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Leave a Legacy: 8 Steps to Writing a Great Memoir



Researching Ancestry Beyond the List of Names

LONGEVITY Ruth J. Colvin: 103 and Still Going Strong

Issue 88 – August-September 2020

For Active Adults in the Central New York Area

Leading the Way Onondaga County Commissioner of Health Indu Gupta uses science, calmness to lead community through pandemic storm

Stimulus Check Still Have any money left? Experts suggest what to do with it

Walking Columnist Bruce Frassinelli talks about his walking habits — 21 years and counting — and what he gets out of it

free please share

VISITS 10 Great Things to Do in Madison County

Had a Stroke. Back on Stage.


Central New York music legend Todd Hobin knew nothing about stroke — but he does now. That’s why he’s raising awareness about stroke risk factors and its signs and symptoms.



A. S.



Fact: Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the U.S. Important to know: Stroke can happen to both men and women — at any age. Good news: Stroke is preventable by managing medical risk factors and healthy lifestyle choices. What to do: Time lost is brain lost. So it’s vital to know the signs of a stroke — F.A.S.T. Four words to live by: Call 911 and say, “Take me to Crouse.“ When it comes to stroke, every moment matters. As one of just 10 hospitals in New York State tohave earned Comprehensive Stroke Center status, and with the region’s newest ER and hybrid ORs, Crouse offers the most advanced technology for rapid stroke diagnosis and treatment

Read Todd’s story and learn more:



Do you have questions about Medicare? Are you: • Turning 65? • Currently enrolled in a Medicare Plan, but want to be sure it’s the right plan for you? • Retired or considering retirement and want to understand all of your health plan options? • Concerned about health coverage solutions for your spouse if you enroll in Medicare?

AmeriCU Insurance Services licensed agents are certified Medicare Specialists. We will work with you to help you make informed decisions about your Medicare coverage based on your specific needs.

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AmeriCU Insurance Services is affiliated with AmeriCU Credit Union. The purchase of insurance from AmeriCU Insurance Services is not required to obtain credit or other services from AmeriCU Credit Union. Insurance products are not credit union deposits and are not August / September 2020 - 55 PLUS 3 NCUA insured, nor are they obligations of or guaranteed by AmeriCU Credit Union.


Leave a Legacy: 8 Steps to Writing a Great Memoir



August / September 2020


Ancestry Beyond the List of Names

LONGEVITY Ruth J. Colvin: 103 and Still Going Strong


Issue 88 – August-September 2020

For Active Adults in the Central New York Area

Leading the Way


Onondaga County Commissioner of Health Indu Gupta uses science, calmness to lead community through pandemic storm

Stimulus Check

Still Have any money left? Experts suggest what to do with it

Walking Columnist Bruce Frassinelli


talks about his walking habits — 21 years and counting —

please share

and what he gets out of it

VISITS 10 Great Things to Do in Madison County


Find us on facebook



Savvy Senior 6 10 FINANCES Gardening 8 • Any stimulus money left? Here’s what to do with it, according to local planners Dining Out 14 My Turn 24 12 MONEY Aging 32 • The COVID-19 crisis teaches some serious lessons about our money Golden Years 37 Life After 55 42 16 LONGEVITY Druger’s Zoo 44 • Ruth J. Colvin: At 103, the founder of LiteracyCNY is still going strong


Mike Brown, 74, a Vietnam vet, receives the Volunteer of the Year award from the H. Lee White Maritime Museum 4

55 PLUS - August / September 2020

• Mike Hennigan, the face of Nichols Supermarket in Liverpool

22 GENEALOGY • Researching ancestry beyond the list of names

26 WRITING • Want to share a life experience with others? Eight steps to writing a memoir

55 PLUS 34


28 COVER • Commissioner of Health Indu Gupta used science, calmness to lead community through pandemic storm

34 ABOLITION • Max Smith, retired city of Oneida mayor, reflects on how abolitionists’ mission has gone from slavery to racism

36 DEPRESSION • The mid-life crisis: depression, anxiety

38 ADVENTURE • Writer Carol Radin: Morocco for visitors —expect the unexpected

41 HEALTH • The lowdown on osteoarthritis (and how to treat it)

46 VISITS • Ten things to do in Madison County


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savvy senior By Jim Miller

Advance Care Planning in the Age of Coronavirus


reating a living will (also known as an advance directive) is one of those things most people plan to do, but rarely get around to actually doing. Only about one-third of Americans currently have one. But the cold hard reality of the novel coronavirus may be changing that. Here’s what you should know along with some resources to help you create an advance directive.

Advance Directives To adequately spell out your wishes regarding your end-of-life medical treatment are two key documents: A “living will” which tells your doctor what kind of care you want to receive if you become incapacitated, and a “health care power of attorney” (or health care proxy), which names a person you authorize to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become unable to. These two documents are known as an “advance directive,” and will only be utilized if you are too ill to make medical decisions yourself. You can also change or update it whenever you please. It isn’t necessary to hire a lawyer to prepare an advance directive. There are free or low-cost resources available today to help you create one, and it takes only a few minutes from start to finish. One that I highly recommend that’s completely free to use is My Directives ( This is an online tool and mobile app that will help you create, store and share a detailed, customized digital advance directive. Their easy-to-use platform combines eight thoughtful questions to guide you through the process. If you’re not computer savvy, ask a 6

55 PLUS - August / September 2020

55PLUS Editor and Publisher Wagner Dotto

Associate Editor Lou Sorendo


family member or trusted friend to help you. The advantage of having a digital advance directive versus a paper document is being able to access it quickly and easily via smartphone, which is crucial in emergency situations when they’re most often needed. If, however, you’d rather have a paper document, one of the best do-it-yourself options is the Five Wishes advance directive (they offer online forms too). Created by Aging with Dignity, a nonprofit advocacy organization, Five Wishes costs $5, and is available in many languages. To learn more or to receive a copy, visit or call 850-681-2010. Another tool you should know about that will compliment your advance directive is the physician orders for life-sustaining treatment, or POLST (sometimes called medical orders for life-sustaining treatment, or MOLST). A POLST form translates your end-of-life wishes into medical orders to be honored by your doctors. To learn more about your state’s program or set one up, see Readers should also know that if you’ve already prepared an advance directive paper document, a POLST form or the VA advance directive form 10-0137, you can upload, store and share these documents too at And finally, to ensure your final wishes are followed, make sure to tell your family members, health care proxy and doctors. If you make a digital advance directive or have uploaded your existing forms, you can easily share them electronically to everyone involved. Or, if you make a paper advance directive that isn’t uploaded, you should provide everyone copies to help prevent stress and arguments later.

Deborah J. Sergeant Mary Beth Roach, Carol Radin Margaret McCormick Christopher Malone Kimberly Blaker, Debra Groom


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


Amy Gagliano Cassandra Lawson

Office Manager Nancy Nitz


Dylon Clew-Thomas

Cover Photo

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: $21 a year; $35 for two years © 2020 by 55 PLUS – A Magazine for Active Adults in Upstate New York.

No material may be reproduced in whole or in part from this publication without the express written permission of the publisher.

How to Reach Us P.O. Box 276 Oswego, NY 13126 Phone: 315-342-1182 Fax: 315-342-7776 Email:

The Waldmans are experienced family-business owners that have a donor-advised fund at the Community Foundation.

It is a scary time right now for our community, and we felt an overwhelming need to help. We hoped to bring some stability to those feeling uncertain during the current pandemic. When the Community Foundation and its partners created the COVID-19 Community Support Fund, we directed money from our donor-advised fund to it without hesitation. This was the perfect opportunity to engage our children in our family giving while being responsive with grantmaking from our fund. It feels good knowing that money from our fund will support nonprofit organizations working with communities who are disproportionately impacted by economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.


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August / September 2020 - 55 PLUS


gardening By Jim Sollecito

Messages in a Bottle


mong other things, I like to collect heart-shaped rocks. I find them interesting and meaningful, wondering how they attained that shape. I also enjoy searching through old farms seeking hidden treasures in that special disposal site for non-flammable debris. Intact colored glass bottles are my specialty. Before there was recycling, vessels that had outlived their usefulness and could not be burned were casually tossed over the edge or behind the hedge, someplace out of sight where there they still lie. Insights to life in a different era. Time stops for things left behind. Every now and again I find something especially interesting and wonder how it came to rest there. This unopened green bottle in the photo, for instance. Its potential never revealed. What was inside? Was it thought to be empty and mistakenly thrown out? Or was it set on a rock during a picnic, the distracted owner moving on to other activities? This year’s series of cancelations and postponements has created a perfect opportunity to move on to other things. Reassess our own home outdoor environment. If something no longer serves its purpose, is too big and unruly to handle anymore, or doesn’t hold the appeal it did, then it’s time to adjust. Put something more pleasing into that space. If you can’t see everything at once in a landscape, then it feels bigger. Framing a vista enhances perspective. Perhaps there are some hidden gems in your own yard, potential waiting to be revealed. Or maybe it’s time to redesign and enrich your environment with fresh new garden moments. What do you see when you turn a corner, look out a window, sit on a deck? Views, frames, forms, flowers, birds, butterflies, bouquets. Refreshing shade. Dancing light. Peeling bark. Foliage shining on overcast days.


55 PLUS - August / September 2020

Flowers glowing at dusk. Instead of screening an ugly view, think of it as creating a lovely garden. You control your environment more than you know. And these days especially, it feels good to have some control. Sometimes this involves the services of a talented landscape designer. Because just like trees, with age comes strength. Growth rings and wrinkles are signs of experience. Fall is for planting, especially this year. We are all seeking pieces of normal. To do something that will make us feel better for more than just a few fleeting flashes.

While our future looks different than we envisioned, we can still have a vision. When we were young our parents told us to “go outside.” I think that message is just as meaningful today. So go outside! Discover something untapped in your own yard. And then do something about it. 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

Every now and again I find something especially interesting and wonder how it came to rest there. This unopened green bottle in the photo, for instance. Was it set on a rock during a picnic, the distracted owner moving on to other activities?

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Social Security

Q&A Q: I’ve decided I want to retire. Now what do I do?

A: The fastest and easiest way to apply for retirement benefits is to go to www. Use our online application to apply for Social Security retirement or spouses benefits. To do so, you must: • Be at least 61 years and 9 months old; • Want to start your benefits in the next four months; and • Live in the United States or one of its commonwealths or territories.

Q: Although I stopped working a few years ago, I had additional seasonal earnings after my retirement. Will my monthly Social Security retirement benefit increase?


A: Each year, we review the records for all working Social Security recipients to see if additional earnings may increase their monthly benefit amounts. If an increase is due, we calculate a new benefit amount and pay the increase retroactive to January following the year of earnings. You can learn more about how work affects your benefits by reading our publication, “How Work Affects Your Benefits,” at www. August / September 2020 - 55 PLUS



Still Have Any Stimulus Money Left? Here’s what experts recommend you to do with it By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


f you haven’t received it already, you’ll likely receive up to $2,400 per couple of stimulus money, thanks to President Trump’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Whether directly deposited or mailed as a check or debit card, the windfall could be used in a variety of ways. Local financial experts offered a few ideas. We spoke with three financial planners. Here’s what they suggest: • “It depends totally on your situation. If you have any debt you’re paying more than 6% interest on it, pay it. If you have a few credits with debt, pay the card with the highest interest rate. • “Put that money in your savings for emergency fund. • “If you don’t have credit card debt and you’re working, put it in some type of tax-advantaged retirement savings. A 401k comes out of payroll, but you can increase your paycheck contribution for a few payrolls and spend that stimulus money


55 PLUS - August / September 2020

to cover your needs. • “You could also put it in a Roth IRA depending upon your income. • “You could put the money in a health savings account.” Tips from Ethan Gilbert, partner and chartered financial analyst, certified financial planner with Rockbridge Investment Management in Syracuse. • “I would recommend that people use the stimulus check to pay necessary costs of living, such as housing, food, utilities, taxes and insurances. • “If they don’t need the money for necessary expenses, I would recommend they save the money for future emergencies. COVID-19 has created significant unemployment, and the risk of infection is still present, until vaccines and other treatments are tested and distributed successfully.” Tips from Robert A Rolfe, financial adviser with Harmony Financial Services in Oswego. • “If there is any uncertainty regarding near-future income, the

COVID check should go to cash reserves, especially if you don’t have enough cash reserves. • “If you have the cash reserves and your income is fairly stable, then I would look at is if there a significant amount of short-term debt that needs to be retired. • “Beyond that, if a person or a family is in good financial position, if you don’t need these funds, I think an appropriate decision is to use it to help someone who does. • “Pay attention to your church family needs. Continue to support your church financially. People aren’t contributing as much to your church. Other members might have significant needs. • “Look outside yourself and others you could benefit. Oswego County Community Foundation has a COVID-19 fund in collaboration with United Way and Richard S. Shineman Foundation. A lot of individual organizations in the county have financial needs that can’t do their fundraisers right now. If you have an organization you care about, it’s a good time to consider if they need support. • “Parents and grandparents might want to consider their children’s or grandchildren’s college education, such as the New York 529 plan. This would be a good chunk of money towards those plans. • “Think of your retirement and 401k plans. Contribute to a Roth IRA or adding some extra money to your payroll deduction retirement account. You could increase your contribution to your payroll deduction plan. • “If you could, buy some more stock.” Tips from Randy L. Zeigler, certified financial planner, private wealth adviser with Ameriprise Financial Services, Oswego

No Stimulus Check Yet Anyone who filed their taxes requesting a paper check (not automatic deposit) may not get the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act stimulus check until the end of August. Some older adults who are uncomfortable with handing out their banking information may be more inclined to go with a physical tax refund.

