New York Ranks Among Worst States for Retirement
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PLUS Issue 76 August-September 2018
For Active Adults in the Central New York Area
NEXT NYS GOVERNOR?
Howie Hawkins of Syracuse has run for public office 21 times as the Green Party representative. He’s running again this year (for governor, no less). Find out what keeps him going
INSIDE Many retirees still working. And it’s not only for the money Looking stylish without worrying about dating yourself
What to Fund First? Kids’ College or Own Retirement?
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.
OCTOBER 17-19, 2018
DECEMBER 11-16, 2018
FEBRUARY 12-17, 2019
MARCH 26-31, 2019
MAY 7-12, 2019
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BroadwayInSyracuse.com August / September 2018 - 55 PLUS
August / September 2018
Savvy Senior 6 Gardening 8 Dining Out 10 My Turn 18 Golden Years 26 Aging 28 Life After 55 42 Druger’s Zoo 46 LAST PAGE Merriette Pollard: Former director recognized for her work at Dunbar Center, a nonprofit in Syracuse 4
55 PLUS - August / September 2018
• Study ranks New York among worst states for retirement. • We interview four people who decided to retire in CNY • Many retirees still working. And it’s not only for the money
• What to fund first? Kids’ college or own retirement?
• Group travels to various sites in the area to engage in a hobby that’s gaining traction in the region
• Bob Brown has been entertaining audiences either on the air or stage for more than four decades
• Looking stylish without worrying about dating yourself
• Joe Glisson keeps drawing on his artistic talents
• Howie Hawkins, the Green Party leader, is running for governor. Again? He explains why and talks about his long political career
• Ready to live with your in-laws? • Santa Catalina: The Island of Romance and More
Ron and Margaret sit in the living room of their home in Liverpool, NY.
We live by the motto that you make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give. There are two ways we want to give back purposefully: during our life and then again through our estate when we’re gone. The Community Foundation has made it possible for us to do both. We set up a donor-advised fund at the Community Foundation to make grants to the causes we care about. The process of setting up and utilizing our fund has been seamless. It gives us comfort knowing that our money is being well stewarded.
Giving Back: Ron & Margaret Peckham
We have three children and consider our fund to be our fourth “adopted child”. The proceeds of our estate will be divided equally between the four of them.
since 1927 Read more of the Peckhams’ story at Peckham.5forCNY.org
cnycf.org (315)2018 422-9538 August / September - 55 PLUS
savvy senior By Jim Miller
Can a Debt Collector Take My Social Security Benefits?
hether your Social Security benefits are garnishable or not depends on whom you owe. Banks and other financial creditors, for example, can’t touch your Social Security checks. But if Uncle Sam is collecting on a debt, some of your benefits are fair game. Here’s what you should know. Creditor Protections — If you have credit card debts, medical bills, unpaid personal loans or pay day loans, you’ll be happy to know that your Social Security benefits are safe from your creditors. Section 207 of the Social Security Act prohibits debt collectors or a bankruptcy court from dipping into your bank account to take Social Security money for purposes of paying off what you owe. Supplemental Security Income (SSI), veterans benefits, federal employee and civil service retirement benefits and benefits administered by the Railroad Retirement Board Administration can’t be touched either. But be aware that your creditors can still take legal action against you to recover what you owe them, and depending on your state’s law, they may be able to garnish your wages and tap into other allowable assets, if you have any. Government Garnishment — If, however, you owe money to Uncle Sam, it’s a very different story. The federal government can garnish a portion of your Social Security benefits for repayment of several types of debts, including federal income taxes, federal student loans, state-ordered child support and alimony, nontax debt owed to other federal agencies, defaulted federal home loans and certain civil penalties. (If you receive SSI, those benefits cannot be garnished under any circumstance.) How much can actually be taken depends on the type of debt you owe.
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In most situations, the government can pull 15 percent of your benefits to cover your debt, but under the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, it must leave you at least $750 each month. That is, unless the levy is for federal income taxes. In that case, the government isn’t required to leave $750 behind. The other exception is for child support or alimony payments. Depending on your state laws, the court may be able to take half of your benefits or more to pay your obligations to your children or ex-spouse. If you think your Social Security benefits might be raided to pay overdue bills, you need to address the problem — don’t ignore it. Most government agencies are happy to work with you so long as you’re willing to work with them. The government typically sends several letters about a debt before it takes action. The final letter will inform you of the intent to levy Social Security payments, and after that, you have 30 days to contact the agency and work out a payment plan. Get Help —To get a handle on your debt problems, consider contacting a nonprofit financial counseling agency, which offers free and low-cost services on managing financial problems. To locate a credible agency in your area, use the National Foundation for Credit Counseling website at NFCC.org or call 800-388-2227. You also need to make sure you’re not missing out on any financial assistance programs. The National Council on Aging’s website (BenefitsCheckup.org) contains a database of more than 2,500 federal, state and local programs that can help seniors with prescription drug costs, health care, food, utilities, and other basic needs. The site will help you locate programs that you may be eligible for and will show you how to apply.
55PLUS cny55.com Editor and Publisher Wagner Dotto
Associate Editor Lou Sorendo
Deborah J. Sergeant Aaron Gifford, Mary Beth Roach Christopher Malone, Cheryl Costa Payne Horning
Bruce Frassinelli Marilyn Pinsky, Harold Miller Jim Sollecito, Marvin Druger Michele Reed, Sandra Scott .
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Office Assistant Kimberley Tyler
Chuck Wainwright 55 PLUS –A Magazine for Active Adults in Central New York is published six times a year by Local News, Inc., which also publishes In Good Health–CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper. Published at 185 E. Seneca St. PO Box 276 Oswego, NY 13126. Subscription: $15 a year; $25 for two years © 2018 by 55 PLUS – A Magazine for Active Adults in Upstate New York.
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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. August / September 2018 - 55 PLUS Loretto Foundation Ad_7.25x10_FullPage.indd 1
3/14/18 3:08 PM
By Jim Sollecito
Your Lasting Legacy
ost of us have the opportunity to make a lasting impact. In varying degrees, of course, but we still have the chance if we seek it. I have observed many friends and clients as we’ve all aged together. Personal fortunes have grown faster than some of their plants. Some are generous with their time and treasure. Some seem to tighten up. Look, I get it. We all work hard. We put money away for a rainy day. Then all of a sudden it rains. And hopefully we’ve managed and planned so we don’t worry so much about paying bills as we sit in a doctor’s office. Instead, we’re concerned with the effects time has had on us. We don’t wonder whether the next
test earns an A or a B, but whether it’s a pass or a fail. I’m interested in how people choose to help others who are not as fortunate. Some balk or mumble or change the topic. It seems the older some people get and the more money they have, the tighter they try to hold onto it. Will that wealth increase their lifespan? Probably not. It’s about the same as trying to squeeze hold of a fistful of sand. It eventually slips away. Perhaps today is the time to start a few positive changes. I will share here some contemplations I’ve collected. n Pain and discomfort go hand in hand with getting older. Try not to
dwell on them but rather accept them as part of the cycle of life we are all going through. They are not who you are, they are something life added to you. n Maintain as healthy a lifestyle you can without excess. Walk. Drink. Get regular checkups even if you are feeling well. Find a hobby that doesn’t beat you up. Fishing comes to mind. Or berry-picking. Perhaps even a little gardening. I get immense satisfaction from pulling a weed. If it’s in an especially hard-to-reach spot I use a teakettle of hot water to cook it in place. n Now is the time to rekindle earlier hobbies. Or find new ones. Adopt a pet and feel love radiate back to you. Perhaps a cat or dog with a tongue that just won’t quit. Maybe a mesmerizing fish or entertaining hermit crab will fill the bill. n Don’t stress over little things. You’ve already overcome much in your life. Don’t let the past drag you down. And don’t let the future frighten you. Feel good in the now and small issues will soon be forgotten. n Laugh and laugh a lot. n Remember, you are one of the lucky ones. You managed to have a long life. Take pride in who you are and your accomplishments. There is probably plenty more gas in the tank so use it to get you places where you can make an impact. n Choose something that resonates with your profession, your childhood, or with the interests of your children or grandchildren. When your name is mentioned in the future, what words will follow? Now is the time to take action. You can influence your lasting legacy. Jim Sollecito is the first lifetime senior certified landscape professional in NYS. He operates Sollecito Landscaping Nursery in Syracuse. Contact him at 468-1142 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
55 PLUS - August / September 2018
Q&A Q: What is the maximum Social Security retirement benefit? A: The maximum benefit depends on the age you retire. For example, if you retire at full retirement age in 2018, your maximum monthly benefit would be $2,788. However, if you retire at age 62 in 2018, your maximum monthly benefit would be only $2,158. If you retire at age 70 in 2018, your maximum monthly benefit would be $3,698. To get a better idea of what your benefit might be, visit our online Retirement Estimator at www.socialsecurity.gov/retire/estimator.html. Q: I want to estimate my retirement benefit at several different ages. Is there a way to do that? A: Use our retirement estimator at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator to get an instant, personalized retirement benefit estimate based on current law and your earnings record. The retirement estimator, which also is available in Spanish, lets you create additional “what if” retirement scenarios based on different income levels and “stop work” ages. Q: I am receiving Social Security retirement benefits and I recently went back to work. Do I have to pay Social Security (FICA) taxes on my income? A: Yes. By law, your employer must withhold FICA taxes from your paycheck. Although you are retired, you do receive credit for those new earnings. Each year Social Security automatically credits the new earnings and, if your new earnings are higher than in any earlier year used to calculate your current benefit, your monthly benefit could increase. For more information, visit www. socialsecurity.gov or call us at 1-800772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
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August / September 2018 - 55 PLUS
DiningOut By Christopher Malone
Francesca’s Cucina Syracuse north side restaurant cooks up memorable meals
rancesca’s Cucina, located at 545 N. Salina St., in the heart of Syracuse’s Little Italy, refuses to quit after 14 years. Since the Angeloro brothers, George and Gary, opened its doors in 2004, the restaurant has been aging gracefully as a Central New York staple. As relentless (never stubborn) as an Italian grandmother — the restaurant is named after the brothers’ matriarch — the family business is on a mission to live up to generations of Angeloro restaurateurs. The upscale restaurant sits on a typical city street, a wide four-lane cement platter running through a culturally diverse neighborhood, the “nort’ side” to Syracusans, which was
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notoriously Italian back in the day. It still is Italian, but it’s now joined by a plethora of other cultures — a figurative bouquet of vibrant flowers on a mantle that residents are proud of and visitors admire. Check for the glowing red and green neon sign when driving by. The blacked-out windows present a misleading first impression. The restaurant offers lunch Monday to Friday and dinner Monday through Saturday. Reservations are strongly encouraged, and it’s best to plan more than a few days in advance. Even on the sunny Tuesday evening of our meal the place was buzzing. Francesca’s presents a darkened
atmosphere, rooms have unapologetically dim lighting and bulbs perform their best imitation of candles (which also decorate the tables). It’s a bold, romantic atmosphere for couples and, at the same time, encourages social groups. Our foursome followed the hostess from the bar area, which offers ample counter seating as well as high tops, past a cooler of dry-aged beef and out the back door. The patio is a magical place. In parallel fashion to the Pevensie children first entering Narnia, the indoor-outdoor transition is breathtaking. An interior blend of industrial and rustic changes to a luscious area decked out with vibrant
green plants and vines clinging to neighboring buildings, glass mosaic décor and chandeliers, and a fire pit with community seating. The hostess brought us to the table and told us who our server would be, who soon came to the table for personal and menu introductions. He took our drink orders the second time he stopped by, bringing a bowl of warm, fresh bread topped with rosemary and sundried tomato. It paired well with the tomato-based dipping sauce, which wasn’t overly spicy. Our meal was started with three appetizers. The Utica greens ($13.99), a regional staple, was an easy go-to. The greens weren’t overly bitter and the spiciness settled in slowly, but it wasn’t overwhelming when it peaked. The escarole was joined by prosciutto, hot peppers, breadcrumbs and Romano cheese. Anyone in Upstate New York can get into a debate about greens, yet we agreed that these were truly delicious. Next up was the goat cheese fritter ($9.99). The lightly breaded and fried crispy shell containing warmed goat cheese was also a hit. It sat on spicy fra diavolo sauce and was accompanied by eight crunchy garlic crostini pieces. The sauce packed a little bit more punch than the greens, but won the hearts of varying taste buds. The cheese itself was soft and flavorful, but not gamey. We also enjoyed the night’s special appetizer — lamb over toasted pine nut, lemon and chive risotto ($14.99). The Australian lamb lollipops, lightly dressed in a mint and port wine demi glaze, were very tender and the Italian rice staple was soft and creamy, the result of being cooked with care and stirred constantly with attentive hands. Our friends opted for a couple leafy bowls — a Caesar salad with grilled chicken ($15.98) and the apple gorgonzola salad with scallops ($21.98). They looked great, prepared well and large enough to share between two people. My partner got the chicken saltimbocca ($19.99), and I opted for the crab-stuffed salmon ($24.99). Side salads did come with the latter two entrees. Unfortunately, we never saw them. Frankly, we forgot about them since we were so involved with the food on the table. The chicken scallopini, topped
The lamb nestled into the creamy risotto at Francesca’s Cucina.
