Savvy Senior: How to Fight Age Discrimination
At 88 Rose Anthony still in charge of tavern she founded 47 years ago
In South France, between the mountains and the Mediterranean
55 PLUS Issue 51 • June / July 2014
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CONTENTS 55 PLUS
Savvy Senior: How to Fight Age Discrimination
At 88 Rose Anthony still in charge of tavern she founded 47 years ago
In South France, between the mountains and the Mediterranean
June / July 2014
PLUS Issue 51 • June / July 2014
CNY’s hottest models More CNY residents over the age 55 are obtaining modeling jobs
IS REVERSE MORTGAGE FOR YOU? SUNY PROFESSORS WEIGH IN
14 20 Savvy Senior 6 Financial Health 8 Gardening 10 My Turn 18 Life After 55 26 Golden Years 36 Aging 42 Consumers Corner 44 Druger’s Zoo 48 Carol Sweeney, head of Oswego County Fair, talks about her day job —of helping lowincome people with weatherization. 4
55 PLUS - June / July 2014
22 42 12 PARENTING
• Mother-daughter relationship improves because of distance
• Rosie’s Tavern: Where everybody knows your name
• The One-Man Band’s eclectic audiences
• So, you’re interested in a reverse mortgage…
• Senior models in vogue; appeal to baby boomers. Meet the hottest ones in Central New York
• Giving zip llining a try. A birthday gift from Grandma turned out to be an unforgettable present.
• 10 ways to explore New York’s Erie Canal
• Milestone for Syracuse tennis coach: 35 years teaching the sport
• Legendary Vernon Downs’ announcer Jim Moran rides into sunset
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June / July 2014 - 55 PLUS
savvy senior By Jim Miller
How to Fight Age Discrimination
20 employees, you may still be protected under your state’s anti-age discrimination law. Contact the labor department for more information. Another protection for older workers is the federal Older Workers Benefit Protection Act. Under this law, an employer cannot reduce health or life insurance benefits for older employees, nor can it stop their pensions from accruing if they work past their normal retirement age. It also discourages businesses from targeting older workers when cutting staff and prohibits employers from forcing employees to take early retirement.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is your first defense against age discrimination. This is a federal law that says an employer cannot fire, refuse to hire, or treat you differently than other employees because of your age. Some examples of age discrimination include: • You were fired because your boss wanted to keep younger workers who are paid less. • You were turned down for a promotion, which went to someone younger hired from outside the company, because the boss says the company “needs new blood.” • When company layoffs are announced, most of the persons laid off were older, while younger workers with less seniority and less on-the-job experience were kept on. • Before you were fired, your supervisor made age-related remarks about you. • You didn’t get hired because the employer wanted a younger-looking person to do the job. The ADEA protects all workers and job applicants age 40 and over who work for employers that have 20 or more employees — including federal, state and local governments as well as employment agencies and labor unions. If your workplace has fewer than
If you think you are a victim of employment age discrimination, your first step is to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) usually within 180 days from the date of the alleged violation. You can do this by mail or in person at your nearest EEOC office (see www.eeoc.gov/contact), or by calling 800-669-4000. Once the charge is filed, the EEOC will investigate your complaint and find either reasonable cause to believe that age discrimination has occurred, or no cause and no basis for a claim. After the investigation, the EEOC will then send you their findings along with a “notice-of-right-to-sue,” which gives you permission to file a lawsuit in a court of law. If you decide to sue, you’ll need to hire a lawyer who specializes in employee discharge suits. Lawyers. com and Findlaw.com are two websites that can help you locate discrimination attorneys in your area. Another option you should consider is mediation, which is a fair and efficient way to help you resolve your employment disputes and reach an agreement. The EEOC offers mediation at no cost if your current or former employer agrees to participate.
ge discrimination has become a much more frequent complaint in recent years as more and more people are working into their retirement years. But you need to be aware that proving it is extremely difficult to do, especially since the 2009 Supreme Court decision that raised the bar for the type of legal proof that workers need to win age discrimination lawsuits. With that said, here are the steps you’ll need to take to fight age discrimination if you think you’ve been treated unlawfully.
55 PLUS - June / July 2014
What to Do
55PLUS Editor and Publisher Wagner Dotto
Associate Editor Lou Sorendo
Deborah Jeanne Sergeant Laura Thompson, Aaron Gifford Sandra Scott, Patricia Malin Matthew Liptak, Shelley Manley Jason Gabak , Suzanne Ellis
Eva Briggs, M.D., Bruce Frassinelli Marilyn Pinsky, Harold Miller Jim Sollecito, David J. Zumpano Marvin Druger, Thomas Tribunella Charles Spector
Jasmine Maldonado Marsha Preston Jim Maxwell
Laura J. Beckwith
Layout and Design Chris Crocker
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 © 2014 by 55 PLUS – A Magazine for Active Adults in Upstate New York.
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By David J. Zumpano
Do You Know Lorraine?
ecently, while reading the obituaries, I saw that Jeff, my neighbor’s father, died at the age of 78. While viewed as somewhat ordinary, it immediately made me flash back to my childhood and growing up in a neighborhood of more than 25 kids, including myself and my siblings and seven kids from Jeff and his wife, Lorraine. We grew up in the 70s playing kick the can, red rover, red light/ green light and many other outdoor games to keep ourselves busy — there were no video games in those days. Jeff’s death symbolized the end of an era we see as the “good old days” where you can relate back to where you came from and appreciate the simple things. I made it a point to visit Lorraine and her children, several of whom I was still casually in touch with, to express my condolences. Unfortunately for Lorraine, she not only had to deal with the loss of her husband of 55 years, but also had to deal with the tremendous unknown of having to maintain her life without him. You see, Jeff did everything: he paid the bills, managed the finances and handled all the financial responsibilities of the household, while Lorraine managed the family. Lorraine did not even know how much money they made each month. She was unsure of what bills had to be paid and she was scared to figure it all out now, without her most important ally with her. As an estate planning attorney, the family naturally started to ask me questions, which began with what we in the business often refer to as “the morbid scavenger hunt” — that is, the
hunt for information after someone has passed to try and figure out what was being done. They were unaware of insurance policies, financial accounts, bank accounts and, in fact, Lorraine did not even have power of attorney for Jeff in his final phase of life. This very stressful time leading up to Jeff’s death and after his passing was exacerbated by the unknown and the additional fear created by it. Do you know someone like Lorraine? The truth is estate planning is ensuring you have a plan in place to handle the legal and financial matters while you are alive and healthy, after you become disabled, and after you pass. Ultimately, a properly drawn estate plan will also provide for a smooth transition after the second passing and, most importantly, avoid the family fights. Lucky for Lorraine, I am an estate planning attorney and do this every day of my life. And because I have a strong affinity to her, I was willing to sit in her kitchen and go through information with her and her children to try to assemble the past, resolving all the unknowns. We began calls to the insurance companies and some miscellaneous names she had given me all to try to discover all the pieces and parts that made up her financial life. The good news is we are making headway; but it didn’t have to be this stressful. I feel for Lorraine and I encourage those of you who are not actively involved in your estate to begin the journey of knowledge now to alleviate the unnecessary pain created by the unknown after the pain of losing your loved one. David J. Zumpano is an attorney and a certified public accountant (CPA). He operates Estate Planning Law Center. He can be reached at 315-793-3622.
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June / July 2014 - 55 PLUS
Gardening By Jim Sollecito
Planting for Body and Soul You don’t stop planting because you get old; you get old because you stop planting.
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had three great aunts who were triplets. Two were stay-at-home moms. Mary and Minnie were very nice ladies who watched a lot of television and cooked lovely meals. Both ended up with Alzheimer ’s disease and died no longer recognizing me. The third, Nellie, married but never had children. She worked into her ‘70s and was the sharpest tack in the family. If we wanted to know family history, she had total recall complete with names, dates, events, occupations and locations. Nellie hugged and greeted me by name, asking about Megan and our daughters until she died at age 92. Her cooking was adequate. She watched what she ate and stayed physically active. Not that she went to a health club, but she walked everywhere, including the steep set of stairs to her house in Amsterdam. Anywhere is walking distance if you’ve got the time. I was surprised to learn from a physician who works with Alzheimer’s patients that genetics factors into the situation as little as 5 percent. Good news for me. Those triplets pumped Sollecito blood. When I asked what might be the biggest factor, the physician said physical activity. Healthy heart, healthy head. It makes sense. Plus, people are living longer. I hope to be one of those people myself. I have long held the notion that when you are digging and planting into the soil, you are doing it not just for the tangible visual result, but for the way it makes you feel. There is
something fundamentally good about performing an act that proposes for the future. You may have been taught by your parents how to plant a garden, grow a shade tree or repair a lawn. We learned by observing. Then we watched as this investment in time and a few dollars grew in value over the years. I know of many trees planted by friends who have left this planet. Those thoughtful individuals left behind a living legacy. I am reminded of their presence whenever I look at a particular tree. Some folks stop planting when the birthday candles on their cakes are plentiful enough to illuminate a room. That’s a shame. A friend once observed that you don’t stop planting because you get old; you get old because you stopped planting. “We’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden” echoes inside my brain. Captain Kangaroo’s friend, Mr. Green Jeans, was one of my personal heroes. He was always planting, appeared to be in good shape and maintained a positive disposition. At some point in my life, I connected the dots. I wanted to be Mr. Green Jeans. Perhaps this is a good time to consider making a positive impact with plants that will make a lasting impression. You might just like how it feels. 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 at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gardening Can Offer Physical, Mental Health Benefits
t’s no wonder gardening is growing in popularity, as it offers a wealth of physical and mental health benefits. Indeed, gardening is on the upswing, as more than 2 million households were added to the ranks of Americans partaking in the pursuit vs. the prior year, according to the recently released 2013 National Gardening Survey from the National Gardening Association. Here are some of the many ways gardening can potentially improve your health: Harvest — One of those most important benefits of gardening is the harvest itself. Consider incorporating vegetables into your gardening repertoire. The food you grow will taste way better than the store bought variety. And since you can pick your tomatoes, carrots, squash and herbs when they are actually ripe, they will contain more nutrients as well. Since you can regulate the way you grow your own vegetables, consider skipping the pesticides and opt for natural alternatives instead. Exercise — If you hate the treadmill, don’t fret. You can burn upwards of 150 calories by gardening for approximately 30 to 45 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Regular physical activity can help you regulate weight and reduce your risk for such diseases as diabetes and heart disease. Go Green — Don’t just take your own health into consideration: think of the health of the planet, too. When hauling mulch, leaves, weeds and yard debris, skip the gas-guzzling leaf blower and opt for manual options. Reduce the waste you create while gardening by packing more leaves into bags. Breaking them down first can help you bag them more efficiently and ultimately use fewer bags. Gardening is a great and healthy way to spend an afternoon, but remember that when you’re out in the sun to take breaks often, hydrate frequently and wear sunscreen. Also, consider tools that can help you prevent overuse injuries. (StatePoint) June / July 2014 - 55 PLUS
Bad Seed, Spoiled Fruit Sometimes, patience and distance are the best policies when grown children behave badly toward the hands that fed and loved them By Laura Thompson
y daughter is a beautiful, successful, competent business woman to the outside world. She’s gracious, empathetic, charming and charismatic. Everyone loves her, and clamors for her attention and good humor. She is in great demand as a project manager at her firm, sometimes overseeing as many as four separate work projects and thousands of employees. My daughter is a mewling, histrionic attack force of evil, intent on disparaging me and the life I have chosen at every opportunity. She views me as an inferior life form, obsolete and embarrassing. I am an obstacle in her otherwise perfect life. Although 12
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I raised her single-handedly, I know nothing. She corrects me in public, as if I am her simple child, and loses all sense of humor when I’m in the room. If I speak at all, it is too much; if I express any opinion, it is, of course, the wrong one. My wardrobe choices are beyond contemptible and, finally, I am old, boring and done. We had a great life together, prior to her graduation from university. We were close, very in tune and in sync with one another. She had a very middle class upbringing as an only child of a single parent during the ‘80s and ‘90s. We had holiday traditions and daily routines. We took trips, had fun, engaged in a variety of athletics together. I killed myself keeping her
in athletic gear, four-season jock that she chose to be. Later, I really almost did do myself in putting her through a private tier-one university. Those four years were the last four years we actually had a relationship, got along well — because once she had graduated from the university, I was not good enough for her anymore. We have not had much fun together since. It’s hard to have fun with people who look down on you. So I finally realize, this is the way it is with children. You let them grow inside you, forever ruining your 18-inch waistline. You give birth to them, a long and arduous process that leaves much to be desired, as life events go.