What Happens if You Die Without a Will? By Jim Miller


he coronavirus crisis has lit a fire under many Americans when it comes to getting their affairs in older. Currently, fewer than half of American adults have prepared a will or living trust. If you die without a will, the state you reside in will determine what happens to your assets. Every state has intestacy laws in place that parcel out property and assets to a deceased person’s closest living relatives when there’s no will or trust in place. But these laws vary from state-to-state. Here is a general breakdown of what can happen to a person’s assets, depending on whom they leave behind. • Married with children: When a married person with children dies without a will, all property, investments and financial accounts that are “jointly owned” automatically goes to the surviving co-owner without going through probate, which is the legal process that distributes a deceased person’s assets. But for all other separately owned property or individual financial accounts, the laws of most states award one-third to one-half to the surviving spouse, while the rest goes to the children. • Married with no children or grandchildren: Some states award the entire estate to the surviving spouse, or everything up to a certain amount (for example the first $100,000). But many other states award only one-third to one-half of the decedent’s separately owned assets to the surviving spouse, with the remainder generally going to the deceased person’s parents, or if the parents are dead, to brothers and sisters. Jointly owned property, investments, financial accounts, or community property automatically goes to the surviving co-owner. • Single with children: All state laws provide that the entire estate goes to the children, in equal shares. If an adult child of the decedent has died, then that child’s children (the decedent’s grandchildren) split their parent’s share. • Single with no children or grandchildren: In this situation, most state laws favor the deceased person’s parents. If both parents are deceased, many states divide the property among the brothers and sisters, or if they are not living, their children (your nieces and nephews). If there are none of them, it goes to the next of kin, and if there is no living family, the state takes it.

and is valid in every state except Louisiana; LegalZoom (, which offers basic wills for $89 or $99 if you’d like assistance from an independent attorney; and Trust & Will ( which charges $89 for a basic will. If, however, you want or need assistance or if you have a complicated financial situation, blended family or have considerable assets, you should hire an attorney. An experienced attorney can make sure you cover all your bases, which can help avoid family confusion and squabbles after you’re gone. Costs will vary depending on where you live, but you can expect to pay anywhere between $200 and $1,000 for a will. The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (naela. org) and the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel ( websites are good resources that have directories to help you find someone in your area.

Make a Will To ensure your assets go to those you want to receive them, you need to create a will or trust. If you have a simple estate and an uncomplicated family situation, there are do-it-yourself resources that can help you create all these documents for very little money. Some top-rated options include the Quicken WillMaker & Trust 2020 downloadable software (available at nolo. com) that costs $90 and works with Windows and Macs August / September 2020 - 55 PLUS


55+ money

Financial Lessons from COVID-19 By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


rom unusual circumstances can come unusual life lessons. The COVID-19 crisis brought a few examples of financial lessons to learn. More people need to set aside cash reserves for unexpected unemployment, according to Randy L. Zeigler, certified financial planner and private wealth adviser with Ameriprise Financial Services in Oswego. The amount should be at least $3,000 and possibly up to $10,000. “Many people in America don’t have enough cash reserves to navigate their monthly expenses beyond one missed paycheck,” he said. “Most of the problems people have with money is not because they don’t have enough; they don’t manage what they have. “Some don’t have enough, but there are an awful lot in the middle class who can cover their expenses but live on the ragged edge financially. They’re up to their eyeballs in debt.” Setting aside a rainy-day fund is helpful not only during job loss caused by the pandemic or other cause. Unanticipated expenses crop up at other times. When an appliance dies or the car breaks down or when these events happen at the same time — that can cause real trouble.


55 PLUS - August / September 2020

Ziegler thinks that those who want to readily access more cash should have some investments in fixed interest rate CDs with a variety of maturity dates so they could access the money every three to six months. He also wants more people to pay attention to credit use. “Be conservative about it and long-term debt management,” Ziegler said. He said that 2020 marked the 11th year of economic growth in the U.S. Boom times are usually when people go into debt, but Ziegler said that “consumer debt has been reasonable to incomes and the savings rate has been much higher over the past year.” As a result, those on good financial footing should weather the pandemic well. Since the pandemic was eventdriven, the economy should recover more swiftly than from a multi-faceted event like the Great Depression. Ethan Gilbert, partner, chartered financial analyst and certified financial planner with Rockbridge Investment Management in Syracuse, said that the pandemic’s biggest lesson is that markets can be unpredictable. “People who stay the course do well in the long run,” Gilbert said. “The month leading into the bottom

of the market, late February leading into March, was as volatile as the stock market has even seen, eclipsed only by the months leading to the Great Depression. That frightened a lot of people.” When uncertain times come, many people feel the urge to control their finances, which can mean selling their investments. Gilbert said that strategy doesn’t pay. His firm reassesses and rebalances accounts quarterly, which allows time for short-term issues to even out. “You don’t know what the market can do,” Gilbert said. “It can get crazy and volatile, but it can come back fast. Most people are surprised at how quickly it has come back. It’s not far off from the levels prior to COVID becoming an issue.” Selling when everyone else is selling nearly always means accepting a loss instead of waiting for investments to rebound when the overall economy improves, according to Gilbert. “One thing that rings true is no one knows what the stock market will do,” Gilbert said. “To me, it emphasizes getting all the planning items right. “Planning items that don’t need a market to work, like being prudent and understanding tax law, make all the sense in the world.”

You’ve prepared for a rewarding retirement. We can help you make the most of it.

(315) 446-8720

As an Ameriprise private wealth advisory practice, we can help you grow and preserve your wealth to put your vision of a confident retirement more within reach. Randy L. Zeigler, CFP®, ChFC®, CLU® Private Wealth Advisor CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner

Managing Your Money in a Changing World

97 W Utica St Oswego, NY 13126 315.342.1227

Ameriprise Financial cannot guarantee future financial results. The Compass is a trademark of Ameriprise Financial, Inc. Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC. © 2018 Ameriprise Financial, Inc. All rights reserved. (05/18)

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Even if you have a basic estate plan - typically a Will your family and loved ones are still going to be involved with the Court System. A Will only works after you die and it has been approved by the Court. This process is called Probate. It can be expensive, time consuming, aggravating and even split families apart.

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DiningOut By Christopher Malone



View from a table at Brian’s Landing at Green Lakes restaurant in Fayetteville.

Prime Views and Ribs


Dining out at Brian’s Landing at Green Lakes

lfresco dining is highly encouraged in this moment post-COVID-19, so why not choose a place able to seat plenty of patrons and without a concrete view? It’s time to venture out to Fayetteville! Brian’s Landing at Green Lakes, 5648 Green Lakes Park Drive, came as a recommendation. Brian’s Landing has a second location — in Jamesville. The following pertains to the Green Lakes location, and the food prepared by Executive Chef Kevin Brown. First off: What. A. View. If this place doesn’t sit in the top three best views in Onondaga County and the top five in the Central New York region, I’ll be shocked. The very large patio overlooks the adjacent golf course and gorgeous, glacially made bodies of water. Remember to chew. If you don’t, close your hanging jaw, food will fall out. Let’s talk about COVID restrictions:


55 PLUS - August / September 2020

Patrons (temporarily) have to wear masks when entering the restaurant but the face coverings can be removed when seated. Servers are required to wear masks, and our awesome waitress Kelly was beyond accommodating, very knowledgeable, and had a great sense of humor. The tables of four are spaced out very comfortably but Brian’s Landing at Green Lakes could essentially accommodate more (in a “normal” world). We kicked off the meal with a Bell’s Two Hearted Ale ($6), picked from a beer list with very affordable prices. For substance, the backed Caprese dip ($14) and bella luna Utica greens ($14). I’ve never seen a Caprese dip, so it was a given. The very hot (temperature-wise) dip came with cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and pesto, and mozzarella. This starter was also made with goat cheese to enhance the flavor and make it creamier as well as thicker. Plus, the

crispy homemade pita chips on the side were the perfect edible utensil. My fiancé and I devoured the entire starter, which is easily shareable among four or five people. The Utica greens couldn’t be ignored: Once you’ve tried someone’s greens, you have to try everyone’s. It’s an unofficial CNY way of life that should be made into a law. We purposely saved some for leftovers — made into omelettes the next morning — due to our eagerness with the dip and watermelon and mozzarella salad ($14). The Utica greens got a stamp of approval, albeit a lack of spiciness. We’ll ask to kick up the heat next time. The hearty dish of greens was not overly soggy or left a watery puddle either. The watermelon and mozzarella salad is as refreshing as it sounds. The shareable bowl of arugula, prosciutto, and macadamia nuts along with the titular ingredients is perfect for the warmer weather. The slight, noticeable

taste of mint comes from the houseprepared vinaigrette. Not only is it social media friendly, it’s easily sharable with those who do not believe you’re eating healthy. (Just don’t show them the dip — your little secret.) Saturdays at Brian’s Landing at Green Lakes is prime rib night. Entrée decision made. The huge portion of prime rib ($30) came with seasonal veggies, broccoli and cauliflower, and mashed potatoes. We did ask for it medium and it came out without its rareness, unfortunately. However, the not-so-fatty cut of meat had great flavor. The second entrée we enjoyed was the grilled cauliflower “steak” ($17) to show how Brian’s Landing accommodates various diets, chosen or otherwise, and trying something different isn’t a bad risk. The grilled “steaks” were thick-cut center pieces of cauliflower crowns grilled very well and topped with avocado slices, and roasted tomatoes. The entrée comes with a nice, light rice pilaf. And then there’s the chimichurri sauce — aesthetically vibrant green, unapologetically tangy, and downright potent. When combined with the other ingredients and particularly the charred portions of the cauliflower, it’s best to simply say “it’s great” for something complex. The total, before tip, came to $102 and change. For the amount of food, the price was on target. We left with filled bellies, takeaway containers, and smiling. Children-friendly options are found on the menu, i.e. Hofmann hotdogs and chicken tenders. Desserts are offered, too. Although the towering strawberry lemonade cake seen at an adjacent table looked amazing, we were too full to try. But next time...

The huge portion of prime rib ($30) came with seasonal veggies, broccoli and cauliflower, and mashed potatoes.

Grilled “steaks” were thick-cut center pieces of cauliflower crowns grilled very well and topped with avocado slices, and roasted tomatoes.

The watermelon and mozzarella salad is as refreshing as it sounds.

Brian’s Landing at Green Lakes Address: 5648 Green Lakes Park Drive. Fayetteville, NY 13066 Phone: 315-632-4406 Website/Social greenlakes/ Hours: Daily: 7:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Caprese dip: very hot dip came with cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and pesto, and mozzarella August / September 2020 - 55 PLUS


55+ longevity Ruth J. Colvin: 103 and Still Going Strong

Colvin at Drumlins Country Club in Syracuse, where she plays 9 holes every week.

Founder of LiteracyCNY lives independently in Syracuse. She continues to write, exercise and play nine holes of golf every week By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


iving to 103 is an accomplishment few will achieve; however, for Ruth Colvin of Syracuse, it’s not just about living a long life but a leaving a legacy. She founded LiteracyCNY (formerly Literacy Volunteers of Greater Syracuse), an effort she started in 1962 that grew to a national organization with more than 1,000 chapters. Born Ruth Johnson in Chicago, she has always prized reading and education. Her father died when she was 12; however, her uncle had saved money for his brother ’s childrens’ education. Once she had finished high school, she learned that the money was reserved just for her brothers — not her — since she was “just a girl.” Undaunted, she attended a local junior college and in her 40s completed her business degree at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. She doesn’t resent her uncle’s slight. She realizes that if she had enrolled


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elsewhere, she never would have met her husband, Robert Colvin. “He was a very special man,” Colvin said. The couple settled in Seattle, where Robert worked in the chemical industry. His work relocated them to Syracuse. During World War II, he was one of 50 men selected to stay in the States because he worked for a company making essential supplies. As more of that initial group was called to war, Robert remained unselected until he was one of only five who continued to work. “He was ready to go, but they felt he was more important here,” Colvin said. During the War, he worked “day and night because that was his war job and what they wanted him for,” Colvin recalled. The couple spent 73 years together until Robert died at age 99. The couple

raised two children together. Colvin became interested in the literacy issue in 1960, when she learned that 11,000 people in Onondaga County were functionally illiterate. The figure appalled her and she realized she needed to make a difference. “I can’t believe someone could live a life without reading,” she said. Beyond missing the pleasure of reading books, those who don’t read well miss out on many opportunities for education, enrichment and employment. Colvin felt determined to make a difference. She reached out to a number of community organizations, including Church Women United. Colvin recalled that they “were as shocked as I was” that few efforts had been made to combat literacy. The organization voted unanimously to sponsor a literacy project if Colvin would head it. She accepted the challenge, despite her lack of any experience or education in teaching.