The goat cheese fritter with a light, crunchy shell paired well with the crostini and fra diavolo sauce.
The heaping pile of Utica greens was very flavorful.
with prosciutto and sage, is pounded and coated with aged provolone. It sat on a bed of linguini, mushrooms and spinach. The poultry was delicious, but the provolone’s flavor was a standout. The mushrooms, which were sautéed in Madeira wine sauce, could have melted in my mouth. The flavor was moving and almost caused
me to slide out of my chair. The salmon, cradling a generous scoop of crab, sat on a bed of asparagus, which sat atop a bed of risotto. To the side sat a small puddle of shrimp and lobster chive veloute. The seafood dish was a generous portion and flavorful. The salmon was beautiful in color and could be easily cut into with a fork. The asparagus was crisp and flavorful, and this saffron-flavored risotto was soft and also creamy. Cue the tray of homemade desserts for the finale. We didn’t pace ourselves accordingly, so we consumed dessert by staring. After a discussion, settling on a dessert to split would have been a difficult task, since we had two confident choices per person. Francesca’s would be a great option for an after dinner or dessert date. Pairing any of the choices with a coffee or glass of wine and great conversation would be a worthy option. Our evening ended as the sun began to hint at its retiring for the day. Three glasses of wine, three appetizers and four entrees, before tip, came to $156.98. The quality of the meal was worth the cost.
Address: 454 N. Salina St., Syracuse Phone: 315-425-1556 Website/Social: www.francescas-cucina.com www.facebook.com/ SyracuseRestaurant www.instagram.com/ francescascucina/ Hours: Monday: 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.; 5 – 9 p.m. Tuesday - Friday: 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.; 5 – 10 p.m. Saturday: 5 – 10 p.m.
August / September 2018 - 55 PLUS
New York Ranks Among Worst States for Retirement By Payne Horning
Taxes and cost of living were the factors considered when developing the list, according to study
nother year, another bad rating for New York’s climate for retirees. The Empire State has wound up in third place in 2018 “Worst States For Retirement” study from TopRetirements.com. Taxes and cost of living were the factors considered when developing the list. According to TopRetirements. com, New York residents pay an average of $3,755 annually in property taxes. Only New Jersey and Connecticut, ranked first and second respectively, pay more on average. New York’s high cost of living, the third most expensive in the country, also sunk its overall rating. State income taxes were also considered, with New York dinged for its large marginal tax rate of 8.82 percent. New York consistently gets poor marks in retirement rankings. But Robert O’Connor, the legislative director for Onondaga County’s local AARP chapter, says there’s more to this story. The 82-year-old chose to retire in New York after living most of his life in the state. “If anything, it might be a little easier to retire in New York state,” O’Connor said. While O’Connor admits that costs in downstate are unaffordable for some retirees, he notes that the situation in Upstate New York is very different. Housing and property taxes are less expensive in Central New
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York. And, he says, the area also benefits from the quantity and quality of medical services available to older residents. “I find that some people, while they move for awhile down south or out west, they come back here when they develop major health problems and need caregiving because the caregiving opportunities are more extensive now,” O’Connor said. Central New York is very accommodating for those who want to retire here, O’Connor says. The nonprofit organization Upstate Oasis in Syracuse offers seniors a range of classes from financial management to piano lessons. The Onondaga County Office for Aging connects retirees with health and legal services. And O’Connor says there are many places to volunteer. “A lot of people don’t want to just vegetate when they retire,” O’Connor said. “There’s a lot of opportunities to volunteer, whether it’s through the services in the Office for Aging, the Meals on Wheels, our local chapter for AARP, United Way, the zoo. They can pick and choose and that’s what most older people like to do.” Although some of New York’s policies might be unfriendly to seniors living on a fixed income, there are many specifically catered to the retired community. Social Security and government pension income are exempt — one of the few “pluses”
of retiring in New York that was mentioned in the TopRetirement.com study. The state helps supplement part of the out-of-pocket costs for the Medicare Part D drug plans with the Elderly Pharmaceutical Income Coverage (EPIC) program. And seniors can get assistance paying for New York’s high tax rates with the state’s Enhance Star system, which offers older homeowners increased tax relief benefits. The state suffered a setback last year when federal lawmakers passed a new tax cut that capped state and local income tax deductions to $10,000 — something that AARP fought. TopRetirement.com notes that it could make blue states with higher taxes like New York more unappealing to retirees. But O’Connor says while that could affect some seniors, many older people do not have more than that amount to deduct anyway. O’Connor says the TopRetirement.com study, like many others of its kind, do not accurately reflect what it’s like to retire in Upstate New York. The state’s overall ranking is largely skewed by downstate numbers. And the subjective factors excluded from the study can make all the difference for those who live here.
A Bad State for Retirement? Not So Fast, Say Locals By Mary Beth Roach
axes — one of the two things that Ben Franklin said in 1789 was certain. In March of this year, topretirements.com said taxes are a leading factor in making New York state the third worst place to retire. According to the website, the criteria it looked at to determine whether a state was attractive for retirement primarily had to do with taxes and cost of living. It contended the list did not consider more subjec-
tive factors that might be far more important to each retiree. For several retirees we talked to, other factors indeed were more important in keeping them in Central New York. Family, volunteer commitments, the many resources in the state and even the weather — yes, the weather — are some of the reasons they had for staying around here after retirement.
Anne Andrianos Appreciates the local library system, bountiful harvests and the state’s small cities
nne Andrianos, 69, a retired nurse, views the tax issue in a different light. She sees the good taxes provide, appreciates the state’s nat-
ural resources and even enjoys the Central New York weather. “There’s no better place than Central New York April through October. No hurricanes, no tornadoes. In some ways, even though the winters can be difficult, there is a certain beauty and lushness and richness in CNY,” she said. She would also like to see tax money help to improve airline transportation in and out of the area. She and her husband Dan have four children, none of whom live instate. “I agree that taxes are high in New York state, but I’d like to put a little spin on it,” she said. “One of the things that citizens of New York state get, through paying those taxes, is an exemplary library system. I’ve been in other states, other communities outside of New York state. It’s a won-
derful gift to each and every community.” Andrianos is also president of the Friends of Onondaga Free Library. She also appreciates the bountiful harvests, the wonderful wood and the state’s small cities. “There are wonderful treasures in those smaller cities, and it’s fun to go there on a day trip. And I learn the history of New York state,” she said. However, because her four children all live outside of New York state, it requires a lot of travel to see each other. “The airport has improved, but the flights especially to the west are very difficult,” she said. “I would hope that maybe with some of these taxes we pay, maybe some attention could be paid to expanding and making travel in and out Syracuse better.”
Jim Flanagan “Floods, fires, tornadoes, hurricanes — up here, we don’t get any of that”
he weather, too, keeps Jim Flanagan of Camillus here in the area. The 83-year-old was raised in Buffalo, but has lived in Camillus for 57 years. He retired from Niagara Mohawk after 27 years. “Watch the news every night,” he said. “There’s either floods, fires, tornadoes, hurricanes — up here, we don’t get any of that, no earthquakes, no nothing. My kids are in Florida and some are in Georgia. They get the winds; they get the heat. I would not move.
“It’s not just the weather, but the people, the community, the churches.” Flanagan has also found a great community of friends at the Town of Camillus Senior Center. After his wife passed away several years ago, someone had encouraged him to come to the center. At first he declined, but eventually came around. “I came down and got interested. I love to play cards. And I met Joan [Smith] playing cards, and now we’re an item,” he said. August / September 2018 - 55 PLUS
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really don’t know how you leave your life here behind,” said Bob Dougherty, who is in his 60s. He retired from the Onondaga County Probation Department in 2010. Grandchildren and his many volunteer jobs are key in keeping Dougherty in Syracuse.
“You couldn’t get my wife out of here kicking and screaming. With the grandkids, she’s not going anywhere,” Dougherty said, with a chuckle. He and his wife, Candy, have six grandkids. He is also involved in the community and has even served as a Syracuse Common councilor. “There’s more to it than just friends and family. To me, once you get involved with stuff here, I’m not sure how you get uninvolved. I really think there’s a lot of volunteer opportunities for people,” he noted. Dougherty, an avid cyclist, has been involved in the Pedals to Possibilities for seven years; Syracuse’s Cycle in the City weekly summertime bike ride; and more recently A Tiny Home for Good initiative, and he will play a key role in the Adopt-A-Block litter program through City Hall. “Once you make those connections — I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t fun — there’s more opportunities for volunteer work than people really know. Whereas I know in the places where everyone retires to, you almost have to fight people for volunteer positions because everybody’s looking for something to do,” he said.
Connie Smithers Five children, nine grandchildren: No reason to move
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amily is the main reason that Connie Smithers and her husband, Floyd “Skip,” stay in Syracuse. “I have five children living here and nine grandchildren,” she said. In her 70s, Smithers retired from CIS Corp. about 20 years ago. While the couple had spent time in Florida in years past, she said they are also staying here permanently because of her husband’s health. And for the lifelong Central New Yorker, the weather here doesn’t faze her. “I don’t know if I would move permanently anywhere else because even though the winters are kind of brutal, I see that the weather in other states is more devastating. At least you can shovel your way out,” she said.
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Retirement? What Retirement? By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
s a former teacher, Shelly Lee, 58, is accustomed to leading. But instead of the 4- to 6-year-olds at Central Square School District, where she taught for 35 years, Lee now leads older adult volunteers. She has worked in a paid part-time position at Oasis as a tutoring coordinator for 15 hours a week. Lee didn’t want to leave the retirement years wide open and unplanned. “I was concerned I would not be as happy as I am now,” Lee said. Lee said that working part time after retirement helps her feel useful. She enjoyed working in education, but wanted to step down from the daily grind of energetic young-
sters. By working at Oasis, she can keep her foot in the educational world, as she coordinates and trains volunteers who help out at local elementary schools. “This position is in my wheelhouse,” Lee said. “It is a made-for-me job. It keeps me in the loop in education, and in our community. It’s a captive audience. They want to be there. I enjoy it very much.” Lee began shadowing the previous tutor coordinator a year ago to learn the ropes. The national tutor manager visited the Syracuse Oasis site to mentor her as well. She advises other retirees to have some kind of plan. “It doesn’t have to be set in stone. It was quite a transition for me, I must be honest,” she
More Adults Expected to Be in Labor Market About 40 percent of those 55 and older were either working or trying to find work in 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “That number, known as a labor force participation rate, is expected to increase fastest for the oldest segments of the population — most notably, people ages 65 to 74 and 75 and older—through 2024,” The bureau states on its website. “In 16
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contrast, participation rates for most other age groups in the labor force aren’t projected to change much over the 2014–24 decade.” The organization also reports that as of 2016, approximately 27 percent of workers aged 55 and older and 40 percent aged 65 and older worked parttime (up to 34 hours weekly).
Shelly Lee, 58, works 15 hours a week at Oasis in Syracuse as tutoring coordinator. This is a job she is happy with, after having worked for 35 year as a full-time teacher at Central Square School District. “I was concerned I would not be as happy as I am now,” Lee said about retirement. Next to her is her husband, Jack.
said. She found herself feeling weepy last September and looking longingly at the school supplies in stores; however, working at Oasis helps her feel connected to education and the community. “Try to get a part-time job,” she said. “Do something that makes you feel useful and that gives back. You’ll reap the rewards times 10.” When not at Oasis, Lee enjoys socializing, golfing and occasionally helping at her elementary school. Once her husband Jack retires, they hope to travel more. Jack works as a HVAC technician at Davis Mechanical in Syracuse. Wally Roberts, 70, lives in Minoa and works part time as a transport driver for Sun Chevrolet in Chittenango. He also works seasonally at Fremac Marine in Lakeport operating the store. Economic downturns in 2003 and 2008 hurt Roberts’ finances. He decided to go back to work part time to bolster his finances. But he also found that his work gets him out of the
house and socializing, something he has missed since an early retirement from working as a locomotive engineer in 1984. “I’m outdoors and these are easy, enjoyable jobs,” Roberts said. “Working part time keeps me busy. Once I started doing these jobs, I started meeting other people, which makes you feel good.” In his spare time, Roberts enjoys fishing, volunteering and taking classes at Syracuse Oasis, in addition to spending time with his wife, Sandra Roberts. “I think [working] keeps you young,” Roberts said. “I work with a guy who’s 84 and he’s a pistol!” His advice: Consider a switch to something in which you’ve always had an interest, but may vary somewhat from what you’ve done before. Or, perhaps look into work such as bus driving, retail or hospitality industry employment. Those industries abound with positions tougher for employers to fill because they tend to have with irregular and part-time hours.
