s just got the whole package.”
So again, she went to the vice president and convinced him to expand the company’s consulting services, which, she said, might result in selling a system or two of its own. Through the remitted tuition programs and reimbursement offered by Health Care Data Systems, she was able to finish her bachelor’s degree in management-information systems from Syracuse University, and earn her master ’s degree in health care administration from The New School. Nelson began sensing that some changes were in the wind at Health Care Data Systems, so in 1998, she went to work for Welch Allyn. The company was doing an initiative called Office of the Future, in which it was connecting its medical devices to electronic health records. She was also writing articles about the technology, doing talks, and traveling 192 days in one year — and her reputation was spreading. In the early 2000s, she became self-employed so she could spend more time with Tim and her family. She is still an independent contractor today, and through her work, she helps medical practices with their operations and technology, she presents and writes nationally and works with medical practices on specific shortterm issues or projects. Her various jobs would also lead to new friendships and opportunities to help mentor younger runners. “I think connecting with people is the key — If you have friends, you’ll run together. You’re on the road together and you share things you wouldn’t share in other places,” she said. When Roefaro decided to try running about five years ago at the age of 53, she naturally turned to Nelson for some guidance. “When I started running, obviously the first person I was going to turn to was my friend Rosemarie,” Roefaro said. “She’ll give you anything she has. She loves to help people. I tell her all the time she’s my running hero.” Even though Roefaro is a few years her junior, she feels that when they run together, she slows Rosemarie down. “If they are long runs, and I’m tired, she’ll run backwards while I run forward, and she’ll still talk the whole time,” Roefaro said. “She’s aging so beautifully. Her running times are compared to people in their 40s.”
George Cady and his wife Donna Stonerher
Ciao, Syracuse Couple loves Central New York, but spending a month or two in Florida has become a tradition in the winter By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
hen Donna Stoner, now 73, worked as a director of volunteers at Upstate University Hospital, she had to fit volunteer schedules around the winter snowbirds’ travel plans. “Now, I am one!” Stoner said with a laugh. D o n n a S t o n e r, 7 3 , a n d h e r husband, George Cady 68, like to take a break from the cold in the midst of winter, but as Stoner admits, they love Central New York so much that they don’t give up their home in Syracuse or their camp in the Adirondacks to
move South. Rather, they rent a place in Venice, Fla., from late January to mid-March from a family that lives in Germany. Since she retired in 2009, the couple has taken meandering road trips to their place in Florida so they can see different sites along the East Coast along the way. “I like being able to be outside every day,” Stoner said. “My husband especially likes the bike trails, and I do, too. They have a good arts community, as we do in Syracuse. We picked that community because of the arts
available.” Stoner paints in watercolors and enjoys doing so outdoors. Cady retired in 2008 from working as a library media specialist at Baker High School in Baldwinsville. The couple hadn’t envisioned snow birding as a retirement goal. Stoner said they stumbled upon the idea. It took root as she interviewed prospective volunteers for the hospital. She asked about their motives and expectations to help make a lasting match between volunteer and December / January 2019 - 55 PLUS
Rediscovering the Art of Play
By Cheryl Costa
o o m a ny o f u s e n t e r adulthood and give up the art of play. We are told “play is kid stuff, be a grownup!” We are taught to focus heavily on work, careers and family commitments. It seems like society has been totally geared for against us having time for pure fun. Alas, many of us put the art of playing away with other childhood pursuits; and we do so at our own peril. Modern scientific research suggests that healthy indulgence in playtime leads to healthy adulthood. Experts tell us that childhood play is critical for proper brain development. What I found most interesting about play research is that that playground time is actually more important than time in classroom! The other important thing that the play researchers have discovered is that adults need playtime too. Stuart Brown, the head of a nonprofit National Institute for Play, says: “Play is something done for its own sake.” He goes on to say that, “It’s voluntary, it’s pleasurable, it offers a sense of engagement, and it takes you out of time.” Other researchers suggest that as adults engaged in our American “let’s make a deal,” competitive culture they tend to think if we play we must win. Brown tells us that the act of playing “itself is more important than the outcome.” In essence, he’s telling us that we should play for playing sake. Watching sports on television is not considered play. What are we talking about with regard to playing? Why not color in a coloring book
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— there are many coloring books for grownups. Perhaps purchase a few cans of Play-Doh and let your creativity just explore what you can do with it. Possibly make up your own games with friends. Speaking of games, there are a lot of elders who played the Dungeons and Dragons fantasy game back in the day. Why not get a D&D club going with some of your elder cronies? All it requires is some time, imagination and a table top. So what are the personal benefits to elder playtime? Play i s a c k n ow l e d ge d to re l e a s e endorphins; which can act as a temporarily pain reliever, in addition to promoting an overall sense of well-being. Active adult play is known to improve brain function. Working on completing puzzles and other fun activities that challenge the brain keeps the mind active and aids in the prevention of memory problems. The other thing that playing can do is improve social interaction with family, old friends and open up avenues to new friends. Play in this regard is recognized to help ward off depression. Even board or card games are good for doing this. There’s an old saying: “That laugher is the best medicine.” Fun playful activity frequently makes us laugh and that it a good thing. Famed Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once said: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” Take it from me, a good healthy dose of daily play, keeps the mind sharp and gives you a great outlook on life.