They feed at your breast, gulping away like vampires-in-training, draining your bones of precious calcium reserves. Twenty-two years of exhausting sacrifice later, if you’re very lucky and equally insistent, they might finally leave home. If you’ve been especially stubborn with them, they will have managed to complete 16 years of education, and are ready to sail off into the world. But don’t worry. They’ll be back. To get more of your money, to take at least some of your possessions. And finally, to make absolutely sure you know just how old and stupid you are. When my daughter was a baby, people would say to me, “Now, don’t spoil her.” To which I would smugly reply, “Fruit spoils, children don’t.” Now, I wonder. Other people who know my daughter don’t believe that she growls like an animal when she’s on the phone with me. Literally, she growls. Our conversations have become so toxic in both word and intent that I have taken to hanging up on her in self defense. I have never been as rude to my mother as my daugther feels free to be with me. I have tried to tell her that. But she’s not listening, so I’ve stopped talking. She’s 34, remarkably immature — with me at least — and I keep reminding myself that at her age, I had a 13-year-old daughter. Once, in a fit of childish devotion, she made a beautiful drawing of some flowers, and on a vividly hand painted background, carefully lettered, “My Mom is the beast Mom in the whole wild world.” I laughed, and said that truer words were never spoken. I was a mother once, and my daughter loved me. My bad seed has forgotten herself, forgotten the life we shared, the laughter and joy we had. I’m maintaining a “Silence is Golden” rule for a while, awaiting her return to herself and her senses. I’m keeping my mouth shut, and my distance long. But I do know this: When she comes to her senses — and I have confidence she will — her beast mother will still be there. Waiting, and ready to resume.
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June / July 2014 - 55 PLUS
Where everybody knows your name By Shelley Manley
t’s a place “where everybody knows your name” say locals, but Rose Anthony and her neighborhood pub are a vanishing species. This year is the 47th anniversary of Rosie’s Tavern on the corner of “downtown” Granby Center, Oswego County. It’s the 88th year for the still-working publican, who lives upstairs, often tends bar and shows no sign of slowing down. “People ask, ‘why don’t I sell it?’” the diminutive Anthony explains, between off-color jokes to patrons lined up along the bar on a pool-tournament night. “I’ve worked very hard all my life. I still enjoy working as long as my health holds up. I enjoy being with and joking with my customers.” Even 14
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on nights someone else is pouring drinks, “If I get bored I can come down and visit with people.” She says that’s the only reason she’s still here after 47 years, because “I never wanted a saloon; I never dreamed of owning a saloon because I don’t drink!” But in 1967, there were rumors that General Electric, where she was working, might close. A friend talked her into jointly buying the tavern. “She said ‘you can stay working at GE,’” says Anthony. “It was just an investment for me. I was supposed to be a silent partner.” “For eight years we were partners,” Anthony says, and “the business was good; it was tremendous.” But even after investing in fixing up the
Patrons at Rosie’s Tavern in Granby Center, Oswego County, laughing at Rose Anthony’s offcolor jokes. Anthony is 88 years old and still works at the tavern she started 47 years ago. place — “It was a mess!”— the partnership didn’t last and she bought her friend’s half in 1975. At the same time caring for an infant, Anthony had to quit her job and face sole ownership with no prior business experience. “I was the mop lady and the cleaning lady; my partner was the business lady. I knew nothing — it was very hard.” Anthony never finished high school, having quit to go to work, but she honed excellent people skills over the years. She’d grown up with the corner-pub culture, in an Italian-American family in Solvay.
Every Saturday the family would gather and “they’d send me to the corner tavern with milk cans, to fill ‘em up with draft and put it on our account.” Her father even had his own wine cellar. “My father would want me to have a glass of wine at mealtimes ‘cause I was so skinny, but I never drank. I don’t like it.” Times have changed, Anthony says. “Today your parents would get put in jail for that!” She’s seen many changes in her own business. “As I went along, I learned quite a bit,” she says. “The business was awesome; it’s “I love shooting pool,” Rosie says. Her tavern often holds pool-tournament nights. not like today.” Shift workers from showing its crack. “I love it when ventilated area was allowed, “but nearby Fulton would stop by for a the guys come in, get their $200-$300 where would I put a smoking room beer at all hours on their way home stick out and [I get out] my stick, a here — on the roof?” Anthony from work. “They’d be knocking dollar stick, and its bowed and it’s looks around the tavern. “And my on the door at 8 a.m.; that’s when cracked.” And then maybe she’ll septic’s right under the window so you were allowed to open.” But win. “It’s a big joke around here you can’t [build] out back. That’s the factories all but disappeared, is all,” she says with a chuckle. when I put the porch on so they and so did many taverns. The bandstand and regular live could go out there and smoke.” Stricter law enforcement also bands are mostly gone, but they’ve And many also quit smoking. brought about change. “The laws been replaced with a state-of-the“Things have changed so much are horrendous,” says Anthony. art “jukebox.” For years Anthony in 47 years,” she says, but then “My job got bad. I have to babysit sponsored bowling and baseball brightens. “You know, this is a people. If they’ve had enough teams. These days it’s the pool neighborhood bar, and I have the to drink, like before they get league in winter and horseshoes third generation coming here now,” here, you can’t tell, but then I’m out back in summer. “My pool table she says. “It was very exciting for responsible for that person when is still 50 cents and it’s still $1.25 me… This one guy stood at the bar they leave my establishment.” drafts; people can’t believe it.” and he said ‘you don’t know me, And while local law enforcement but I used to sit here and watch my But patrons say camaraderie will often announce roadblocks is what keeps them coming back. father shoot pool.’ Very exciting!” for sobriety checks, “what I hate “Rosie’s has been here for Chances are, Anthony may is troopers sitting in your back the last 47 years and has been a have beaten him. Her billiard yard waiting for people to leave,” place to congregate and meet new skills are legendary, and she still which can dampen business. and old friends,” says Granby plays. “I love shooting pool.” Laws banning indoor smoking Supervisor Ed Williamson. “I stop She shows off two sticks, one posed another problem, says and visit often and it is always a bent and battered and one in a fancy Anthony. “I hired a lawyer and I friendly quiet place to go and have case. “There’s a story behind my fought it. My revenue went way a conversation with neighbors.” pool stick.” She hefts the old one, down after no smoking.” A separate June / July 2014 - 55 PLUS
“It’s friendly here; good people are here, all family people, all country people,” adds Debbie Miceli from the bar. “It’s what brings people here,” says longtime resident Lance Knapp. “Times have changed, but we remember a lot of good times.” Knapp appreciates the interesting conversation he finds at Rosie’s. “There’s always a good ‘floor show.’ The people here are a show you couldn’t sell tickets to,” he jokes. But that ‘show’ doesn’t include fights. Physical disagreements are rare at Rosie’s. “Everybody looks out for Rosie’s. It’s not just me,” says Anthony. “If they hear a little friction, they’ll say ‘take it outside.’ Everyone in the bar will tell them to take it outside.” She adds, “I’m very, very proud of my record for 47 years with the troopers and the sheriffs. I don’t Rose Anthony, 88, going strong behind the bar at her tavern in Granby Center
Rose Anthony: Same Energy in Local Politics The same energy Rose Anthony shows at Rosie’s Tavern in “downtown” Granby Center has extended to politics. Besides being a business owner, Anthony takes an interest in her town and served as a town counselor for 15 years, until about nine years ago. Ed Williamson has been town supervisor for many of those years. “We worked together for the betterment of the town.” Anthony says she got involved in politics after a disagreement with the assessor. “She said I had a business upstairs, too. I couldn’t convince her!” She complained to the state and was advised to have the entire town revalued, so she passed petitions and got signatures. “We rented the War Memorial [in Fulton]; the entire town showed up.” But when she presented the petitions to the town, at that time “the town board decided we didn’t need it, so the state couldn’t do anything, so I just dropped it.” She still had to be convinced to 16
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run for office against the incumbent Republicans. “I didn’t want to, but they said the Democrats would never beat the Republicans, but we did!” She later ran successfully as an Independent. Anthony still stays involved. “I’m very interested in what goes in on in Granby; I’m very interested.” She often attends town meetings and regularly writes letters to the local newspaper when she sees a perceived injustice or misstep by local officials. She also isn’t shy sharing her views from behind the bar, or explaining town politics to anyone who asks. “If you don’t want the truth, don’t ask Rosie, because Rosie will explain as only Rosie can!” says Ed Williamson. “She’s probably the sweetest, most generous, caring person I know. She cares about the people in this town,” says Debbie Miceli. “But don’t cross her!”
think I’ve ever had to call them with a problem. People can come in here and it’s a family bar. You don’t have to worry about watching your back, there’s never any trouble. People are too friendly here.” “You don’t get the rowdy ones,” says patron Jason Lake. “Because everybody who comes here knows everyone. They take care of each other.” If anyone got out of line, “Rosie’d have them pinned against the door with everyone behind her. You don’t mess with Rosie.” “She’s always been able to take care of herself,” Knapp agrees. He relates one time when two guys did start fighting. Anthony had retired to her apartment and the barmaid hit the buzzer that rang upstairs. “Rosie comes down in her nightgown, grabs a baseball bat and chases them right out the door. Then she turns to me and says ‘and I wasn’t even wearing underwear!’ That’s Rosie. Ninety-eight pounds of dynamite!” Knapp says, laughing. “Rosie’s always had a lot of energy. She’s a real spark plug.”
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By Bruce Frassinelli Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Good Looks, But at What Price?
