55 Plus CNY 91, February/March '21

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Bruce Frassinelli: A Lesson from Alex Trebek

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55 PLUS

Issue 91 – February/March 2021

For Active Adults in the Central New York Area

cny55.com • TAX SEASON •

Is Social Security income taxable? • SKANEATELES •

Our restaurant critic visits seven eateries in the village

Up to the Challenge Dr. Mantosh Dewan recently became president of SUNY Upstate Medical University in the wake of a turbulent period in the university’s history. He talks about plans to accentuate the positives at the health care facility while providing a level of care that is unmatched anywhere else in Central New York.

• BOOKS •

Book by local authors among Amazon’s best sellers

Valentine’s Day

How to Rekindle Your Love Life

SPECIAL: Meet Four Diehard Female Triathlon Athletes


Had a Stroke. Back on Stage.

Musician Todd Hobin KNOW THE SIGNS • CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY

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.

F.

FACE DROOPING

A. S.

ARM WEAKNESS

SPEECH DIFFICULTY

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: crouse.org/toddhobin.

T.

TIME TO CALL 911


WE WANT TO

SEE YOU HEALTHY Safety is part of our culture at St. Joseph’s Health. As the only hospital in Syracuse to receive a Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade ‘A’, we are driven to keep our community healthy and thriving. Every St. Joseph’s Health location has put measures in place to ensure the safety and comfort of our patients: from COVID-Free Zones to mandatory screenings at the door to a myriad of other protocols. Our top priority is and has always been the health, trust and safety of Central New York. No matter the challenge, we are ready and able to care for our community as we work alongside our fellow health care professionals to treat and advise all who come through our doors.

A HIGHER LEVEL OF CARE

| higherlevelofcare.org

© 2021 St. Joseph’s Health. © 2021 Trinity Health. All rights reserved.

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CONTENTS

February /March 2021

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Savvy Senior 6 12 TRIATHLON 28 COVER • Meet four diehard female triathlon • Meet Dr. Mantosh Dewan, the new Gardening 8 athletes president of SUNY Upstate Medical Dining Out 10 University Aging 34 17 BOOKSTORES • Independent bookstores in CNY remain 36 LOVE Golden Years 38 prosperous despite digital competition • Valentine’s Day: Rekindling romance My Turn 39 at 55-plus 18 BOOKS Druger’s Zoo 44 • Book by local authors among Amazon’s 40 BUSINESS Life After 55 46 best sellers • Speach family business becomes

22 CELEBRITY LAST PAGE

Joe O’Hara, 71, executive director of Peace Inc., offers a view of the agency he oversees and what a career in public service has meant to him.

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• A Lesson from Alex Trebek: Stick to what you do best

24 ANTIQUING • Antique Underground opens in a new downtown Syracuse location

26 RESOLUTIONS • Financial experts discuss key financial resolutions for 2021

tradition in Central New York

42 RETIREMENT • Pandemic has pushed millions of older workers into involuntary retirement

48 VISITS • Great things to do in Seattle, the “Emerald City”


WE CARE LIKE FAMILY

We are growing and have exciting career opportunities in the health care industry. To join our talented, professional team, please visit one of our care facilities career pages for available positions.

Become a part of Our Family!

Life in balance.

A company philosophy that speaks to a continual process of individual and collective development to improve our well-being, quality of life and personal relationships.

17 Sunrise Drive Oswego, NY 13126 315-342-4790 | www.MorningstarCares.com

Our Mission.

To provide people in our community with healthcare, customer services, support & employment to achieve their individual best quality of life.

Our Vision.

RESIDENTIAL CARE CENTER

To redefine skilled nursing care through successful team development, use of technology, progressive service and being a strong community partner.

Our Team.

Registered Nurses Licensed Nurses Certified Nursing Assistants Physical Therapists Occupational Therapists Speech Therapists Social Workers Recreational Therapists Dietitians

Waterville

Nurse Aides Housekeeping Laundry Finance Maintenance Medical Records

220 Tower Street, Waterville, NY 13480 315-841-4156 | www.WatervilleCares.com

Assisted Living Community

132 Ellen Street, Oswego, NY 13126 315-343-0880 | www.TheGardensByMorningstar.com

Aaron

Manor

Rehabilitation and Nursing Center

100 St. Camillus Way, Fairport, NY 14450 585-377-4000 | www.AaronManor.com February / March 2021 - 55 PLUS

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savvy senior By Jim Miller

Is Social Security Income Taxable?