assignment. Many spoke about their own travel desires. By the time Stoner retired, she and Cady decided that they should travel to celebrate and visit family. While on their trip, they made friends in the South and the sojourn became an annual tradition. They visit parks, historical sites — a favorite pastime of Cady’s — and hike. “We have friends who stay six months even, but they’re conflicted because they have family up here and things they’re vested in that they have to take themselves away from,” Stoner said. “I get the sense they don’t have a sense of home. It’s six months here or there for the tax advantage. We didn’t want to do that.” For Stoner and Cady, a month or so is enough. “Florida is just so different,” Stoner said. “We’re not that crazy about Florida. I am a four-seasons person, drawn to water. You have all these lakes and canals in Florida and you can’t go in them because of alligators. It’s also flat. That’s why a month is perfect for us.” They’ve contemplated staying elsewhere for their annual respite from the cold, but they always come back to the same conclusion: Venice, Fla., meets their objectives. They drive their car down so they can explore the state’s natural parks and historic sites. Stoner takes her paints along on the trip and her sketch pad to interesting venues. The couple plans to go on a river cruise in Portugal soon. “We like river cruising because you see things so differently moving along in a river,” Stoner said. They’ve also traveled to Alaska, New Mexico, and a few other Western states. Stoner’s dream trip is to go to Italy to stay for a few weeks in a town where she could go on day trips to paint. She encourages anyone to travel if they’re able. “ Yo u l e a r n s o m u c h a b o u t yourself,” she said. “Especially now in our country, it’s important to get to know each other and hear each other out. “I think it’s good for your perspective to travel and see different parts of the country, or travel even if it’s New York state. There’s wonderful places to explore everywhere.”
golden years By Harold Miller Email: email@example.com
A Snowbird’s Tale
’was Christmas holiday in 1972 that my wife Janet and I packed all five of our kids in our Oldsmobile station wagon (yesteryear’s SUV) and headed south to visit Mickey and Minnie. Disney World had just opened its theme park doors to a fantastic success that would eventually turn Florida from a rich man’s winter hideaway to everyman’s winter vacation spot and retirement retreat. Our Florida trip was not only to visit Disney World, but to visit my brother-in-law, Dick Hirsh, and his family, who had recently purchased a condominium in the sleepy little town of Juno Beach on the Atlantic Ocean, just north of Palm Beach. We spent Christmas Day at Juno by the Sea with the Hirshes at their beautiful apartment overlooking the Atlantic beach. Our kids swam in the ocean for the first time and they were entranced. Dick told me that he bought the condominium unit for $36,000 and there were just two more units left. On the way back to the motel where we were staying, I said to Janet, “Why don’t we buy one of the remaining units?” Now, Janet is the conservative partner of our marriage and she reacted as I knew she would: “We can’t afford to do that,” she said. I had played an ace-in-the-hole with five kids in the back seats shouting, “Yes, we can, Mom — yes, we can.” Janet melted and we went back the next day and bought our vacation home on the beach in one of the most beautiful places in the world. South Florida has an ideal climate for snowbirds. During the winter season, from December through February, the average air temperature in sub-tropical southern Florida is 75 degrees. Likewise the surf temperature also averages 75 degrees. The tropical desert winds that blow off Africa’s coastline drive the Gulf Stream all the way to the southern tip of Florida where it dutifully pivots north and runs
offshore up the peninsula. Fortunately, the Gulf Stream is the closest to the shoreline in the Palm Beach area. The entire Florida peninsula is much like an outsized sand bar with a layer of (barely) potable water separating the salt water below from the sand above. The highest elevation in the entire state is but 700 feet above sea level. The advent of Disney World and a few other theme parks nearly 50 years ago created a building boom — and except for a couple of pauses in the 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century — the building boom continues unabated to this day. The condominium we bought in 1972 for $36,000 (and subsequently sold) is worth over half a million dollars today. What’s it like retiring to Florida for six months a year or permanently? Well, for one thing, you will have a lot of company. A healthy percentage of Auburn retirees spend winters here (yes, I’m writing this from my southern
residence). A shocking statistic from the Wall St. Journal reports that six out of 10 people move from our beloved New York state when they retire and most of them land in Florida. In case you haven’t guessed the reason — it’s the high taxes in New York state and the low taxes in Florida. As a result of low taxes, almost perfect climate and a retirement-friendly government, the Sunshine State now displaces New York state as third largest in the USA. The overriding reason to spend winters in Florida is to be out in the fresh air and exercising virtually every day of the year. As you reach your senior years, most people are reluctant to fight the snow and ice to walk and exercise outside. It’s a lot easier to light up the fireplace and spend your days in a rocking chair watching TV. But statistics prove that if you exercise every day you will add at least 10 years to your life (of course the statistics come from the Florida Chamber of Commerce). In any event, the sun, salt air and beautiful surroundings will be good for both your physical and mental health — and I can guarantee that.
“As a result of low taxes, almost perfect climate and a retirement-friendly government, the Sunshine State now displaces New York state as third largest in the USA.”
Juno Beach, Fla. December / January 2019 - 55 PLUS
Mike Fitzgerald at his archery shop, Fitz’s Archery, in Central Square. He said the sport has become more popular after the movie ‘Hunger Games.’