Spaghetti and meat balls? That is something you could sink your teeth into. Wheat germ and yogurt? Not so much
hen former model Christie Brinkley turned 60 earlier this year, I looked at her photo on the front cover of People magazine and wondered what price she paid for such a sensational look. I am talking primarily about the self-deprivation and discipline involved. At this year’s Academy Awards ceremony, host Ellen DeGeneres joked, “I’m not saying that movies are the most important thing in the world, because we all know that the most important thing in the world is youth.” Implicit in the Brinkley article is the message: “For an older woman, she looks damn hot.” The submessage might be: “If you deprive yourself of worldly food pleasures, you can look like this, too.” In the People cover story, Brinkley was asked what she eats. She says she likes to start her day with coffee and coconut milk hazelnut creamer, followed by sheep’s milk yogurt with fruit, wheat germ and a dietary supplement that provides fiber and omega 3 antioxidants. Her snack is melon and walnuts. Lunch is usually leftovers from dinner, such as beans and veggies. If she is craving a sweet snack, she drinks coconut water. Now I know why I have the perfect face for radio. At one time I had the stomach to match. Having been raised in an Italian household, mom made bountiful quantities of eggs, bacon and home
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fries for breakfast. We had TWO cooked meals for lunch and dinner. It was not unusual to have veal cutlets with all the trimmings for lunch, then fried chicken, potatoes and a huge salad for supper. Years later, I found out that this was not healthy. Substitute wheat germ and yogurt for the above? I don’t think so. The joy of eating was a near religious experience in our home. The smells, the tastes, aided and abetted by the
garrulous camaraderie of family and friends, made eating a muchanticipated occasion. Spaghetti and meat balls — now that is something you could sink your teeth into. Wheat germ and yogurt? Not so much. I laugh hysterically thinking of what would have happened if my
mother had laid out a spread of wheat germ, then insisted, “Mangia, mangia.” My father, my brothers and I would have wondered if my mother had lost her marbles. Talk about something getting lost in translation! Those eating habits I had acquired when I was a young boy translated into a 257-pound body in 1998 when I retired as publisher and editor of The (Oswego) Palladium-Times. One of my objectives in retirement was to lose one-third of my heft. I knew that I would not be faithful to the mission on wheat germ and yogurt, so I researched various diets and, finally, hit the mother lode — the Atkins’ Diet. Developed by physician Robert Atkins, the protein-rich diet eliminates carbohydrates but encourages dieters not to obsess about counting calories. Now, let me get this straight, I thought back then: I can eat as much meat, eggs, cheese and fish as I want, stick to a moderate exercise program, and the weight will virtually melt off my corpulent body? Now, that’s a diet I can embrace. Eighty-five pounds and 15 years later, I still eat all of that good stuff, maintain a vigorous walking regimen and haven’t varied more than five pounds from 172. I was surprised to learn that reality star Kim Kardashian went on the Atkins’ Diet recently after having a baby (named North West) and shed 50 pounds. I can now stump family members and friends with this bizarre riddle: “What do Kim Kardashian and I have in common?” While Atkins and walking did wonders for reducing my girth, it’s the same old face, only smaller and older. I wonder if I smeared Christie Brinkley’s wheat germ and yogurt on my face whether I might see a miraculous transformation. Just as I was contemplating such a drastic step, a receptionist at a doctor’s office asked me my date of birth. “Born in 1939, hmmm, let’s see, I guess that makes you almost, uh, 55.” Twenty years gone — just like that — making me even younger than Christie Brinkley. Wait a minute! Something doesn’t add up.
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June / July 2014 - 55 PLUS
The Oneman Band By day, Dennis McGuire performs at nursing homes and senior centers. By night, he’s at bars, country clubs and just about anywhere that offers a paid gig By Aaron Gifford
adies and gentlemen, the Dennis McGuire Band. On vocals, Dennis McGuire. On guitar, Dennis McGuire. On harmonica, bass drum, tambourine and kazoo, Dennis McGuire. It’s a lot for one guy to handle, but McGuire doesn’t mind going it alone. And whether it’s rock, country, folk and old Americana classics like “You are my sunshine,” McGuire loves to do it all. “Music is everything to me,” said McGuire, 63, of Cazenovia. “To be able to make a living at it and also to brighten someone’s day with music, it’s a privilege.” During this year’s extremely long, cold winter, McGuire brightened
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plenty of days for Central New York senior citizens. The one-man band, which was established in 2001, has had regular gigs at various senior centers and homes across Central New York, at places like Loretto and the Syracuse Home in Baldwinsville. His paid work as a musician has not been limited to senior centers, but those shows have been among the most rewarding for him and helped him to carve out a niche as a performer. “By now a lot of people have heard about the one-man band,” McGuire said with a laugh. “They get pretty excited about a show that’s coming on a Wednesday or Thursday afternoon.” Developing the musical, mental and physical coordination to play so
many instruments simultaneously — and on key in the correct time — has taken years of practice. But there’s also a certain degree of ingenuity. For example, McGuire rigged his tambourine to a high-hat pedal device that would normally be used for cymbals in a drum set. He’s become so proficient at it, in fact, that he was able to record a 12song CD of his music live and in one take. The CD, “You are my Sunshine,” was released in 2006 and is usually available for sale at most of his shows. It includes “You are my Sunshine,” “Sunny Side of the Street,” “When you Wore a Tulip,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Don’t Fence Me in,” “San Francisco Bay,” “I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf
Clover,” “Edelweiss,” “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree,” “Jambalaya,” “Tennessee Waltz,” and “George M. Cohan Medley.” G ro w i n g u p i n C a z e n o v i a , McGuire as a youngster never imagined that someday he would be still be performing into his 60s. McGuire loved music, especially rock and roll. He started out as a drummer but eventually preferred bass guitar. “It had to be the Beatles that motivated me to switch,” he said. “Like Paul [McCartney], I played my guitar left handed.” In the late 60s, he attended the original Woodstock music festival and performed locally with a band of local high school kids called “The Natural Way,” which performed covers of the Beatles, The Young Rascals and other popular groups from that era in addition to some of their own songs. In the summer of 1968, McGuire’s band placed first in a competition of bands from throughout Onondaga County before continuing to a thirdplace finish in a state-wide battle of the bands at the Great New York State Fair. As much as McGuire loved music and performing, it wasn’t yet on his radar screen as a career choice. He attended Morrisville State College and then Brockport State College, majoring in business and then ecology. Ecology and anything related to the environment, McGuire recalled, “was the hot ticket in the early ‘70s.” The Natural Way was still together while McGuire attended Morrisville, but he took a break from performing while attended Brockport State. Upon his return to Central New York in 1974, McGuire and some friends formed “Harvest,” a southern rock band. They recorded a 45 (record) and toured the northeast. “We had a bus and we went on the road,” McGuire said. “We were quite popular throughout the area.” Harvest remained as a band until 2000. In 1984, McGuire put his business courses to work and opened McGuire’s Music at the Town & Country Plaza in Cazenovia. The business offered instruments, guitar lessons, sheet music and records. It was going strong for a few years but over time he had difficulties competing with mail order businesses and then companies that sold products over the Internet. Although the shop is closed, McGuire still sells instruments on a smaller scale
and provides guitar lessons. McGuire says he has been in some serious and fairly long-term relationships but never found the right woman to marry or had children. “Music,” he says, “is my mistress.” Throughout the 1990s, Harvest provided the musicians for pop star Benny Mardones whenever he performed in the Central New York area. “Benny came to one of our gigs and just happened to be there when we played one of his songs,” McGuire explained. “He liked it. And suddenly, we were friends with Benny Mardones.” M c G u i re ’ s a t t i t u d e t o w a rd performing changed in the late 1990s when his mother developed cancer. An only child, McGuire spent quite a bit of time as his mother’s caregiver and got used to regular trips to medical facilities. After performing a Christmas show with members of his band at a nursing home, McGuire found his calling. “Folks from hospice told me, ‘that was really nice. You ought to do that more often,’” McGuire said. In 2000, Harvest broke up and McGuire’s mother died. It was time for McGuire to make a new start. He took hospice’s advice to heart and created the one-man band. By day, he performs at nursing homes and senior centers. By night, he’s at bars, country clubs and just about anywhere that offers a paid gig. He spends his summers in Maine, where he also performs for different generations. All told, he averages about 20 shows a month year round. For the senior performances, McGuire studied the concepts of music therapy and even considered learning the harp. But staying true roots, he decided to stick with music that was fun to perform and fun to listen to, and it didn’t matter if it was rock, old folk songs or even classic children’s music. He loves to see people who are tired or sick forget about their troubles when the music is playing. He recalls a special moment when a nursing home resident in Utica got out of his wheelchair. “It shows the power of music,” McGuire said. “By the end of the performance, they are a lot more engaged. It’s a nice change from just playing in the bars for a bunch of drunks.”
The One-man Band. But McGuire stressed that he doesn’t always separate the type of music he plays by venue. At the bars or senior centers, he might perform everything from the blues, to Chuck Berry, to Jimmy Buffet. But even with a younger audience in Bar Harbor [Maine], he’ll play a special rendition of “You are my Sunshine.” “You’d be surprised at the reactions you get when you play those old favorites,” he said. And vice versa at the nursing homes. McGuire recalls a recent event where a stroke patient yelled out “Free Bird,” requesting the Lynard Skynyrd southern rock anthem. The one-man band was happy to accommodate the request. Teri Tarolli, volunteer coordinator for the Syracuse Home in Baldwinsville, said that degree of passion and joy for music energizes an audience. “He’s great,” she said. “The residents love him. He has a great way of interacting with them. It gets to be a pretty lively crowd, and it’s nice because the residents like to have their family with them for the shows. It’s pretty special.” June / July 2014 - 55 PLUS
For the Love of the Game
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Milestone for Syracuse tennis coach: 35 years teaching the sport By Jason Gabak
or close to four decades, Gary Schulterbrandt has been a fixture on the Syracuse tennis scene. He has been a student, a player and, most importantly to many who have had the good fortune to work with him, a coach. “I first picked up the game in 1974, and I have been coaching since 1980,” Schulterbrandt said. Schulterbrandt said he was always athletic and when growing up in Queens, he played many games at the YMCA, took part in table tennis and played a lot of handball. But it wasn’t until he moved to Central New York to attend Syracuse University and focus on special education that he first picked up a tennis racquet. “It was my sophomore year,” Schulterbrandt said. “When I picked up a racquet it just clicked for me.” It was during this time that Schulterbrandt began his long association with Drumlins Country Club in Syracuse, where he has worked for 35 years in various capacities. “I realized that by working there, I could get more time on the courts,” he said. “Back then, Drumlins only had four courts and I worked nights cleaning the courts and I took advantage of the time to play as much as I could,” he said. It was also at this time that he met Rosemary DeHoog, an accomplished tennis player in Central New York, who helped Schulterbrandt develop his game and encouraged him to pursue coaching. “She had a lot of experience,” Schulterbrandt said. “She really encouraged me and taught me a lot.”
Gary Schulterbrandt photographed at Drumlins Tennis Club in Syracuse. He’s been coaching at Drumlins for 35 years. Schulterbrandt said he was never specifically drawn to the competitive aspect of the game, but rather enjoyed the opportunity to challenge himself to constantly improve. But in the early ‘80s, he did take part in various tournaments and won a class B championship. “I was very fulfilled,” Schulterbrandt said. “To have been able to do that and sustain that competitive edge was nice, but I knew I was more interested in the joy of my own skills. I was grateful to experience what it might take to be a real contender.”