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hether or not you’ll be required to pay federal income tax on your Social Security benefits will depend on your income and filing status. About 35% of Social Security recipients have total incomes high enough to trigger federal income tax on their benefits. To figure out if your benefits will be taxable, you’ll need to add up all of your “provisional income,” which includes wages, taxable and non-taxable interest, dividends, pensions and taxable retirement-plan distributions, self-employment, and other taxable income, plus half your annual Social Security benefits, minus certain deductions used in figuring your adjusted gross income.

How to Calculate

To help you with the calculations, get a copy of IRS Publication 915 “Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits,” which provides detailed instructions and worksheets. You can download it at IRS.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p915.pdf or call the IRS at 800-829-3676 and ask them to mail you a free copy. After you do the calculations, the IRS says that if you’re single and your total income from all of the listed sources is: • Less than $25,000, your Social Security will not be subject to federal income tax. • Between $25,000 and $34,000, up to 50% of your Social Security benefits will be taxed at your regular income-tax rate. • More than $34,000, up to 85% of your benefits will be taxed. If you’re married and filing jointly and the total from all sources is: • Less than $32,000, your Social Security won’t be taxed. • Between $32,000 and $44,000, up to 50% of your Social Security benefits will be taxed. • More than $44,000, up to 85% 6

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55PLUS cny55.com Editor and Publisher Wagner Dotto

of your benefits will be taxed. If you’re married and file a separate return, you probably will pay taxes on your benefits. To limit potential taxes on your benefits, you’ll need to be cautious when taking distributions from retirement accounts or other sources. In addition to triggering ordinary income tax, a distribution that significantly raises your gross income can bump the proportion of your Social Security benefits subject to taxes.

How to File

If you find that part of your Social Security benefits will be taxable, you’ll need to file using Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR. You also need to know that if you do owe taxes, you’ll need to make quarterly estimated tax payments to the IRS, or you can choose to have it automatically withheld from your benefits. To have it withheld, you’ll need to complete IRS Form W-4V, Voluntary Withholding Request (IRS.gov/ pub/irs-pdf/fw4v.pdf), and file it with your local Social Security office. You can choose to have 7%, 10%, 12% or 22% of your total benefit payment withheld. If you subsequently decide you don’t want the taxes withheld, you can file another W-4V to stop the withholding. If you have additional questions on taxable Social Security benefits call the IRS help line at 800-829-1040.

State Taxation

In addition to the federal government, 13 states — Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and West Virginia — tax Social Security benefits to some extent too. If you live in one of these states, check with your state tax agency for details. For links to state tax agencies see TaxAdmin.org/state-tax-agencies.

Associate Editor Lou Sorendo

Writers

Deborah J. Sergeant Mary Beth Roach Margaret McCormick Christopher Malone, Aaron Gifford, Carol Radin, Lou Sorendo

Columnists

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

Advertising

Amy Gagliano Cassandra Lawson

Office Manager Nancy Nitz

Design

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 © 2021 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: editor@CNYhealth.com Editor@cnyhealth.com


Carlton and Shirley West sit in the living room of their home.

Above: Harold and his late wife, Noni Right: Harold Bristol

For my late wife Noni and me, philanthropy goes way back. When we got married at age 22, it was natural for us to begin giving right away. We were charitable to our church early on and later expanded our giving to the additional organizations we loved.

CONTINUED FAMILY GIVING: HAROLD BRISTOL

My father had a knack for extending the hand of friendship to others while my mother served on many civic boards. It was from them that I learned about community involvement and the sharing of our resources. I established a legacy fund at the Community Foundation to ensure our charitable intentions continue to make progress after I am gone. The gift will not stop giving. Our legacies will be carried on through the fund for generations, while the impact of our giving grows beyond what we could have imagined.