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Wally Roberts, 70, lives in Minoa and works parttime. “Working part time keeps me busy. Once I started doing these jobs, I started meeting other people, which makes you feel good,” he says.
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my turn By Bruce Frassinelli Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The ‘New Senior Man’ We are really lucky, gentlemen, so let’s make the best of it
was unaware of it, but I am a “new senior man.” After I had read co-author Thelma Reese’s explanation of who this man is, I suddenly felt a little younger, I had an extra bounce in my step, and I swear that I was walking a little more upright and less stooped over. She has reminded me and other male retirees that we could conceivably have one-third more of our lifetime ahead of us at retirement, and we can spend it on living life to the fullest. What a gift! Reese and her colleague, Barbara Fleisher, interviewed more than 100 men between the ages of 60 and 100 and compiled 50 stories of “The New Senior Man.” These are men who have had, in some cases, three careers, some of them in retirement. I can relate to this. I retired at 59 ½ from a lifelong publishing career. In retirement, I have taken on two new careers — teaching and writing. So most of these men are active well into retirement and have decided they would not retire to nothing. Don’t get me wrong: All of the issues associated with aging still are there; there are no fountains of youth, no magic potions, no shamans doing voodoo dances to reverse the aging process, but, apparently, the new senior man doesn’t need any of these gimmicks, because he has changed and has the strength to deal with challenges and adversities much better than his predecessors did. The researchers identified these four advantages that today’s new senior men have: technological, medical, visibility and developmental. A recent survey by the prestigious Pew Research Center shows that just 17 percent of those over 80 have smartphones, but more than half between the ages of 65 and 69 have them and 82 percent of the latter group 18
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use the internet. I see this disparity in my own family. My brother, who is eight years older than I, uses a flip-top phone but does not have and does not care to have internet access. He has no interest in technology whatsoever. On the other hand, I use the internet frequently, not only for my new-found careers, but also for socialization and entertainment. I am on email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Instagram and Instant Messenger. I have never, however, gone onto an internet dating site, but many single or widowed men my age have. I text my children and grandchildren, because this is their preferred way of staying in touch. If I waited for a phone call from any of them, I would be growing cobwebs. While young people are certainly more tech savvy than most of those my age, we have enough knowledge to be in the game rather than on the sidelines. A dozen or so times a day, when I have a question to which I do not know the answer, I turn to my new encyclopedic partner, Ms. Google.
If I want to hear a ‘50s oldies song that I have not heard in years, it’s available at the touch of a button on my smartphone. If I need to know when someone was born or died or some other arcane fact, I am rarely disappointed by Ms. Google and her crew. Yes, many curse the technology that has given us access to this new world of information, and, of course, there are many opportunities for abuses, but I still marvel at how instantaneous information is available to me compared to when I was a kid and had to trek to the library to find my answers there or remain ignorant of the answers. Although I am in pretty good physical condition and do a daily fivemile walk, I still get the aches, pains and occasional illnesses that befall all of us. Retirees of yesterday, however, found that their illnesses were more serious and led to less physical activity, a restricted lifestyle and an earlier demise. Researchers Reese and Fleisher point to remarkable advances in science and medicine, reducing some
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former fatal diseases to chronic status. Even replacing key body parts, such as knees, hips, hearts, lungs, kidneys, etc. has led to longer life. Life expectancy for men is about 78, about four years less than for women, but, get this: If a man makes it to age 65, his life expectancy is another 18 years, or about two and an half years less than women of that age. In 1930, the average life expectancy for men was 58; by 1960 it had risen to nearly 70. This dramatic changing demographic makes the new senior man visible, because he is now part of a rapidly growing number. And the researchers have saved the best until last: “Today’s man who enters what used to be called the `retirement years’ is on the threshold of a period of self-discovery and personal growth.” If you don’t believe that, just pay attention to TV commercials to see how marketers view the importance of this age group. By 2029, the U.S. Census predicts that 20 percent of the U.S. population will be age 65 or older. These men now have time in retirement to develop what they lacked previously: a support system of friends who listen to each other. The researchers also said that this is going to be a time of deepening personal relationships, of exploring new interests that beckoned but were out of reach and learning new ways of self-expression. “It is a time to repair the family if it needs it and to repair the world with his skills and ideas,” the researchers said. We are really lucky, gentlemen, so let’s make the best of it.
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Kids’ College or Own Retirement?
That’s the Question By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
ome parents may think that funding their children’s college education is the most important step to take in their finances after paying off debt; however, if that means sacrificing saving for retirement, the plan can dramatically backfire. “There are lots of ways to finance college education and not a lot of ways to do that for your own retirement,” said Caragh Fahy, owner and certified financial planner at Madison Financial Planning Group in Syracuse. “Be very careful you don’t jeopardize your own financial independence.” Fahy usually advises clients to take care of their own finances first, not only for the clients’ sake but also for their children’s. 20
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“Parents who ‘help’ their children by depositing in accounts in the child’s name can hinder their ability to obtain low-interest loans and grants,” Fahy said. She suggested an alternative, the 529 plan, which earmarks funds for higher education and allows contributions to accumulate tax-free, “but if you want flexibility, I like nonIRA accounts where the dollars are multi-purpose.” If the child doesn’t end up going to college, owners of these accounts can change its beneficiary to another child or family member — even themselves — to pay for higher education without suffering the 10 percent penalty and taxes on gains. She also suggested partially funding a 529 plan, which can be passed
onto siblings. “It’s about balance,” Fahy said. Loans from the Bank of Mom and Dad can work, as long as parents use a written contract and enforce the loan stipulations. “It might be hard to hold them to payments when the child is trying to launch,” Fahy said. “It could cause friction. Parents could co-sign or help them pay off a loan. Parents can gift up to $14,000 per year without tax consequences. They can help pay that loan through gifting.” Parents should work with their college-aged children to lower the cost of their educational needs. Attending a renowned college doesn’t guarantee a fulfilling career, but it does guarantee a hefty tab. Opting for a less expensive, near-
by school can help families save money while the student decides the next step. Commuting from home also spares them room and board expenses. Jeff Layhew, owner, president and financial adviser with Wealth Resources Network in Liverpool, has a daughter at SUNY Brockport. He called the school “very affordable” compared with many other options. “There is this weird idea that you’ll let an 18-year-old spend any amount of money on tuition with no thought process,” Layhew said. “We’d never let an 18-year-old pick out a Lamborghini. We’d say, you have an $8,000 budget and we’ll go to the used car lot.” Layhew wants parents to consider community colleges. “Community colleges are fantastic, in my opinion,” he said. Many high school students feel pressured to attend a prestigious college; however, a community college can cost nearly 50 percent less than many large, well-known colleges. Layhew wants more young people to consider whether they want to attend trade school or learn through
mentoring. “If someone becomes a plumber, welder, haircutter or tailor, they may not need college,” he said. Apprenticeship programs pay apprentices varying rates that usually increase as they gain experience. Layhew They also require classroom time. The New York Department of Labor lists registered apprentice opportunities at www.labor. ny.gov/apprenticeship/general/occupations.shtm. Students should also take the right major. Changing midstream adds additional time to the college career. Only 19 percent of students earning bachelor’s degrees at US public colleges graduate within four years, according to Complete College America, a nonprofit group based in Indianapolis. Many people end up as five-year students because they changed their major. An additional semester tacks on another $15,000 to $20,000 in debt.
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A Life Story, With Illustrations Joe Glisson, 60, keeps drawing on his artistic talents By Mary Beth Roach
oe Glisson amused Syracuse New Times readers for decades with his cartoons that good-naturedly poked fun at local sports and political celebrities. His posters of various Syracuse University sports teams hang on walls in taverns, game rooms and “man caves” throughout the area. Some of his cartoons live on in his books, “Dome Sweet Dome,” “Seems Like Old Times” and “No Place Like Dome!!” Today, Glisson’s creativity has gone 3-D and has become larger than life. He calls it “three-dimensional composing.” One of these projects stands about 6 feet tall and greets visitors to a local restaurant. Yes, he is the creator of Tully’s Good Times Turtle, and designs the interiors of all the Tully’s restaurants. 22
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He’s also worked with Tully’s owners, the Giamartino family, to design their CopperTop Tavern and Good Buddy’s Pub, and is responsible for the installation of all the memorabilia on the walls, from purchasing to hanging it. “My career has transformed a little the past five, six, seven years,” he said. “There’s not enough illustration work for an individual to make a living off. I had to transition.” How Glisson came to land the Tully’s job in 1993 — and so many others throughout his illustrious career — came by pitching himself. “You have to hustle,” he said. “You don’t have to be that good. I was not the best artist in Syracuse, so forget about the rest of the country.” But he was consistent and met deadlines, and that was critical to art directors.
“I was so driven in a way,” he said, adding that if his mother, Dode, were alive she’d say, “‘You couldn’t tell Joe anything. Joe had his own way of doing it. He wanted what he wanted.’” “For good or bad, that was pretty much true,” he noted. “If I wanted something, I went after it. I didn’t always get what I wanted.” He may not have always gotten what he wanted, but the pursuit has marked Glisson’s career and the success he has found. Take the Tully’s work for example. When he had heard that Tully’s was going to open a new restaurant on Erie Boulevard and it had a sports theme, he packed up some of his original art pieces and went down to talk to the owner. When arriving at the restaurant, he showed the owner, John Giamartino, his artwork, and Giamartino bought it all. Glisson noticed that they already had quite an inventory of sports memorabilia due to go up on the walls of the restaurant. Being the sports fan that he is, he began looking through the artifacts. “The fan in me really wanted to see this stuff. Infamously I asked, ‘Who is hanging up all this stuff?’ And he said that he was. And I asked, ‘Is this something you like to do?’ He
said, ‘No, I hate it,’” Giamartino said. So I asked, “Would you like some help? He said, ‘I would love some help.’ And that was the beginning of a beautiful relationship,” Giamartino said. But knowing his strong suit is the visuals in the restaurant, and not the food prep, he stays away from the kitchen. “I don’t go anywhere near the kitchen. I don’t even go up in my kitchen. My wife won’t let me,” he said with a chuckle. His work at Tully’s — and his whole artistic career — most likely has its roots in his childhood. His father, Bill, had made corkboards for his and his brothers’ bedrooms. “It started this thing in the family that you would cut out pictures and arrange them in an artistic fashion. I was composing and didn’t even know it,” he said. Although he’s been drawing since he was a youngster, he had no intention of becoming an artist. “I think before I was 6 years old, I had the tools to do everything I’ve done. In a big family, I was drawing anniversary and birthday cards constantly,” said Glisson, the fifth of seven boys. “I remember lying on the hardwood floor, just always drawing cards, and there weren’t posters of Spiderman or Batman. If you wanted a poster of Spiderman, you had to draw it. I was doing that,” he said.
Sibling rivalry Growing up with six brothers, there was a sense of rivalry, he noted, and since four of his brothers were better artists, he decided he was going in a different direction. “Boys are competitive,” he said. “We’re not going to do the same thing.” He ended up going to Le Moyne College in Syracuse, getting a degree in business. While there, he also became the art director for the school’s The Dolphin newspaper. But by the time he graduated, his older brothers had taken up different career paths, none of them in art, so Glisson decided to pursue that field. He eventually made his way to the Disney Studios in California, but soon realized, for a variety of reasons, that its wasn’t a good fit for him, so he was back in Syracuse within a year.