But her education in business proved helpful as she founded the literacy organization. Colvin soon learned that nonnative speakers represented about half of those who are functionally illiterate. Most of those are immigrants, which strikes a chord with Colvin. “For most of us, our heritage comes from someplace else,” Colvin said. “My grandmother came from Sweden and someone taught her. I can pay that back by teaching someone else.” After floundering for two years, Colvin tapped resources at Syracuse University to learn how to instruct her volunteers. She worked with a few reading specialists to discover how to effectively reach students. “I’ve made many mistakes, but I’ve learned from them and I’ve learned by my successes as well,” Colvin said. “Find an unmet need. There are many with health, children, now with the virus. It’s endless. You don’t need to have that kind of background if you do research. People sometimes talk with me and learn I’m 103 and they say, ‘If she can do it, I can do it.’” The program went national in 1971, supported by federal and charitable grants. The national organization was named Literacy Volunteers of America and remains headquartered in Syracuse. The following year, Colvin began her writing career with TUTOR (Techniques Used in the Teaching of Reading) and READ (Reading Evaluation Adult Diagnosis), both with help from co-author Jane H. Root, as training manuals for volunteer tutors. She also penned “I Speak English” as a guide for tutors in teaching conversational English, as well as “Student Involvement Guidelines,” “Tutoring Small Groups Handbook,” “English as a Second Language Tutor Training Workshop,” “How to Add Family Literacy to Your Program,” “Maintaining the Balance: A Guide to 50/50 Management,” and “LVA Works: A Guide to Workplace Education.” To record the history of the organization, Colvin wrote “A Way with Words” in 1983. Her title “Native Language Literacy” is about literacy in any language, as Colvin has traveled extensively to promote literacy. Her book “In the Beginning Was the Word”

Colvin exercising: ‘If you have a purpose after you retire, you’ll keep going. To keep yourself going, you must keep opening doors.’ was based upon her experiences with learner-centered education, which focuses on student goals. The title references the Gospel of John’s opening words. “Many people say they want to learn to read because of some goal, like wanting to read the Bible,” Colvin said. She has also written “Off the Beaten Path” about her observations

on world travel and culture. Former First Lady Barbara Bush wrote its forward. Others books written by Colvin have been based upon her life experiences. “New Golfers” was a book for women becoming involved in the sport. “Great Traveling After 55” relates her travels with Robert. “We had learned so much in our August / September 2020 - 55 PLUS


Colvin celebrating her 101st birthday two years ago. She maintains her physical health by walking 2,000 steps — she uses a cane for stability — and playing nine holes of golf every week. travels,” Colvin said. Becoming a great-grandmother prompted “Rouse the Mouse and his Friends,” a children’s book that includes a puppet, so her young greatgrandchildren who live across the country would feel more inclined to interact with her when they met. Her latest title, released in June, is “My Travels Through Life, Love and Literacy: A Journey Over 100 Years in the Making.” The title is available through the Onondaga Historical Association ( “I keep writing because I appreciate so much when I learn from others,” she said. “Don’t make my same mistakes; make your own.” Her accolades include receiving the President’s Volunteer Action Award, which President Ronald 18

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Reagan presented to her at the White House in 1987; induction into the Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls; and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded by President George W. Bush in 2006. Colvin remains on the organization’s board. She believes that age is just a number and she plans to continue serving as long as she can. Though the firstborn, Colvin has outlived all five of her siblings. Many of her friends have dementia or other serious health concerns. Rather than becoming morose, she remains thankful and stays busy. “You’ve done nothing wrong if you have dementia, but I count my blessings my mind is still sharp,” Colvin said. She recounts her blessings and

her tips for healthy longevity in her latest book. “I talk about the balances of life: physical, emotional, spiritual and mental,” she said. “You have no control over how you were brought up. Some have had a bunch of blessings; others have had troubles, but if you can find out why it all happened, you can see why you are the person you are today. I’ve learned a lot about myself.” She’s a big believer in volunteering and has served as a Girl Scout leader, despite knowing nothing about outdoor life as a “city girl.” She learned alongside the troop. In addition to the bachelor ’s degree from Northwestern, she also has nine honorary doctorates. “It shows what can be done if you keep opening your mind to help other people,” Colvin said. “It helps you.” She maintains her physical health by walking 2,000 steps — she uses a cane for stability — and playing nine holes of golf every week. “It’s a shorter handicap, but I keep doing it,” Colvin said. “Exercise brings more blood to the brain, so it helps me mentally.” She typically works out on exercise machines a couple of times a week, too. Colvin said that she has no appetite or taste at 103. “But I’m like a car. A good motor and tires are no good if you put no gas in it. I have to put nutrition in me. Cooking is not my specialty but it’s important to feed myself well.” She creates meal plans and sometimes friends bring over food. To keep her mind busy, she likes to complete sudoku puzzles, which she picked up on two years ago, and to perform research on topics that pique her interest. “Now I’m researching Desmond Tutu,” she said. “I met him in South Africa.” Colvin has traveled to 62 countries. She enjoys learning from everyone she meets. It’s not hard for her to talk with anyone, despite any difference from herself. A recent interaction she enjoyed was with a 22-year-old also walking in her neighborhood. “I told her I’m probably the oldest person she’s ever met and told her I’m 103,” Colvin said. “We just stood there and talked. To me, it doesn’t make any difference what color you are, how old you are, where you’re from.” In addition, she believes that emotional health is vital for a good life.

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“Maintain your emotional health by forgiving and helping others,” she said. “You need love, trust and forgiveness. Unless you have those attitudes, that will make a big difference.” She thinks that ties into spiritual health — something she believes everyone should possess. Colvin said that she was interviewed by a Muslim man who wanted her to teach his wife English. “He didn’t want anyone proselytizing,” Colvin explained. “I explained to him that I was a Christian because I was brought up as a Christian. If I were brought up as a Muslim, I’d be a good Muslim. If I were brought up as a Jew, I would be a good Jew. I told him, ‘If you were brought up as a Christian, you’d probably be a good Christian, too.’ He looked surprised.” Colvin lives alone in her own home simply “because I can,” she said, though she keeps in touch with her son in Washington, DC and her daughter in California. She also has six grandchildren and eight greatgrandchildren, the oldest of whom just graduated from high school. She continues to develop friendships while serving on the boards. “Because I’m teaching, I make friends,” she said. “If you have a purpose after you retire, you’ll keep going. To keep yourself going, you must keep opening doors.” In opening doors for locals, she has opened many for herself—and students far beyond what she imagined. “I never dreamed the organization would go nationwide,” she said. “If it’s an unmet need, you fill it.”

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55+ profile

Mike Hennigan, owner of Nichols Supermarket in the heart of Liverpool. “I’ve worked pretty much every job in the store,’’ Hennigan says. “I used to be able to operate every piece of equipment.’’ Photo by Margaret McCormick

Step Back in Time Nichols Supermarket in Liverpool not immune to providing old-fashioned, time-honored customer service By Margaret McCormick


ichols Supermarket in Liverpool is more than just a place to pick up groceries. I t ’ s a p l a c e w h e re friends and neighbors bump into each other and make plans to get together, and a place where many local teenagers land their first job. It’s a cornerstone of the community, like Heid’s and The Retreat, a couple blocks away. People who shop at Nichols appreciate its friendly staff, its “no card needed’’ approach to passing on savings and its manageable size. At 20,000 square feet, it’s a bit bigger


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than an Aldi or Trader Joe’s store — not too small but not so big that if you get to your car and realize you forgot something you won’t want to go back in. “Get in, get out, get on with life,’’ the Nichols website reads. Need help getting your order to your car? A staff member will assist you, free of charge. Nichols also has something that is rare in the grocery business: the regular presence on the floor and in the aisles of the storeowner. Mike Hennigan, 64, is the face of Nichols. He lives in the community and has worked at the store in one capacity or another for more than 40

years. He has white hair, dresses in a shirt and tie and has a voice that carries throughout the store. He’s there seven days a week and if a week had eight days, he’d probably be there then, too. Customers come to Nichols from all over Onondaga County, Hennigan says. He makes it his mission to offer excellent customer service and a retail experience that drives people to come back. “We have become unique,’’ Hennigan says. “So many of the gigantic stores we compete with no longer operate in the traditional manner. Most don’t cut meat on site. I’m told our variety is unique. We try to do business with local people and support local businesses.’’ Nichols offers a wide selection of fresh and packaged grocery items, a bakery department, a deli department with Boar ’s Head products, storemade sandwiches and convenience items (like packaged chicken, roasted in-house) and a produce department that includes in-season strawberries from Emmi Farms in Baldwinsville. The store is a magnet for its meat department, with a team of

butchers who cut beef, pork, veal and chicken seven days a week. Supply has remained steady, even during the global coronavirus pandemic. The “Nicholini” sausage that is made in-house is comparable to sausages offered at Italian butcher shops or specialty stores, according to Mark Spadafore, a lifelong Liverpool resident and Nichols fan who lives within walking distance of the store. Many items on the shelves at Nichols are sourced locally: eggs from Hudson Egg Farms, coffee from Paul de Lima and Utica Coffee Roasting Co., milk, ice cream and other products from Byrne Dairy, pizza dough from DiLauro’s Bakery, craft yogurt and hummus from Ithaca Milk and Ithaca Hummus – to name a few. Along with standbys like Budweiser, Miller and Genesee, there’s a nice selection of craft beer. Can’t find something you’re after? Ask for it and Hennigan will do his best to get it in, Spadafore notes. “We are so lucky in the village of Liverpool to have Nichols and Mike Hennigan,’’ Spadafore says. “He is hands-on, on the floor all the time, talking to people and figuring out what people need. During this COVID time he is really showing mettle. It’s such an asset for the community.’’

Back in the day Hennigan was literally born into the grocery business. His grandfather, whom he is named after, operated Hennigan’s Silver Star Market in Syracuse’s Tipperary Hill neighborhood. Hennigan’s father, Jim, joined the business and eventually purchased the Nichols family grocery store in the village of Liverpool. Nichols Discount Liquors, next door, was added in 1975. Hennigan worked at Nichols in high school and while he was in college. Following graduation from Niagara University in 1977, he went to work for the Packaging Corporation of America. A year later, his father recruited him to come back to work at Nichols and he has been there ever since. “I’ve worked pretty much every job in the store,’’ Hennigan says. “I used to be able to operate every piece of equipment.’’ Hennigan assumed ownership of the store in the late 1980s and has seen it through many changes

Nichols Supermarket in downtown Liverpool: A place where friends and neighbors bump into each other and make plans to get together, and a place where many local teenagers land their first job. in the grocery industry, including the advent of scanning and new technology for ordering and tracking products. One of the biggest changes, he notes, is in competition. “There is less competition,’’ he says, “but the players left are huge. Look at all the independent stores that are gone.’’ In recent months, the coronavirus pandemic has placed Nichols and other grocery stores on the front lines of the crisis as an essential business and put Hennigan and his store’s 120 employees to the test. It hasn’t been easy, but Hennigan is proud of how the staff has responded in an ongoing emergency situation. Plexiglass sneeze guards were quickly installed at the store’s cash registers. Floors were marked for social distancing to keep customers a cart apart, and cashiers amped up sanitary procedures to keep their stations and conveyor belts clean. Early on in the pandemic, Hennigan worked around the clock, putting aside his administrative duties to help keep the meat cases and store shelves stocked. He reduced the size of the store’s weekly sales circular to one page, in the event there were kinks

with supply. Some of the store’s older employees, many of whom are retired from other careers, opted to stay home and distance in place until they felt comfortable coming back to work. Hennigan bolstered his staff by hiring additional high school and college students who found themselves home for the spring semester. The store faced the same shortages of toilet paper, paper towels and hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes that other stores did, but has not had supply issues with things like meat and eggs. Hennigan is grateful for his customers, who have been patient, kind and understanding — and quick to compliment his staff on their loyalty and hard work. “We have never experienced something like this before,’’ Hennigan says, “and hopefully we never will again.’’

Online @ August / September 2020 - 55 PLUS


55+ genealogy Researching Ancestry Beyond the List of Names Genealogy specialists suggest different ways to uncover family history By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


t’s pretty easy to find your family tree online. With a few clicks, you can trace your ancestors on sites like But the stories behind the names are what interest many people. Sheila Byrnes, Baldwinsville resident, member of the Central New York Genealogical Society and editor


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of the society’s newsletter, “CNYGS E-News,” recommends starting with what you do know, such as birth names of your parents and grandparents. She likes census records to find names, especially maternal ancestry which may lose their surnames. “Very often, boys and girls married the person next door because people

didn’t travel,” Byrnes said. “There are sometimes clues in names handed down. The first child if it was a male was named for the father’s father and the next male after the mother’s father. And the first girls were named for their mother’s mother.” It’s important to pay attention to dates to avoid confusion. She also likes that census records show where ancestors lived. Cemeteries may also reveal dames, dates and relationships. Knowing the location where the person was born or lived can also help you research online more effectively, rather than just searching by name. Byrnes likes “It is a fabulous site for social and personal stories,” she said. “Families often had reunions and listed the names of those who attended. It can show who’s related to the family. Local newspapers can help as well. Sometimes they’re online or you can contact the libraries.” Joining a historical society of the locations you search can also yield good results, as can enlisting help of professional researchers who live in those areas. Fellow searchers may also aid the hunt for information, as you may cross paths with someone researching the same family. Although oral history may give clues, Byrnes cautioned that it may not be accurate, so it’s vital to crossreference other resources. She also said that “mug books” may not be entirely true. “People paid to have their photos in there so maybe the stories were embellished a bit,” she said. Town historians may help you find people who can share oral history. Heather A. Stevens of the Central Square Community Historical Society said that she is friends with some older residents who love to reminisce. “They recall many things about those who are no longer with us. Just be sure to understand that stories grow over the years and sometimes become more elaborate.” She said that local clergy and your own family members can be good resources. “Talk to your family before it is too

late,” she said. “You never know when you will uncover a cousin who knew your grandparents, clipped newspaper articles or kept diaries.” The old newspapers saved on microfilm at the library may not be online. These kinds of resources may reveal family history that wasn’t passed down — like great-grandpa was a bank robber — but newspaper stories may not be free of error. Still, since these were written close to the time of the events, they likely hold more weight than oral history. George DeMass, historian of the town of Oswego, said that legal records of dates like birth, marriage and death records, property records, church records — especially the Latter Day Saints — and school records can often reveal family relationships. City directories — records that are like phone books but without the phone numbers — can yield a lot of information. The library has volumes dating back many decades. These list the head of household, occupation, where they worked, and usually their residence. “We are starting a collection of high school yearbooks in Oswego,” he added. Cross-referencing the information with world events can help you better

In Search of Ancestors Helpful sites include: • New York Genealogical & Biographical Society, www. • F a m i l y S e a r c h , w w w. • requires a fee, but some libraries have access available to library patrons. • News: Look up newspapers at: www., www. and https:// • Cemetery records: www. htm • New York history: https:// • Central New York history: • New York State Family History Conference (https://nysfhc. is slated for Sept. 10-12 in Albany or online.