Read more of Harold’s story at Bristol.5forCNY.org

315 . 4 2 2 .9 5 3 8 | C N YC F. O R G

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gardening By Jim Sollecito

New Plans, New Memories

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remember reading in May 2007 Field and Stream magazine about the best fishing guide in Cuba, Samuel Yera. He won the All-Cuba Fishing Tournament six times. He also drove a ’57 Chevy Bel Air. Decades ago I had the same car and that was where our similarities ended. I saved that issue. Over many winters I dreamily reread the article. There are 10 commandments for any kind of great fly-fishing trip. The first two are Find the Right Guide. I forget the other eight. For years I researched. I eventually arranged a trip with a Spanish-speaking friend to the north coast of Cuba and secured Samuel’s expertise. I enjoyed some of the most spectacular tarpon fly-fishing I ever could have imagined. I caught more than just fish; I caught memories. And like so many other Cubans I have met over the years, Samuel “Lord of the Flies” and I became friends. I planned to return but then hurricane Irma leveled the area, washed away boats and destroyed housing. That was four years ago. Due to policy changes, travel to Cuba became impossible. There is no U.S. mail service to the Cuban people. I can’t even be in touch with my Cuban friends. That does not stop me from thinking about returning again when things settle down. On cold nights when the north wind howls I long for the sweet gentle tropical breezes off North Cuba’s aquamarine salt water and the days I fished with Samuel. When 9 p.m. was “midnight” and everyone slept with the expectations of the next great day of fishing. Life surprises us. We don’t always get to do what we want. But we find ways to work with what we have. And we make new plans. This winter many of us are sticking close to home, behaving as carefully as we can, supporting our local businesses while eagerly awaiting spring. The anticipation of spring 2021 is probably greater than most

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years and rightfully so. Competition is tight for next year’s nursery stock availability. So we ordered and took possession of plants in fall to insure our high-quality inventory selection in spring. In our garden center we sell more food-producing plants now than ever before. These are sustainable plants that come back every year, subsequent crops more abundant than the year before. All without the use of pesticides. On my own farm I organically grow over 17 fruit varieties and enjoy the harvest from June through November. I enjoy the flowers, the foliage, and then the

fruits. If your plans have changed and your new vacation location is the house where you eat breakfast and dinner, give us a call. With some creative design, we can freshen up or create a new view. Nature helps us reset. We specialize in creating gardens that allow people to feel natural in them. Maybe our travels will be exploring our own yard. There’s nothing wrong with that. After all, there’s no place like home. This spring, make yours special. Then make some fresh, inspiring and maybe even delicious memories.


Gentle and Compassionate

Serving our patients for over 30 years! With the addition of Dr. Michael Fallon Jr. in 2018 We will continue to serve for another 30 more!

315-487-9377 Dr. Michael Fallon & Dr. Anne Marie Fallon Dr. Michael Fallon Jr. 5109 West Genesee. Camillus NY 13031

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DiningOut By Christopher Malone

Restaurant

Guide

Scrounging Around Skaneateles Eating my way around the Finger Lakes village

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he gateway to the Finger Lakes — geographically shown, regionally designated and my personal feelings about Skaneateles, New York. There’s always something to do, shops to browse, and food to enjoy. Going off the Eastwood neighborhood article a few editions ago, because it was a hit, I took to the streets of Skaneateles — well, Jordan and West Genesee streets — to enjoy some Central New York flavor. Keep in mind that I didn’t get to enjoy all the restaurants in the village. There’s only so much time and so much I can eat. For example: Rosalie’s, The Krebs, and The Sherwood are not on this list but reviews of the restaurants can be read on the website. I made the difficult decision to pause on Moro’s Kitchen because I didn’t want to rush and was already dizzy from food consumed. Needless to say, there are a lot of eateries in walking distance. I just didn’t burn enough calories in between.

Blue Water Grill

11 W Genesee St. 315-685-6600 bluewatergrillskaneateles.com

other veggies. There’s also a drizzle of spicy ranch but who’s counting calories anyways? The bowl of nature’s delights and vibrant tuna is a hearty option.

Doug’s Fish Fry

8 Jordan St. 315-685-3288 • dougsfishfry.com

When you dine by the water in a restaurant with water in its name, how could a fish dish be avoided? Cue the poke bowl for $16. It’s the healthiest option on this list with poke tuna, rice, greens, watermelon radish, cucumber, avocado and 10

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The fish fry has some of the most notable seafood in the region, and

their fries are some of the best. What about their seafood chowder and onion rings? Since I love the fries so much, I don’t remember the last time the onion rings entered my belly. The lightly coated and fried onion was very good, leaving me torn between the two standard sides. A whole plate of rings ($3.25) were served up to me, and I had to resist eating all of them. The honey curry dipping sauce for the onion rings — wow. Move over, Tully’s, Doug’s sauce is better. The amount of fried onions to sauce was a bit uneven, so I had to be more conservative with dipping. The bowl of seafood chowder ($4.11) had high and low points. The bad news: it’s more of a soup than a hearty chowder. The good news: the flavor makes up for it. The homemade broth is not overly fishy because the taste of carrot and celery take the stage. Plus, it’s not too salty.