He decided to give himself six months to find a job as an artist. If he could begin to make money illustrating, he would continue. If not, he said, he’d do something in the business world. Through one of his friends from his days at The Dolphin, who was working at the time at the local Eric Mower and Associates Agency, he was able to get a job at the local advertising firm. The pace was grueling, but the pay was good. He was doing so well that within a few years he was able to buy a home in Jamesville, where he still resides and has his studio, and established Joe Glisson Productions. Eventually, some of those art directors from Mower would move on to bigger markets, but they would often reach out to Glisson on projects. “With Federal Express and fax machines, I didn’t have to move down to a major city, which was good because I never would have, but I could get some of those big jobs,” he said. While Glisson loved the freelance work, he wanted to do other projects that interested him. “It got to a point where I wanted to do what I wanted to do and get paid for it,” he said with a chuckle. “How can I do that?” Of course, he figured out a way. “I like to draw and paint. I like sports. I grew up on Sports Illustrated. The natural thing was to do some Syracuse University stuff,” he said. Although he knew that the university didn’t use illustration, he had a connection, Mike Holdridge, who
handled the sports program covers. Glisson did a cartoon drawing of the late football coach, Dick MacPherson, and took it to Holdridge on speculation. While Holdridge liked the work, he was a little hesitant to use it since they had never used drawings before. Glisson told him he would give it to him to use for free. “Well, it ended up on the cover. And then, the coaches saw it, and thought that was pretty cool,” he noted. That led to another cover and then basketball covers. And then, men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim asked him to do his team’s posters, which he did for seven or eight years. He would go on to do the women’s basketball team poster, then the basketball office’s Christmas cards, media guide covers for the football team, and their captains’ portraits. And when “The Express” movie, about SU football great Ernie Davis, premiered at the Landmark Theatre in downtown Syracuse, he was asked, with nothing more than a week’s notice, to create a portrait of Davis. The university, he was told, wanted to present the film’s director with a portrait of Davis before the start of the show. No stranger to tight deadAugust / September 2018 - 55 PLUS
lines, Glisson completed the portrait on time.
Tight with SU He has had a long affiliation with SU over the years. While working part time as a graphic artist in the graphics department at University College, he was invited to take part in a master’s program at UC. The program was selective, only taking eight students a year. It was an independent study, meeting once in the spring and once in the fall in a major city and then two weeks on campus. Glisson said he wasn’t interested until he saw the faculty list was comprised of visiting professors that were some of the major illustrators in the country. “I made the comparison that it was like if I were playing for the Auburn Doubledays and somebody came up and showed me a picture of who I might be able to play with, and it was Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and the ’27 Yankees. That’s the way I felt,” he said. So he signed up for the program, and it was a decision that would change his life. While in New York as part of the study, he met his future wife, Linda. The pair has been married since 1984, have four children and have fostered 28 children, adopting two of them. A few years later, an adviser in the independent study Master of Arts program in illustration at SU, Murray Tinkelman, would invite Glisson to become an adjunct professor in illustration at SU, which he did for nearly two decades. The famed illustrator would also become one of Glisson’s mentors, and Glisson recalled a conversation he had with Tinkelman about how the process of taking on projects that he wanted to do. “He said, ‘Well, do it. That’s what I do.’ And that was true. So I thought about it. What would I do a painting of? What do I like? And I remember when I was 6 years old, I loved Roy Rogers,” Glisson said. So about 30 years ago, Glisson did a painting of his cowboy hero and sent it to Rogers. Lo and behold, much to Glisson’s surprise, Rogers’ 24
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agent called him and asked him if he’d be interested in mass-producing this image. “I was too old to be Roy Rogering it,” he said, laughing. But he did, producing a limited issue print. Rogers signed them all, and they sold out quickly. Soon people were calling him, he said, asking him who was going to be the next cowboy he did. Although he hadn’t been interested in doing more cowboy art, he followed up by doing the Lone Ranger and Hopalong Cassidy, but he has since reined in that part of his career.
New Times veteran The Syracuse New Times was another contact from his days at Le Moyne and The Dolphin — and a little bit of hustling — that would lead him to the publication that has probably brought him the most fame locally. His Le Moyne buddy went to work on a magazine for one of the unions, and hired Glisson to do a cartoon for the publication once a month. This would eventually lead to some covers. While the money was OK, Glisson said he was looking for a bigger audience. So, upon getting permission to re-run these cartoons, he went to the Syracuse New Times. The publisher had first agreed to run two. “That was the foot in the door,” Glisson said. That was in the mid-1980s, and it was a relationship that would last about 30 years. The cartoons would become a favorite for many New Times’ readers. But changes at the New Times and a feeling that he might be getting a little stale caused Glisson to give up the weekly cartoon. “I was repeating myself,” he explained. “Every decade, there’s a gas shortage, there’s a president nobody likes, there’s some kind of political scandal, and the economy goes into a recession.” Some of those cartoons and others are featured in the books he’s published. He said during his career which has spanned more than 35 years, he has done 3,000 illustrations, everything from billboards to record covers.
The walls of Glisson’s studio in the basement of his home in Jamesville are covered with artwork that shows off his range of talents — from posters and Christmas cards done for SU to a Norman Rockwell-like portrait of a little boy with a pumpkin, from Roy Rogers to a stunning portrait of Walter Mondale, the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate in 1984. The Mondale piece was supposed to be a Time magazine cover. But by the time it was to go to press, another story broke which made Mondale expendable, and Glisson was paid a kill fee. Of his ability to do different styles, Glisson said that in a secondary market like Syracuse, that can work in one’s favor. In New York, back in the day, he explained, if artists were proficient in different styles, it could work against them because there was a belief that they weren’t working hard to be the best in anything. Has his success surprised him? “The call from Roy Rogers’ agent, that surprised me,” he said, adding that as he gets older and looks back on his career, perhaps he’s more surprised. In looking back, Glisson sees the major changes and shifts in the illustration business, especially in how the drawings are produced and how seldom they are used. “If you’re an illustrator, you have to charge a certain amount to make a living. So per piece, it’s going to be more expensive for a client than if he gets a piece of generic art off some of these [online] sites,” he said. The rise of Macintosh computers and iPhones has enabled many people to take their own photos. “It’s ironic, with the advent of the Mac and all this technology, you would think things would get better quality-wise, when in my opinion, when the Mac came out, the agency went from 12 art directors to like three because you could do so much more on the thing,” he explained. In an earlier era, art departments could tell clients they’d have three sketches to them in 10 days, giving the artists time to come up with ideas and design them. Now, technology is such that everything is done quicker — and Glisson said sometimes quality suffers.
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golden years By Harold Miller
Prepare to Work, Live a Lot Longer The formula for long, productive life — work, diet and exercise
y dear friend Joe Laforte died recently at the ripe old age of 97. He was the president of our condominium association in Florida and a former top executive of IBM. Laforte had retired at 55 and after 42 years of retirement still received his pension and social security, the combination of which produced a comfortable yearly income and happy retirement. However, this scenario will no longer be sustainable for most today because privately-owned businesses have been forced to eliminate pensions and, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report, the combined Social Security trust funds — one for disability, one for retirement — as well as Medicare’s hospital insurance trust fund, will begin eating into their reserves this year. They are projected to run dry by 2026. The good news is that most 55-plussers will not be able to retire at 65 and consequently will live longer, happier and healthier lives if they choose to enact the three basic factors of work, diet and exercise. Many health-care advocates claim that this generation — due to advances in medical science and knowledge — can easily live beyond the century mark (my personal goal) if they follow these rules. We have long reported in the pages of this magazine that inactivity in retirement is a killer. The main killers are diabetes, heart disease, obesity and mental illness. Health care specialists have reported that presently 50 percent of those 85 and older will contract Alzheimer’s disease. When the time comes to leave your job — either by mandated retirement or need to escape from stressful activity — move to other forms of physical and mental activity that you 26
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enjoy. When it became time for me to turn over the reins of our family business to my sons 18 years ago, I opted to become a journalist and author. This, in addition to managing personal properties and investments, allowed me to continue working on things I enjoyed doing and at a more relaxed pace. To quote a portion of an authorless poem titled “Happiness” sent by my daughter Marcia, “In the pursuit of beloved labor, the busy days pass cheerfully employed, and the still nights in peaceful sleep. For labor born of desire is not drudgery but mainly play.” It is a shocking fact that half of America’s population is overweight and half of that is obese. Half of all our meals are consumed at hamburger joints and other fast-food restaurants where fatty foods reign supreme. Parents are not overseeing what their children eat and apparently adults don’t care that our nation has drifted into self-indulgence — diet wise and otherwise. All you have to do is walk through the aisles at
Walmart to confirm this sad situation. We have no ready solutions to this problem other than to advise parents as well as adults to engage a nutritionist. Simply going on a diet does not cure obesity. A person must change their lifestyle and eat to live rather than live to eat. The third and most important factor for a long, healthy life is exercise. Of most importance is to choose forms of exercise that you can enjoy. My wife Janet walks around our neighborhood for about a mile, works out at the gym, and swims several times a week. Likewise, I bicycle, work out at the gym, and swim several times a week. Our doctors tell us that neither of us would be here at our stage of life without our exercise regime. One of the greatest rewards of living a long life is to be around to enjoy the fruits of our labor which includes interacting with our children (the original form of a family’s social security), plus 19 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren, so far.
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aging By Marilyn L. Pinsky
Naomi Blumenthal’s Passion for Horses Manlius resident, who has ridden horses since childhood, is in charge of the annual NYS Fair Horse Show and many other horse shows around the country
hough many of us have stopped in for an hour or two at the annual NYS Fair Horse Show, have you ever wondered how an event that runs for 17 days, with more than 1,200 horses and 25 different breeds and disciplines and with over 1,500 competitions, comes together? It’s logical to assume there is a huge organization working yearround that keeps those action packed 17 days running smoothly. Would you be surprised to know that the wizard behind the curtain is a petite, 76-year-old grandmother of three with a computer and 50 years of experience running horse shows? Naomi Blumenthal’s official title for that event is superintendent of the NYS Fair Horse Show. But that is only one of many hats this Manlius resident wears. She is also executive treasurer of the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association; chairwoman of the Syracuse Chapter of the Professional Horsemen’s Association; national president of the Professional Horsemen’s Association, committee member of the US Hunters and Jumpers Association and director of Zone 2 of that association. Running the NYS Fair Horse Show this year from Aug.19 to Sept 2, means figuring out stabling for the 1,200 horses that come in and leave the fairgrounds on different days, ordering enough hay and shavings, hiring 40 people, including hiring and lodging out-of-town judges to prevent the perception of favoritism, enable the tracking of fees for riders entering multiple events, and ordering and awarding prizes. “Having done this now for over 40 years and having run horse shows 28
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Naomi Blumenthal has run horse shows in Syracuse and around the country for more than 40 years. for every major breed association,” said Blumenthal, “I have developed rapport with so many different organizations, that for the fair itself, those relationships make things run smoothly, as we all know what we want to do and how it should be done.” Just to give a sense of the organizations Blumenthal has run shows for, they include the Palomino Horse Breeders Association, American Quarter Horse Association, Pinto Horse Association, Paint Horse Association, Appaloosa Horse Club of America, National Barrel Racing Association, North American Classic Series for Draft Horses and United States Hunter Jumper Association, among others. Sometimes she works for organizations or individuals running horse shows and sometimes she owns the dates and organizes her own shows.
The show at the fair includes the largest “draft horse show” in the United States east of Denver, Colo. — and the Denver show lasts for a month. “For this year, we are adding a Dressage Day before the fair itself opens,” she said. As if this isn’t enough to organize for those 17 days, Blumenthal also runs the World of Horses Tent — an educational, interactive display that educates fair visitors about horses. “Adults and children can pet the horses and talk to the people who are there with them,” said Blumenthal. “Some years the New York State Troopers bring horses and exhibit as a precision drill team; they are a volunteer organization and own their own horses, so the troopers do this on their days off. It is very exciting and we hope to bring them back this year as the fairgoers love it. After the perfor-
mance, they invite kids to come down to the arena rail and pet the horses.”
sociation show in the Syracuse area,” she said. “In 1981 personal computers appeared and I brought the Apple 2 into Passion for Horses the horse show offices. I knew what I wanted the program to accomplish Blumenthal said she developed and I worked with a friend who knew a passion for horses early on. “I rode how to write the software that was horses as a child and at 14, I got my needed. That was the first computfirst show horse. I then got a mare, erized program in the horse show who had a baby, so I had three horses world and it got me even more jobs,” that I kept all through college. When said Blumenthal. “Then Horse Play I graduated, I taught in public school, magazine did a centerfold article on while at the same time putting togeth- ‘The Computer in the Horse Show Ofer the business of boarding horses at fice’ and that was how Apple learned a farm in Oran [a hamlet the town about what I was doing. They flew of Pompey]. I had the first indoor, me to Texas to show them how I did privately-owned arena ring in this what I did.” area, so there could be activity all At the same time, Blumenthal year round and I was running winter taught equestrian studies and equine horse shows when no one else was. business management at Cazenovia That’s how I got involved in horse College for 27 years and coached the show management.” college’s equestrian team. “I travBlumenthal said later on during eled all over with the team as well as the summer she ran a show for the taking students to Ireland and Great then-Syracuse Chamber of Com- Britain to study the differences and merce, which launched her name similarities in the care of horses and into the horse show business. “Subse- experience cross country riding in the quently, as other professionals around truest sense.” here were retiring, I was asked to take She said horse shows in the area, over the Professional Horseman’s As- aside from giving the public the op3.5 x 4.75” 55+ - St. Luke - Christ.Comm.