understand why things happened, such as your grandfather quitting school during the Depression was likely to help with the family finances. Allie Proud, president of the Mexico Historical Society, said that veteran information her organization has gathered can help reconstruct family history, as well as newspapers’ society pages. “They’re goldmines of information about families and activities, local newspapers, especially,” Proud said. “They used to have columns written every week by a person who resided in that locality. They’d write ‘Mr. and Mrs. George Smith had dinner with Mr. and Mrs. George Jones.’ They’re like the Facebook of 60 years ago, but back then it was big news.” She also directs people to the obituary columns, which in the past were much more informative — and colorful. “Those old newspapers didn’t pull any punches,” Proud said. “It might be ‘so-and-so committed suicide in the garage.’” She also advises history seekers to inquire with historians in neighboring districts, as sometimes those living on the border of a township may have attended school in a different town than their postal address. Dan Smith, librarian in the department of genealogy at Onondaga County Public Library, said that many libraries have privately printed family history books that aren’t available online. “These are a great source,” he said. “Another thing we’ve collected are written genealogies of family surnames. We’ve been building on this over the generations.” He added that librarians are always eager to help you look for and

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437-4864 sort through information. M a r i e S t ro n g , N e w H a v e n historian, encourages searchers to look at records at the Veterans Administration. “It shows where they served, what battles and their branch,” she said. “If they received medals, it will show what kind and if they got a pension.” She also encourages searching with the Half-shire Historical Society in Richland. “They have a lot of information,” Strong added. August / September 2020 - 55 PLUS


my turn By Bruce Frassinelli Email:

Still Walking, 21 Years Later

“I’ve flown around the world in a plane…” That’s a line from the great, 1937 Bunny Berrigan classic “I Can’t Get Started with You.” Well, I have walked around the world (and then some) on foot. Not all at once, of course. In May, I passed the 41,000-mile mark. That’s about 1 ½ times around the earth at the equator since 1999 when I undertook my vigorous walking and weight-loss program of calorie control. I started with a few miles a day, then worked up to 10 miles daily for a number of years, but when I turned 75, it became far more difficult to sustain such a regimen, and now, six years later, I do between three and four miles six days a week, or the equivalent of walking from Oswego to the Great Northern Mall. This walking program and calorie control has made a life-changing difference. Not only has it helped take my weight from a totally unacceptable 257 to a now reasonable 185, but it has enhanced all of the important health numbers, including blood pressure (125 over 65), pulse rate (38 at rest), cholesterol (total cholesterol 160 and LDL-C 63), and glucose (73). Not bad for an 81-year-old. I have not had a headache in 20 years, and instead of two or three colds annually, I have had just three during that time. My daily walking routine is consistent: I try to start by daybreak. Prior to hitting the road, I do about 10 minutes of knee bends, stretching and other exercises. I do a route that takes 24

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‘This walking program and calorie control has made a life-changing difference. Not only has it helped take my weight from a totally unacceptable 257 to a now reasonable 185, but it has enhanced all of the important health numbers.’ me up some fairly steep hills (no pain, no gain). I take a liter of water with me and make water breaks every so often. This sets an indescribable tone for my day. I feel great, pumped up, ready to face the challenges of the world. The entire process, from warmup exercises until I step foot into the garage and do my cool-down exercises at the end of the walk, takes a little over an hour and a half. When I was doing 10 miles a day, it would take me more than three hours. Obviously, working a full-time job makes such a time commitment difficult to impossible. Being retired gives me the time to do justice to this regimen. Here are my tips for getting involved in a walking regimen: • Warm up before starting to walk; otherwise, you run the risk of hurting yourself. • Start modestly, maybe a mile or so a day until you get into shape; then, if motivated, you can increase the distance proportionately. Take a day or two off a week at the start. • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated — you will sweat. • Listen to your body; if you feel pain, don’t ignore it.

• Reduce your caloric intake so that all of your hard work is not offset by binge eating. • I f available, walk with a buddy; if not, download podcasts and music. I listen to National Public Radio programming and Sirius XM’s ‘50s on 5 (oldies from my era). • Wa l k on the left side of the road facing traffic; be sure to share the road and wave a thank

you to vehicles which give you wide berth. The payback? provides this information about the benefits of walking: – Walking 150 minutes per week and losing just 7% of your body weight (12-15 pounds) can reduce your risk of diabetes by 58%. – Walking strengthens your heart if you’re male. In one study, mortality rates among retired men who walked less than one mile per day were nearly twice that of those who walked more than two miles per day. – Walking strengthens your heart if you’re female. In the Nurses’ Health Study (72,488 female nurses), those who walked three hours or more per week reduced their risk of a heart attack or other coronary events by 35% compared with women who did not walk. – Walking is good for your brain. Researchers found that those who walked the equivalent of 1.5 hours per week had significantly better cognitive function and less cognitive decline than those who walked less than 40 minutes per week. – Walking is good for your bones. Postmenopausal women who walk approximately one mile each day have higher whole-body bone density than women who walk shorter distances, and walking is also effective in slowing the rate of bone loss from the legs. – Walking for 30 minutes, three to five times per week for 12 weeks reduced symptoms of depression by 47%. – Women who performed the equivalent of one hour and 15 minutes to 2 1/2 hours per week of brisk walking had an 18% decreased risk of breast cancer compared with inactive women. Many studies have shown that exercise can prevent colon cancer, and even if a person develops colon cancer, the benefits of exercise appear to continue both by increasing quality of life and reducing mortality. – Walking just three times a week for 30 minutes can significantly increase cardiorespiratory fitness. – Research shows that walking prevents physical disability in older persons. The list goes on. As the old Alka-Seltzer TV commercial proclaimed, “Try it; you’ll like it.”

55+ your health Follow These Guidelines and You’ll Live Longer


etting the recommended amount of exercise could cut your risk of early death, a new study indicates. U.S. government guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or at least 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity a week. They also suggest adults do moderate o r g re a t e r i n t e n s i t y m u s c l e strengthening exercise at least two days a week. That effort pays off in longevity, according to the study published July 1 in BMJ. “Our findings support that the physical activity levels recommended in the 2018 physical activity guidelines for Americans provide important survival benefits,” researcher Bo Xi and colleagues wrote in a journal news release. “Additionally, in accordance with the guidelines, more physical activity than the minimum recommendation could provide g re a t e r h e a l t h b e n e f i t s , ” X i , a professor of cardiovascular epidemiology at Shandong University in China, and co-authors said. To assess the benefits of these guidelines, the researchers analyzed data from nearly 480,000 U.S. adults, ages 18 to 85, who were followed for an average of nearly nine years. During that time, only 16% of the participants fully met the recommended activity levels, and nearly 60,000 died. Compared to those who didn’t meet the recommended activity levels, the risk of death from any cause was 11% lower among those who engaged in sufficient musclestrengthening exercise. It was

29% lower among those who did sufficient aerobic exercise, and 40% lower among those who did both sufficient muscle-strengthening and aerobic activities. The researchers also found that adults who did sufficient aerobic exercise had a lower risk of death from these specific causes — heart d i s e a s e , c a n c e r, c h ro n i c l o w e r respiratory tract diseases, accidents and injuries, Alzheimer ’s disease, and diabetes. Those who did sufficient strengthening exercises had a lower risk of death from heart disease, cancer and chronic lower respiratory tract disease. Survival benefits were slightly higher for vigorous exercise than for light to moderate activity. The study doesn’t establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship. Still, inactivity is a global public health issue. It’s estimated that inactivity was responsible for 6 to 10% of major chronic non-communicable diseases and 9% of early deaths worldwide in 2008. August / September 2020 - 55 PLUS


55+ writing


Steps to Writing a Great Memoir

Want to share a life experience with others?

By Kimberly Blaker


veryone who has ever lived has a story to tell. As you approach mid to later life, you may find yourself reflecting on your past. Perhaps you realize you’ve lived through significant or relatable events, experiences, choices and changes that would be fascinating or helpful to others. This is what leads many people to write a memoir. But how do you go about telling your story? Just follow eight simple tips to get started. Decide what to write about and why


A memoir differs from an autobiography in that it focuses on one aspect of or time from your life. So before you get started, reflect on the reason you want to write a memoir. Then, to find your focus, write down your ideas using methods such as a mind map or stream-of-consciousness writing. Typically, memoirs that do best have a takeaway for the reader. Although your story can and should be unique or unusual, it should also have a core to which the reader can connect. Define your theme and stick to it


Once you’ve decided what your memoir is about, find its theme. A clear theme like coming of age, dealing with loss, friendship, determination or overcoming adversity will help you focus your story and connect to readers. Of course, life doesn’t fit easily into a clean theme or narrative. So try to separate the relevant and extraneous details. Refresh your memories

3. 26

Write down all your relevant

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memories with as much detail as you can remember. Include not only events but also senses and emotions you experienced. Throughout the memoir, remember to show, not just tell, to evoke a more authentic, emotional connection with the reader. If possible, talk to others who were involved in the memories to get their perspective or to trigger memories of details you may have forgotten. Looking at old pictures or journal entries or visiting significant places can also help refresh your memory. If you find this step too challenging, you might not be ready to write about these memories. Perhaps pacing yourself would be easier to manage emotionally. Be authentic


In a memoir, being honest and authentic is essential. If you’re not, it will reflect in your writing and result in disengaging the reader. When

sharing part of your life with others, vulnerability is necessary, so they’ll care about what you’re writing. If you hold back, readers can’t get a full sense of who you are and why your story matters. Keep in mind that no one is perfect. If we were, we wouldn’t have learned or grown. So don’t hide your flaws or bad decisions if they’re part of your story. Develop a structure


Based on your memories and theme, think about how to structure your story. Memoirs often have a personal growth arc, where you learned something or something happened that changed your life. Think about your theme and what you want your reader to get out of your story. An outline can help you stay on the theme while laying out a clear structure that the reader can follow.

Find an interesting way to structure your story; you don’t necessarily want to start at the beginning. Look for an exciting or notable moment to hook your readers and get them wanting more. Get writing


Putting the first draft down on paper can be the hardest part because you’re starting from nothing. It may seem intimidating. But remember that no one ever has to see the first draft. It’s just you telling yourself the story. Also, don’t worry too much about grammar, spelling, structure, or other elements at first because they can distract your train of thought and the flow of writing. Just get your story written down and worry about revision and editing later. If you’re really struggling, try recording yourself telling the memories you want to include, or use a talk-to-text converter. Talking may feel more natural and be a less intimidating way to get started. If it helps, ask someone close to you to be in the room while recording and speak directly to them, so it feels more conversational and

“Throughout the memoir, remember to show, not just tell, to evoke a more authentic, emotional connection with the reader.”

speech is like. Be consistent


If you’re serious about writing your memoir, it’s important to intentionally carve out time to write and work. Writing your memoir will take time and dedication, and likely won’t be easy. A memoir requires an in-depth, sincere look into your own life and the choices you made. There are also more tedious aspects to writing, such as writer’s block, rounds of editing, trying to find a publisher or figuring out how to self-publish. So it natural. may be helpful to join a writing group or find a writing partner to keep you Put your personality into the writing accountable for making progress. This kind of support can also serve as a You’re telling your own resource when you feel stuck or need story, so it should sound like you. an outside opinion. Do you often tell jokes? Swear? Use a Realize that no matter how particular phrase? Include those quirks interesting or tedious you think your from your normal speech into your own life has been, you’ve followed writing. Pay attention to how you talk a unique path with a variety of in your daily life or ask those closest experiences. You’re the only one to you for their observations of how who can tell your story — but there you speak. If you use talk-to-text or a are likely many who will find it recording to do your first draft, that’s a fascinating, useful, or be able to relate. great way to notice what your natural


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August / September 2020 - 55 PLUS




Steady in the Storm Onondaga County Commissioner of Health Indu Gupta used science, calmness to lead community through pandemic storm By Margaret McCormick


ndu Gupta is a passionate advocate of work-life balance. She makes it a point to carve out time in her busy life for activities like yoga, meditation, drawing and cooking. Sometimes she plays the tabla, the drum set commonly played in North Indian music. But the scales of work and life have been out of sync the last few months, and understandably so. Gupta, 60, is Onondaga County’s commissioner of health. If you tune in to County Executive J. Ryan McMahon’s COVID-19 news briefings, you are no doubt familiar with her. The county’s top public health official has become more visible during the coronavirus pandemic, sometimes joining McMahon to share information on new cases, recovered cases, hospitalizations and number of deaths, field questions about testing and contact tracing and implore


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the public to take social distancing and stay-at-home recommendations seriously. She sticks with science and data and speaks clearly and confidently, with a distinct Indian accent. To say she has been putting in long hours is an understatement. Despite the round-the-clock nature of their work, Gupta encourages her staff to take some time each day to renew and recharge, even if it’s something as simple as taking a walk. “You have to put time into your own personal health,’’ she says. “It is very important for your well-being.. I practice what I preach most of the time. During this time, I couldn’t even find five minutes.’’ The coronavirus, the most severe pandemic the world has seen in more than a century, is without a doubt the most daunting challenge Gupta has faced in her career. It’s highly

infectious, hits the elderly, people of color and people with underlying medical conditions particularly hard and has no known cure. At this writing, more than 180 Onondaga County residents have died as a result of the disease. Since early March, Gupta and her team have been hyper-focused on mitigating COVID-19 — flattening the curve. She has earned high praise for her work in keeping Onondaga County residents safe and for her calm in a time of crisis. “Dr. Gupta and her team have performed I think flawlessly in response to COVID-19, not just for our county but for surrounding counties,’’ McMahon says. The health commissioner provided McMahon advice and counsel on everything from closing schools and shopping malls to canceling the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Syracuse,

Nancy Kelly in January performing at The 443 Social Club and Lounge in Syracuse. Photo by Margaret McCormick.