Elephant and the Dove 9 E Genesee St. 315-685-2123 elephantandthedove.com

has tomatoes and the eponymous cheese, plus arugula added after the pizza comes out the oven. The peppery flavor of the greens with the rest of the ingredients stands out but doesn’t overpower. The crust is crisp and strong enough to hold the ingredients well. The singed parts of the crust add a nice smokiness. Overall, it’s a strong artisan pizza.

LakeHouse Pub 6 W Genesee St. 315-554-8194 lakehousepub.com

For some reason, the chili relleno ($15) really called out to me as did The Frida cocktail ($10) This was the only restaurant I got a cocktail at, too. The cocktail was a delight and not overly tart when considering the grapefruit, lime, cherry and hibiscus. The smokiness of the mezcal makes itself known. It’s definitely a nice sipping drink. The chili relleno, a grilled-to-acrisp poblano pepper, is filled with hot (temperature) cheese and sits in spicy red and green sauces. Poblanos, on any day, usually have tougher skin than bell or jalepeño peppers, so it took a slight “oomph” to stab into it. When cutting in, the fondu-like cheese oozed out like lava. The sauce had a nice kick but it wasn’t mouth-numbing.

Gilda’s

12 W Genesee St. 315-685-7234 gildasskaneateles.com

Skaneateles Bakery First there was Clark’s roast beef sandwich in Syracuse. Then came LakeHouse Pub in Skaneateles with competition. Their roast beef sandwich with onions and cheese ($9.75) on kimmelweck is dynamic. There’s something about those crunchy caraway seeds and salt that truly eliminates the blandness of rolls. The flavor of the beef has remained consistent through the years but the size seemed smaller than remembered. Aside from that, the sammy did not whammy. The sides of horseradish and au jus are included. The River Rat horseradish will clear sinuses and then some. It’s as refreshing as it is pungent. I also added on standard, crispy fries for ($2.50). Move over ketchup. Hello, more horseradish.

Patisserie

When it opened a handful of years back, Gilda’s caught my eye because of tapas and wood fired pizza. Five years later, how has the oven seasoned? Like George Clooney — very well. The burrata pizza ($16)

dren’s heads. This includes their chocolate chip ($2) and half-moon ($2.50) cookies. The former is a crispy, dunkable classic cookie which pairs well with a glass of milk, coffee or hot chocolate if the sweet tooth is raging with excitement. The half-moon is one of the best. Patisserie’s version boasts a cakey body and light, in-house frosting. The result is miles ahead of competition.

4 Hannum St. 315-685-2433 patisserieofskaneateles.com A great place to get some carbs is the little bakeshop behind The Sherwood Inn. Its stretch bread is a dignified rival to Syracuse’s Pastabilities’ loaf. However, its sweet treats are something of note. They have cookies the size of your head. To reemphasize: They have cookies larger than your children’s and grandchil-

19 Jordan St. 315-685-3538

skaneateles-bakery.squarespace.com

The bakery’s coconut doughnut is one of my favorites. The light glaze keeps the coconut flecks on its lightly fried exterior. Now, which shows I haven’t gotten treats from there in a while, they offer chocolate and coconut doughnut. The doughy treats have been made consistently, and they only cost $1 each. The light, airy, cakey inside has a confident and delicate, crispy crust. It’s satisfaction with every bite. The combination of chocolate and coconut, however, is a step up from the norm.

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55+ xxxxxx

Diehard Triathlon Athletes

Not being able to participate in events due to the global pandemic has been the toughest challenge for four CNY athletes who train year-round

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or older adults who compete in triathlons, it’s not about where you start or even where you finish. It really comes down to the camaraderie and the continued determination to beat your age. As demanding and grueling as these races sound — swimming, biking and then running long distances — not being able to participate in events due to the global pandemic has been the toughest challenge for these unique Central New York athletes who train year-round. Their yearning to get out there again is more intense than the aches and pains on aging bones and muscles they sustain after a weekend of pounding the pavement.