Black & White
portunity to learn more about horses, brings a significant economic impact. “The NYS Horse Breeders Association is in Syracuse for two weeks each year and as they are all from out of town, therefore they spend money on hotel rooms, three meals a day, and they love to go to Destiny to shop. In May the National Intercollegiate Horse Show Association will rent 800 to 1,000 rooms and also spend money here. Because horse people are not readily identifiable, unlike bowlers who wear bowling shirts, a restaurant can’t say, ‘boy, we did a great business from the horse show people this month’, so it has been difficult to convince our local economic development agencies that I need things like coupon books from restaurants that could help their members.” On the personal side, Blumenthal’s daughter Shari (in the interest of full disclosure, Shari is my niece) and her husband Corey Schneider, have three boys and live in Scarsdale, Westchester County. “No riders in that family,” said Blumenthal, “if it doesn’t involve a ball, they’re not doing it.”
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Howie Hawkins Running
The 65-year-old Green Party leader continues to ‘demand more’ — he has run for public office 21 times in the past 25 years. He is now running for governor. Again? He explains why By Aaron Gifford
ven though he has yet to win an election and has been arrested now and again to make a point, Central New York’s most well-known socialist-environmentalist third-party candidate has accomplished far more during his ongoing political career than most people realize. Sixty-five-year-old Howie Hawkins, of Syracuse, is the co-founder of the Green Party and played a major role in his party’s presidential runs with candidate Ralph Nader. The two major political parties and even some industries have adopted Green Party ideas. 30
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He was an early leader of the anti-nuclear movement as well as anti-apartheid efforts that ultimately pressured world leaders to end the practice of legalized racial discrimination. And in New York state, he applied plenty of pressure for the ban on hydrofracking, a $15 minimum wage, and free state tuition for middle-class families. Since the 1960s, he’s gotten pretty good at making some ideas popular and some ideas unpopular with the masses. “With almost everything, we started out as a tiny movement, but we grew and got things done. That’s the way it worked in stopping the Vietnam War,” said Hawkins, 65. “With that perspective in mind, I say let’s keep trying.” All told, Hawkins has run for public office 21 times in the past 25 years, including bids for the Syracuse city council and the U.S. Senate. He’s currently running for governor, his third try for that seat, employing a theme of “Demand More.” He will only consider the contest a loss if he fails to swing the other political parties a few degrees in the Green Party’s direction.
Politics always on the table Hawkins grew up outside of San Francisco, in a racially diverse working-class neighborhood. His mother Gloria died when he was very young. His father, Howard Hawkins, was an attorney. The elder Hawkins was a star football player at Michigan State University and considered playing professionally, but instead served in the U.S. Army and went to law school on the G.I. Bill. Hawkins gravitated to sports early, excelling at football, basketball and baseball. He was also a strong student. He enjoyed Boy Scouts’ activities and the outdoors but admits that he was terrible at shooting. Hawkins’ father was a good shot and tried to teach his son the finer points of marksmanship with a BB gun, but Howie Hawkins did not enjoy himself and immediately developed a distaste for firearms. Politics was a hot topic at the dinner table. Hawkins always enjoyed the discussions with his more conservative father and two younger sib32
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Hawkins speaking at the People’s Climate March, New York City, Sept. 14, 2014. Photo courtesy of Colin D. Young. lings, even if it got heated. His father, a Chicago native, was a classic Midwestern Republican who pressed for civil rights but also opposed unnecessary government involvement. They agreed on the principles of equality and individual liberties but disagreed on some of the stances of the hippies and the role of civil disobedience, which the younger Hawkins supports to this day. “We called it the generation gap back then,” Hawkins said. “In his later years, I told him the one lesson I did learn from him is — don’t follow the crowd!” Hawkins’ extended family members were traditionally Republicans, but that changed in the early 1980s when a right-wing coalition then known as the Moral Majority essentially took over the party. “That’s not the Republican party,” he said, “that we knew.” Decades before that, at the end of the 1960s, Hawkins was a high school student in an area that was an epicenter of the counter culture. He got caught up in the times but has never abandoned those ideals. He organized the first Earth Day event at his high school, which some faculty and staff members applauded, but he also cut school to attend marches or sit-ins at Berkeley. His first brush with the law came at the age of 14 when he outran a
truant officer on his way to a Vietnam War protest. Fifty years later, Hawkins was arrested in Albany for protesting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s policies on climate change, which opponents say do not go far enough toward protecting the environment. Hawkins was photographed holding a drawing of the governor standing in front of a factory emitting black smoke, with the words “What will be your legacy?” “I can’t count how many times I’ve been arrested,” Hawkins said. “Maybe a dozen.” With extremely high marks in high school, Hawkins was accepted into Ivy League Dartmouth College. He chose the business-engineering program with hopes of using the skills and knowledge he acquired to develop technology for improving the environment. But when Hawkins’ draft number was called for the Vietnam War, he elected to enlist in a U.S. Marines officer-training program that would keep him on a college campus, as opposed to going off to combat with the Army overseas. The plan did not work out for him, however, because he could not afford to return to college and he had not accumulated any GI Bill benefits, though he still was not called into combat. Hawkins worked in construction and returned to Dartmouth but
fell just short of earning a bachelor’s degree due to not meeting the foreign language obligation. He failed Spanish and attempted to submit his knowledge of Tongan toward the graduation requirement; he had already completed an undergraduate fellowship overseas. Initially, Hawkins’ proposal was accepted, but it was then reversed by higher-level officials. Hawkins believes that his frequent participation in anti-war protests, including one that was specifically against bringing the Army ROTC program back to Dartmouth, were factored into that decision.
Anti-nuclear stance In 1974, Hawkins helped organize a protest and occupation of the Seabrook Nuclear power plant in New Hampshire. He settled in New England after leaving Dartmouth because he thought it was a good place to continue his work in the anti-nuclear movement. To pay the bills, he led a construction workers’ cooperative that specialized in eco-friendly renovation projects, like solar panels and windmills. When the construction industry took a nose dive in the late 1980s, Hawkins found work as a logger. But a back injury sidelined him from the
Acceptance speech at the state Green Party convention in Rensselaer May 19. Photo courtesy of Mary Cregan. forests, so he had to look for something else. “Basically, my choice at that time was to find a desk job,” he recalled. “But I felt like I was too blue collar for that.” The California native who adopted New England as his home then found himself in Syracuse, where he was hired as the executive director of Common Works, an organization that helped nonprofit agencies grow. It was a noble cause for the idealistic Hawkins, but the ugly side of that arena drained his enthusiasm at times. “In terms of our original mission, we weren’t that successful,” he
said. “It really wasn’t my cup of tea. The foundation world is really more about who you know.” Hawkins was happy to shed the suit and tie for the brown threads of a UPS uniform, starting at $8 an hour but working his way up during a 17year career there that preceded his retirement from non-political work (other than being a member of the Teamsters union). He worked nights unloading trucks. “The physical activity was almost like a vacation,” he recalled, “and I always slept well.” The overnight shift also gave Hawkins plenty of time to get in-
Hawkins holding a news conference in Binghamton April 18. Photo courtesy of Briana Supardi, Fox 40 TV. August / September 2018 - 55 PLUS
Volunteering: Howie Hawkins helping paint the headquarters of the American Legion Dunbar Post in Syracuse. Photo by Chuck Wainwright.
volved in local politics. Central New York, he explained, was a great place to test out ideas because the demographics in terms of political affiliation, race, education, income and a variety of other factors closely resemble national averages. With few gated communities, Syracuse and its suburbs were easy places to go door to door, and Hawkins found early success getting his letters and columns published in local newspapers. “It’s like a big small town,” he said. “It is ideal in terms of its human scale. My left-wing politics made it challenging. It’s not as easy a terrain as Berkeley, but it is a useful terrain.” Under his current platform in the governor’s race, Hawkins wants to establish a government-funded health insurance program that would cover more services than Medicaid in its current form. He also promotes an environmental plan that would assure “100 percent clean energy” in New York state by 2030. He also wants to cut back, if not eliminate, unfunded state mandates that drive up local property tax rates. “We need a bottom-up system instead of trickle-down economics,” he said. “Both parties balance the state budget on the backs of local tax payers. The state should pay for its own mandates, and the 2 percent cap on government spending has not lowered property taxes. Let us locally decide our priorities.”
Making a difference When he’s not politicking, Hawkins is still a gym rat. Fitness has always been a major part of his life, and he works out with weights, uses elliptical machines and stretches almost daily. Hawkins never married and does not have children, which has afforded him the ability to quickly mobilize for gatherings, protests or rallies. “I was the kind of guy in college who always talked about having a wife, kids and a house,” he said. “And yet, I never found the right girl.” Politics has been his true love, even though it breaks his heart often. Over time Hawkins has become more hardened by the battles, more strategic and more focused on longer term goals. But the game is getting much tougher. He’s always been out34
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matched by money, power and influence, and now there are up-and-coming rival third parties competing for the same slices of the Green Party’s pie. The projected anti-Trump blue wave is expected to benefit Democrats but not necessarily anti-establishment fans. Still, Hawkins does not get discouraged and cannot imagine giving up his fight any time soon. “I think we made a difference even if we don’t win the office,” Hawkins said. “We’re very pleased with how we moved public opinion, but now we have to get the policies to move.” Carol Perry, a longtime friend of Hawkins and one of his campaign volunteers, called the third-party politician a “true go-to guy.” She met him over 15 years ago at her mother’s soul food restaurant, Vera’s Place. Her first observation was that the man had an enormous appetite for someone who stayed so fit. Today, she considers him like a brother. “He had a plate full of collard greens and corn bread, and then all of the ribs and fried chicken,” Perry said. “Oh, man, can Howie eat!” It didn’t take Hawkins long to strike up conversations with everyone in the restaurant, let alone much of the surrounding neighborhood. He met anyone who had something to say. He talked some, Perry recalled, but mostly listened. “He’ll listen as long as you need him to, and you always feel like you’ve been heard,” she said. “Howie
is grass roots. You don’t see politics first — you see concern first.” Over the years, communities have looked toward Hawkins to put pressure on city hall to address their issues. He has also connected with dozens of families on a personal level, even if it means visiting loved ones who got arrested and talking sense into them when other people in their lives couldn’t make a breakthrough, Perry explained. She recalled the time when a needy man whom Hawkins never
met before asked to borrow $10 to deal with an emergency. Hawkins, despite being distracted and in a hurry, handed the man money without a second thought. Three years later, the man recognized Hawkins in his neighborhood, handed him a $10 bill, and thanked him for the loan. “Howie didn’t even remember loaning him the money, but enjoyed meeting him,” Perry recalled. “You never see that, but that’s the kind of thing that only happens to Howie Hawkins.”
Howie’s Soap Box
Howie Hawkins, the Syracuse Green Party candidate who is running for New York state governor, provided his opinion recently on a variety of issues: On the environment: Hawkins is pleased with the statewide fracking ban but disagrees with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s support for new power plants, pipelines and infrastructure for growing natural gas use in New York state. “They say it’s a bridge,” he said, “but I say it’s a cliff.” On health care reform: Hawkins advocates a taxpayer-funded “single-payer” system that covers the costs of essential medical services for all residents. He does not believe that such a system would require massive tax hikes. He said legislation for such a system has been considered in Albany, but it continually hits road
blocks put in place by pharmaceutical companies and special interest groups. On the ever-growing number of casinos in New York state: Hawkins said adding casinos is a poor excuse for economic development. “It’s just re-arranging revenue, not creating it,” he said. “What we should do to promote economic development is to lower the cost of doing business and open up subsidies that promote clean energy.” On legalizing marijuana in New York state: Hawkins is in favor or legalizing the drug, taxing it and regulating its growth, distribution and sale. But, he cautions, “this should not be a situation where big pharmacy and big tobacco can come in and leave the little people out.”