Commissioner Indu Gupta, photographed by Chuck Wainwright in downtown Syracuse June 12. August / September 2020 - 55 PLUS


Indu Gupta speaking at the first of many COVID-19 press briefings in early March with County Executive Ryan McMahon on the left and Commissioner of Emergency Management Daniel Wears at right. Photo provided. as well as bringing testing to high-risk places like senior living facilities. “I’m not a doctor and none of us has ever faced a pandemic before,’’ McMahon says. “For me, what’s really nice about her is we’ve developed a friendship and rapport. She has been a source of comfort. I’m very glad she’s on our team.’’ As a public health official, Gupta considers it her duty to focus on solutions rather than problems and to do so collaboratively. “The word ‘no’ doesn’t exist for me,’’ she says. She grew up in northern India, in the province of Uttar Pradesh, and felt drawn to a career in medicine early on. She loved science, especially biology, and recalls with enthusiasm dissecting insects in school. The family moved often. Her father was a veterinarian and she sometimes accompanied him when he visited villages to make medical calls. Her mother encouraged her and her siblings to excel in school. “Medicine is considered a very noble profession and my mother was a very strong advocate of education, 30

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especially for girls,’’ Gupta says. “She wanted her daughters to get the highest education possible. It seemed like you could be a professor, a teacher, an engineer or a doctor. I thought, doctors are the ones who interact with people and I wanted to be a doctor. It’s very simple — it was a girl’s dream to be a doctor.’’ She completed her medical degree in India and came to the United States as a young woman to continue her studies. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and later earned a master’s in public health from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. She is board-certified in internal medicine.

‘We are in good hands’ Gupta’s long career has taken her from Syracuse to California and back again. She served as director of preventive services for the Onondaga County Health Department from

2005 to 2007, practiced medicine at St. Joseph’s Hospital and taught at Upstate Medical University. She was named commissioner of health in 2014. At the time of her appointment, she was an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. “She’s an impressive woman with terrific credentials, education and experience,’’ former County Executive Joanie Mahoney said at the time of Gupta’s appointment. “I think we are in good hands.” “I moved from LA and its nice beautiful weather to Syracuse,’’ Gupta says with a laugh. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, one might forget that Gupta has other responsibilities. And those responsibilities are major. As commissioner of health, she oversees the Onondaga County Health Department and its 240 employees. Their mission: protect and improve the health of all county residents. Under her leadership, the department underwent rigorous assessment to

Gupta joins her cancer services program staff this past October during a Breast Cancer Awareness Month event where stencils were painted in many areas throughout Onondaga County promoting mammograms for early detection of breast cancer. Photo provided. receive national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board. Gupta advises the many different divisions within the health department. Members of her team encourage the public to get flu and pneumonia shots, offer breast, cervical and colorectal screenings, educate residents about Lyme disease and mosquito-borne illness, inspect homes for lead, make sure restaurants and facilities handle food safely and analyze physical evidence to assist in the investigation of crimes for local law enforcement agencies and the district attorney’s office, among many other things. “It’s a big department,’’ Gupta says. “A lot goes on in the health department. Everybody works quietly in the background to make sure the community is protected.’’ As the county reopens in stages, other critical issues are coming back into focus. One of the biggest challenges the health department has faced is the opioid epidemic, a nationwide problem that has had devastating effects locally. Another concern has been the seasonal appearance of potentially toxic algae bloom on Skaneateles Lake, an issue of urgency because the lake serves as the source of drinking water for Syracuse and its suburbs. Gupta finds “deep satisfaction” in the many facets of her work despite the long days and sometimes sleepless nights. She is concerned about possible second and third waves of the coronavirus, as well as long-term implications of the pandemic, such as the impact of social isolation on mental health, the toll on parents working from home while also homeschooling children and employment uncertainties and the loss of medical insurance coverage. She tries not to take it all home with her. Gupta lives in Jamesville with her husband. They have two adult children. She de-stresses with hobbies like drawing and writing poetry and makes sure to fit in some fitness each

day. She has a small home gym with elliptical equipment, weights and room to unroll her yoga mat. Even if it’s just 20 minutes a day, she says, it is critical to move our bodies. Gupta also loves to cook. She’s a lifelong vegetarian and her specialty is fusion cuisine, a blend of some of the elements of her native Indian food and the food of other cultures. She especially likes to experiment with vegetarian Mexican and Italian food, including homemade pizza. When it comes to age and aging,

Gupta doesn’t like to dwell on the number. She encourages those in the 55-plus demographic to eat healthily, exercise and have “the age-appropriate health screenings” that are critical to disease prevention, like blood pressure and blood sugar checks, mammograms and prostate cancer screenings. “Age is a number. It’s not about the quantity,’’ Gupta says. “You can have a long life but you want to have good quality.’’

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aging By Marilyn L. Pinsky

Traveling Light Through Life


’ve been thinking about what it means to “travel light through life,” and if that is something I can achieve. Obviously, it will mean having less “stuff,” and for me, that’s easier said than done. As I look around, I realize it is the emotional connection to these possessions that will make it so difficult to let them go. Many people used the COVID home confinement time to do the cleanups they have been putting off for years. If you were one of them, was it easier or tougher than you thought it was going to be to pare down? I had a conversation with my favorite licensed clinical therapist, Linda Land, based in Syracuse, about making emotional as well as physical space in our lives. As she and her husband Jay had just moved within the year, I also asked about her personal experience. Marilyn Pinsky: For me, the toughest part of paring down will be sorting through the photographs, even knowing that it is not practical to keep hundreds of similar pictures. But how will my children feel about my throwing out the pictures of their childhood? Linda Land: I knew that would be tough so I started the paring down process with the photographs. After spreading them out on my living room floor, I spent a whole weekend crying my way through them. My son stopped by and didn’t understand what I was making such a big deal about. That reaction inspired me to get on with the rest of my cleanup, as I was really saving them for my children and if they didn’t want them all, what was I keeping them for? However, I did discover a solution — “fragments.” Keep just enough of each experience depicted in the


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‘Traveling light emotionally really comes down to lightening up on our expectations of ourselves.’ photographs so you remember that time of their lives. MP: I have pictures of my mother’s family who died in the Holocaust. How can I just toss them out? I have candlesticks my grandmother brought with her from the old country; but can I expect my children to have the same desire to keep them as I do? I don’t

want to burden them with artifacts that mean nothing to them, but how do you just put things like that in the garbage? (I think I’ll just keep them and accept the fact that my children will ditch them.) LL: Living means having to tolerate and accept loss and the toughest part of giving up our possessions is that it is truly a feeling of loss.

MP: What did you personally learn from the process of paring down? LL: After I thought I was done throwing out anything and everything and was ready to move, my daughterin-law arrived in town. She took a “scorched earth” approach and got rid of things I didn’t even know I had saved. Except for my egg whisker, I haven’t missed a thing. These are three lessons I learned: 1) Keep only what you love and/or can use. 2) Use black bags to throw things out in, as you can’t see through them and change your mind. 3) Life is much easier with limited clothing options. Get rid of the clothes that only fit you for about 10 minutes five years ago. MP: From this confinement and cleaning out experience, might there be lessons about “traveling light” emotionally as well? Is there also a way of making space in our heads to get rid of the worries and hurts that have accumulated over the years? LL: Absolutely. Getting rid of old notions of who we told ourselves we were supposed to be, and ditching the old demands we made on ourselves, will definitely make us lighter emotionally. Traveling light means saying, “OK, this part of my life is over, maybe it’s time to reinvent myself.” Do I have to be perfect at everything? Isn’t good enough, good enough? Do I have to finish that book I started reading but don’t really love? Is it OK to drop projects I’ve lost interest in? It it OK to eat cold cereal for dinner if I don’t feel like cooking? Is it OK to wear my pajama bottoms all day and binge watch old movies? Do I have to be beautiful? Do I have to be skinny? Do I have to call my mother twice a day or is once enough? What other rules can you think of that hold you to a standard that might not fit you anymore? Can you see yourself feeling a sense of relief in breaking those rules? There are so many real demands that require our attention at this stage of life, older parents, our own health issues, our grandchildren’s needs. So traveling light emotionally really comes down to lightening up on our expectations of ourselves.

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55+ abolition Breaking Down Barriers Max Smith, retired city of Oneida mayor, reflects on how abolitionists mission has gone from slavery to racism By Debra J. Groom


here hasn’t been a day in Max Smith’s adult life that he hasn’t been serving his fellow man. This has occurred from his years working with the developmentally disabled in Madison County and the state ARC to his singing at numerous events such as the Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast in Rome. He was mayor of Oneida and represented part of Oneida on the Madison County Board of Supervisors. He has worked with Medicaid recipients on their yearly recertifications. Today in retirement, he is helping senior citizens find just the right Medicare supplement plan so they can rest easy in their golden years. And on top of it all, Smith volunteers hours of his time to tell the story of another Smith — Gerrit Smith of the tiny Madison County hamlet of Peterboro — and his abolitionist work in the 1800s. Max Smith is descended from slaves on both sides of his family who lived and worked in Peterboro. Max Smith works with the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum on its board and as a docent. He has learned more about Gerrit Smith and the importance of ensuring the abolitionist’s story is known far and wide. The mission statement for the Hall of Fame and Museum says it all: “The National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum honors antislavery abolitionists, their work to end slavery and the legacy of that struggle, and strives to complete and second an ongoing abolition — the moral conviction to end racism.” “I can’t talk about it without crying,” Smith said as tears welled in


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his eyes. “I am humbled and proud to work with them.”

The voice Smith, whose full given name is Alden Maxwell Smith, is 66 and was born in Canastota. He has lived most of his life in the city of Oneida. He remembers his childhood as filled with fun with neighborhood kids, whether it was heading over to Otto Behr’s house and playing baseball all day or simply running around outside. The Smiths were a musical family and all the kids in his family played musical instruments. Smith took piano lessons, “but I was always more interested in

baseball,” he said. He regrets quitting piano to this day. But nothing could hold back his robust baritone voice. He loved to sing and thought he might be another Luciano Pavarotti. “In the ‘80s, I was the front man for a wedding band,” he said. “I was the cantor at St. Agatha’s (Roman Catholic church in Canastota).” He later became what he called the Peterboro Troubador, “singing slave songs and spirituals” at AfricanAmerican events throughout Central New York. It was through these singing engagements that he became involved with the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum.

Abolition today Strangely enough, Smith didn’t grow up knowing much about Gerrit Smith and anti-slavery work done in Peterboro, which is a short 11.5 miles from Oneida. He got more deeply involved in the abolitionist movement when he wanted to put together a program merging some of his slave songs with the spoken word presentation to perform at sites throughout Central New York. He joined forces with former Madison County Court Judge Hugh Humphreys, who had written many plays about the Underground Railroad,

A sign outside the barn on the Gerrit Smith Estate telling the story of how slaves would be fed and would rest here before heading on in their journeys to freedom in Oswego and Canada. Photo by Debra J. Groom.

the abolitionist movement and its Madison County roots. And through his research, he found some of his own family members were part of the story. “I was embarrassed by how much I didn’t know,” Smith said. Through a fundraiser at the Morrisville Library, he and Humphreys were able to put together an AfricanAmerican music program that was performed at the Earlville Opera House, at elementary schools and other places. The program featured slave songs with history and narrative. From there, Smith wanted to know more. He became involved with the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum. It was the organization’s mission statement that really hit Smith hard. He said the mission statement — which talks about the abolitionists struggle to end slavery and today’s work to end racism — means so much to him because he thinks of what Gerrit Smith and the abolitionists of the 1800s did as compared to people working at the hall of fame and museum and those protesting racism today. “The abolitionists didn’t work for the African-Americans, they worked with the African-Americans to end slavery,” he said. He said the same is true today as many white people work with blacks to end racism. “About 18 of them take time off and put their effort and dedication into the hall of fame and museum,” Smith said. He said all the work at the museum and the dedication being shown throughout the world to end racism “is the fiber of America that empowers me.” He thinks about what the abolitionists went through in the 1800s as they fought to end slavery and how that compares to what is happening in the U.S. today. “I think what happened with the abolitionists is often overlooked and forgotten,” he said. “There was a lot of resentment and hostility toward them. [Famed abolitionist] William Lloyd Garrison was beaten and stoned. Abolitionists were run out of town. They put their lives on the lines.” To d a y, s i m i l a r s i t u a t i o n s are occurring with white people trying to end racism. Smith said it is “discouraging in some ways” to think people still are fighting about the treatment of African-Americans today, more than 150 years after the end of

Max Smith inside the barn at the Gerrit Smith Estate in Peterboro; the estate is part of the National Historic Site that tells the story of abolitionist work during the 1800s. Photo by Debra J. Groom. the Civil War. In addition to his work at the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum, Smith has been a focal point in planning the annual Emancipation Celebration in Peterboro, held in August to celebrate the freedom from slavery of so many people who lived in Peterboro and Madison County or traveled through on their way to Oswego and Canada. This year’s event has been canceled. He also was a key member of the group who put together the Underground Railroad Consortium display and information at the New York State Fair.