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By Aaron Gifford Four women who have an unparalleled passion for this sport recently talked about their experiences with these tests of human endurance as they set their sights on returning to competitions this spring.

Eileen Clinton, 62, of DeWitt “You want to beat your age — that’s the whole game.” Clinton came into the sport as a biking enthusiast. After developing

arthritis in her hip, Clinton was advised that running would be a good way to manage her pain. She had participated in an event in 1982, and then picked it back up 20 years later. After that she was all in, competing on four triathlons per year plus half Iron Man events (70.2 miles). To train for these events, Clinton rides her bike outdoors for as long as the Upstate New York climates allows, and then does spinning classes indoors. She has been able to run outside all 12 months, but does most of her swimming in indoor pools. During the week, two-hour training sessions are typical for Clinton, with longer sessions on the weekends during the warmer months. “It keeps you sane,” said Clin-


ture until you get in the water,” she said. “And in the open water there is a mass start where 100 people are kicking and thrashing their arms in the water. It’s easy to get hit.” While most competitors have continued to train in some fashion during COVID-19, get-togethers or group training sessions with club members have been smaller and less often. Clinton said the time off has only intensified her desire to see her colleagues again and compete. “You want to beat your age — that’s the whole game,” she said. “But being apart and away for so long, we realize how much we love it. It also takes some of the pressure off. The finish times won’t matter as much. It’s more important that we are still here.”

Mickey Piscitelli, 64, of Baldwinsville “I was 47 when I did Green Lakes. I thought that would be the only one I’d ever do — just to prove a point.”

Eileen Clinton, with the red swim cap on the right with a friend, Mary Joe Reinhart at Jamesville Reservoir this past summer. Provided ton, who is the vice president of risk management for Brown and Brown Empire State. “Especially during COVID.” For Clinton, making friends along the way has been the most enjoyable part of this journey. Some of the folks she trains with are 10 years or more her junior, and some are more than a decade older than her. Most are also members of the CNY Triathlon Club. Clinton believes that club membership among older adults is increasing.

The biggest challenge for Clinton has been managing her arthritis. Yoga has helped so far. During the 2019 season, she was still able to complete the 32-mile treks (Olympic-level distance) on a Sunday and make it to work on Monday morning. Clinton said that, psychologically, the hardest adjustment for her when she first began triathlons was swimming from the starting line. “You never know the tempera-

Piscitelli grew up in the Bronx, where crowded city streets and whatever open bodies of water existed were not exactly conducive to triathlons. She moved to Central New York as an adult and took up running at age 33. Her first race was the Syracuse Mountain Goat, a challenging 10-mile trek of hills and winding streets. Normally that would not be the best competition to start with for a newbie, but Piscitelli did surprisingly well. Friends talked her into training for the Green Lakes triathlon. Like so many of her Central New York colleagues, Piscitelli was unsure of her swimming ability, so she signed up for small-group swimming lessons at the YMCA. The only other person in the class panicked in the pool and dropped out after week one, so Piscitelli was able to get up to speed quickly with the one-on-one lessons. February / March 2021 - 55 PLUS

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Mickey Piscitelli, left, and a friend, Lisa Farewell, riding their bikes late last fall. “Not too cold to ride...just layer up and wear your booties,” she said. Photo provided

“I was 47 when I did Green Lakes,” she recalled. “I thought that would be the only one I’d ever do — just to prove a point.” But four years later, at the age of 51, Piscitelli finished an Iron Man triathlon (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run). The retired math teacher eventually became a professional certified triathlon coach, her current job at the YMCA. Not bad for someone who thought she would be one and done. She completes much of her training when teaching at local YMCAs, but also runs six days a week on her own. Piscitelli participated in small group bicycle rides during the warmer months, the last one taking place on the mild weekend in late November after Thanksgiving. Piscitelli loves to compete, but her favorite part of the sport is the training. Her advice to any older adult who is curious about triathlons: Give it a try. “Focus on your weakness to get stronger,” she says. “If you could see how bad I was at swimming, you’d know what I mean. Some of them had not been on a bike for over 25 years before they got into this. Most of the people who try it get hooked, and everyone around you will be very welcoming.”

Ruth Ripley, 73, of Pennellville. “I do think the physical training helped me at my job. I would run five miles before starting a 12-hour shift. Co-workers would ask me, ‘how do you stay so calm?’