Born to lead Schulterbrandt also knew where he thought he wanted to apply his skills for the game and combine a passion that he had since he was a young man. “I always knew I wanted to be a teacher,” Schulterbrandt said. “Way back in elementary school I knew that was what I wanted to do.” In his professional life, Schulterbrandt centered his career at working for New York state assisting people with developmental disabilities. During that time, he continued to work at Drumlins part time and began his long career as a coach, a position he still continues to do on a part-time basis. At Drumlins, Schulterbrandt is a well-known and well-respected member of the team. Marion Nies, co-manager of Drumlins Tennis Club, said she has known Schulterbrandt for 24 years and in that time, she has seen firsthand the impact that he has had on the people he has worked with and the strengths Schulterbrandt has as a coach. “Gary has a warm and caring spirit,” Nies said. “He teaches in a very patient and thoughtful manner and has a great following of students who attend his clinics.” Nies went on say that Schulterbrandt is also well respected among the rest of the coaching staff and is looked to for his knowledge
and ability to help with anything they may need. In his 35-plus years, Schulterbrandt has seen several generations of players coming to work with him. Schulterbrandt said as long as he can, he plans to be out on the courts at Drumlins, sharing what he has learned and enjoying the opportunity to continue to teach generations of
students. What is his ultimate source of gratification? “Seeing people get better,” Schulterbrandt said. “Seeing people turn on to the game, that is something that I really enjoy. Seeing that improvement and the joy people have, that is what I enjoy and that is what keeps me going.” June / July 2014 - 55 PLUS
‘Heeere They Come!’ Legendary Vernon Downs’ announcer Jim Moran rides into sunset By Patricia J. Malin After calling 75,000 harness races during his career, there was still one more “miracle mile” remaining for Vernon Downs’ announcer Jim Moran. On Friday, April 11, just before sunset, Moran was perched in his bird’s nest-like seat above the roof of the grandstand, large binoculars in hand, the racing program at his fingertips. “Heeere they come. They’re off and pacing,” he remarked as the field of horses rushed out of the gate. As Jimmy Whittemore drove the pacer Paltrow Blue Chip to a strong 1:54 and 2/5ths victory in front of the opening night crowd, Moran again resorted to his trademark, “And heeeere they are!” as the sulky and driver crossed the finish line. As soon as the scoreboard flashed “official,” Moran broadcast the results over the loudspeaker then quietly left his post. He made his way down several flights of stairs through the grandstand and walked briskly to the racetrack and stepped into the winner’s circle. On this night, he was the real winner. The applause and cheers from the crowd were for this robust 74-yearold who closed out his 50-year-career at Vernon Downs after that race. An 24
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iconic voice behind the scenes and also the public face at Vernon Downs for the lifetime of most of the fans, Moran will now go silently into retirement (actually, for the second time). The racetrack’s administration, staff, drivers, and local dignitaries participated in a winner ’s circle ceremony for the gentleman now known as Announcer Emeritus. “I feel very privileged to have been able to make a living here for 50 years,” Moran told the crowd. Vernon Mayor Jerry Seymour declared April 11 as “Jim Moran Day” in the village where the racetrack has stood for 61 years. Even the mayor, plus a majority of Vernon’s residents, has been employed here in some capacity. For nearly two hours after the ceremony, fans pressed him for his autograph and asked for photos, and old friends gave him pats on the back for a job well done. He eventually made his way upstairs to the clubhouse where his family awaited him for a modest party. Moran then reflected on his exciting career. Although he spent 50 years as an announcer, he was employed at the track for 53 years, starting in 1961. He was the full-time director of publicity, as well as announcer and a member
of the management of Mid-State Raceway. Retirement had been on his mind prior to actually stepping away from the microphone. “At the end of last season, I told my bosses that I would retire this season,” he said. “But I only wanted to call the first race.” Though his health is good, Moran had second thoughts about working 20-25 hours a week even on a seasonal basis and despite relishing his job. In 2006, he stepped down from his position as publicity director and decided to focus solely on announcing. “I realized life is flying by at such a fast pace. I’m 74 now, and I wanted to do something different,” he explained. Not to mention that he wants to spend time with his wife, Sue, and their three adult children, Jamie, Matthew and Maria (Bodarchuk), and three grandchildren. The couple will mark its 50th anniversary in November. Naturally, he had met the former Sue Keller during his early years at the track, where her family was employed. Her uncle, Ed Keller, was the track’s first general manager at the time and her parents, Ann and Bernet Keller, worked in the front office. A native of Springfield, Mass.,
Moran once dreamed of a career in major league baseball. His promising career was dealt a blow when he suffered a knee injury during his junior year at Western New England College. Moran’s uncle, George “Bud” Hebert, stepped in and took the boy under his wing. Hebert was the original announcer when Vernon Downs opened in 1953. “My father died when I was 12,” Moran said. “My uncle was like a second father to me, a John Wayne figure. I wanted to be like my uncle.”
Off and running Late in the winter of 1962-63, Hebert took his nephew on vacation to Florida, the winter home of harness racing. Moran got a job as a groom and cared for two prized fillies in the stable of Del Miller, who was one of the most successful driver-trainers in harness racing history. When he returned to Vernon in the summer of 1963, Moran left the stables and moved into the administration building as clerk of the course. He later became assistant race secretary and also had a stint as a sports editor for The Oneida Dispatch. When his uncle retired in 1964, Moran took over his seat located on the roof of the grandstand. He said he also imitated his uncle’s approach to calling races. The pacer Adios Harry christened Vernon Downs as “The Home of the Miracle Mile” with his 1:55 world record race (one mile) in July 1955, a record that stood for 18 years. But Moran had many memorable calls of his own. In 1965, a record crowd of 14,000 witnessed Bret Hanover’s track record of 1:57 for a 2-year-old pacer. Over the next two years, the pacer returned to Vernon and lowered his record, including a blazing 1:54 as a 4-year-old. Moran was also in good position in 2012 when the pacer He’s Gorgeous, steered by Tim Tetrick, established the most recent record of 1:48.3 at the 7/8th of a mile track. Moran’s journeyman efforts earned him many plaudits. In 1990, he received the Golden Pen Award from the North America Harness Publicists Association. In 2003, he was named to the Greater Syracuse Hall of Fame, and in 2010, he was given a place in the Harness Racing Hall of Fame Communicators Hall.
Announcer Jim Moran in action at Vernon Downs. He retired in April from his job of 50 years. He called 75,000 harness races during his career. “My biggest satisfaction is knowing that Vernon Downs is still a viable entertainment option for people in Central New York,” Moran said, recalling the dark clouds that hung over the track in the past. In 2005, MidState Raceway declared bankruptcy, leaving the track shuttered for an entire racing season. Jeff Gural, a former horseman, rescued Vernon Downs with the aid of state funding. Now as chairman of the Vernon Downs Casino and Raceway, Gural and his partners have combined both Tioga Downs, near Binghamton, and Vernon Downs into one successful racing operation that includes a hotel
and casino next door. For a few summers, Moran has been a course marshal at Hamilton College’s modest 9-hole golf course in Clinton. He also hopes to have more time to volunteer at his church. He will continue to work as a broadcaster, doing play-by-play for the Hamilton College men’s basketball games, which interestingly, allows him to work from his home. He is able to get the video feed of the game live from the New England Small College Athletic Conference, and then he gives the voice-over of the action (shades of Ronald Reagan) for Continental fans. June / July 2014 - 55 PLUS
life after 55 By Michele Reed Email: email@example.com
Experiences in Retirement Between the mountains and the Med
t was my “Aha!” moment, or perhaps I should say my “Ah! Oui!” moment. We’d been in our rented house in the south of France for fewer than 24 hours, and I was setting up a spare bedroom as my writing studio. Although it was early December, the outdoor temperature was in the mid50s. Wanting a little fresh air, I took a break from arranging the computer, pens and piles of notes on the little table that would serve as my desk, opened the window and leaned out for a deep breath. I felt the warm sun on my face,
savored the aroma of the plat-du-jour rabbit stew from the restaurant two doors down, and listened to the happy shouts of neighborhood children playing soccer in the cobblestoned street. I took a moment to gaze out over the terracotta rooftops of the houses in our tiny village. And there, dominating the view from my window, was a peak of the Pyrenees Mountains with a medieval watchtower at its top. All writing was on hold for a moment while I contemplated the beautiful vista and my good fortune at being able to enjoy it. I knew in that
The window of the author’s writing studio looked out on a peak in the Alberes Range of the Pyrenees Mountains, with a distant view of a 12th-century watchtower at the top. Photo by Michele Reed. 26
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moment — this was the retirement we had dreamed of for years, and it was coming true! But I am getting ahead of myself. A little background is in order. After nearly 40-year careers in Oswego County, my husband, Bill, and I retired in mid-2013. We decided to launch this new phase of our lives with an unforgettable adventure. For years, we had contemplated the idea of moving abroad in retirement, either for full-time living or at least to escape Central New York’s legendary winters. We planned that our first winter of freedom would include a three-month exploration of the No. 1 destination on our short list of dream retirement locales. We set a few ground rules: We would not be tourists — no eating out daily at restaurants, staying in hotels and shopping for souvenirs. Instead we would live like locals, in a rented house in the heart of a village, shopping at the village stores and open-air markets and cooking regional recipes. We would walk around our village or travel on local public transportation — buses, trains — to nearby towns for exploration. Although we had only a smattering of French language, we would watch French TV, read French magazines and try to communicate with our neighbors in their own tongue, with the goal of learning more. We didn’t come by our choice capriciously. For the last few years of our working lives, we spent long winter evenings cruising websites, thumbing through back issues of International Living magazine, and watching DVR-ed episodes of “House Hunters International” over and over again. Our dream locations changed many times, as much a function of
The rooftops of the French village (as seen from top of the church tower) glow in the noonday sun, with the Reeds’ rented house on the street in the lower right corner. The Pyrenees Mountains form a dramatic backdrop to village life. Photo by Michele Reed. our own growing awareness as the fluctuating global economy. While the magazines and TV shows focused on affordable places for American expats all over the world, we quickly ruled out Central and South America, Africa and Southeast Asia. We knew that with our love of medieval history, military lore and Western art masterpieces, Europe was the right place for us. Although our ancestors had European homelands — Poland in my case and Ireland in Bill’s — we set our sights to the south. Like most winter-weary Central New Yorkers, we dreamed of sun, beaches and balmy breezes. We considered Italy, Greece and Spain. In the end, we decided on the South of France. Just over the border from Spain, the area featured the best of all possible worlds, from our point of view. Moderate winters with plenty of sunshine and little or no snowfall; a pretty healthy economy; great infrastructure, especially public transportation systems; and plenty of wholesome, fresh food and cheap (but good!) wine. With the Mediterranean Sea on one side and the Pyrenees
Mountains on the other, the area promised a variety of natural wonders, dozens of small communities to explore and a rich past dating back beyond Roman times, to tempt our history-loving souls. We f o c u s e d o n t h e a re a o f Languedoc-Roussillon. To the west of the famous Cote d’Azur, it had many of the benefits of that legendary playground of the rich and famous, but at a much lower cost. We spent hours researching locales and drooling over real estate offerings from the area. But for all our research, the choice of a house was a serendipitous one. One Sunday morning, Bill followed his usual routine of searching our favorite French real estate websites and he saw a holiday home for rent at a very affordable off-season price. It showed a picture of a backyard with a pool and palm tree, an outdoor dining patio and charming wishing well. We were hooked. We negotiated the entire deal by email with the home’s owner, Louise, who was originally from Britain, so language was not an issue. We had
our place in the sun locked in for December, January and February a month before we said goodbye to our full-time jobs and eight months before we landed in our new, temporary, home half a world away. As we prepared for the trip, if our spirits flagged from the frustrations of arranging travel, setting the bills to autopay, or packing for three months of living out of one suitcase each, Bill would remind me that we would “see the Mediterranean out our front door, and the Pyrenees out the back window.” I thought he was just being poetic — until that first day when I thrilled to a magnificent view of a mountain from my studio window! Next: Bonjour, Bisous, Baguettes: The Best of La Belle France. Michele Reed retired after a career spanning four decades in public relations, advertising, journalism and higher education. She now writes travel articles, book reviews, haiku poetry and fiction. June / July 2014 - 55 PLUS
So, You’re Interested In A Reverse Mortgage… Product serves well for some but beware of all its details By Thomas Tribunella and Charles Spector, CPAs