Involved in politics Smith began his time in politics as an Oneida Common Council member. He served from 1992-95, 1998-99 and then again from 2008-2012. In 2012, he was appointed Oneida mayor after the death of Mayor Donald Hudson. He was reelected to a full term in 2013. Smith caused a bit of a political ruckus when he changed parties from Democrat to Republican during one of his common council runs. “I found myself increasingly at odds with the Democrat mayor,” he said. “I told the Democrats I cannot be on the ballot with him — this is about

personal integrity.” He said the Democrats told him it would be political suicide to leave and run for his council seat as a Republican. But, they were wrong as he won by an even greater margin. The mayor at the time was Army Carinci, who served as mayor from 1986-99. Smith is most proud of an accomplishment during his time as mayor when sidewalks finally were installed on the upper end of Lenox Avenue to Walmart. He said the common council had tried for years to get sidewalks put in that location for the many people who walked to Walmart to shop. “In our initial efforts, we were told there was no money for the sidewalks,” he said, noting the project was going to cost about $750,000. But when he became mayor, he reached out for help to various county, regional and state officials. Eventually, the state Department of Transportation approved the project. But Smith also is proud of the legacy he has left for all minorities in the city of Oneida and elsewhere. He said through work with the Madison County Historical Society, he was able to pin down that he was the first African-American ever elected to the Oneida Common Council or as Oneida mayor. August / September 2020 - 55 PLUS


55+ depression

The Mid-Life Crisis It affects many people around age 50 and it’s a phase marked by depression and anxiety By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


arl Jung first identified what is now known as the “mid-life crisis.” It’s often described as a time between one’s 40s and 60s in which people feel regret for missed opportunities and unmet goals; sadness over fleeting youth; dread of older age and diminishing abilities; general discontentment; and desire to reconnect with youth; and the desire to undo mistakes made in youth. Though there’s not a diagnosis for “mid-life crisis,” copious anecdotal evidence indicates many people experience something like this. But why? Depression or anxiety at this age shouldn’t be accepted as a normal


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part of aging. It’s not, according to Geoff Hopkins, board-certified child psychiatrist who practices adult, child and adolescent psychiatry at St. Joseph’s Health. “Many people see a decrease in anxiety as they get older,” Hopkins said. “If you experience an increase, it’s not normal.” He describes patients with depressive disorder as having five of the following core symptoms for at least two weeks: persistent sadness, unproportionate guilt, poor selfimage, difficulty sleeping, low energy, constant fatigue and thoughts of death and suicide. Generalized anxiety disorder is

not just being nervous but exaggerated worry about everyday occurrences. “You have fear that the worst will happen,” said Hopkins. “You show physical signs of stress like nausea, tension headaches, trembling and muscle tightness.” The symptoms may last for six months, all the while the person can generally function fine, but not really enjoy life. “For a lot of individuals at midlife and progressing into retirement, there’s a lot of individual stressors,” Hopkins said. Just as their physical stamina may begin to wane, they may have to face health challenges. “As we get older, we have more risks for serious, chronic diseases that are age-related: heart disease, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, lupus, multiple sclerosis and stroke,” he said. “These are common as we get older.” Mid-life adults may be helping their elderly parents while still caring for their teenaged or young adult children and possibly grandchildren. Some feel sad as their children move out and their bond weakens. By this juncture, they may

experience big changes at work. “For those in a professional career, they’re either coming to the realization that they’re at the peak of their career and want to maintain that and create their legacy or they’re realizing that they’ll never reach that peak,” said Gary J. Dunner, psychotherapist in private practice in Syracuse. “Many who are 50-plus experience agism and may be let go.” Many experience changes in or loss of important relationships at this time. For people who are particularly controlling, facing so many changes at once can cause anxiety and depression. Instead of allowing the changes to contribute to depression and anxiety, Dunner recommends starting with proper self-care, including adequate rest, exercise, healthful diet, hydration and stress management. Improving the outlook also helps. “Learn how to understand your own view and place in the world and take it in holistically,” Dunner said. “Take yourself less seriously. Listen to others more.”

As needed, talking with a trusted friend or seeking therapy can help. Dunner likes mindfulness, meditation and emotional freedom technique as tools to combat depression and anxiety. “They work extremely well without medication assisting individuals to reduce their level of anxiety and depression dramatically,” Dunner said. He also thinks that it’s important to invest into the spiritual self in a meaningful way. At mid-life, it’s essential to plan something to look forward to in retirement and to not leave a huge vacuum post-work. Chris Battles, licensed mental health counselor and national certified counselor practices at Equanimity Counseling in Oswego, encourages mid-life adults to work to redefine success and happiness. “It may not be a happy retirement and sailing off into the sunset,” he said. “Maybe it’s helping support your children who may not be fully employed. It’s a matter of adjustment to what’s necessary rather than longing for what you could have been.”

Battles also encourages cultivating relationships and socializing, not only to stay connected and to belong to a larger group, but also “if we see other people going through this, we might not be so extreme in these remedies.” Although it can be challenging, remaking life to what works — rather than an outdated ideal — can help bring more contentment. Unhealthful coping methods like substance abuse, marital affairs or risky behaviors represent extreme remedies. But moving toward a new goal, such as completing a degree, repairing or ending unhappy relationships, taking a big trip or moving to a different city, can help a mid-lifer move forward. “It’s about the promises we make to ourselves,” Battles said. “It’s a time you could go through rebirth. Depression and anxiety rob you of feelings of power, control, and purpose. It can be a recalibration of everything: definitions of success, happiness, wealth and wellness.”

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55+ adventure

Morocco for Visitors: Expect the Unexpected By Carol Radin


uddenly I was Ingrid Bergman! Descending the stairs of the plane in slow-motion, the wind whipping my hair around my face cinematically, then standing on the very tarmac — I was sure — where she once bade farewell to Humphrey Bogart. Ah, Casablanca! In early March, my husband and I went on a one-week tour of Morocco with a group from Syracuse’s Temple Concord. Our plan was to explore the old world of Jewish communities that had once proliferated in Morocco, and to learn about Muslim religious sites and present-day culture. It was a marvelous opportunity to be in a place where two worlds had once converged and yet were different. We v i s i t e d f o u r c i t i e s — Casablanca, the major port and financial capital; Fez, ancient and beautifully preserved; Rabat, the stately capital; and Marrakesh, with its trendy, resort flair. Our daily walking

tours covered fascinating holy sites, museums, gardens, seaside vistas and even the breathtaking foothills of the Atlas Mountains. It would be hard to single out highlights, but I’ll try.

Holy Sites, Memorials, and Places of Learning In Casablanca, we started with the majestic Hassan II Mosque, which dominates the city’s panorama with the tallest minaret in the world at 689 feet. The location itself is magnificent: a vast sand-colored plaza meets a backdrop of blue oceanfront in a dramatic blend of nature and construction. Inside the mosque itself, visitors are engulfed in a 200-foot-long prayer hall, which can accommodate 25,000 worshippers! Every inch of the soaring walls is embellished with intricate mosaic of blues, marble and granite accents, bordered by carved stonework arches.

So much merchandise at the markets! I should have bargained for twofor-one! 38

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Non-Muslim visitors can enter only with a tour guide, and all must take off their shoes inside the doorway before walking on the gleaming glass floor. We learned that worshippers perform a ritual cleaning of their faces, hands and feet before praying, so the stonefloored bathrooms are long spaces with shallow washing troughs for at least 25 people. The beauty of this prayer hall and the breadth of its spiritual rituals make this Mosque a must-see. Afterwards, we had a seafood lunch on a breezy restaurant deck overlooking the ocean and watched the many Moroccan families strolling at their leisure. After a day and a half in Casablanca, it was on to Fez, where we plunged into the Medina, which means “town” or “city” in Arabic and now refers to the old part of the city. We spent five hours in the Medina, and it was admittedly jarring. Narrow, uneven cobblestone streets gave me a closed-in feeling. We dodged mopeds buzzing just inches past our elbows and toes, pack animals carrying wares and merchants pushing handcarts, sidestepped the occasional plop of dung and bird waste, and tried to ignore the skinny cats at every turn. The streets smelled of dust, dung, cigarette smoke, cooking stoves. The merchants shouted for us to make way for their handcarts or cried out from their shops to show us silver bracelets, pottery and purses. If I dared turn toward a shop, yet another moped would speed past and I’d have to jump! Although fascinated and amused, I was frankly ready to go home, like New York-suburb-home. Back at the hotel that night, I gave myself a pep talk. I would have to go with the flow. After all, I had not come for Disney World. I had come to see how different Morocco could be. Once I acclimated to expecting the unexpected, the trip got better. And to be fair, I saw many wonderful sites that day. Inside Fez’s Medina, the 14th century Madrasa Bou Inania, an institution of learning for Muslim scholars and one of their few religious places that non-Muslims can visit, was a beautiful study in Muslim architecture. It is the only Moroccan madrasa with a minaret, its tiled and carved motifs a fitting tower for its scholarly place in Moroccan history. Elbow to elbow with other tourists, we entered a sunny courtyard bordered

by tiled columns and pointed arches, open areas of stucco walls with cedar wood accenting the windows, and small austere rooms for study and prayer. Another place of learning in the Medina is the University of Al-Karaounine, or Al-Qarawiyyin, a UNESCO site and one of the oldest operating degree-granting universities in the world. As non-Muslims, we were able only to peek into the serene stone courtyard, where students were removing their shoes and preparing for prayer. In Fez’s Mellah (Jewish neighborhood), we toured two old synagogues, in particular the 17thcentury El Fassiyine synagogue which the Foundation of Moroccan-Jewish Cultural Heritage had helped to restore to its former simple splendor in collaboration with the German Foreign Ministry. To our group, Morocco’s part in the restoration was affirmation for the country’s Jewish citizens — which now number under 3000, where once the Jewish population was around 250,000. El Fasssiyine, no bigger than the first floor of a modest Western house, had striking floor tiles of gray and white zigzag design, old metal ceiling lanterns, and archways and stucco walls of faint coral. For grandeur and a glimpse into the 12th century, our next city, Rabat, was a treasure. During our visit, Morocco’s current King Mohammed VI was in residence in the Royal Palace, where palace guards stood sentry in crisp red coats. In Morocco’s constitutional monarchy, the king has extensive powers, and appoints the prime minister and members of Parliament. Mohammed VI’s late father Hassan II and his grandfather Mohammed V are laid to rest in a magnificent mausoleum in Rabat. Amidst another dramatic ocean backdrop, visitors enter and view the gleaming onyx tombs from a wrap-around balcony above. The surrounding walls are inlaid with interlocking designs and geometric patterns in earth colors and deep blues, a grand design for an environment of reverence and reflection. Not far from the mausoleum is the old walled city and Kasbah des Oudayas, a sedate area of narrow hilly streets and stone facades, where little has changed since the 12th century. We meandered through lush areas of

Carol Radin and her husband Lewis at the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca. The Mosque can accommodate 25,000 for worship.

A vegetable tagine. And that was only lunch! August / September 2020 - 55 PLUS


orange trees hanging low with clusters of fruit and panoramic ocean overlooks viewed through dramatic archways or from small cafes with stone tables. For our last stop on tour, Marrakesh was truly a grand finale. The Floridianlike pinks and corals of resort hotels and apartments, the stylish boutiques and cafes, and the exuberant open markets were captivating. A city of contrasts, Marrakesh also offers architectural sites of historical and religious significance. It was there we visited two synagogues, most notably the blue and white-tiled Slat Al Azama Synagogue, established in 1492 when Jews fled from persecution in Spain and Portugal. Turning once again to Muslim history, we saw the Saadian Tombs, commemorated to the 16th and 17th century Saadi Dynasty, with columns of fine stonework like lace, the mosaic tiles typical of Moroccan architecture, and a solemn garden cemetery. The Bahia Palace was another highlight, a grand complex from the 19th century named after the favorite wife of the owner, the grand vizier of the Sultan. “Bahia” means “brilliance,” and the tiled courtyard surrounded by gleaming colonnades of yellow, green and blue bear out the name. The grand vizier had more than simply a favorite wife. Many of the rooms off the courtyard garden were quarters for his harem of 24 concubines!

The Street Markets Travelers to Morocco must shop in the street markets — those endlessly entertaining high-decibel warrens of stone-cobbled streets that defy street maps. In Marrakesh, a visitor’s initiation to the “souk” begins in Jemaa el-Fna Square, a crazy canvas come alive. Men with live snakes thick as boas wrapped around their necks, monkeys on leashes, hand-and-toe jugglers, snake charmers with sleepy snakes, camel rides, bracelet peddlers — and those mopeds! Where to go first? Here in the U.S., I would never browse through four consecutive shops of paisley harem pants. In Marrakesh, it just made sense. We could have all the pants, gauzy skirts, djellabas, tagine pots, wood carvings, stringed folk instruments, key chains and bargain store socks we wanted. Or how about a whirlpool washing machine? 40

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Before we disbursed for the markets, our guide had cheerfully advised, “Do not show the slightest interest or touch ANYTHING unless you’re ready to buy it.” He was right. The merchants are good at putting closure on a sale. If I engaged in a conversation with them at all, they would have me convinced in two minutes that I couldn’t not buy something, since I myself had just admitted that, yes, the blouse was pretty and therefore worth the price. Morocco is known for its tanneries, Berber carpets, and argan oil, a rich moisturizer with anti-oxidant properties for skin and hair. We visited high-end shops for each of these products. The tannery in particular, where we toured the processing facility, was like a place out of time. We climbed to the fourth floor where we got an overview of the courtyard below, an expanse the size of a sports field with a honeycomb of giant barrels of dye, in purple, sapphire blue, brick red, ruby red, tan, gold; shapeless white skins drying on clotheslines; and busy workers balancing on the barrel rims. The finished products were jammed in showroom after showroom: racks of every crayon color of jacket and trench coat imaginable. Likewise the Berber carpet shop, where roll after roll of 8 by 10’s and 9 by 12’s were lowered at our request and whipped open on the floor, so striking in their contrasting patterns that they seemed to glow. This was the place to purchase a carpet, and several in the group did so. As the shop’s owner promised, the carpets, even the larger ones, were delivered to the buyers’ doors in the States within days of the end of the trip.

The Food, the Food, the Food No trip to Morocco would be complete without trying all the food — the tagines with their stacks of squashes, onions and couscous; the oily lamb shanks; the seafood fresh from the ocean and batter-fried; and the crispy pastille — Morocco’s version of the meat turnover. Day after day at lunch and dinner, we never tired of the heavy tagine pot being lowered onto our table and its funnel-shaped lid lifted to reveal the steaming chunks of red, green and yellow vegetables beneath. The lamb and brisket, also amazing. A few of us had our most

memorable meal in the Marrakesh souk, in a simple open-air dining room with formica tables where mostly Moroccan men sat eating. There was one entrée: a cafeteria tray spread with parchment paper and stacked with a cut-up side of lamb, tender and oiled with preserved lemons, which we ate mostly with our hands. Morocco’s French influence shows up, too. Who could resist those glass bakery cases of brioche, chocolate croissants, and Madeleine cookies? And of course— espresso! Then there is the Moroccan mint tea, which spoiled me for mint tea forever. It is served steaming in clear glass cups, so the diner can see the lush green mint leaves curled inside, fragranced with honey.