Archery instructor hones marksmanship skills of many in the area By Mary Beth Roach
ike Fitzgerald took a shot at archery in the 1980s, and now some 30 years later, he’s hitting the target with the next generation. He created a youth archery program at the Clay Sportsman’s Club in 1991, shortly after he was sworn into the club, and he’s been running it for the past 27 years. In addition to being the operations manager at Southern Graphics Systems in Phoenix, he also runs an archery
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shop, Fitz’s Archery, in Central Square. He opened his first shop in 1983, and while he’s moved around a little since then — New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and back to New York — he’s always owned and run his archery shop. While working in the Saratoga area, the 63-year-old took up the sport when a former co-worker let him try his bow. “I was hooked,” he said. And so, for more than a quarter
century, he has been passing his love and knowledge of the sport to younger generations. When he started the youth program, he said, there were only about six in the program, including his son and daughter, Mike and Amanda Fitzgerald. His son would go on to become a three-time New York state indoor champion. His daughter finished second in one. Now, there are 65 kids, aged 5-18, spread over two classes. “Most of this class is word of mouth,” he said, “but obviously the movie ‘Hunger Games’ brought out the initial influx of females into shooting archery.” T h e i n t e re s t i s b e i n g s e e n nationwide as well. According to an online article on NPR.com, a year after the 2012 release of “Hunger Games,” with its female lead, Katniss Everdeen, the overall membership in USA Archery had doubled. The class gathers for 12 Sunday mornings from January through March, with Fitzgerald and two other instructors leading the classes. In the club’s basement area where the sessions are held, bows of various sizes hang over the shooting line. Picnic tables line one wall, providing seating for parents, while targets line the far wall. On the last day of the session, animal targets are scattered around the floor and serve as some of the kids’ favorites, Fitzgerald noted. There is also a banquet to round out the season, in which everyone gets a prize.
Safety first “We work with them on safety issues, shooting skills, everything from shot execution to sight picture. These kids have come a long way,” he said. When the kids start, Fitzgerald explained, they often want to loft and shoot — meaning to just load an arrow and shoot the bow. There is a skill to be accurate and being safe and that’s what Fitzgerald teaches. To keep them focused and instruct them to achieve a level of accuracy, Fitzgerald brings a little “pop” into the game. Balloons are blown up and used as targets, and the kids love popping
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eye-hand coordination, Fitzgerald
noted. X 3.3472 (H) = 4.7917 “Everybody gets satisfied when
they hit the bull’s-eye, even me,” he said with a chuckle. But Fitzgerald isn’t the only one to derive pleasure from the program. Nine-year-old Mavrick Breckheimer has been shooting for about three years since his mother, Erika, first learned of the class through a co-worker. He took right to it, she said, and it has helped the youngster improve focus and patience. For Breckheime the balloon popping is one of his favorites. Tammy Lytle was looking for an Mike Fitzgerald and his wife, Karen activity that her daughter, Larkin, 10, Fitzgerald. They sponsor a co-ed could participate in that best suited league on Friday evenings, from her. January through March. Archery has hit that mark. While neither she nor her husband SAGEtheUpstate oﬀers Wellness Programs, Socials, Support balloons. shoot, Tammy’s dad, Ken Stuber begin 10 yards and will Groups &They Educa� on inatSyracuse, Cortland, Oswego & U� does. So ca an added benefit is that the advance to 20 yards. sport has allowed for greater bonding 315-478-1923 or “The kids that have been here between Larkin and her grandfather, a few years are starting to keep Lytle said. sageupstate.org score,” Fitzgerald said. “They’re Larkin and her “poppy” may looking at their progression and their soon progress to the Friday night coServing older gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender adults in CNY achievements.” ed team. Fitzgerald also oversees a coFor Larkin, the most immediate ed league on Friday evenings, from thrill is winning the $1 that’s rewarded January through March, male/female after a certain target is hit, and she teams. Husband-wife, father-daughter already won at least $1 this season. and mother-son teams. Fitzgerald’s For Fitzgerald, being able to offer wife, Karen is his partner. She joined these classes provides him with a great his love for archery in 1985. deal of satisfaction. “It’s a nice, family-oriented “It’s enjoyable to watch them shooting environment,” he said of the when these kids’ eyes open up bright, co-ed teams. when they see that arrow hit that The kids get a sense of personal target,” Fitzgerald said. satisfaction, confidence, and improved
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A Professor’s Compassion for the Incarcerated Hamilton College professor has spent a lot of time behind bars: helping inmates write their own stories. He now advocates for prison reform By Aaron Gifford
lthough Doran Larson is a highly-regarded writer and professor at Hamilton College, he has spent significant time behind bars. He’s been inside minimum, medium and maximum security prisons in several states, and even overseas. In recent years he dedicated semester breaks studying Scandinavian lockups and sharing his insight with the world. And while his knowledge of literature and talent for creative writing has fueled his success as a published author, he still prefers to read the work of inmates. Many of the works he reads were completed by his previous students in the creative writing program Larson established at Attica State Prison in 2006, which eventually inspired hundreds of other inmates at various prisons across the country to take up creative writing. Larson founded the American Prison Writing Archive in 2010. The idea began as a book of essays, but when the deadline for submissions passed and essays continued to come in, the college professor broadened the project into something much larger. “I think we’ve created an important outlet for the incarcerated,” said Larson, 60, of Clinton, Oneida County. “I think some folks have a lot to say. This is a way for them to be heard, and I think there’s an audience for this.” All told, the archive contains more than 1,600 essays and is growing daily.
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Its web page gets about 400 page visits per month.