o, you have mixed feeling about the reverse mortgage? You’ve seen Sen. Fred Thompson, Henry ‘The Fonz’ Winkler and Robert Wagner making very smooth and polished advertisements promoting reverse mortgages. The TV channels are loaded with testimonials from nice people, just like you, touting the reverse mortgage for throwing them a lifeline in their “hour of need.” You pick up your phone to make the call or you go to your computer. Everything looks perfect, but a little voice keeps going off telling you to be careful. When you are asked for your name, address, phone number and other personal information, the little voice turns into a chorus of “Be Careful!” Don’t be fooled! No, they aren’t “phishing” for your social security number or trying to steal your identity. They are trying to sell you a product. But it is a product that isn’t suitable for everyone. In fact, a recent cartoon, Mother Goose and Grimm, even intimated that the whole industry is full of loan sharks. And, you have just taken the first step in being on the receiving end of several phone calls, some snail mail and “pop-ups” on your computer. It is going to be a hard sell and they are very good at putting you at your ease. Don’t be fooled by the testimonials from veterans. There are arguably about 75 million baby boomers in the 28
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U.S. Each year millions of them become candidates for reverse mortgages. Everyone wants your business — and your money. So, what to do? Educate yourself by using the Internet, but don’t necessarily go to the websites offered to you in the TV commercials. There are better neutral sources of information, but more about that later. So, let’s talk a little about reverse mortgages. A reverse mortgage allows a senior citizen (62 years or older) to borrow against the equity in their home. The amount of the loan is going to depend on the age of the homeowner and the amount of equity in the home. The term “reverse mortgage” comes from the fact that you will be receiving money against your equity. The cash flow is in the opposite direction from a conventional loan. Generally speaking, there are no requirements for creditworthiness or a minimum credit score. The only collateral that the lending institution has is your home equity. The loan is paid back after your death or at the time that you move out of your home. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. If you take out the reverse mortgage, you will receive funds from the bank, each year the balance of the loan gets larger because you don’t have to make payments on the loan. The loan grows just as a bank account would, if you didn’t withdraw the interest. Remember that the loan
is paid off when you move out of the home. As you grow older the balance of the loan will grow, perhaps to be larger than the value of the home. We call this being “underwater” and the lending institution doesn’t like it. Therefore, don’t expect to borrow much more than 60 percent of the equity that you have in your home. The lending institution doesn’t want the loan balance to exceed the market value of the home because the differential between the market value of the house and the reverse mortgage balance is what protects the lending institution. That is the lending institution’s collateral and once the balance of the loan exceeds the value of the home, the lending institution loses. How will you receive the money from the reverse mortgage? The choice is generally yours. According to HUD (Housing and Urban Development), you can receive the payments either in a lump sum, monthly payments, a line of credit or a combination of these. But you must remain living in the home; you must continue to make payments of taxes, property insurance and any other outstanding mortgage payments. Here are several things to keep in mind about a reverse mortgage: 1 — Interest rate. The interest rates on reverse mortgages tend to be higher than conventional mortgages and home equity lines of credit. You have a choice of either fixed or adjustable rates. While you might
consider an adjustable rate, remember what happened six or seven years ago, when interest rates started to go up on adjustable rate mortgages. It precipitated a mortgage crisis in our country. In the case of a reverse mortgage, you can’t lose your house when the adjusted rate goes up, but your equity in the house will shrink at an increasingly rapid rate, leaving little equity, if any, for your heirs. 2 — Fees. Just like a conventional mortgage you will have certain closing fees. Be prepared to pay for mortgage insurance, which guarantees that you will continue to receive your loan advances. Traditional fees for an appraisal, title search, inspection of the property, etc… likely will also be added. Then there is the loan origination fee, which for a HECM (Home Equity Conversion Mortgages, the FHA’s reverse mortgage program) is capped at $6,000. But, to add insult to injury, you may be charged a “service fee” of $30 or $35 for sending you periodic statements and making sure that you are paying your property taxes. 3 — How long can you and your spouse live in the house? As long as you
Jane Waligora, Au.D. Doctor of Audiology NYS Licensed
continue to pay your property taxes, insurance, etc. on the home and it continues to be your place of residence, you can stay in your house until you die. Your estate has six months after your death to settle the reverse mortgage. In the event that the estate cannot pay off the reverse mortgage, the home will be sold to pay that debt. If you vacate the home prior to death and are living elsewhere for a year, the reverse mortgage is terminated and must be paid. This includes such eventualities as moving into a child’s home, going to Florida or even a nursing facility. 4 — Don’t have fond thoughts of leaving the home to your kids! Very often “seasoned citizens” wish to leave cherished items, including the family homestead, to their children. Wake up! Unless it’s cash, many of your cherished belongings don’t hold the same vice — like grip on your children’s hearts. If you have a reverse
mortgage for 20 years, there is a great likelihood that the home will be “underwater” and in major need of updating and repairs. Be glad that the reverse mortgage served its primary purpose of allowing you to remain in your home. 5 — There are alternatives. If you are in good health and have a decent credit rating you might consider a second mortgage or home equity line of credit. This assumes that your cash flow can support repayment of the loan. Remember that interest charges on these are able to be itemized on your tax return, but unlike the reverse mortgage they will be repaid in your lifetime. Another, though more sophisticated option is a sale/ leaseback of the property. 6 — Taxes. The payments the homeowner receives during the period of the reverse mortgage are not considered income since the payments are proceeds from borrowing. Interest is deductible when paid. In the case of reverse mortgages, that will be when the reverse mortgage is complete and the repayment of the loan is made
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to the lender. Capital gain rules for primary residences also apply to reverse mortgage property. After the house is sold to pay the reverse mortgage, the capital gain is subject to the $250,000 capital gain exclusion for single filers and $500,000 for married filing joint taxpayers. 7 — Get some professional advice. Remember that sales pitches are just that. People are after your money. They may be selling other products in addition to the reverse mortgage such as long term care insurance, financial products or home improvements. There are many ways to part you from your money! A Home Equity Conversion Mortgages loan requires that you be counseled as part of the loan process, and you are afforded three business days after closing in which to cancel the agreement for any reason. Keep copies of any documents you might sign. Walk away from any deal in which you feel you are being pressured. Report any incident of possible fraud to the NYS Attorney General’s Office! If we have discouraged you from looking into a reverse mortgage that might be a good thing. But they do serve a purpose for some people. What
type of person is a good candidate for a reverse mortgage? The factors listed below would indicate that the homeowner may want to consider a reverse mortgage: • Person is in need of an annuity during retirement. • The home owner is older and has a significant amount of equity in their home. • An individual with no dependents or the dependents do not want the home. • A person who is in danger of losing the home due to expenses such as insurance, taxes and maintenance. • The individual is a healthy person with good genes who will probably live in the home for a long time. • Interest rates are low and inflation is low. • The individual would like to maintain a higher balance in their retirement account. • The person wants to stay in the home.
Reliable Sources For more information HUD has created a website to educate you about HECM. But, this is hardly the only
source of information. We encourage you to seek out advice from many sources. Try visiting a few of these sites: The National Council of Aging: www.NCOA.org Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: www.concumerfinance.gov Home Equity Advisement: www. homeequityadvisor.org New York State Society of CPAs: www.nysscpa.org US Department of Housing and Urban Development: www.hud.gov American Association of Retired People: www.aarp.org American Institute of CPAs: www. aicpa.org National Association of Realtors: www.realtor.org National Reverse Mortgage L e n d e r s A s s o c i a t i o n : w w w. reversemortgage.org Publication 936: Home Mortgage Interest Deduction: www.irs.gov Dr. Thomas Tribunella and Charles Spector are both CPAs and professors of accounting at State University of New York at Oswego.
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Senior models in vogue; appeal to baby boomers By Mary Beth Roach
laudia Loomis of Morrisville spent 32 years in front of a classroom as an elementary school teacher. Now in her retirement, the 71-yearold spends part of her time in front of the camera as a model. That’s when she is not spending time with her family, gardening, volunteering at her church, helping her husband, Richard, on their farm, the Loomis Maple Homestead, or driving the tractor on the farm. Bob Sanders of Cortland has spent his career on both sides of the camera. The 60-year-old has been in the media business since the mid-1970s. He started his own communications company during the 1980s, for which he wrote, produced, directed and cast talent for training videos and ad campaigns. But about three years ago, a friend asked Sanders to do a photo/ video shoot, and he agreed.
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Mike Affleck is an attorney in Syracuse but has been modeling since he was a teen. Paul J. Ryan, 68, of Henrietta, has found that his experience in ministry helped prepare him for his work now as a model and actor. Mario Arena of Rochester has appeared in commercials for about two years and loves the reaction of his children and grandchildren when they see him pop up in an ad. These five are among a number of mature models being hired by advertisers to sell their products and services. There is certainly a demand for more senior models, according to Affleck. People are living longer and are healthier for a longer time, he said, so companies with ideas and products for an aging population need to portray models that their consumers can relate to.
“If they need to convince people, they need models that look like me,” he said. Ryan concurs, and has found a lot of opportunities since he started in 2004. “It’s hard to see a teenager using Ben-Gay,” he chuckled. Ann Marie Stonecypher is the owner of AMS Models and Talent in Cicero, which represents Affleck, Loomis and Sanders, and she said this age group is an important demographic for advertisers. A lot of opportunities are in advertising for lending institutions, and medical and insurance companies, she added. One might be apt to say that because of the number of baby boomers living longer and advertisers realizing they need that demographic, that there is a rise in demand, noted Billy Powell, agency director at Wilhelmina
There are photos to add to the story. They are home. They show the seniors in different commenricla
From left are Paul Ryan, Bob Sanders and Claudia Loomis.
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Rochester, which represents Arena and Ryan. Although based in Rochester, Powell said his agency is interested in reaching into the Central New York market.
Spending clout The demand is seen nationwide, too, and is being triggered, according to a report in The Los Angeles Times, by the estimated $2 trillion spending power of baby boomers, or those born between from 1946-1964. Boomers make up 26 percent of the population. One feature in an AARP magazine several years ago rhetorically asked if gray is the new blonde, and an European talent agency has suggested in its website that older models send positive messages. Young people can see that aging can be beautiful and “growing older does not need to be medicated, managed with surgery or obsessed about,” the feature said. Loomis’ experiences seem to underscore this message. She’s received a lot of positive feedback, and the modeling has enabled her to meet new people and share new experiences, she said. One of those experiences might be
considered to be larger than life. She is featured on a Vernon Downs billboard located at Route 365 and 31 in the Verona area. She and her daughters, Jamie Kent and Heidi Mulcahy, have appeared in an ad for Red Rose Tea. The photos in the background of the ad are actually Loomis’ family photos; the production staff borrowed them from their home. Loomis and her family are representative of the typical Red Rose Tea demographic, according to Tom Schuler, brand manager of Red Rose Tea. “Families like the Loomises regularly share their memories online at redrosetea.com or on our Facebook page about drinking Red Rose Tea over several generations,” he said. “Grandmas often pass down the love of tea to their daughters who then pass it down to their daughters.” Online opens up avenues and makes possible opportunities for all types of people, Affleck said, and he, Sanders and Loomis have all been featured in websites for various companies. Affleck can be seen in a spot of the
website for Masonic Care of New York, and he has also done work for Stickley and WelchAllyn. Sanders appears as a grandfather on the Whiteface Lodge website. He has also portrayed a lab supervisor, a mobster, a doctor and a utility company supervisor. Recently, he can be seen in a television spot for Kinney Drugs. Although Sanders has been behind the camera, taking on the duties of producing various videos, he finds that being in front of the camera to be more enjoyable sometimes.