What Not to Take For Granted Although Morocco makes for a fascinating trip, U.S. visitors will encounter inconveniences. One in particular is the plumbing and bathrooms. While our hotels were part of well-rated chains with comfortable facilities, that is not always the case when venturing out to the venerated cultural sites and markets, where the facilities often have old bathroom fixtures and scant soap and toilet paper! Tissues and hand sanitizer are a must. So is bottled water; the tap water is not for drinking. I also observed that there are few accommodations for wheelchairs and people with walkers. The many staircases are often stone and often steep. It was not at all unusual to enter restaurants and shops that went up and up and up, four levels. If someone needs alternate access to buildings and more frequent restroom stops, it is advisable to check for elevators before visiting particular sites. All in all, though, so much of what was wonderful still resonates with me: the sunny shirtsleeve weather, the Muslim call to prayer that sounds daily across the city spaces, the sand color of streets and stone facades, the remarkable architecture and veneration for religion and history, all bumped up against the noisy marketplaces and steaming street food. I’m so glad now that I didn’t yearn for my New York-suburban home the entire time I was there!

consumers corner By Eva Briggs, M.D.


The Lowdown on Osteoarthritis (and How to Treat It)

steoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis. It develops over time, as the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones wears down. But it’s not just wear and tear of the cartilage. Inflammation of the joint lining, as well as changes in the adjacent bone and connective tissues that hold the joint together all contribute. Who gets osteoarthritis? Age is one risk factor. Gender is another. OA is more common in women. Some people inherit a genetic susceptibility to OA. Other risk factors are injury, obesity, repetitive stress, bone deformities and some inherited metabolic diseases. The most commonly affected joints are knees, hips, hands and spine. Symptoms of OA worsen over time, usually gradually, sometimes with flare-ups. Pain is typically worse during or after movement. Joints can become stiff, especially first thing in the morning or following inactivity such as prolonged sitting. Affected areas may be tender to touch. Joints lose flexibility and range of motion, unable to bend as far as they once did. Soft tissue inflammation around the joint and fluid in the joint produce swelling. Bone spurs can form, further contributing to joint deformities and decreased movement. There may be a grating sensation in the joint. Treatment starts with exercise to strengthen supporting muscles and weight loss to decrease the stress on weight-bearing joints. Exercise should include strengthening as well as aerobic activities such as walking, swimming, biking, yoga and tai chi. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, often effectively relieve pain. But they should be used with caution due to potential side effects.

‘I’m hoping that someday there will be a therapy discovered that will stimulate my knees to regrow new cartilage before they need replacement.’ Some NSAIDs increase blood pressure and stroke risk. They can cause ulcers, intestinal bleeding and kidney damage. For this reason, don’t exceed the recommended dosage. Different people respond differently to various medicines, so it may be necessary to try experiment with different NSAIDs to find the most helpful one. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is not very effective but may ease mild pain. Topical medicines — creams or gels applied to the skin — are another option. Some NSAIDs come in a topical form. They work best for knee or hand pain, but can be expensive. They cause fewer gastrointestinal side effects than NSAIDs taken by mouth. One of these medicines, Voltaren gel, is available over the counter. Capsaicin is an overthe-counter topical medicine that may help although it can cause stinging and burning. It is usually less effective than topical NSAIDs. There is no evidence that cannabidiol, lidocaine, or methyl salicylate are effective, but some people find relief from them. Another option is duloxetine (Cymbalta). This antidepressant is also effective for chronic pain. It may take two to four weeks to work. Side effects include nausea, dry mouth and dizziness. Tramadol, an opiate, is a last resort for severe pain. Its use may avoid the

use of stronger opioids or surgery. Steroid joint injections provide short-term relief of pain to a single joint. Hyaluronic acid injections have limited effectiveness and high cost. And stem cell injections come with safety risks and have no proof of efficacy. There is limited evidence that supplements such as glucosamine sulfate or SAMe help. But they are unlikely to harm. They may require a few months to work. If you have OA, you are not alone. Over 32.5 million US adults are in the same boat. Personally, I’m hoping that someday there will be a therapy discovered that will stimulate my knees to regrow new cartilage before they need replacement.

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life after 55 By Michele Reed


Baguettes, Boules and Batards: the Beautiful Breads of France

ith travel disrupted this spring and summer due to the pandemic, we’ve been unable to return to France. While we can’t wait to see our neighbors in the village again, there’s no denying the wonderful food of France is high on our list of things we miss. We both love the cheeses, fresh vegetables and olives, but the iconic food of France — and my personal favorite — is bread. Bread, le pain, is so intrinsic a part of French culture, that traditions, superstitions and sayings have evolved around it. There are plenty of taboos, too, including never biting the tip off your baguette while walking down the street. It’s considered bad luck to lay your baguette upside down on the table, and old-timers have been known to instinctively reach out and turn over a loaf they see laying top down. And finally, my favorite expression about bread is “Long comme un jour sans pain,” or “As long as a day without bread,” meaning an unbearably long period of time. When we first bought our house in France, one of the things that thrilled me most was the fact that there was a boulangerie, or bakery, two doors down. Nothing was better than awakening each morning to the aroma of fresh baked bread. Bruno, our artisan boulanger, fired up his woodburning oven at 5 a.m. and filled it with the baguettes, boules and batards that the villagers lined up to buy at 7 o’clock. The first thing I would do each morning, even before coffee, was to take the short walk to the boulangerie. At the sound of the bell, Bruno would come hustling out of the kitchen, his T-shirt and apron covered in flour, to hand me my daily bread and share a chat. We soon became friends. Bruno


Photos by Bill Reed

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loved to travel and to hear about the world. He took it upon himself to improve my spoken French, often correcting my pronunciation and teaching me new words, both of which I appreciated. For his part, he enjoyed practicing his English skills. He was fascinated by stories of Oswego, our fishing and winter weather, and often said he couldn’t wait to retire so he could come and visit. The fifth generation of a family

of bakers feeding our village for more than 100 years, he took pride in teaching me about the various baked goods on offer. I soon learned to prefer the tradition, a baguette made with grade of flour and recipe both specified by law. He taught me about the sweet brioche and the January 6 King’s Cake complete with a hidden prize, and the southern French specialty of fougasse, a kind of pizza-pretzel hybrid with olives, cheese and sundried tomatoes.

A hunk of bread cut from a 4-foot loaf on a scarred wooden table on the sidewalk, and a pain au chocolat was a typical day’s purchase at Boulangerie Cristal.

Usually if I asked about something I’d never tried before, he’d just wrap it up and give it to me as a petit cadeau, the little gift offered by French merchants. We were broken hearted when we returned one January to find that Bruno had had to give up the boulangerie and go to work in a bakery in a nearby town, since his only child chose to become a policewoman rather than a baker. One evening, we were watching a popular French TV show “The Best Boulanger in France,” where a local Beziers boulangerie scored 10 out 10 points for a specialty of the region, “La Coque de St. Aphrodise.” This glazed raised doughnut perfumed with fleur d’orange is named after the city’s patron saint. The Boulangerie Cristal became our new go-to source for baked goods, including classic French pastries that were as beautiful to look at as they were delicious to eat. Once a week, the bakery, which was started by the café owners next door to supply their tables with good bread, would make a huge loaf, four feet long, and set it out on a scarred oak table right on the sidewalk. There, you would specify how much you wanted — by pointing or holding your hands apart — and the baker would cut off a chunk for you. I’d fill my bread sack on our daily trips to town for errands, and it was all I could do to not devour the lot on the bus ride home. Once there, we’d enjoy a simple lunch of fresh baguette spread with a creamy French cheese, with some apple or tomato slices on the side. A petit blanc, or tiny glass of white wine, completed our Frenchstyle lunch. So, after months of missing the French boulangerie delicacies that were my daily treat, as this spring’s quarantine dragged on, I joined a popular trend among the homebound: baking my own bread. I found a no-knead recipe, which took nearly 24 hours to complete, the dough rising slowly to achieve a yeasty flavor and chewy bite with a passable crust that brought me back to France. Brie is available here in the States, so a little bit spread on this homemade loaf gave me and Bill and taste of our other home. We’ll be back in France someday enjoying an artisanal loaf, but until then, it will seem “long comme un jour sans pain.”

A sliced pear makes a satisfying lunch with crusty French bread and a pungent cheese, served on an antique plate Bill found at the brocante or flea market.

A plate of baguette slices spread with creamy cheese and accompanied by fresh figs, is one of our everyday lunches in France.

A plate of croissants was a petit cadeau or little gift from Bruno, our boulanger, which we enjoyed along with Roquefort cheese and sparkling wine, gifts from our butcher and cheese seller. August / September 2020 - 55 PLUS


druger’s zoo

By Marvin Druger Email:


How I Spent My COVID-19 Vacation

s I write this article, we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The government is deciding whether to continue lockdowns or slowly open the economy. The matter is a balance of risks. Either we open the economy, regardless of the continued spread of COVID-19, or we risk another Great Depression. We all know the main rules: wash hands thoroughly and frequently for at least 20 seconds; avoid touching your face; stay away from people; stay home if you feel ill; wear a mask. Te s t i n g a n d t r a c i n g a r e fundamental to controlling the virus. Social distancing is very important. As Dr. Anthony Faucci said, “If you stay away from people, the virus has no place to go.” Everyone I know, including myself, is frightened about catching this very contagious disease. There is good reason to be anxious and frightened, but this is not the first viral pandemic. In the past, we have dealt with the Spanish Flu of 1918, which killed at least 50 million people worldwide, polio, measles, smallpox, SARS and MERS. Somehow humanity has survived these pandemics. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused emotional stress and behaviors have changed. Life will be different from now on. I began to reflect on changes in behavior caused by the pandemic and what the long-term future will be like. Before COVID-19, I went to Metro Fitness Health Club in Fayetteville frequently and then spent an active day socializing and doing a variety of things. Since COVID-19, I have adopted different lifestyle. I get up at my usual time, (6 a.m.), and think “Where am I rushing to?” Then, I go back to sleep for an hour or so. Then, I do a morning exercise routine that


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involves stretching, lifting weights and pedaling on a bicycle machine. This is followed by a shower. I eat breakfast, but then what? There are many tasks to be done in my house and outside, but I have difficulty getting to do them. Motivation is lacking. My attitude is that I have plenty of time to do these things tomorrow, but I don’t feel like doing anything today. I may vacuum the house, work on a jigsaw puzzle on the dining room table, watch some of the COVID news on TV and plan lunch or dinner. Sometimes, I wipe doorknobs, handles and surfaces with disinfectant. I wonder why? Am I afraid of catching the virus from myself? In the afternoon, I take an afternoon walk around the neighborhood. Before I can organize myself to be productive, the day is gone, and I prepare for the barrage of text messages and phone calls from my family. In the evening, just before going to sleep, I

read a few pages from a book. I am reading Charles Darwin’s last book on earthworms (i.e., “Vegetable Mould and Earthworms”). Thrilling reading. Before I know it, another day has gone by. I often forget what day or time it is. I put the garbage at the curbside on Mondays. It seems that Mondays come very quickly and I am always putting out the garbage. I feel like I am in a perpetual daze. I think of my poem in my book “Strange Creatures and Other Poems”: When I sleep, I sleep like a log, When I’m awake, I’m in a fog. Since my wife passed away in 2014, I live alone in a large house. I enjoy solitude, but not loneliness. I can imagine what it is like in a family that is in lockdown. Usually, husband and wife separate during the day and are away from the children. Because of COVID-19, a married couple spends much more time with each other and with the kids. This leads to conflicts and emotional stress. In happy marriages, husband and wife usually follow their own unique interests much of the time. There is a limit to “togetherness.” Too much “togetherness” can lead to getting on each other’s nerves. Shopping for groceries has become an interesting challenge. I called the supermarket and they told me that the store was least crowded at 7:30 p.m., so that’s when I shop once a week. It is strange to see everyone wearing a mask and pushing a sanitized cart. Shoppers walk briskly and avoid each other. Sometimes, quantities of purchases of a particular item are limited. Toilet paper, sanitizing fluids, detergents, napkins, disinfecting wipes, soups and cans of tuna fish seem to be in high demand. Everyone seems to rush to complete shopping as quickly as possible. Take-out dining is an interesting experience. I order my food by phone and pay in advance with my credit card. The restaurant has parking places for take-out and a worker brings the food to a small table near the car. I get out of the car and grab the food, making sure that my face mask is in place. In one Chinese restaurant, the entire counter is walled off with a sheet of plastic, except for a small area near the cash register where food and

money are exchanged. My reaction to take-out is: “Get used to it. I’ll be doing this for a long time.” It’s difficult to imagine how dining in a restaurant will ever be the same. Schools are closed and online teaching has become well-established. My daughter, Lauren, is a first-grade teacher in Montgomery County, Maryland, and she teaches daily using Zoom. She works very hard preparing the Zoom sessions and the students and parents seems appreciative of her efforts. She misses not seeing the students in person, but schools will have to adopt online teaching indefinitely. Masks are the items of the day. I have some 3M masks, but I don’t wear them because they should only be for health workers. I bought them for my trip to India and wore them because of the severe pollution in Delhi. Rather than explain how I got the mask, I use other ones. My daughter-in-law, Suzanne, is an artist. Her masks are colorful, breathable, washable and even have a replaceable filter. I want her to start a business and sell them online as “Suzanne’s Masks.” When I see a person in a mask, I try to imagine the expression behind the mask. Is the person smiling at my jokes, or sneering? When I enter a store, I feel like a masked gangster. But masks are definitely the apparel of the present and the future. The weirdest experience nowadays is taking a walk in the neighborhood. I have been exploring streets that I never knew existed. When someone walks toward me, I cross the street. If someone is gardening, I stop and yell greetings. What strikes me most is the ominous silence. There is no noise of everyday living. The silence is oppressive and eerie. I feel like I am in a dream world, actually more like the twilight zone. Is this all real? I have to keep reminding myself that pandemics have happened before and humanity has survived. The best scientists in the world are working frantically to develop a vaccine and drugs for effective treatment of COVID-19. Scientists are using advanced technologies that may help speed up the process. Meanwhile, we have to live in this surreal world. Someday I will awaken from this nightmare and realize that it was just another bad dream. Or was it?