Passion for literature, philosophy As a youngster, the California native probably never imagined himself at either a state prison or a college campus. He grew up just outside of San Diego, in a blue collar community. His father was an air traffic control worker and his mother was a homemaker who spent ample time volunteering in her community. Larson and his two brothers enjoyed outdoors and scouting. As he got older, Larson got into competitive moto cross racing. At 16, Larson discovered that he really enjoyed reading. The book that really inspired him at the time was a biography of Karl Marx. “I started to believe that one could make their ways in the world by their ideals,” Larson said. As a young adult, Larson initially had plans to work in construction and complete a training program for welders, but his love of literature, philosophy and the humanities inspired him to complete an undergraduate degree at University of California Santa Clara. From there, he earned a scholarship to complete graduate studies at the University at Buffalo. “It was a huge change from what I was used to,” he said, “but it felt like it was time to leave California.”
At UB, Larson was granted ample opportunities to write and edit publications. When he started there, he was assigned the task of editing a student handbook. By his second year at the school, he was publishing fiction. After completing a Ph.D. at UB, Larson was hired to teach fiction at Hamilton College, a very prestigious liberal arts college near Utica. Larson’s main focus was on teaching traditional literature and publishing his own creative writing. But all of that changed one day when he met people who did volunteer work in the state prison system, helping inmates to deal with their emotions and develop coping skills. The college professor wanted to witness this for himself, and accompanied them to Attica one day. “I was so impressed with the honesty of the conversation,” Larson said. He figured that writing was another vehicle for the inmates to communicate their feelings and share their experiences, and he immediately volunteered to run a creative writing
program at Attica. All of the Attica inmates Larson has worked with are serving between 25 years and life sentences. Participants must have at least a GED, though many have completed traditional high school diplomas and some college courses. A few participants had master’s degrees, Larson said. Past participants have published books, one of them had a piece published in Esquire magazine, and another had one of his essays run in Harper’s magazine. “There’s an enormous range in educational backgrounds,” he said, “but those who had less education were not necessarily the weakest writers. Either way, it takes an extremely strong person to write about their experiences.” Some inmates participated in the program the entire time Larson ran it, from 2006 until 2016. Some regular participants, however, were relocated to other facilities after the escape of two inmates in Clinton County. The escaped inmates had help from a prison employee, and after reviewing the incident, state correction officials determined that stronger measures were needed to prevent inmates from establishing relationships with staff or volunteers. While those policies frustrated Larson, it did not discourage him from continuing his work. By 2016, however, he found that he was spread too thin between his full-time jobs at Hamilton College and his repeated trips to Western New York for this volunteer work. He missed it tremendously. “ I d e v e l o p e d s o m e s t ro n g friendships,” Larson said. “Every time I left there, it reset my bearings. What I stress about is nothing compared to what those men are going through.” As far as writing opportunities go, Larson did not abandon his mission. He established a college undergraduate college level course at Attica that’s still in place today. The invitation for essay submissions for the American Prison Writing Archive was extended to inmates across the nation. Prison employees and volunteers are also allowed to submit work. The only restriction is that the pieces must be non-fiction, either essays or testimonials. Poetry or fiction is not allowed. Based on what he has learned about prisons and inmates who will spend the rest of their lives behind
bars, Larson has become an advocate for prison reform. He believes American prisons are inhumane, that the penalties for many of the nonviolent offenders are much too harsh, and that the United States’ system of corrections totally misses the mark in its stated mission to reform or rehabilitate its inmates. “I would call it a crisis for the United States,” he says. “We’ve become dependent on a prison economy. I don’t think we should be locking people up because it creates jobs for communities.”
Advocate for prison reform To put the American prison system in perspective, Larson visited correctional facilities in Europe — Holland, Poland, Iceland, Finland, Norway and Denmark. In a 2013 piece for The Atlantic, “Why Scandinavian Prisons Are Superior,” Larson endorses a system that allows its inmates to leave the correctional facility daily to work or study at universities, and return in the evening. The crimes of that incarcerated Finnish population ranges from murder to drug possession, and all of them were approaching their release date at the time of Larson’s visit. Larson compared the cell blocks to college dorms, noting that the rooms had flat screen televisions, stereos and mini refrigerators. There is also a gym, a barbecue pit and a dining hall where the prison employees and inmates dine together. The prison labor wages there for those who chose to work range between $5.30 and $9.50 an hour. The inmates in Northern Europe typically wear their own clothes instead of orange jumpsuits, and the corrections officers don’t carry batons, handcuffs, Tasers or pepper spray. Some facilities allow inmates to leave the facility and visit relatives who live a long distance from the prison as long as they can be monitored electronically. In addition, each inmate works with a “contact officer” on a personal level, with the officer helping the inmate to prepare for living a productive life after their sentence ends. Larson believes that this liberal policy works because Scandinavian criminal justice policy “rarely enters political debate.” “Decisions about best practices are