Become the character As a producer, the weight of the entire project falls on that person’s shoulders, Sanders explained. “In front of the camera has its challenges,” he said, “but you don’t take it home with you.” One has to be able to and convey the message of the character, even subtle nuances, and to be able to take direction. For example, in a spot in which he played a medical physicist, a professional in that
Bob Sanders featured in a website by Whiteface Lodge in Lake Placid (left) while Paul Ryan is featured in a website by Legacy Senior Living of Rochester. 34
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55+ field was off-camera, coaching him on the proper way to handle various instruments and how to behave. “I like learning about the different products,” he said. “It’s a way to get out and do different things.” The opportunity to do different things — to enjoy new experiences — is something that resonated with all five of the models. None of them relies on it for his or her sole source of income. At the urging of his wife, Brigid, Ryan did an ad for a local restaurant in Rochester. The lead actor was unable to make it on the day of the shoot, so the director asked Ryan, who had a background in public speaking, to take on the role. He had developed his ease in front of large groups and a sense of drama during his years working in ministry in the Catholic
Church. “If you don’t put drama in your homilies, you’re dead,” he said. It was suggested that Ryan get an agent; he is currently represented by Wilhelmina Rochester. He has appeared in ads for MetLife, Time Warner Cable, and in some spots and in the website for Legacy Senior Living, a community of senior living options in Rochester. Ryan serves as executive director for the Legacy’s Erie Station. He’s also been in several motion pictures and is also a master scuba diver trainer. “I decided I don’t have the personality to retire,” he said. “You re-invent or re-create yourself. I wish that more seniors would do it. There’s so much we can do.” Arena got started while visiting his in-laws at the Legacy, while Wilhelmina was shooting an ad. They asked him if he would like to have his picture taken.
Some valuable tips Stonecypher, Powell and Ryan offered some advice for seniors who might be interested in modeling. P o w e l l re c o m m e n d e d t h e y maintain a healthy lifestyle, take care of their skin, think and eat healthy from snacks to regular meals, get annual checkups, get plenty of rest and be vigilant about looking their best. The industry wants attractive, vibrantly healthy, and well-manicured models at any age, he added. They have to have a healthy and outgoing attitude and be at ease in front of a camera, Stonecypher said. “They have to be comfortable in their own skin.” Prepare for auditions and look for talent management, according to both Arena and Ryan. Arena, too, has taken advantage of various classes offered by Wilhelmina Rochester. Ryan offers a simple piece of advice: “Go for it.”
Bob Sanders being photographed (left). Claudia Loomis in a billboard by Vernon Downs Casino & Hotel. June / July 2014 - 55 PLUS
golden years By Harold Miller Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Time to Rethink Retirement A profound transformation is needed in how we think about work, activity, aging, and retirement
oday’s 80 is yesterday’s 70; today’s 70 is yesterday’s 60 — and so on down the line. The program of establishing a fixed retirement age with the government paying to support retirees was established by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1935. The program was called Social Security. At that time life expectancy was 61, and the minimum age for full retirement benefits was pegged at 65. Today, actuarial life expectancy is 79. I blew through that geriatric ceiling last year when I reached my 80th birthday. This caused a problem for the government with my IRA minimum distribution formulation (actuarial age minus actual age) so they increased my actuarial age to 95. Thus I am government certified to live well into my 90s We have an aging working population and Social Security benefits are woefully inadequate to cover today’s living expenses. The 55-plusers greatly outnumber the younger generation because of the miraculous advances in modern day medical science, and the dramatic decrease in our birth rate. This demographic will continue to support an increasingly older workforce. The economic model that worked in the 20th century will not support economic growth in the 21st century. There is only one obvious answer and that is to extend the retirement age, but this is not a bad t h i n g . T h e re i s mounting evidence that working later into life results in better physical 36
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health and better mental health. My book, “Memoirs of an Entrepreneur” — available on Amazon. com — treats the subject in an epilogue titled, “After The Battle is Won:” “A businessman who is used to traveling through life at 80 miles per hour cannot slam on the brakes and set there with the engine idling — frustration is sure to follow. This syndrome is called ‘the frustrated executive with nothing to exec.’ We see this happen often in our Florida community where we spend the winter season. Playing golf and sitting on the beach is not usually the formula for happiness for a person who has spent a career creating, motivating and directing. Something has to fill the void — at least to a partial degree. Yes, there are exceptions, but the majority of us need a creative outlet for self-esteem and happiness in retirement. For me it has been a career in journalism, writing books, and racing cars among other things”. Of course, not every person is an executive, but there is ample motivation for average workers to extend their working years as well. Raising a family and educating your children is far more expensive in the 21st century than it was in the 20th century. The cost of practically everything is rising on a linear scale and the cost of health care will rise exponentially. The clincher is that you must budget many more years of retirement income. The days of guaranteed company pensions are largely a thing of the past for
most people. Tomorrow’s pensions will come mostly from private investment of the worker with matching funds from the employer (aka 401K). As a nation we can no longer wrap ourselves in a protective sleeve of economic isolationism, and sweetheart pension programs as Detroit has done. The outcome of this folly is reflected in the first pending bankruptcy of a major U.S. city. America’s labor rates must be competitive with our global partners or our capitalistic system will not survive. I have written many times in these pages about the disengagement from life that retirement can bring. Many voluntarily confine themselves to a rocking chair — and then to a wheelchair because of a sedentary lifestyle. Thus the recipe for a happy retirement is working longer and financially planning for retirement. First of all, most of us will be spending many more years in retirement; some will spend as many years in retirement as they did in their working years. Many will not receive a fixed pension check every month, which starts when they retire and lasts for the rest of their life. Thus, part of our retirement career will be to manage our investment portfolio and seek an ongoing source of income. There will be an entirely new category of “Silver Entrepreneurs” — as the Japanese call them. Also, and without a doubt, many retirees will seek a part-time job to pay the bills. One way or the other our culture must change. The American dream that has motivated so many must be extended beyond 65 years of age. A profound transformation is needed in how we think about work, activity, aging, and retirement.
Q: What is a Social Security “credit?” A: During your working years, earnings covered by Social Security are posted to your record. You earn Social Security credits based on those earnings. The amount of earnings needed for one credit rises as average earnings levels rise. In 2014, you receive one credit for each $1,200 of earnings. You can earn up to a maximum of four credits a year. Most people will need 40 credits (or 10 years of work) to be eligible for retirement benefits. Learn more by reading the online publication How You Earn Credits at www.socialsecurity.gov/ pubs. Q: I’ve heard you can apply online for retirement benefits. But isn’t it easier just to go into an office? A: Retiring online is the easier way to go. There’s no need to fight traffic to travel to a local Social Security office and wait for an appointment with a Social Security representative. You can apply in as little as 15 minutes. Just visit www.socialsecurity.gov. Once you submit your electronic application, you’re done. In most cases there are no forms to sign or documents to mail. Join the millions of people who already retired online. Q: What is the earliest age that I can begin receiving retirement benefits? A: You can get a reduced benefit as early as age 62. The 1983 Social Security Amendments raised the full retirement age for people born in 1938 and later. But it did not change the minimum age for retirement. Keep in mind that your monthly benefit amount could be about 33 percent higher if you wait until your full retirement age and about 76 percent higher if you defer payments until age 70. Visit our Retirement Estimator to find out how much you can expect to receive depending on the age at which you want to retire. You can find it at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.
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Giving Zip Lining a Try Off we went, dangling our legs and hanging up in the air Zip lining facility at Greek Peak Mountain Resort’s Adventure Center in Cortland.
By Suzanne M. Ellis
s my grandchildren get older, I am doing my best to give Christmas and birthday gifts that are intangible, gifts that involve the two of us spending time together, doing things above and beyond the normal activities we might share. In recent years, these “intangibles” have included SU games at the Carrier Dome, 3-D movies followed by dinner and a sleepover, trips to the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology, a day at Destiny’s WonderWorks, theatrical or musical performances in Syracuse and nearby cities — or anything else I managed to dream up. It seems, to me anyway, to be a more lasting gift than clothing or toys
or games or other things that come in gift-wrapped boxes. So many of those end up on a shelf, forgotten all too soon; memories you make together are likely to last longer and mean more to both of you. When granddaughter Molly was about to turn 12, I struggled for a new idea to celebrate her birthday. Ever the family daredevil, all she had talked about for months was zip lining. But that, of course, was hardly an adventure a 60-something grandmother could share with her! Yet the closer we got to her birthday, the more I thought about the possibility of zip lining. I could, after all, at least take her there and let her have the experience while I watched from the sidelines. So I researched zip
lining, I talked to people who had done it and I checked out potential sites for such things in the Central New York area. The more I learned, the more I got to thinking, why not me, too? That would certainly be a lot more fun for Molly than going solo, right? And so I presented her with a colorful, handmade certificate good for a day with Grammie that would include zip lining at Greek Peak Mountain Resort’s Adventure Center. Her squeals of joy told me I made the right decision; now the challenge for me was finding the courage to actually go through with it. We set out early on a late-spring Saturday that promised blue skies and unseasonably warm temperatures. The drive from Baldwinsville was long, June / July 2014 - 55 PLUS
more than 60 miles, and it took close to an hour and a half to get to our destination. Once you get off Interstate 81 in Cortland and head south, you have to weave your way through more than 10 miles of curvy country roads. Inside the comfortable wooden lodge at Greek Peak that serves as the focal point for zip lining, mountain coasters, bungee jumping and other entertainment offered there, Molly and I were directed upstairs to meet our zip line instructors. The two young men gave us a crash course (no pun intended) in the sport, and they were most attentive to a grandmother about to give zip lining a try. After explaining what was going to happen, the instructors strapped on our harnesses, pulleys and cables. The apparatus, they said, weighed about 15-20 pounds, but to me it felt more like 50! Our first of four courses was the Blue Line, a mere 300 feet in length and perhaps 20-25 feet off the ground. I took a look at this so-called “practice” run and graciously offered to let a young man and his two sons go first; I needed time to work on getting my knees to stop trembling. Our turn came and Molly and I stepped off the launch pad into midair, slowly flying down the little hill and into the strong arms of our waiting instructors. Mission
Suzanne M. Ellis and her granddaughter Molly. A birthday gift from Grandma turned out to be an unforgettable present for both.
The author and her granddaughter ready to get into action after a “crash course” on how to zip line at Greek Peak Mountain Resort’s Adventure Center.
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accomplished and, hey, that wasn’t so bad after all! Next up was the Northwoods Express, billed as “perfect for adventure lovers who are ready to try something bigger.” This course is 500 feet long, a little farther off the ground and a little higher up the mountain. Well, it was definitely “something bigger” but off we went, dangling our legs and hanging on for dear life. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Molly’s smile any wider, and I will admit, I really enjoyed “flying” through the trees. The second half of the zip line tour at Greek Peak is on courses called Wolfjaw (“go ahead, we double-dog dare you,” says the travel brochure) and Cloudsplitter (“the ultimate zip line for thrill seekers”). Wolfjaw was considerably higher, 60-70 feet in the air and almost 1,000 feet long. I loved that journey, too, but the stopping mechanism, a series of rubber bumpers intended to slow you down while you lean back, pulling your knees as close as possible to your chest, was a nearly impossible feat for this grandmother. Unfortunately, I had to draw the line at the fourth and final course, the 1,200-foot Cloudsplitter line that sends you down a steep grade at ever-increasing speeds. It wasn’t the course itself that prevented me from making the descent; it was the long, uphill climb to access the starting platform and the thought of an even more jarring and difficult stop than I experienced at the end of Wolfjaw. Molly, of course, eagerly completed the final run and I took great joy in watching her flying down the mountain, smiling and waving at her grandmother far below. The cost of this birthday adventure was $140 and that included gas, breakfast, lunch, zip lining and a ride for each of us on Greek Peak’s Nor ’Easter Mountain Coaster, an alpine slide/roller coaster hybrid that snakes down the mountain for nearly a mile at rider-controlled speeds up to 28 mph. One of the added perks of these “intangible” gifts is that grandparents get to have fun, too, whether physically participating or just watching your grandchild have a great time. And if you’re really lucky, you might get a thank-you note a few days later that says, “Thanks, Grammie. BEST. PRESENT. EVER.”