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Group Embraces Orienteering By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
o Peter Dady, 66, orienteering is not just a walk in the woods. The Cortland resident and semi-retired book salesman is a member of Central New York Orienteering Club (http://cnyo.us.orienteering.org). The group travels to various sites in the area to engage in a hobby that’s gaining traction in the region. Although multi-generational — the group has members of all ages — about half the group of 200 is 55 and older. “I think people do it if they like to run and do physical activity, but there’s also the thinking part of it, ‘cunning running’ I like to call it,” Dady said. “You have to think about where you’re going to find the next control point. There’s more mental exercise.” Participants use specific orienteering-style maps that offer enhanced topographical features to help them navigate from their starting point to a designated destination. “Our maps are more detailed than topographic maps,” Dady said. “We spend a lot of time on the map because the sport is about maps and compass. Once you learn what the map is telling you, you can navigate through the woods a lot easier.” Orienteering enthusiasts from all over the world use the same type of maps. Unlike geocaching, which relies upon GPS technology to find a token “treasure,” orienteering is old school in its navigation and offers no prizes. The participants must employ their sense of direction, map reading abilities and decision making skills to efficiently complete the course and find the control flags. Most are two to three feet in the air, so by mid-summer, they’re harder to see than in early spring. “We do it in the winter on cross-country skis,” Dady said. “We’ve also had canoe and bicycle 36
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orienteering. We’ve done it at night. There’s a lot of ways you can do your activity.” Dady insists orienteering is easy for anyone to learn, since most orienteering clubs offer instruction, especially to people new to the activity, and because most people have already done orienteering without realizing it. “If you’re walking around the State Fair with a map trying to find what you want to see, that’s a form of orienteering,” he said. Clubs also vary the maps and courses to include beginner-level participants with flags to signal control points, for example. “We keep it to the trails so you can read the trail networks and learn topography of the land,” Dady said. “As you progress, we put the control flags farther off the trail. For those who are advanced, the flags are most-
ly in the woods, not necessarily on a trail all the time. That’s where your compass comes into play.” Participants might search for a lone pine tree or a boulder as the control point. He views orienteering as a good way to unplug, get in the woods and exercise both body and brain. While a younger person may relish tackling a challenging terrain, an older person may want to use strategy to find a way around the rough spot. Either can enjoy the sport using his particular abilities. The club provides maps for orienteering at places like Beaver Lake Nature Center in Baldwinsville, Camp Hollis in Oswego and Highland Forest in Fabius. Occasionally, they navigate in urban venues, like downtown Syracuse, looking for specific points of interest and monuments.
Bob Brown, the Entertainer If he is not behind the microphone, he is on stage By Mary Beth Roach
ob Brown has been entertaining audiences either on the air or stage for more than four decades. These days, he might even be considered a juggler of sorts, balancing his job on a local radio station, his work with various local theater companies, and his role as executive director for the Salt City Center for the Performing Arts. Brown is the radio personality on The Dinosaur, 95.3 and 103.9, from 3-7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. It’s located in the same building on West Kirkpatrick Street near the Syracuse
Inner Harbor where he started his career in 1974 with the then-WNDR. But when he’s not behind the microphone, he’s on stage, and those stages most recently and in the near future are in the Syracuse area. “I enjoy performing anywhere,” he noted, “but performing in your hometown, I think that’s always special.” He’s looking to stage “Unforgettable,” featuring the music of the legendary Nat King Cole, at Jazz Central in downtown Syracuse this fall. The show will feature two performers from New York, along with Brown
and his wife, Cathy. Later this year, Brown is planning to do Pat Lotito’s “Dickens of A Christmas,” in which he’ll be playing Scrooge, at the Civic Center. He appeared as El Gallo in “The Fantasticks” with the Oswego Players this summer at its theater at Fort Ontario, and he portrayed the morose Frollo in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” with the Baldwinsville Theater Guild. He has been busy with reorganizing the Salt City Center for the Performing Arts, a local theater company, where he found a great deal of promAugust / September 2018 - 55 PLUS
inence especially in the late 1970s to the early 2000s playing the title role in “Jesus Christ Superstar.” As he sat at his mic at The Dinosaur, with a control board full of monitors and blinking lights, Brown, 63, recalled the days when he spun 45s on turntables, with teletypes clacking in the background and news reporters around. It’s a different world with all the technology, he said, his tone a bit nostalgic for those “old days.” But Brown and the rest of the crew at The Dinosaur continue to keep a bit of the “old days” alive with their music. Of the station’s classic top-40 format, Brown said, “For our listeners, they enjoy reminiscing. It’s the music they grew up with.” Even though he’s been at this for 40 years, Brown keeps it fresh with news updates, pop culture news and weather reports. “With the weather in Central New York, there’s always something to talk about,” he said. Although he started with WNDR, Brown has traveled up and down the radio dial locally, including WOLF, WFBL and WSEN. He helped launch 93Q with another well-known local radio personality, Ted Long, and others, and took the station to No. 1 in nine months. He’s also worked at WHYT in Detroit. But as much as he loves radio, he confessed that acting is his passion.
Demanding role Many Central New Yorkers of a certain age will remember Brown in the title role in Salt City’s “Jesus Christ Superstar,” first appearing in 1978, with his final performance in 2010. “I used to say I didn’t think I was very good the first five years,” he said of his portrayal. “It was a daunting task to play that character, knowing what it means to people.” However, after the first five years, Brown said he felt that his portrayal became more real and more passionate. The quote “All the world’s a stage” that William Shakespeare once coined certainly applies to Brown, as his work has taken him all over the country and world. 38
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Bob Brown portrayeing the morose Frollo in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” with the Baldwinsville Theater Guild. Not only has he been on Detroit radio, he has been on stages throughout the U.S. and abroad. For example, he has played King Arthur in a national tour of “Camelot,” Nicky Arnstein in “Funny Girl,” and as Mark in “ART.” He has done “Unforgettable” in Honduras and “I Do, I Do” in Singapore. But his work in the theater is not limited to being on the stage. He had been production coordinator for 50 to 60 shows for the Golden Apple Theatre in Florida as well as a director. “There is a thrill of directing be-
cause you get to see the picture you painted. When acting, you get to see what you created,” he said. He has more than 150 film credits. Some of his favorites show his range — the title role in “Sweeney Todd,” Alan Swan in “My Favorite Year,” and King Arthur in the CNY Playhouse’s “Spamalot.” But he said that Frollo might be topping that list. Brown’s wife is also involved in the performing arts locally, and the couple played John and Abigail Adams in the 2016 CNY Playhouse’s adaption of “1776.” The Manlius native and Fayette-
ville-Manlius High School graduate studied music in college. He attended Princeton, where he played baseball, but the university had an exchange program with the neighboring Westminster Choir College, so he was able to take additional classes there, study with the Grammy-award winning conductor Robert Shaw, and sing with the choir. “A lot of my training came from wonderful actors I got to study and learn from. When you watch their methods and how they prepare, you pick up the good habits and blend them with your own,” he said. While in Singapore in May of 2000, Brown received word that his mother had had a heart attack. He returned to Central New York to help with her care, alongside his dad. After she died in 2008, Brown cared for his dad until he died in 2016. That same year – 2016 – also saw the death of Pat Lotito, who with her husband, Joe, had founded Salt City Center in the 1960s, and the couple was tireless in its efforts to develop that theater group. Joe had died in 2009. “Pat asked if I would help keep Salt City going. It was Pat’s wish that I became executive director when she was no longer able to serve,” Brown noted. Shortly after Pat died, Salt City’s board president David Walker died as well. But Brown remained committed to carry on. “Through the help of my friend and Salt City attorney Barry Shulman, we reorganized in late 2017,” he pointed out. Our goal is to combine local talent with some seasoned professionals, helping to foster a professional experience for our actors and community.” Future plans for Salt City include the mounting of “Jesus Christ Superstar” in 2019, with Brown portraying Pontius Pilate and directing, he said. How is it for him to direct someone else in the role of Jesus Christ, the role he had for 30 years? “I started cold. I was the first,” he said. “I had to find my way into it. They have to find their way into it. And as long as their thought process is right, that’s 80 percent of it.” So for Brown, even though he’s been at it for 40-plus years, the show goes on. Or perhaps more accurately, the shows go on.
Bob Brown in front of the building that houses several radio stations on West Kirkpatrick Street near the Syracuse Inner Harbor. This is the same building where he started his career in 1974 with the then-WNDR. August / September 2018 - 55 PLUS
fashion Wardrobe: Classy Summer Style 55+
Looking stylish without worrying about dating yourself By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
f you’re stuck in a style rut or don’t feel confident wearing your summer wardrobe, try these tips to step out in style. While hearing “dress your age” may make you feel old, there’s some truth to dressing for your body the way it is right now — not the way it was. It can take some honest appraisal from a forthright friend or an image consultant like Jackie Terribile, owner of The Small Town Stylist in Syracuse. “One of the things I see as a mistake is, clients don’t evolve,” Terribile said. “They stick with a style that worked with them a decade ago.” Most mature men should reconsider muscle shirts, short shorts and having several undone buttons, she said. Likewise, on most mature women, middrift-baring shirts, short shorts and deeply scooping necklines don’t flatter. “When you’re in your 20s and 30s those looks were comfortable, but you may need more coverage now,” Terribile said. “You should still be able to look sexy and attractive. Think of style as constantly evolving, just as we are. As we age, bodies and lifestyles, families and jobs change so our style needs to change as well.” The tailoring and shape of garments makes a big difference in looking classy. Terribile advises women who like tunics to wear ones that skim their hips or belt them and to wear leggings or fitted pants under them. “That shows you have a great 40
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shape underneath,” she said. She said that most women don’t wear the right bra because measurements change over time. She recommends a bra fitting every six to 12 months. G a r m e n t s should cover all bra straps. Bras that match skin tone won’t show through thinner fabrics like white or colored bras. Terribile also likes sundresses, if they provide enough coverage. Layering with a T-shirt underneath or a short-sleeved shrug offer more coverage and warmth for cool evenings or frigid air conditioning. “You don’t have to think about what goes with what,” Terribile said. “Dress up with sandals or down with sneakers. It’s ageless.” Fit-andflare, sheaths or wrap dresses complem e n t
any figure and look nice for dressier occasions. Terribile thinks that men should update their shorts and pants occasionally to avoid dating their look instead of sticking with the same clothing for years and years. Cargo pants and shorts are still popular, but they should fit well and be wrinkle-free. Printed pants are in as well. Tall men can wear larger prints for casual wear, but average to shorter height men should stay with mid-sized or smaller prints so they don’t overwhelm their stature. As always, fit is important. Shorter men should not wear oversized shorts that go well past the knees. “Focus more on tailoring,” Terribile said. “As our bodies change and we put on more pounds, we look heavier the bigger our clothes are. Find things that are fitted well, not oversized.” She added that extra pockets contribute visual size, as does tucking in a skin-tight T-shirt. Layering a well-fitting T-shirt with an untucked button-down shirt over it, and wearing a belt, “gives an illusion of a waistline but with coverage,” Terribile said. She encourages men to try the layered shirt look with khaki shorts or pants as a go-to casual outfit. Terribile likes brighter colors for summer as a break from the more somber hues worn the rest of the year. Before wearing sandals, men should buff their feet smooth with a pumice stone and clip their toenails as needed. Wearing socks with sandals is a no-no. Considering the fad of sockswith-sandals grew from wearing it ironically, only those on the cutting-edge of fashion should try it, not those wearing classic styles or slightly dated clothing. Stylist Ann Marie Stonecypher-Bick owns AMS Models and Talent Inc. in Cicero. She urges clients to make sure that their clothing is the right size above all else. “If the clothes don’t fit well, no matter how expensive it is or how much you love it, it won’t look good,” Stonecypher-Bick said. “Dress in what’s comfortable for you, not necessarily what’s in style. “If a length or fit doesn’t flatter you, don’t wear it. Clothing should flatter your best parts, not just look stylish.”
Jackie Terribile, owner of The Small Town Stylist in Syracuse: “One of the things I see as a mistake is, clients don’t evolve,” Terribile said. “They stick with a style that worked with them a decade ago,” she says. She’s firm believer in finding great-looking clothing for every size and age, not clinging to a particular look that no longer works. “Things that looked good on you 20 years ago may not look good on you now and that’s okay,” she said. “You don’t want to draw the wrong kind of attention to yourself.” She said that many people who want to look smaller wear a smaller size, thinking that the clothing will obscure their size; however, the opposite effect is true. “I once went shopping with a woman who refused to own something that said ‘size 14’ inside and the pants she bought in a 12 looked terrible,” Stonecypher-Bick said. She encourages looking at current magazines and websites of clothing companies such as Banana Republic, and, for dressier occasions, Ann Taylor or Men’s Wearhouse. “Look how they put the clothing together,” she said. “You don’t have to buy them but put together looks that are similar. But don’t go to Forever 21 or another site that’s not age-appropriate.”