left to professionals in the field, who are often published criminologists and consult closely with academics. Sustaining the barrier between populist politics and results-based prison policy are media that don’t sensationalize crime—if they report it at all,” Larson wrote. “And all of this takes place in nations with established histories of consensual politics, relatively small and homogenous populations, and the best social service networks in the world, including the best public education. “ Larson acknowledges that many, if not most, victims of violent crime would disagree with his point of view, as would hundreds of his fellow Mohawk Valley residents who work at one of the local prisons or retired from a career there. He also says that while American prison reform is necessary, those who defend the nation’s current policies can make a case that, at least in the short-term, the Scandinavian corrections model would be impractical here. “The problem is the scale — here everything is massive,” he said. “But you could begin to experiment with new ideas on a small scale.” When he’s not teaching, writing or visiting prisons, Larson, who is married with two step children, enjoys watching movies, completing home renovation projects and swimming. He frequents the Hamilton College pool to stay in shape, but for him, nothing beats swimming in the Pacific Ocean in Southern California. At the time of the phone interview for this story, Larson was drying off after an afternoon dip near San Diego. “There’s just something so special about this ocean to me,” he said. “It always feels great.” Although he is a long-tenured c o l l e g e p ro f e s s o r a p p ro a c h i n g retirement age, Larson is not even thinking of slowing down. He’s a leader in a unique academic field, and he feels his ideals can eventually drive change. Idealism is what turned him onto writing and literature in the first place, and compassion for the incarcerated is what has led him to take his career in a new direction. “People have asked me why do I care and why should I care,” he said. “But I see this in the same way that some people care about the elderly, the handicapped or the environment.” December / January 2019 - 55 PLUS
life after 55 Photos by Bill Reed
By Michele Reed firstname.lastname@example.org
All in the Family: Seven Generations of Silk Artisans
ne of our goals in moving to France was to establish a base from which we could explore the region. This fall, we were able to begin making good on that goal with a petite aventure, or little adventure, to the city of Lyon. Our Cartes de Senior, or senior citizens discount cards, give us discounts for train travel inside France. So when railway company SNCF offered us drastically reduced fares to Lyon, France’s second largest metropolitan area, we couldn’t say no. The city is known for its history, shopping, gastronomic delights and centuries-old silk industry. Only a two-hour train journey from our home, an adventure to Lyon was irresistible. We alighted from the train at 10 a.m. and set out to explore the way we do best: on foot. Our hotel was on the Presque Isle between the city’s two rivers, the Saone and the Rhone. We crossed the Saone by a red pedestrian bridge and headed for Vieux Lyon or the Old Town, entering the St. George Quarter. The cobblestones in Vieux Lyon were brutal. After five years of parttime living in France, we’re used to cobblestones, but these seemed like boulders. So I was grousing about sore feet when Bill said, “Look at the scarves in that shop!” A quaint-looking shop window proclaimed “Soierie Saint-Georges” or the St. George Silk Workshop. Beautifully colored scarves and shawls in a rainbow of hues beckoned. I stepped in and fingered the wares. There were shiny iridescent silk squares, wool and silk scarves, and silk and cashmere jacquard shawls, ranging in price from 20 to 150 euros. The labels read, “Made in France” or “Made in Lyon.” I went from one rack to another, feeling the different weights and textures, delighting in the way the light played off the colors. Atop the
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counter, a weathered carved oak desk, a rack of sheer chiffon oblongs called to us. One in particular, a beige and brown array of art deco roses, caught Bill’s eye and he offered it as a gift. I asked the proprietor where it was made. “Right here,” he answered. “In Lyon?” “Oui, madame, in my family’s workshop.” Romain De la Calle gestured to where an ancient machine stood with three dozen bobbins of silver and gold metallic threads arrayed in a circle. We could see a length of shiny ribbon emerging from the other end. “May we?” He nodded, and Bill and I took turns cranking the worn oak handle of the tresseuse from 1850. We soon got the hang of providing the steady motion that created a smooth braid. Romain led us to a back room saying, “Our atelier. Look around.” We stepped through the archway into another century. There were looms
200 years old or more. Boxes of bobbins with silk thread in a rainbow of colors. Raw silk ready for spinning, that felt like finely spun spider webs formed into a ball. Under a photo of inventor J. M. Jacquard, stood the semi-automatic loom for making the richly patterned fabric that bears his name, a length of fabric in progress. Invented in 1804, the systeme jacquard has 8,000 threads and it takes three weeks to put them all on the loom. A book of jacquard patterns leaned against a box with punch cards to program the machine — the precursor of early computers? Mannequins were draped with lengths of finished fabrics in all colors. We were like kids in wonderland. The beauty of the silks and the aura of history surrounding the process were breathtaking. We spoke at length with Romain’s father, Ludovic De la Calle. He told us that the history of silk making in Lyon dates to the 16th
A jacquard loom, invented in 1804. It takes three weeks to load the 8,000 threads it uses.
century, when two Italian artisans, Nariz and Turquet, emigrated to the city. In 1536, King Francois first issued a royal decree making Lyon the only licensed silk center in France. The trade grew to the point where a 1788 census showed Lyon had 14,777 silk looms in 5,832 workshops, according to the atelier’s brochure. The French Revolution in the 18th century and labor revolts by the canuts, or silk workers, in the 19th would seriously disrupt the industry, but silk is still important to the city’s economic life. The De la Calle workshop dates to 1820, the last in the Old Town, and Ludovic took it over 20 years ago so that it did not disappear. The silk trade spans seven generations of the family, each generation passing on the skills to the next. Before the workshop, the De la Calles had another weaving factory in another neighborhood where five generations of weavers practiced their art. The women spun the threads from raw silk and the men worked the looms. Ludovic learned at his father’s side and Romain started “when he was this big!” said Ludovic, placing his hand at knee height. At the peak of the silk trade in the 18th century, there were 30,000 tisseurs or silk weavers in the city, Ludovic told us. Now there are 10, including the De la Calle family. Only three workshops exist, including theirs. The family makes silks for famous couturiers and design houses, but just who those designers are must remain confidential. Ludovic could tell us that the family produces fabrics for the historic monuments of France, reproducing originals for the Chateau de Versailles, Louis XIV’s famous palace, as well as Fontainebleau Palace and other important French heritage sites. The art of silk-working is also part of that rich heritage — called patrimoine in French. “It is an affaire familale,” Ludovic told us with pride — a family affair. “It is very, very important that we transmit the knowledge for the generations to come.” We stepped back out onto the cobblestones of Lyon’s Old Town, clutching my new scarf, but also carrying a newfound appreciation for an ancient art and the family of artisans who keep it alive.