This is Hearrh Living.
Friendships. As Good As Gold.
June / July 2014 - 55 PLUS
aging By Marilyn L. Pinsky
Six Degrees of Separation
’m not exactly from the biggest place in the world, but still, when I went hobbling into a chiropractor’s office in Florida I didn’t expect to be talking with a complete stranger about people I knew from childhood. As his name was one I hadn’t heard for more than 50 years, I said, “So, Dr. Babyatsky, do you happen to have any relatives from Port Jervis?” “As a matter of fact, I spent part of my young childhood there and my father grew up there,” he replied. And it went from there. I knew his grandparents who owned the best bakery in town, we both had summer jobs working on poultry farms, the same doctors and mutual friends, though mine were the older siblings and his the younger. We had a great time talking about life in a small town and he had wonderful stories. My favorite was when he returned for a visit and took his daughter Sara to the cemetery to introduce her to her great grandparents. The caretaker asked if he could help them. “No,” he said, “I’m just visiting family. But when the caretaker saw I was in front of the Babyatsky tombstone, he asked if I was a Babyatsky and did I know a Dr. Barie? I said, yes, he is my uncle. He told me that when he was in the hospital a couple of months ago in another town getting scanned for stomach pain, Dr. Barie, who is a radiologist at that hospital, saw on his chart that he was from Port Jervis and came out and introduced himself. They were having a great time talking away about people they knew in common when the doctor said, ‘Oh, by the way, you have to have your gall stone out.’” “Then the caretaker asked if it was my Mom that had recently passed away and I said yes. ‘So it must have been your cousin Jeanette who had twin boys because Dr. Wheeling who 42
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delivered them recently passed away.’ ‘As a matter of fact,’ he continued, ‘at his funeral we were talking about your brother’s delivery because he was a breech birth and because Dr. Wheeling was a small man with small hands, he was able to reach inside your Mom and turn your brother around so he didn’t have to do a C-section.’ In amazement I said, I can’t believe you talked about this at the funeral and he said, ‘yes, that
was a big story in Port Jervis.’” Two other stories I loved were about his grandfather. “When my brother and I were in college, he went to visit my grandparents,” Babyatsky said. “As is tradition, my brother and my grandfather sat on the front porch after dinner and had a shot of schnapps and smoked Dutch Masters cigars. My brother said that for two hours our wise, old grandfather explained the secrets to a happy, successful, fruitful life. When I asked what they were, he said, ‘unfortunately, grandpa spoke to me in Yiddish, which I don’t understand and the only time he spoke English was when he used numbers. So I don’t know actually know the secrets to a happy successful, fruitful life but I know it has to do with the numbers 7, 11 and 18.”
Chiropractor Marvin J. Babyatsky and the author, Marilyn Pinsky. After a routine visit to the chiropractor in Florida, Pinsky discovered she shared many things in commons with the professional, who grew up in Port Jervis near Pennsylvania.
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“When I went to visit my grandfather he didn’t drive anymore so I took him food shopping. I said, ‘Grandpa, the tomatoes look really good’ and he said, ‘I don’t eat tomatoes.’ ‘You don’t like them?’ I asked’ And he said, “I don’t know but in Poland we referred to them as the poisoned apple so I’ve never really had one.’ And I said, ‘do you want to get you own tomato to try it?’ And he looked at me and said, ‘what, and break my record?” The encounter with Babyatsky got me thinking about six degrees of separation. That is the theory that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world. So for the next few days I tried it out. First with the community dining Syracuse group and it was fun once we got into it. The name of a famous actor, Tom Cruise, was thrown out and no one could think of any connection they would have to him until someone said that probably Richard Gere, another famous actor who has family from this area, would know him. One of the women said that Richard Gere’s dad was her Sunday school teacher and that her aunt went to the prom with him. That only took three degrees to get to Tom Cruise. Then Michael Jordan’s name. One of the diners who worked at University Hospital said that he knew someone who knew a doctor who had been an SU basketball star and that maybe he had a connection to Michael Jordan. Close enough to count. The next day I took a train to Albany. On the train I asked two young men what language they were speaking and they said they were from Uganda and their language was Tooro. Being that my Tooro was a little rusty and it was difficult enough to explain six degrees to English speakers, I decided to forego the game, but that would really have been a test of the theory. Two days later on a flight I sat next to an epidemiologist with the NYS Health Department and as my husband Philip had been a good friend of a former health commissioner, we were able to find many people in common. That was four degrees. I’m still driving people crazy testing out the theory, but it does lead to interesting conversations. Give it a try and let me know how it goes.
LA • WO RLD C
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June / July 2014 - 55 PLUS
consumers corner By Eva Briggs, M.D.
Cancer Off Switch Researchers investigate new ways to combat cancer
e haven’t licked cancer yet, but scientists continue to search for novel ways to tackle the challenge. Most people have heard of chemotherapy — powerful drugs that kill cancer cells — and radiation, destruction of cancer cells by ionizing radiation. There have also been experiments harnessing the body’s own immune system by creating vaccines to certain cancers. A new approach focuses on another aspect of the immune system, targeting proteins that normally apply the immune system’s brakes. The goal of the immune system is
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to detect foreign invaders and disable them so that they can’t cause harm. Our body’s initial approach utilizes white blood cells such as neutrophils and monocytes. Called the “innate” immune system, these cells recognize aspects of molecular structure common to all bacteria and viruses that differ from higher organisms. The innate immune system doesn’t target specific disease-causing organisms. But it does destroy many microbiological invaders, producing fragments called antigens. The second layer of the immune system, the “adaptive” immune
system, reacts to these antigens by producing defenses specific to the particular pathogen. The adaptive immune system stores this information. If the body encounters the same bug in the future, it can quickly mount specific defenses. This system uses T cells (so-called because they derive from the thymus gland) and antibodyproducing B-cells (originating in the bone marrow). The immune system works well for fighting many viral and bacterial invaders, but it’s not very effective against cancer cells. As early as 100 years ago, scientists suspected that
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Eva Briggs is a medical doctor who works at two urgent care centers (Central Square and Fulton) operated by Oswego Health.
there might be some way to harness the immune system to combat cancer. They noticed that some patients lived longer if they developed an infection after their cancer surgery, and suspected that the body’s immune system was affecting the cancer cells as a by-product of its reaction to the infection. William Coley, a surgeon at the precursor of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, experimented with using killed bacteria to stimulate the immune system to fight cancer. New research studied a protein called CTLA-4. When T-calls recognize and begin to attack a target, CTLA-4 becomes active. It acts as a molecular brake to prevent the immune system from becoming overly destructive. Complete absence of CTLA-4 is lethal; genetically-altered mice that lack the protein die within three to four weeks of age. Without any brakes, their T-cells infiltrate and destroy all normal body organs. But researchers wondered whether CTLA-4 could be temporarily turned off. Scientists at the University of California in Berkeley tried delivering a synthetic antibody to CTLA-4 to mice
with transplanted tumors. It succeeded in shrinking several types of tumors. They next tried combining treatment with the CTLA-4 blocking antibody with administration of a melanoma (serious type of skin cancer) vaccine. It worked to shrink melanoma tumors in mice. The next step was to try the procedure in humans. The commercial name of the CTA-4 blocker is ipilimumab. In human trials it induced profound tumor regression in some patients. Interestingly, the tumors sometimes appear to enlarge before shrinking. This may be partly due to the time it takes before the immune system begins to work. It may also be that the enlargement occurs when immune cells flood the tumor temporarily causing it to swell. Unfortunately this treatment is not successful for everyone, but 20 percent of patients experience longterm control and are alive three or more years later. Without the therapy, the average life expectancy for these patients with metastatic melanoma was only seven to eight months. CTLA-4 is not the only immune system controlling protein under
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investigation. PD-1, a protein on the surface of T-cells, induces them to self-destruct when bound to certain other molecules. This keeps T-cells from going out of control. But some cancer cells contain substances that bind to PD-1 and cause T-cells to self-destruct too soon. Experiments with PD-1 blocking agents have shown early success in some patients with lung cancer. Of course any treatment comes with the potential for side effects. The most common are skin inflammation (rashes) and gastrointestinal inflammation (cramps and diarrhea). These appear to be transient side effects, and can be reduced with steroids like prednisone. Steroids don’t seem to affect the cancer- fighting properties of these treatments. As soon as I finish this column, I will be heading off to Buffalo to my son’s medical school graduation. One of his friends, Tom, is earning a combined MD/PhD with research in immunology. Who knows — perhaps someday Tom will be one of the future scientists who extends this line of research leading to new and better
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June / July 2014 - 55 PLUS
55+ visits 10 Ways to Explore New York’s Erie Canal
MidLakes canal boat on the Erie Canal called the Seneca.
Canaling is the perfect vacation: It includes history, adventure, romance and plenty of nature By Sandra Scott
he Erie Canal is a New York state treasure. In the early 1800s when New York Gov. DeWitt Clinton proposed building a canal that would connect the navigable Hudson River to Lake Erie by a 300 mile canal through the wilderness, Thomas Jefferson said, “It is a splendid project and may be
executed a century hence… but it is a little short of madness to think of it at this day.” With foresight, DeWitt Clinton claimed, “By this great highway, unborn millions will easily transport their surplus production, procure their supplies and hold a useful and profitable intercourse with all the
maritime nations of the world.” When the canal opened Oct. 26, 1825 it was an immediate success. The Erie Canal has been enlarged and altered over the years but today this gem is enjoyed by boaters, hikers, bikers, fishermen, bird watchers, history buffs, nature lovers and those looking to spend time in the “Slow Lane.” The 363 miles can be explored in its entirety or in segments. Today there are 57 locks that allow boats to make the 573-foot change in elevation from the Hudson to Lake Erie. Canaling is the perfect vacation. It is historic, adventurous, romantic and naturefilled. And, on a canal it is impossible to get lost.
1 Lock I is where the Erie and Seneca canals meet. 46
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Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Visitor Center: Peebles Island State Park in Waterford where the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers meet is home to the Erie Canal Visitor Center and where the Erie Canal is joined by the Champlain Canal. It is just one place to learn about this historic canal. Check out the remains of the Matton Shipyard where wooden canal boats were built.
Erie Canal Village: Erie Canal Village in Rome is the only place in New York state where people can ride on a horse-drawn canal boat. In its day it was state-of-the-art travel. The Erie Canal Village has three museums dealing with the canal, transportation and cheese. The village includes a blacksmith shop, one-room school, a church, livery stable, Ft. Bull Railroad Station, a canal store and a settler’s house. “The Big Dig” began on July 4, 1817 in Rome.
Canastota Canal Town Museum: All along the canal towns grew up. The small town of Canastota strives to preserve its canal town ambiance. The Canal Town Museum, housed in a former bakery, is now home to the museum. It is one of the oldest structures on Canal Street displaying canal memorabilia, a replica of a canal boat cabin, and exhibits about local businesses that served the canalers.
Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum: Check out the three-bay dry dock where 96-foot-long Erie Canal boats were built and repaired at the facility during the 19th and 20th centuries. The on-site interpretive center and library provides hands-on activities and exhibits. There is also a sunken canal boat, blacksmith shop, sawmill, stable, warehouse and woodworking shop.
Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse. The museum includes a history of the Erie Canal, tales of the canal days, a canal boat typical of the era, a recreated weighlock office, a typical tavern and general store. Visitors should start with the informational video about the life and times of the Erie Canal.
is a small museum. Above the locks visit the Erie Canal Discovery Center, a state-of-the-art interpretive center to learn about the role the canal played in the history of New York state.
Old Erie Canal State Historic Park: The 36-mile linear park between Rome and Dewitt near Syracuse has been designated a National Recreation Trail by the National Park Service and is a great place for biking, canoeing, fishing, hiking, snowshoeing, horseback riding, and picnicking. The towpath that parallels the canal is part of the New York State Canalway Trail system. The park is located along the first enlargement of the canal that was operational between 1836 and 1862. Erie Canal Weighlock Museum: The more things change the more they stay the same. Ever notice those places along the highway where trucks are pulled over to be weighed? Well, they were doing the same thing with canal boats on the EireSafari Canal Explorer 150 years ago. Syracuse was home to one such station on the canal.
Camillus Erie Canal Park: Camillus was midpoint on the original canal. The Erie Canal Park preserves a seven-mile stretch of the canal and includes the impressive Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built to carry the canal boats 144 feet above the creek. Also visit Sim’s Store, a recreated 19th century general store with a small museum on the second floor. Enjoy an historic canal boat ride on the Ontario or the Camillus Erie, which is wheelchair accessible.
Lockport: Next to the presentday locks 34 and 35 is the Flight of Five Locks, considered an engineering marvel when it was built. It was the most challenging part of the canal’s construction and the last to be completed due to the rocky Niagara Escarpment with a 70-foot change in elevation. Located at the bottom between the two sets of locks
The slow lane: Several companies offer canal trips. Mid-Lakes Navigation Co., located midway along the Erie Canal in Skaneateles, offers day trips on the Erie and Oswego canals some of which include meals. Mid-Lakes also offers self-skippered traditional canal boats for multi-day trips. Stopping points along the canal have places to moor along with water and electrical hookup. A day or multi-day trip on the canal is a journey in the “slow lane.” Boat owners can travel the canal after purchasing a recreational permit at a nominal fee.
Feeder Canals: The Erie Canal was so successful that everyone wanted a c a n a l . To d a y t h e Champlain, Oswego, and CayugaSeneca Canal are still operational. They offer 524 miles of navigational and recreational fun and adventure. Along the way there are great historical sites, cities, quaint villages, and nature refuges to visit. June / July 2014 - 55 PLUS
druger’s zoo By Marvin Druger
Encounters With the Law
ortunately, my encounters with the law have been minimal thus far and mostly have been traffic violations. I recall when my late wife, Pat, and I were driving on Route 81 toward New York City. My mother was about to undergo a brain operation and, in my eagerness to get there, I stepped on the gas too hard. Suddenly, I saw a police car parked on the side of the road. I quickly slowed down and drove by him. I looked in my back mirror to see if he was behind me. Whew! No police car in sight. Then, in an instant, the police car was right behind me with lights flashing. I had that sinking feeling in my stomach. I said to Pat, “Do you think he wants me to stop?” “Who else?” she replied. The moment of truth that many of us play in our minds is, “What should I say if I’m faced by an officer who is about to give me a ticket? How can I avoid getting ticketed?” When the officer came to my window and asked for my registration and driver ’s license, I blurted out, “I didn’t know I was speeding. My speedometer isn’t working and I was just about to get it fixed. Also, my mother is going to have brain surgery and I need to get to New York City as quickly as possible.” The expression on the officer’s face told me that he didn’t believe my brain surgery alibi. He wrote the ticket and, when he gave it to me, he said, “If you have to get there quickly, you should let her drive.” This was the ultimate insult to my male ego. I drove at the proper speed to New York. Another time, I was driving a bit too fast on Comstock Avenue near Syracuse University. I was stopped by a police officer. As he was writing the ticket, he asked, “Do you know Frank Piskor?” I jumped at this opportunity to express my great friendship with Frank Piskor, a Syracuse University
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administrator at the time, thinking, “Great. If he thinks I know Frank Piskor, he’ll let me off without a ticket.” “Sure, I know Frank very well. He’s one of my best friends,” I said enthusiastically. “Well,” the office replied as he continued to write the ticket, “I gave him a ticket yesterday.” Foiled again! More recently, I was driving from Boston to Albany to Syracuse with Pat alongside me. I was eager to get home and I was driving much faster than I ever had done before. I was surprised
at how fast the Subaru Forester could go without vibrating or falling apart. I could hardly tell how fast I was going. Usually, I watch for police cars in my rear view mirror or look ahead at the side of the road to see if a police car is sitting there. Suddenly, I spotted a police car at the side of the road in front of me. Whoops! I immediately stepped on the brake and glided more slowly beyond the spot where the police car was. Too late. The flashing lights were right behind me. I pulled over to the side. The officer asked for my license and registration. We had a pleasant conversation. I told him that I once had a 1951 Chevy (I’ll bet that car is still running) and when I went 55 miles per hour, that car shook. I couldn’t tell how fast my 2011 Subaru was going, since it glided so smoothly. Poor excuse! The officer asked me, “How old are you?” I said, “78.” “Gee, you’re really in good shape,” he said. That comment was worth getting the ticket. Another encounter was when I was sitting at a corner waiting for the light to change so that I could make a left turn. Finally, I made the left turn, only to see a police
officer standing there the whole time watching me and waiting for me to make that turn. I never saw the sign, “No left turn.” I got another ticket, and I wondered why the officer hadn’t just waved to me when he saw me waiting to make that illegal turn? A comparable incident occurred at Four Corners in New Mexico. I was driving a bit too fast and was stopped by an officer. As he issued the ticket, he said, ”There’s a fine. You can either return here to go to court, or just drop the fine into the mailbox right down the road.” Since we were not likely to return there from a drive across the country, I dropped my check into the mailbox. Lest you get a wrong impression, I am not an habitual speeder on the road. These are the only instances in my lifetime when I was ticketed by the police for a traffic infraction. A more pleasant encounter with the police was when I created a 30-minute interview documentary about law enforcement for Newchannels Cable Television. (“Druger ’s Working World”). This was one of nine interview programs designed to provide insights about
different occupations. I interviewed people involved in many aspects of law enforcement: a parking meter attendant, a detective, a police helicopter pilot, a motorcycle police officers, a canine policemen, and others. As part of the interviews, I flew in a police helicopter and was even in a jail cell. I was attacked by a police dog named Shamos. They padded my arm and the trainer gave the command for Shamos to attack. The dog grabbed onto my forearm with great force. “Stop! Go away!” I yelled. But my screams had no effect on the dog. Shamos only responded to the commands of the trainer. I guess Shamos didn’t like my Brooklyn accent but, at least, I came away with an intact arm. A common infraction of the law is driving with a defective brake light or headlight. Every day, I observe two or three cars without a working brake light or headlight. With most cars, there is no way for the driver to know about the defects. Sometimes, at peril to my life, I try to pull alongside the drivers and yell to them about the defective light. On one occasion,
I followed a female driver into her driveway. When she got out of her car, I could see the look of fear in her eyes that I was a potential attacker. I apologized and said, “I just want to let you know that your brake light is out.” A simple solution to the problem would be to flash headlights twice in quick succession to let a driver know about a defect in their lights. I suggested this idea to AAA, but they did not seem interested in starting a crusade to implement my simple suggestion. They indicated that each driver should regularly check all lights on the car. This sounds reasonable, but my experience is that few people check their car lights regularly, as evidenced by the high frequency of defective brake lights or headlights on the road. All of these tales remind us that it’s a good idea to obey the law. It’s easy to forget that “Speed kills!” I vowed never to speed again. I haven’t figured out what works when I am stopped for a traffic infraction, but I have come to respect the officers who enforce the law. As one officer rightfully said as he was giving me a ticket, “I’m just doing my job.”
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June / July 2014 - 55 PLUS
By Lou Sorendo
Carol Sweeney, 67 President of Oswego County Fair talks about her day job: helping low-income people with weatherization Q.You manage the Empower NY Program at Honeywell in East Syracuse. What is your job about? A. I work as a program manager for the Empower NY Program, which is administered through the New York State Energy Research and Developmen t Authority. I am headquartered at Honeywell in East Syracuse. We provide free weatherization services for eligible customers throughout New York state. It’s an exciting job. I’ve worked in the field of weatherization for over 30 years. This is my passion. Q . Yo u a r e o r i g i n a l l y f r o m Watertown. What brought you to Sandy Creek? How did you become the manager of the Empower NY Program at Honeywell in East Syracuse? A. My husband Gary and I have been residents of Sandy Creek for 21 years. Prior to that, I earned a bachelor’s degree from Cortland State, and taught for two years. My husband at that time worked for a company that moved us around constantly, so I would take any full-time job that I could get. I ended up working for the Community Action Planning Council in Jefferson County and its weatherization assistance program. Later, I worked as a director of weatherization for Oswego County, a program that offers weatherization measures such as insulation and air-sealing measures to HEAPeligible customers. I was offered the opportunity to work for National Grid as a program representative working across the utility’s areas of service. We worked with HEAP-eligible customers who received education and services to assist them with lowering their energy costs. 50
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Q.You are obviously passionate about your profession. Where does that passion come from? A. I have worked with low-income customers my entire life. I love to work with people who are struggling because I struggled and know what that means. You need to have somebody there in your corner to show you a little bit of light that is there. The National Grid program was so effective that is was adopted by the state Public Service Commission for statewide use. I was fortunate enough to be asked to work for Honeywell in East Syracuse, which is the implementer of the program. Q.What is the mission of weatherization? A. The mission of weatherization is to work with low-income people to tighten up their houses so they are more energy efficient. Many low-income customers live in the worse house that we have. The weatherization program includes federal funding where workers come in and insulate and air seal. Our program is called Empower NY and does similar things. Q.You are also the president of the Oswego County Fair Association. Can you tell us about that experience? A. I devote my weekends to the fair and am on the fairgrounds as soon as the weather allows. This is what I do to give back to my community. Everybody should pick something they feel strongly about and step up and help our community. The people who stand up and say, “I care and am going to participate,” only make our communities better. Former fair president and county legislator Jerry Thomas introduced me to the fair 25 years ago. My husband and I, both
racing enthusiasts, established a display at the fair featuring racecars that competed in the region. Jerry would later ask me to run for the board. I belong to the New York State Association of Agricultural Fairs and am vice president of the New York State Fair Managers Association. Q.Where did you develop your philanthropic approach to life? A. I came from a wonderful family. We were fortunate because my father had a good job and my mom worked. We didn’t have a lot, but we certainly had food on the table and a belief in helping your fellow man. My parents were very strong about helping neighbors and friends. I think there are more people who want to do it; they are just unsure how. That’s when I like to invite them to join the fair. Soon they learn to give back to the community, even sitting at a booth and having people fill out a ticket for a 50-50 drawing. You are volunteering and giving of your time for other people. Q.What are your recreational pursuits? A. I am an avid reader. I have an e-reader and tablet that I live with all the time. Any time I get a break, I read. I love mysteries. Someday, I’d like to write a non-fiction book. I also like the challenge of video games!
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