Stylist Ann Marie Stonecypher-Bick owns AMS Models and Talent Inc. in Cicero: “If the clothes don’t fit well, no matter how expensive it is or how much you love it, it won’t look good,” she says. August / September 2018 - 55 PLUS
life after 55 By Michele Reed email@example.com
Photos by Bill Reed
Expats in France: A Long Tradition
e like to think about our adventures in France as if we were pioneers, but in fact we are merely heirs to a long tradition of English-speaking Francophiles who made France their permanent or part-time homes. Paris in the 1920s was a mecca for all sorts of American artists and intellectuals, from writers Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, and Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, to composer Cole Porter and the dancer Josephine Baker. This “Lost Generation” found intellectual freedom, inspiration and camaraderie among creative people from all over the world, including Picasso (Spain), Chagall (Russia) and Modigliani (Italy), as they roamed the Left Bank and the heights of Montparnasse. Along with the Americans, the British started paying peaceful visits to their historical enemies across the channel.
Our area in the south of France, Languedoc-Roussillon now called Occitanie, with its warm weather and abundant sunshine, had an especially strong draw for those from the gray and gloomy British Isles. One such famous ex-pat, the arts and crafts architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, left Scotland to retire to the south of France in the late 1920s with his wife, the artist Margaret MacDonald. We had fallen in love with Mackintosh’s work on a trip to Glasgow, so we followed in the footsteps that he and Margaret took while exploring this beautiful part of France. We took the bus to Port Vendres, where the artistic couple made their home during the winters of 1925 to 1927. Toting along the book, “Monsieur Mackintosh,” which traces their journeys in Roussillon, we checked out the sites along the Mackintosh Trail. Before even alighting from the bus, we could see the original Hotel
The village of Port Vendres was the retirement home of Scottish artist and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and the subject for many of his watercolors. 42
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du Commerce, now the Banc Populaire, and the balcony of the corner rooms occupied by Charles and Margaret. Setting out on our trek, we stopped by the tourism office, which should always be the first stop in any new French town. Tourism is supported by the state, and maps, guidebooks and souvenirs abound, as well as friendly advice from staff who speak a multitude of languages. From his balcony window at the Hotel du Commerce, Mackintosh had a perfect view of the port, Fort Mailly and the surrounding hills. We were able to stand just outside the original hotel and see renditions of his paintings juxtaposed with the scene as it is today. Not much has changed. Sure, the boats are bit more modern, and the yacht club now has berths in the harbor, but the masts of the boat we were standing near could be the ones in “Schooner Moored at Quayside,” and my husband Bill pointed out that the paving stones were the very
ones depicted by Mackintosh. His “Port Vendres” (“Quai des Douanes”) shows the port exactly as it looks today, down to the reflections of the buildings in the water. You can see images of his work and learn about the trail at www.crmackintoshfrance. com/crmapp/index.html. The smell of the sea permeated the air. We could see the stands where, in the morning, the fishing boats sell their wares. Restaurants proclaimed specials of poissons (fish) and fruits de mer (seafood). The sound of waves lapping the shore, the sight of masts bobbing in their swell and the feel of the sea wind on our faces, all brought me back to what must have fascinated Mackintosh here. Fishing nets were piled on the piers, floats of cork on some (just like the samples we had fingered the week before at the Casa de l’Albera museum) and brightly colored plastic on others. Bill pointed out nets that must be for tiny anchovies, so fine they looked like nothing more than a mound of foam on the dock. We snapped pictures all over town with our phones, basically unable to see what we were getting in the bright sunshine. It was only later, sitting in a café for a much-needed cup of coffee and a pastry while we waited for the bus, were we able to see that the brilliant colors of the sky and sea, and the pastel buildings lined up on the harbor, were perfectly reproduced in our own versions of Mackintosh’s art. We returned a few weeks later, when the dome, which houses a museum dedicated to Mackintosh, opened for the season. We had plenty of time to explore the collection of Mackintosh prints and a timeline of his and Margaret’s visits to Roussillon. Videos show pictures of Port Vendres from the time of their visit accompanied by words from Mackintosh’s letters to Margaret, who had Michele Reed retired after a career spanning four decades in public relations, advertising, journalism and higher education. She now writes travel articles, book reviews, haiku poetry and fiction. Bill Reed retired after four decades in social services with the county of Oswego, and now works at travel photography and photojournalism, along with writing book reviews.
returned home early. We followed the Mackintosh Trail to Collioure as well, where he had painted several landscapes. The beautiful quality of light, the pink glow of the buildings and copper shimmer of the church tower transfixed many artists in addition to Mackintosh. Matisse was a frequent visitor, and he and his contemporaries founded the school of Fauvism, calling themselves The Fauves, literally “the wild ones.” They were known for their modern use of shapes and bright colors, no doubt inspired by the sea and land at Collioure. The Fauvism Trail leads you through the town, and you can look through empty frames to view the landscape that inspired each artist, accompanied by an image of the famous work created there. Artists like to eat and drink, but the phrase, “starving artist” wasn’t coined without reason — they often lacked the means to pay. Sometimes they had to pay in kind. It happened so often at the Collioure bar Les Templiers (The Templars) that the owner amassed quite a collection of artwork from the likes of Matisse, Derain and Mackintosh, along with many lesser-known artists. For the price of a coffee, we got to sit in the tavern and drink in the remarkable paintings hanging behind the bar and lining the booths. Like Paris in the ‘20s, Collioure attracted a variety of intellectuals and Les Templiers’ Livre d’Or, or guest
book (literally the “book of gold”), features such illustrious names as Maurice Chevalier and the author of “Master and Commander,” Patrick O’Brien. They wrote snippets of prose and poetry, since they couldn’t donate a painting to line the walls. Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Cole Porter and Mackintosh — we’re happy to follow in the footsteps of so many English and American expats who fell in love with France.
Collioure is dotted with empty frames, through which a visitor can see the view that inspired a famous painting.
The walls of Bar Les Templiers are lined with artwork by famous and lesserknown artists, who paid their bar tab with paintings. August / September 2018 - 55 PLUS
In-Law Suites: Making Room for Grandpa, Grandma Adoption of independent living areas — or in-law suites — for grandparents are gaining traction among families By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
n Amish culture, most homesteads include a “dawdi haus” (grandparent home) on the premises. Whether freestanding or connected, the smaller house provides a place for grandparents to live that’s not isolated, yet affords each family privacy. “That’s the basic idea behind the in-law suite, a concept that’s “really starting to take off,” according to Denise Pallotta, showroom sales associate at Frank Webb Home in Syracuse. A certified aging-in-place specialist by the National Association of Home Builders, Pallotta said that the baby boomers are the driving force behind the uptick in in-law suites. “They want to stay near family but not give up their independence,” Pallotta said. “The in-law suite is the best of both worlds. They have their own space.” She helps clients look at the advantages and drawbacks of the in-law suite. The arrangement can save a lot of money over the cost of in-home care or nursing home care. Pallotta said that institutional care can cost $87,000 per year. For the elderly parent, there’s security, companionship and a better chance of aging in place, especially if they take Pallotta’s advice and plan for future accommodation issues, such as grab bars, roll-under sinks, wider doorways and ramps. The adult children can feel better about their elderly parents delaying or possibly avoiding institutional-based care. If they’re in good health, the elders may be able to help care for their grandchildren and keep an eye on pets and the property during the family’s absence during the day. 44
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On the other hand, elderly parents will have to pare down belongings to move into an in-law suite. Many are around 900 square feet in size. Usually, the suite offers the size equivalent of a one-bedroom apartment, including a kitchen/eating area that flows into a small seating area, full bathroom and bedroom, all on one floor. It may or may not include laundry. Of course, they’re
customizable, but the point of the inlaw suite is to provide a smaller, more manageable space and eliminate responsibility for home repair, snow removal and lawn care. “If they’ve had health issues, they don’t want a huge space,” Pallotta said. Elderly parents will also need to feel comfortable with their adult children and grandchil-
dren nearby. Likewise, the younger family will need to get along well with their parents. Many elders help pay for the inlaw suite by selling their home and any belongings they’ll no longer need, such as large furniture. It’s important to discuss ahead of time what to expect, such as any financial or time contributions to the household. “Everyone needs to be on the same page,” Pallotta said. “Sit down, talk and discuss everyone’s expectations. Ask your mom and dad for their input. Make them feel included. I’ve worked with people where everyone else is so busy, the older person is left out. They want to be able to agree with it, not be told what to do.” It’s also important to understand zoning laws. Pallotta said that most towns’ zoning laws require shared utilities and some shared living space. Some municipalities stipulate against a separate entrance. This prevents the suite from becoming an apartment later. For some people, buying a new home together makes more sense. “They can take the two incomes and maybe get a nicer house because they have joint incomes when purchasing,” said Anne Trachtenberg, agent with Hunt Real Estate ERA in Manlius. Trachtenberg advises families to select a home with a separate entrance, although separate laundry facilities usually don’t present a big problem. She said that resale of a home with an in-law suite can be tricky, since it’s a niche market. “Not everyone is looking for a home with an additional 700 or so square feet,” Trachtenberg said. “It’s definitely a certain market that will buy a house with an in-law suite. People won’t pay more for it if they don’t need one.” While it makes sense to rent out the suite once it’s no longer needed, local zoning ordinances may not permit it. “A lot of these homes are in neighborhoods where they don’t let you advertise and rent out an apartment,” Trachtenberg explained. With open communication and planning, an in-law suite can enrich both the lives of the elderly parent and the younger generations.
Where There’s Smoke … By Cheryl Costa
y spouse and I live in a 55-plus apartment complex in Syracuse and we love it. Featured are friendly peer-aged neighbors who remember dial telephones, Woodstock and know what a GTO muscle car is. The other day a smoke detector went off in a neighbor’s apartment. There was no fire and no smoke producing activity but we called 911. When a responding fireman examined the smoke detector, he pointed out that the smoke detector in question was manufactured in the early 2000s, about the time the complex was built. This made the smoke detector well over 10 years old. The average person isn’t aware that smoke detectors actually do wear out and should be replaced every 10 years. Likewise, the smoke detectors with replaceable batteries need to have those batteries changed at least once per year. Most folks change the batteries at either the spring or fall time change. Did you know that three out of five home fire deaths result from fires in properties without working smoke alarms? We were concerned the complex management might only change the one malfunctioning and now-expired smoke detector or worse, ignore one individual elder reporting the problem. Our tight network of elder neighbors organized. We went door to door and spread the word about the expired detectors. En masse, we all individually submitted written maintenance requests. Needless to say, complex management couldn’t help but notice the overstuffed mailbox. They promptly ordered a large shipment of enough new smoke detectors to replace the three in each apartment in the entire complex. It was a happy ending to a poten-
tially dangerous situation. But let’s take a minute and explore a different situation. Think about this for a moment. Have you ever visited a friend or neighbor and noticed a smoke detector with its cover off with the battery connection hanging down with no battery? I’d bet we’ve all seen it but didn’t say anything. When was the last time you were visiting a relative with kids and seen plastic fitting on the ceiling for a smoke detector but no smoke detector? If you care about these people, you need to say something to prod them to fix it. What about your own dwelling? How old is your dwelling’s smoke detector? Is it five, 10, 15 years or older? If you can’t remember, get somebody to check the detector for its age. Have them take the detector down and look at the back of it; the date of manufacture is printed on the back. Warning: Before you consider climbing a ladder and risk falling, get somebody younger to inspect that smoke detector age or change that battery for you. Did you know that an accidently dropped cigarette or a frayed electrical cord can start a fire that can get out of control in less than two minutes? A working smoke detector can get your attention quickly and give you that lifesaving precious few moments to get up and get out before the situation gets out of control. Yes I said, “Get up and get out!” Do not even think about trying to put that fire out by yourself! The average person doesn’t have the tools or the training to know what must be done. Trying to fight a room fire with a 2-pound fire extinguisher isn’t going to cut it. It requires firefighting training, skill and the right equipment. Just get the heck out of there, call 911 and let the professionals deal with it. August / September 2018 - 55 PLUS
By Marvin Druger
Scams Targeting Seniors. What to Watch For Nobody is scam-proof. Not even you
n our modern society, scams against senior citizens are common. The over-55 generation has to be especially alert. I was reading about such scams and was amazed to see the variety and ingenuity involved. The National Council on Aging has identified some of the most prevalent scams on the elderly. Here are a few of them. Medicare/health insurance scams. Fake representatives try to get your personal information. Counterfeit prescription drugs. Seniors seek bargains for prescription drugs on the internet, but the drugs are phony. Funeral and cemetery scams. Strangers spot an obituary and show up at a funeral. They then claim that the deceased owes them money, and the try to extort the money from relatives. In another common scam, disreputable funeral homes insist on an expensive casket even for cremations which require only a cardboard casket. Fraudulent anti-aging products. Scammers sell useless products to seniors who are eager to use such products to stay young and beautiful. Telemarketing/phone scams. Scammers sell senior citizens fake products, or the scammer talks the senior citizen into sending money to help a relative who is falsely said to be in the hospital. Internet fraud. Scammers fool seniors into thinking their computer has been infected with a virus, and they offer to fix the problem for a fee. In another scam, seniors are told they have to update or verify their personal information. Investment schemes. A great variety of such schemes are designed to obtain money from seniors. Homeowner/reverse mortgage scams. Scammers pretend to represent
4. 5. 6.