Dies used for printing designs on silk at Soierie Saint-Georges, Lyon, France.
Ludovic De la Calle is the master weaver at Soierie Saint-Georges, the oldest in Lyon’s Old Town.
Romain De la Calle is the seventh generation of his family in the silk business.
A systeme jacquard silk loom at the Soierie Saint-Georges.
A tresseuse from the 1850s makes gold and silver ribbon. December / January 2019 - 55 PLUS
cope better with life’s setbacks and with death. Personally, I find too many unrealities and unanswered questions in religion. I hope there is a God and By Marvin Druger that my religious friends are right, but Email: email@example.com I’m not convinced. Some religions believe in life after death or reincarnation. Dead individuals come back as themselves, or in some other form. From a scientific perspective, life does go on after death. Life processes stop and the body eventually decays. But the atoms of the body do not decay. They simply ecognizing the brevity of life and tolerated me for 60 years. More move into some other form. I’d like in the vastness of the universe recently, a brother passed away. There my atoms to be incorporated into longshould compel each of us to is no escape from death. You can do lived forms such as a saguaro cactus wonderful deeds and be extremely or a tortoise that can live 150 years or live as vigorously as we can. As I get older (well past 55-plus), productive, but death will eventually more, or a Great Basin bristlecone pine I have been thinking more and more catch up with you. Even scientific tree that can live about 5,000 years. geniuses like Albert Einstein and I really do hope there is something about the meaning of life and death. spiritual about life and death that At this stage of my life, many Stephen Hawking died. My suspicion is that lack of extends beyond atoms and molecules. individuals whom I admired and loved are either retired, terminally ill understanding of death led to the Someone once asked me if I believe in or dead. There is no escape from the creation of religions. Religion provides “signs?” “Sure,” I replied, “There’s a fact that 10 out of 10 people die. So, the a way of coping with this phenomenon, sign over the entrance to Wegmans, risk is very high. It is not a matter of but even religion cannot really explain Walmart and other stores.” I jokingly rejected the suggestion that there may “Will you die?,” but a matter of when death. I am very respectful, and even be a spiritual world, with spiritual and how. My greatest personal loss was envious, of people who are religious. signs. Then, one day, I went up to the x 4.75” - Madison/Oneida Christ.Comm. such people55+ attic in my house. -I almost never go my wife, Pat, who worked with me I believe religion helps3.5
Life and Death
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there, but, for some unknown reason, I just wanted to look around. I spotted a metal file box, amidst the mass of debris in my attic. I opened the box. It was filled with papers. I reached in and randomly took a single sheet of paper from the box. Both sides of the paper were filled with repeats of the words, “I love you,” and it was signed “Pat.” Somehow, I lost that sheet of paper, but now I’m less skeptical about the existence of a spiritual world and “signs.” One interesting perspective was expressed by a friend of mine who was a former minister. He said that nobody ever really dies. They simply move to another room. However, there is a barrier between rooms that cannot be overcome. Harry Houdini, the great
magician, tried to overcome the barrier between life and death, but, as far as I know, even he couldn’t do it. Also, as we age, we are bound to get something that we don’t want. If we live long enough, the human body eventually deteriorates. Bodily functions decline and diseases take their toll. Pills, surgeries and marvels of medicine can prolong life, but the end is the same for all. In a way, life is a terminal illness, with moments of happiness, sadness and many experiences. Consider the context of the existence of an individual human. Science tells us that the universe began with a massive “big bang” explosion about 13.8 billion years ago. Galaxies, stars and planets and other celestial
“I had cancer...
bodies eventually formed. A galaxy is a gravitationally bound cluster of stars, planets, gas, dust, dark matter and other celestial matter. Our sun is a medium-sized star with eight planets revolving around it. Our solar system is located in a galaxy known as the Milky Way that has more than 100 billion stars and their planets. Our glorious earth is just a dot, located off to the side of one of the spiral arms of this galaxy. Humans are but one of about 8.7 million species that inhabit this tiny dot. Humans come in many sizes, shapes and colors, and form different cultures and languages. The diversity among just humans is overwhelming. Humans bring about premature deaths through senseless wars and killings.
How Will You Plan Your Legacy?
cancer How Will You never had me.” Plan How WillLegacy? You Your Some people’s legacies are engraved on monuments. But yours Some people’s legacies will be written on lives. Now and in theare yearsengraved to come, your
on monuments. But yours will be written assets can help you, your family, and countless people in need.
on lives. Now and in theLegacy? years to come, Plan Your
“In 2011, I was diagnosed with what was considered a virtually incurable cancer: Mantle Cell Lymphoma (MCL). I was then referred to HOA and encouraged to begin treatment as soon as possible since 90% of the time, MCL can quickly become metastatic.” To read more about Lori’s story, and HOA, visit
Some people’s legacies are engraved on monuments. But yours your assets can help you, your family, Some people’s on legacies engraved onthe monuments. But yours will be written lives.are Now and in years to come, your
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written onyour lives.family, Now and in the years to come, your assetswill canbehelp you, and countless people in need. assets can help you, your family, and countless people in need.