Why Do More Women Have Alzheimer’s than Men? Experts: It’s not just from living longer



women are more likely than men to have changes in the brain related to Alzheimer ’s disease, as detected by imaging, even when there are no differences in thinking and memory. This may be associated with hormonal changes due to menopause, specifically the loss of estrogen, according to a study published in the June 24 online issue of “Neurology,” the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. “About two-thirds of people living with Alzheimer’s are women, and the general thinking has been it’s because women tend to live longer,” said study author Lisa Mosconi, Ph.D., of Weill Cornell Medicine, New York. “Our findings suggest that hormonal factors may predict who will have changes in the brain. Our results show changes in brain imaging features, or biomarkers in the brain, suggesting menopausal status may be the best predictor of Alzheimer’s related brain changes in women.” The study involved 85 women and 36 men with an average age of 52 who had no cognitive impairment. The men and women had similar scores on thinking and memory tests and measures such as blood pressure and family history of Alzheimer’s. P a r t i c i p a n t s h a d p o s i t ro n emission tomography (PET) scans to see if they had amyloid-beta plaques in the brain, a biomarker associated with Alzheimer ’s disease. They also had detailed brain magnetic resonance imaging scans (MRI). Researchers compared the women and men in four key areas

of brain health to assess their risk of having Alzheimer’s biomarkers: the volumes of both gray and white matter in the brain, levels of amyloid-beta plaques, and the rate at which the brain metabolizes glucose, an indication of brain activity. The women scored worse on all four of those measures. On average, the women had 30% more beta amyloid plaques in the brain, and 22% lower glucose metabolism than the men did. When measuring average gray matter volume, the women had 0.73 cubic centimeters (cc/cm3) compared to men who had 0.8 cm3, a difference of 11%. For average white matter volume, the women had 0.74 cm3 compared to men who had 0.82 cm3, a difference of 11%. “Our findings suggest that middleaged women may be more at risk for the disease, perhaps because of lower levels of the hormone estrogen during and after menopause,” Mosconi said. “While all sex hormones are likely involved, our findings suggest that declines in estrogen are involved in the Alzheimer’s biomarker abnormalities in women we observed. The pattern of gray matter loss in particular shows anatomical overlap with the brain estrogen network.” Mosconi said one limitation of the study is that only healthy, middleaged people without severe brain or cardiovascular disease participated. Larger studies that follow up with participants over a period of time are needed. This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute on Aging, the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, and the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement. August / September 2020 - 55 PLUS




10 Ways to Explore Madison County By Sandra Scott


ocated in Central New York, Madison County has the perfect location. It is close to major cities, the Finger Lakes, and the Adirondack Mountain. The county is blessed with a diversity of things to see and do from sparkling waterfalls to historic sites to great antique hunting. The county was named for the fourth President of the United States, James Madison. Three colleges call Madison County home: Cazenovia College, Colgate University and SUNY Morrisville. Erie Canal: The Erie Canal cuts through Madison County. Today the Old Erie Canal State Historic Park is home to one of the only remaining portions of the original Erie Canal. The old towpath extends 36 miles through Chittenango and Canastota. In Canastota the Canal Museum is housed in one of the oldest structures on Canal Street. The Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum has a three-bay dock where 96-foot-long Erie Canal boats were built and repaired during the 19th and 20th centuries. The on-site interpretive center and library provides handson activities and exhibits. There is also a sunken canal boat, blacksmith shop, sawmill, stable, warehouse and woodworking shop. Underground Railroad: The National Abolition Hall of Fame in Peterboro is the perfect place to start for an overview of the Underground Railroad. In 1835 when the NYS Antislavery Society tried to hold its meeting in Utica they were driven out by a mob to Peterboro w h e re G e r r i t S m i t h w e l c o m e d



Madison County has one of the newest waterfalls that is now open to the public. Delphi Falls County Park, opened to the public in August 2018, contains two waterfalls, a house, a barn and surrounding woodland. 46

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reformers, especially abolitionists. The hall of fame is located in the Smithfield Community Center where that historic meeting was held. The Gerrit Smith Estate, a National Historic Landmark, is located nearby. Land of Oz: Chittenango is the home of the International L. Frank Baum & All Things Oz Historical Foundation. Chittenango is the birthplace of author L. Frank Baum, whose works include “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” Each year, for more than 40 years, the thousands of people attend the Oz-Stravaganza, a multi-day event with live music, costume contests, food, rides, vendors and fireworks. The event has been canceled this year but will return June 4-6, 2021. Ringside: Canastota was the hometown of Carmen Basilio, a world champion boxer in both the welterweight and middleweight divisions, beating Sugar Ray Robinson for the middleweight title. The small town was also the home town of Basilio’s nephew, Billy Backus, a world welterweight champion. To honor these hometown boxers the International Boxing Hall of Fame was created. Starting in 2020 women will be inducted for the first time. Ceremonies are held each year to honor the new inductees. The Arts: At the Art Stone Quarry Hill Art Park visitors have the opportunity to explore unique outdoor artwork amidst 104 acres of conserved land, along four miles of trails. Over 100 artists from 19 states and eight foreign countries have artwork on display. The county is home to several instructions of higher learning where there are often live theater presentations and art shows. Check out events at the Palace in Hamilton and the Nelson Odeon in Cazenovia. The Beverage Trail: Something for every taste can be found in Madison County. The county was once the leading producer of New York state hops. The heritage continues: Foothill Hops Farm Brewery is the first commercial grower of hops in the county in over 50 years. Like most of the craft breweries in the county, they use locally grown hops. Good Nature Farm Brewery recently won gold medals for four of their IPAs. In Lebanon Old Home Distillers produces handcrafted spirits,



The International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota honors boxers from all corners of the country.


Chittenango is the home of the International L. Frank Baum & All Things Oz Historical Foundation. That where author L. Frank Baum, whose works include “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” was born.


The historic Lorenzo House overlooking Cazenovia Lake. August / September 2020 - 55 PLUS


including bourbon, whiskey, gin and brandy. Just one of the crops at Critz Farms Brewing and Cider Co. is their hard cider. Try “Betty’s White” wine at the Owera Vineyards. Waterfalls: Madison County has one of the newest waterfalls that is now open to the public. Delphi Falls County Park, opened to the public in August 2018, contains two waterfalls, a house, a barn and surrounding woodland. Currently, the falls are accessible for viewing from the bottom via a newly created stone dust path. The county is home to several picturesque falls with Chittenango Falls being one of the favorites. The falls can be viewed from the top or from the bottom via a winding trail. Shopping: Antique lovers all know the name Bouckville where the largest antique show in New York state is held. Each year the event hosts over 2000 dealers and vendor in 14 show fields and stores along historic Route 20. Admission is free and food trucks are on site. Check out the unique shop such as Cazenovia Artisans, The Shoppes at Johnny Appleseed, and Evergreen Gallery and Gifts. Historic Houses: During the 1800s there were several attempts to create the perfect society — Utopia. The Oneida Community founded by John Humphrey Noyes was one of them. All that is left today is the Oneida Community Mansion House. The historic house has a museum that details their religion and societal practices that rejected monogamy and where all decisions about childbearing and rearing were decided by committee. The community manufactured Oneida flatware from 1848 to 1880. Not to miss is the historic Lorenzo House overlooking Cazenovia Lake. The 1807 Federal style home of John Lincklaen was continually occupied by the family until 1968 when it was conveyed to New York state. Don’t miss the formal garden and Dark Aisle Arboretum. Out-of-doors: Any season is a good time to visit Madison County. Go horseback riding and hiking, plus boating and kayaking on one of the more than 15 lakes and ponds. During the winter enjoy cross country skiing and snowshoeing.





The National Abolition Hall of Fame in Peterboro is the perfect place to start for an overview of the Underground Railroad. 48

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golden years By Harold Miller


Our Urban Exodus Begins Living in major U.S. cities is becoming too chaotic, dangerous, stressful and expensive


mong the most durable of our institutions are the great American cities — built quickly from almost nothing across a vast continent into social and economic success. Together we have built massive urban centers such as New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, to name some of our major centers of business, trade, education and entrepreneurism. However, the Brookings Institution recently reported that the migration into these large metropolitan areas is now reversing and the cities are leaking people, mostly because of the high cost of living, including real estate and taxes. Within the last year, over a half million people (many retirees) have moved from New York to Florida, and major business headquarters are following suit. Beyond the economic exodus, many people feel that it is time to separate themselves and their families from the social and political violence going on in these cities. New York City, for example, in June endured weeks of protests, marches, cherry bombs exploding day and night, shops looted and burned, and raging war between protesters and the police that were trying to maintain law and order. Many people have been injured while the protesters chant, “defund the police.” Believe it or not, the New York City Council has agreed to cut the police budget by $1 billion. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a plaintive request to the daily street protesters: “You don’t have to protest — you won, you won.” Then

‘Within the last year, over a half million people (many retirees) have moved from New York to Florida, and major business headquarters are following suit. ‘ he added:” What reform do you want? What do you want? Meanwhile, the crimes and shootings skyrocketed elsewhere. In California, the stage for this mayhem was set a few years ago when California decided to empty its mental institutions and let the patients live in the outside world or go back to their families. More recently, California legalized marijuana. The combination of these irresponsible actions drove the homeless, intoxicated people to create “tent cities” on multiple blocks of downtown streets in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco. Seattle became another victim of the protests who also took over city streets in June. Some of the protesters broke into stores, stole merchandise and burned buildings. A six-block area of downtown was created and cordoned off by a self-styled group called Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP). The group declared this area of Seattle belonged to it. When Mayor Jenny Durkan was asked how long this mutiny might last, she replied, “I don’t know. We could have a Summer of Love.” The mayor soon reversed her attitude when a group of Black Lives Matter protesters marched to her home (spray painting her house in the process) to press their demands, which included completely defunding the Seattle Police Department. Finally,

their actions infuriated the mayor and she issued an executive order for the police to disassemble the self-styled CHOP area. The decision to re-take the CHOP area was inevitable and should serve as a cautionary lesson to other big-city leaders to never agree to “absurd” demands, according to Eugene O’Donnell, a professor of law and police studies at Manhattan’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He said, “You can’t run a government based on how loud people are shouting.” The quality of the response, by both political and institutional urban leadership, to the pressure from these events has been so uniformly unproductive, it underwrites the fact that it is no longer advantageous to live in big cities. The cost vs. benefit just is not working anymore. The unhappy result is that young families and well-off retirees (those who pay the taxes) will leave and the metropolitan areas will become increasingly divided as upscale young people will be further divided and inner-city neighborhoods will fall further behind. Beyond that it is becoming damned dangerous to live in our metropolitan cities.

August / September 2020 - 55 PLUS


last page Mike Brown, 74

By Mary Beth Roach

Vietnam vet receives the Volunteer of the Year award from the H. Lee White Maritime Museum


e has served in Vietnam; he’s been an industrial arts teacher; and he retired from the Oswego School District, after handling its printing for more than 20 years. Today, Mike Brown’s experience inspires his volunteer work with the H. Lee White Maritime Museum in Oswego. He has built several of the displays inside the museum; gives tours of the famous U.S. Army LT-5 (Large Tug) in the Oswego Harbor; and has been key in restoring it, nimbly climbing up and down the vessel’s narrow steps and ladders between its decks. The LT-5 was vital in the D-Day invasion in Normandy in 1944, and shot down a German fighter plane. Q: You received the Museum’s Volunteer of the Year Award in 2019 and 2015. What does that mean to you? A: It’s an honor to be recognized. Merc [Museum executive director Mercedes Niess] and the board of

directors go all out for the volunteers because the volunteers put a lot of time. It’s quite an honor. Q: How long have you been a volunteer at the H. Lee White Maritime Museum? A: About five years now. Q: What prompted you to volunteer at the museum instead of with another organization? A: I retired in 2012 from the Owego City School District. My wife, Jeanne, was already retired. She suggested I come down here and volunteer. Q: What do your duties involve? A: Right now, it’s mostly working on the LT-5, trying to keep it in shape — scraping and painting. It’s going to need some more painting after this winter. I just finished doing the life rings. I repaired all the nicks and dent and mounted new rope to them. I hand painted the lettering on them. Last year I finished up painting the

whole superstructure and hull and decks. That took three years to do. Just keeping things shipshape on it. I have to replace all the fenders on it. It was banging against the piers this spring and broke a line. The ship does belong to the [Oswego] Port Authority. They give it to us to display it as long as we keep it up. I made a canvas cover for the stack two years ago. It keeps the snow and rain out. Q: What’s your favorite part of this work? A: I’m working out on the boats. I grew up around boats. I grew up on Long Island as a kid. I did two tours of Vietnam. Q: You’re a Vietnam veteran, having served two tours with the Navy Seabees? A: Yes, 1965 to ’67. Q: With this in your background, what has it been like to work on this World War II vessel? A: It’s kinda funny. My first tour over in Vietnam, we took a World War II troop ship from Oxnard, California, up to Seattle, then Seattle to Japan, Japan to Okinawa and Okinawa to Vietnam. It took 31 days. It was the U.S.S. Blatchford. It had bunks stacked 5 high. There were about 1,000 guys on the ship. Then to cut back and be working on a World War II vessel when I retire in my 70s, it’s kinda déjà vu. It’s really kinda neat. Q: You restored the Browning M2 50 caliber machine guns. How did you research that to do it accurately? A: I went online and bought the plans for $100. So I got this whole booklet. It gave you the schematic. Originally, there was a platform that extended out over the lower deck. You’d shoot from that. I got a hold of some dummy ammunition. Q: What are some of the things that people might find most interesting when you do the tours? A: The older folks want to know about history. Kids — I like working with the kids and you can get them laughing.

Volunteer Mike Brown at wheelhouse of U.S. Army LT-5 (Large Tug) at H. Lee White Maritime Museum in Oswego. 50

55 PLUS - August / September 2020

Those interested in touring the Museum or the LT-5 or in volunteering, like Mike, can visit www.hleewhitemarinemuseum. com or call 315-342-0480.


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