7. 8. 46
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the county’s assessor’s office and offer to reassess a homeowner’s property for a substantial fee. In another scam, scammers pressure seniors to obtain reverse mortgages. Sweepstakes and lottery scams. Seniors are told by scammers that they have won a sweepstakes of some kind. The seniors are asked to send a payment to make the prize available. There are many other scams on seniors. When I read about these scams, I asked myself, “How could anyone be stupid enough to fall for these schemes?” A few days ago, I received an urgent phone call from my grandson, Keith. “Grandpa. I have a problem. I’m in jail. I had one drink too many last night and I had a car accident. A lady in front of me stopped short, and I crashed into her car and did dam-
age to both cars. Nobody was hurt, but my alcohol level was above the legal limit, so I’m in jail for DWI for a few days until the insurance company can pay the $2,850 in damages. I don’t want my mom or dad to know, so I’m calling you to help me get out of here soon. I’ll put my lawyer on the phone and he will explain it to you.” “Keith, your voice doesn’t sound like you?” “I broke my nose and can’t talk easily,” he replied. I then talked to the “lawyer.” He said that Keith would have to stay in jail a few day until the insurance company paid for the damages. “Keith wants to get out of jail today, but the police station doesn’t take credit cards. The only solution is for you to go to Best Buy and get three $1,000 gift cards. Then call me back with the confirmation numbers. I’ll give Keith
the rest of the money above $2,850. Make sure that you don’t tell anyone, especially Best Buy. They don’t like this kind of transaction. Keep the whole incident between you, me and Keith.” I was shocked with emotion. I immediately drove to the nearest Best Buy store. I had to get Keith out of jail as soon as possible. When I arrived at the parking lot just outside the store, I began to get suspicious. Would the police be a part of such an underhanded scheme? Was Keith really in jail? I phoned Keith. He was at work. He even emailed me a photo of himself to prove that he was really at work and not in jail. Then, I called 911. I was told, “I’ve heard of this scam, but we don’t handle things like that. Here’s a number to call.” I called that number and was told, “We don’t handle these kinds of things. Here’s a number to call.” Finally, I reached the Federal Trade Commission and reported the incident, “This scam is in progress right now,” I said, “I have to call this lawyer back in an hour. Here’s the number. If you act now, you may be able to catch him.” “I’ll record your complaint,” was the reply. It was obvious that there would be no quick action by the FTC. I drove home. About 30 minutes later, the “lawyer” called me. “Did you take care of it? “Yes,” I replied, “I called the police and my grandson is not in jail, but I hope you will be soon.” He abruptly hung up.” Ten minutes later, I received a phone call from the fake Keith. “Grandpa, did you get the gift cards?” Of course, I replied, “and I also called the police. “Keith” abruptly hung up. How stupid can you be to fall for such a scam? As stupid as me, with a Ph.D. in science, about 60 years of teaching science to an estimated 50,000 students, and interacting with many people all over the world. I called the real Keith and said, “I’m glad you are out of jail, and I’m not out $3,000.” A good outcome was that Keith was very pleased that his grandfather would take immediate and expensive action to help him. Nowadays, scams have become more sophisticated and convincing. I have become more alert and suspicious about potential scams. But, nobody is scam-proof. Not even YOU. So, be careful.
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August / September 2018 - 55 PLUS
By Sandra Scott
The Island of Romance and More
Remember the song: “26 Miles” by the Four Preps? Twenty-six miles across the sea Santa Catalina is a-waitin’ for me Santa Catalina, the island of romance Romance, romance, romance
here is more than romance in Santa Catalina — there is fun, adventure and relaxation. The island is located 22 miles southwest of Los Angeles and made up of two towns: Avalon on the east end and Two Harbors on the west. The island is 22 miles long and eight miles across. The land outside the towns is rugged wilderness owned and operated by the Catalina Island Conservancy. Getting there: The easiest and least expensive way to get to Catalina is by ferry from San Pedro, Long Beach, Newport Beach or Dana Point. It takes a bit more than an hour. Or, take a helicopter from Long Beach, San Pedro, Burbank or John Wayne Airport. You can also get there by your private aircraft or boat. Carnival cruise line also stops on some their cruises.
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Getting around: Avalon, the island’s main town, is small so everything is within easy walking distance. The public bus has a fixed route up the canyon to Wrigley Memorial and the Botanical Gardens. Rent a golf cart or bike, take a sightseeing tour in a motor coach or open-air tram, or use a shuttle bus service or use the taxi service to the Airport in the Sky, Two Harbors or the interior campground. Or, rent a car. The traffic is minimal. There is a 20-year waiting list to own a car on Catalina. Where to stay: There are a variety of accommodations from plush hotels to quaint B&Bs. Plus, tentsite camping, beach-front cabanas, condos and vacation rentals. To avoid the crowds and take advantage of great values, consider visiting in the spring or fall. Avalon is the happening place but for those
looking for an out-of-the-way place check out Two Harbors for a quiet, relaxed way to enjoy the island. History: The island has been inhabited for at least 8000 years. During that time is was home to Native Americans and visited by the Spanish who named the island in honor of St. Catherine. Over the years the island was used by otter hunters, smugglers, ranchers, and for mining and military operations. More recently, from 1919 until 1970, it was owned by William Wrigley, Jr. of chewing gum fame and owner of the Chicago Cubs. Wrigley developed it into a resort island and it was used as the Chicago Cubs spring training site from 1921 to 1951. Learn more at the Catalina Island Museum. The Casino: You can’t miss it. The 11-story Casino is the iconic landmark in Avalon Bay. If you plan to gamble you will be disappointed
because it isn’t that kind of casino. The name comes from the Italian meaning a “gathering place.” Since 1929 it has been the focal point for the island’s activities. Wrigley felt arriving visitors would feel “here is beauty, relaxation, and fun,” and a way to — for at least a little while — escape from the country’s depressed times. The large building contains a movie theater, ballroom and more. Take the 90-minute walking tour and see where the big bands played to the enjoyment of their famous guests. “Water all around it ev’rywhere”: Go scuba diving in the kelp fields or stay dry aboard the Sea Wolf Semi-Submersible Vessel and see the marine life through your own porthole five feet below the surface. Enjoy a trip on the Ribcraft in search of dolphins. Take a nighttime cruise in search of the California Flying Fish. There are a variety of boat tours — something for everyone. Relax on one of the several beaches including Avalon, Starlight, Lorenzo, and Buttonshell Beach along with many coves to explore. Land time: Check out the Avalon Scenic Tour and see the town, including the home of Norma Jean Baker, better known as Marilyn Monroe, who lived there when she was 16 and married to merchant marine, James Dougherty. Hop a Hummer for the Avalon Canyon Trail Tour or the one to Mt. Ada for great views of the area. The adventurous should check out zip lining, rock climbing, or the unique Aerial Adventure with five self-guided, self-paced courses made up of rope ladders, log bridges, balance beams, and other challenging elements. Don’t miss the Wrigley Memorial Botanic Garden; they often have free guided tours. Buffaloed: Don’t miss viewing the buffalo herd. While filming “The Vanishing American” in 1924, the production crew imported 14 bison from the Great Plains. They never left the island and over the years the herd has increased making them the island’s largest resident land mammals. They are regularly spotted on the land tours. Shopping: There is no shortage of shopping opportunities from the obligatory T-shirt to the Catalina Pottery Shop offering original vintage Catalina Pottery
made on the island from 1927-1937 along with other handmade items. Every Easter weekend, along the waterfront in Avalon, there is a three-day art fair featuring local and mainland artists and crafts, along with musical entertainment. And: Let the fun continue with swimming, standup board paddling, kayaking, relaxing with a
spa treatment, golfing, or attending one of their several events from concerts to the annual outrigger championship to underwater cleanup by scuba divers. There are weekly activities such as Summer Beach Bingo (Tuesdays and Thursdays) and Kid’s Fishing Derby (Wednesdays). Something for everyone year round.
The 11-story Casino is the iconic landmark in Avalon Bay. If you plan to gamble you will be disappointed because it isn’t that kind of casino. The large building contains a movie theater, ballroom and more.
Relax on one of the several beaches in Santa Catalina, including the Middle Beach. August / September 2018 - 55 PLUS
By Mary Beth Roach
Merriette Pollard, 71 Former director recognized for her work at Dunbar Center, a nonprofit in Syracuse By Mary Beth Roach Q: You were recently honored as one of the Onondaga County Serving Seniors Honorees, nominated by two neighborhood advisers from the Dunbar Center. What does that mean to you? A: It means an awful lot. Dunbar is dear to my heart. I don’t do the work for the awards, but I appreciate the fact that Dunbar recognized what I did when I was here before and what I’ve done since I’ve been back working with them [as a volunteer]. Q: You worked for Dunbar as executive director for four years. What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment? A: My biggest accomplishment was being able to develop programming that provided comprehensive services for the agency; to be able to renovate the facility; to start a capital campaign. I think, most of all, my special programs that I liked were the adoption and foster care and the senior services. Q: You’ve returned as a volunteer, and your focus is on senior programming. What does some of that programming consist of? A: Senior programming is really built around the neighborhood advisory concept. They access the services. There’s also socialization that goes on for the seniors. And I think, in a way, my serving seniors is more indirect because, in my role, what I did was to access some money and to do fundraising and to help develop a plan to keep the doors open. I know if we were to close, then the seniors would not have been able to have the services Merriette Pollard, volunteer with The Dunbar Center. The center has served the African-American community in Syracuse for 100 years.
55 PLUS - August / September 2018
that they needed, and I wanted to see them have a program that would be a quality program. Q: You’re still volunteering? A: I still volunteer as a consultant to the board and to the executive director. Q: You have done a lot of work in the field of gerontology. How did you get involved in this field? Was there an inspiration for you to enter this field of study? A: Throughout my life, I’ve always liked working with seniors. They used to tell me I was an old soul in a young body growing up because I loved the wisdom of older people. I got into the senior services as an aside. When I was working at Grambling State University (in Grambling, La.), there was a
grant for a friendly visitor program. I helped write the grant, and we paired high school and college students to be able to go in the home and visit with seniors, especially homebound, isolated seniors. They would talk to them, write letters, just to provide that socialization piece. I don’t think people realize how important it is for seniors to have somebody to talk to. Once I did that, I said, ‘I like this.’ So I went to North Texas State and got a specialist-in-aging certification. And then we expanded the program and I developed a grant where I worked with ministers throughout the state of Louisiana and trained them in gerontology because I felt most individuals get their counseling in our community through the ministers. So if the ministers knew the services, then they could refer them. And that’s the one thing I’d like to see expanded here in Syracuse. Q: Why is it important to you to give back to the community? A: I grew up in North Carolina, and my parents were always involved in giving back. That was instilled in me as a child growing up. And I feel that I am where I am today because other people helped. And when my first job was working in special education and Kannapolis, N.C., and I looked at the kids, I saw the need. And that’s when I really said, ‘I’m going to give back.’ Wherever I’ve lived, I’ve taken that as my mission to help others. If you help others, you’re also helping your community. And you help yourself. My most rewarding job was the four years working at Dunbar. I think I got as much as I gave to the community. And even now, still just to be able to see Dunbar last. I’m very spiritual. There is a reason for why I’m here on this earth, and if you’re given the skills, then you use them to give back.
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