Please contact Kristi Brennan, Divisional Director of Planned Giving, to learn how you can leave a lasting impact on your community by calling (888) 434-1391 or emailing Pleasecontact contact Kristi Please KristiBrennan, Brennan, Kristi.Brennan@use.salvationarmy.org
Divisional Director of Planned Giving, Divisional Director of Planned Giving, to learn how you can leave a lasting toimpact learn how you can leavebya lasting on your community impact on your community by calling (888) 434-1391 or emailing calling (888) 434-1391 or emailing Kristi.Brennan@use.salvationarmy.org Kristi.Brennan@use.salvationarmy.org December / January 2019 - 55 PLUS
When I flew from Poland to JFK airport after a family trip to Poland, I was stimulated to think more about the diversity of humans. When landing, the plane flew over countless numbers of houses and cars. Each individual house had its own family tales to tell. While waiting for my next flight at JFK. I sat in a chair and watched the diversity of life walk by, i.e., people of all skin colors, all ages, all physical conditions, different languages, etc. I imagined what sort of life each person was living. Each person had a special life story to tell. Every suitcase was different. Even if two suitcases were alike, their contents were certainly different. What everyone shares in common are the features that define human life, e.g., similar bodily features, respiration, circulation, digestion, nervous integration, consciousness, autonomous movement, reproduction, etc. Everyone walked briskly and appeared to be rushing to get somewhere. Rarely do I see people contemplating what life and death are all about. They are too busy, blindly rushing through life. The grim thought that I had was that each of these individuals would eventually die— including me.
Despite the many humans on earth, each individual is unique. Each of us is the product of a genotype interacting with an environment, and it is impossible for any two individuals to experience the same environment. Even identical twins who have the same genotype are different. So, each of us is like a unique grain of sand on a beach filled with other sand grains. In one sense, a single grain of sand may seem insignificant, because there are so many on the beach. In another sense, each grain of sand is unique and that fact gives each grain significance. All of the above comments lead to my strong belief that each individual has unique talents. Someone may be richer, smarter, taller, etc. but nobody is better than anyone else. Each of us should try to identify our unique talents and nurture them. That’s what formal education should be all about. Also, recognizing the brevity of life in the vastness of the universe should compel each of us to live as vigorously as we can. “Do it now!” is a good philosophy. When I reached the age to be eligible to get social security benefits, I was told, “If you wait until later to start collecting social security, you will get more money.” My response was, “This is later!” and
I started getting social security benefits as soon as I became eligible. Thinking deeply about life and death should compel us to get along with others, preserve our planet for future generations and do whatever we can to help humans survive as a species. Most species on earth have become extinct. The estimate is that more than 99.9 percent of all the species that every existed are now extinct. Humans now have the atomic power to destroy humanity. Recently, I visited AuschwitzBirkenau concentration camp in Poland. At least, a million people were murdered at this site. As I walked along the dirt path to the former gas chamber, I imagined how horrible this walk was for Nazi victims during World War II. I wrote to my son, “How could the Nazis have been so inhuman?” He replied, “The scary thing is that they were human.” The history of humans involves many wars and consequent premature deaths. Let’s try to stop this stupidity and try to develop ways to enable each individual to express his or her uniqueness in positive ways and reach the end with the satisfaction that you did your part.
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By Sandra Scott
The Best of Houston, the Space City
ouston is the most populous city in the Southern United States and best known as the home of the Space Center where the iconic phrase, “Houston, we have a problem,” was first spoken. It is also referred to as the “Bayou City” because four major bayous pass through the city. Houston came in at No. 5 on “Lonely Planet’s” list of “Best Value Places to Visit in 2019” — the only major U.S. city on the list. The city makes a good base for visiting nearby destinations or as a stopover before or after a cruise.
Houston Space Center: Besides the Space Shuttle outside and the many indoor exhibits there are several presentations. One of the presentations is “Mission Control: The Unsung Heroes of Apollo” with a behind the scene look at Mission Control. Other videos, talks and displays deal with
55 PLUS - December / January 2019
the Orion Mars Mission. There are special times when visitors can have lunch with an astronaut. Work is on schedule for the first manned Mars Mission which will send astronauts to Mars. Plan to spend the day or more. The center is about 40 miles from downtown Houston but there are tours from the city available for those who do not have a car.
The Houston Natural Science Museum: There are 16 permanent exhibits including the Burke Baker Planetarium, the Cockrell Butterfly Center and a giant screen theater. The newest exhibit, the Wiess Energy Hall, includes technologically advanced exhibits on science and energy. The “Geovator” takes visitors on a virtual reality voyage down into the earth and back a few million years to the time petroleum was formed. Energy City, a 3-D landscape of Houston and
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the largest event of this kind in the world, is Houston’s signature event. the surrounding Gulf coastal area, pinpoints various types of energy and shows how energy is delivered to the city.
Rodeo: The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the largest event of this kind in the world, is Houston’s signature event. Since 1932 the annual event has educated, entertained and showcased Western heritage. The 20day event kicks off with the Downtown Rodeo Roundup, Rodeo Parade and the World Championship Bar-B-Que. There are a variety of events from pig racing to a wine competition and concerts by high-profile performers.
The Museum of Fine Arts: The MFAH is located in Houston’s Museum District and is one of the largest museums in the United States. There are extensive art pieces from every corner of the world. The museum
also offers live musical presentations, workshops and lectures. The museum offers special programs/activities designed for families and children. Visit on Thursday when it is free. Across the road is the Museum of Contemporary Art, which is always free.
George Ranch: The ranch is where visitors can discover 100 years of Texas history. The 20,000-acre historic park is a working ranch with historic homes, costumed interpreters and livestock. Visitors can participate in hands-on activities. They offer a variety of workshops, special events, and an historic food program that can include a chuck wagon breakfast. It is 30 miles from downtown Houston but worth a visit. Special day tours from Houston are available.
George Ranch is where visitors can discover 100 years of Texas history.
Houston Downtown Aquarium: The multi-use, six-acre site is a dining complex, a 500,000 gallon aquarium, fun rides including a miniature train and horse-drawn carriage, and several habitats, including the Louisiana Swamp and the rain forest. A favorite exhibit is the White Tigers of the Maharaja’s Temple. Young and old love petting the sting rays. They offer special children-friendly programs such as “Be a Marine Biologist for a Day” and “Animal Meets and Greets.”
Nature Parks: It is easy to commune with nature while in Houston. The Houston Arboretum and Nature Center has five miles of walking trail. The 160-acre Buffalo Bayou is home to numerous urban parks with hiking, biking and kayak trails plus a unique underground cistern that brings to mind Istanbul’s Cathedral Cistern. Consider a 30-minute bayou cruise and maybe you will see herons, jumping fish, and maybe even an alligator.
Sports: Think of Houston as “Sport City Central” with five professional teams and four stadiums that hold more than 150,000 fans and feature events throughout the year. Minute Maid Stadium has a retractable dome — get there early to watch the Astros’ batting practice. It also hosts many sports-related events including Olympic soccer tryouts. There are dozens of daily-fee golf courses and the weather makes golf a year round sport.
A 500,000 gallon aquarium in downtown Houston.
Galveston: N o t f a r a w a y, i n Galveston, a resort island, there are several beaches on the Gulf of Mexico along with a slew of restaurants and other diversions. The Strand historic district, a national historic Landmark district is populated with Victorianera homes, shops, and restaurants. It is home to the largest Mardi Gras celebration in Texas with musical events, races and, of course, the parade. The Island Express connects Galveston and Houston with three trips on weekdays.
Tips: Get a city pass with tickets to the main attractions at a savings of nearly 50 percent plus it eliminates standing in line. The Metro Rail connects downtown to the museum district and with the metro and green link buses making everything in easy reach. Besides taxis there is also Uber, Lyft, Zipcars and short-term rental bikes. And check out some of the unique places like the National Museum of Funeral History and the Beer Can House on 222 Malone St. that is covered in beer cans, bottles and other beer paraphernalia. December / January 2019 - 55 PLUS
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By Mary Beth Roach
Instructor of one of the most popular classes at Oasis — on American presidency —shares his thoughts about the presidency and the U.S. presidents he would like to meet the most Q: What’s your background? A: I taught in New York state schools for 34 years. I came to SU to do doctoral work for two years. We laugh: We moved to the Syracuse area for one year 36 years ago. That second year, being a teaching assistant up at SU, both my wife and I actually got jobs in the Syracuse area. I spent my last 23 years at the Liverpool School District. Q: Your classes on American presidency are some of the most popular at Oasis. Why do you think that is? A: Probably good topic choices. I know people like the presentation style. I try to give the best information I can give, but do it in an interesting way. Try to tell a lot of stories. Especially for something that people are familiar with, like what we’re talking about now, you try to do your best to incorporate their experience. It makes it more fun for me. It makes it fun for them. Q: Based on your knowledge of presidential administrations, do you have a favorite? A: I’ve always been a George Washington fan. He wasn’t a perfect person by any means. I think when I look at the presidency and I look at American politics, the whole idea was — in their day what they would have called republican virtue — today we might call it civic virtue. It was really what George Washington was all about. He didn’t have to do any of that stuff. He was surviving well under the British system. There was no reason to go in the dirt and the mud and the lice for eight years, except that he thought it was the right thing to do. It was 50
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his responsibility to the community and the nation. He was like that as a president as well. While he’s president, it’s his sense of responsibility, the dignity that he brings to the office that really creates that office. The amount of respect and dignity he gave to the office of president is why we still have one. Q: Do you have a favorite era? A: I sort of like the Civil War era. But more and more, especially my own growing experiences, the World War II era, the post-war era where I grew up. As I learn more and more about that, as we’re losing that generation, and they’re telling more of their stories, there was a lot fascinating stuff. And, of course, we’re living in one of the most dynamic and changing eras of our history. In the future, they’ll look at us and say, ‘Wow, that was really something.’ You and I have lived through, basically from [Dick] Tracy’s t w o - w a y wrist radio to carrying unbelievable power in your phone. Q: What president, living or dead, would you most like to
meet and why? A: It would still probably be Washington because I really want to know what people saw in him. I’d certainly like to sit down with Lincoln. Most certainly, FDR would be interesting. Teddy Roosevelt. I grew up not far from his house in Oyster Bay. When I was younger, we used to bicycle up to his house. Q: In studying presidential history, what can we learn about our nation and ourselves as Americans? A: We have developed a good system. We have had all kinds of interesting people in that office. Some very effective. Some ineffective. Some very good people. Some not so good folks. But we as people survive that. It’s a system that requires our input, it requires responsibility on our part that we then, in turn, expect from these people that represent us as that level. As long as we have that type of civic commitment, we’re going to be fine. Every president has faced criticism, and yet they all got elected. But we and they need to go back to what I was just talking about. Remember that sense of civic responsibility and what it’s all about. We will not always progress happily, but our rights will be maintained.
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