Piscitelli at the far right in a hot pink shirt and a white helmet. “Summertime fun in the sun means a Thursday night group ride from the Northwest Y,” she said. Photo provided. 14

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Ripley grew up in a family farm, where early morning wake-ups and hard work were common place. When the chores were done, Ripley went for long runs on Oswego County country roads. She worked as an emergency room nurse for 45 years and won her own fight against breast cancer at the age of 62. She under-


Susan Michaels, 64, of Skaneateles “It was an out-of-body experience”

Ruth Ripley, on the right with the hat on, with her friend MaryBeth Domachowske, during the Incredoubleman Triathon in September of 2017. The competition took place in Westcott Beach in Jefferson County. stood endurance, adrenalin and perseverance. She also ran marathons in all 50 states. “A triathlon, I figured, is something I should do before I die,” she said. Like Piscitelli, Ripley figured she would only ever do one triathlon. Problem was, Ripley’s first one was finished almost as soon as it started. She didn’t get through the opening swim. Determined to keep the promise she made, Ripley took swimming lessons and continued to run in foot races. In 2008, Ripley garnered national media attention when she ran her 100th marathon on home turf, in Fulton. But since then she had quietly

participated in three to four triathlons per year. She prefers the sprint distance events (16 miles). She trains by running three days per week, swimming four days per week and biking four to five days per week as weather allows. “I do think the physical training helped me at my job,” she said. “I would run five miles before starting a 12-hour shift. Co-workers would ask me, ‘how do you stay so calm?’ Competing in the 70-74 age group, Ripley has competed in events where she automatically took first place because there was no one else in her category. “It’s nice to win, I suppose,” she said, “but I really like to pass people.”

–Prior to 2002, Michaels enjoyed the sport from the sidelines, watching her friends compete and volunteering at Iron Man events. From where Michaels stood, the non-stop movement from the water to the pavement seemed too daunting a task — even for someone who grew up running with the boys because her school and college cross country teams did not have enough female runners for a women’s team. “Yeah, they played to my competitive side to talk me into it,” the Weedsport native recalled. Her first event, 18 years ago, was the half Iron Man event in Tupper Lake. She had no expectations, yet finished high enough to qualify for the full Iron Man event in Lake Placid. She declined the invitation for 2003 but finished first in her age group the following year. Michaels took advantage of her proximity to Skaneateles Lake and a recreation center pool to improve her swimming. That extra training paid dividends, helping her to improve February / March 2021 - 55 PLUS

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Susan Michaels during the 2019 Delta Lake sprint triathlon in the Mohawk Valley.

her times enough to qualify for national- and global-level competitions throughout the United States, Canada, Hungary, the Netherlands and New Zealand. In national events she aims for a finish in the top five. She has finished in the top 18 at national championships to qualify for world events on 10 occasions thus far, though she has not been able to attend all 10 events. Her best race was in Cleveland in 2019. On a hot windy day she was in seventh place as she got off her bike heading into the last phase of the competition. She ran to a third place finish. “It was an out-of-body experience,” she recalled. Michaels, who still works parttime as an accountant, has actually seen her overall times improve as she gets older. But with better finishes comes increased pain afterward. In 2019 she switched from Olympic distance events to sprints, and in the coming season she will be placed in the 65-69 age group. “The pounding of so many miles was getting to me,” Michael said of the longer races. “The sprints should have less wear and tear on an aging

body, but with the shorter distances you’ve got to go fast. I like that. But I still ask my friends, when do the wheels fall off?” Michaels loves the training and the camaraderie, but admits that the competition is her favorite part. Her husband, Lee Michaels, is a former marathon runner and trains with her. Still in great shape at the age of 80, Lee is her role model and an inspiration to keep pushing forward. Since of 2011 she has also used a coach, Eric Prager, to help her avoid injuries. Michaels’ advice to those who are well into their middle ages and beyond who are interested in triathlons: Don’t go it alone. Train with a friend. And most importantly, come as you are. Everyone is welcome to this sport regardless of their athletic background. The only prerequisite is a positive attitude. “When you get started,” she said, “you don’t have to have the best bike or all of this expensive equipment. The most important thing is to keep moving as best you can, but you don’t have to be competitive to show up.”

If safety is your concern, we’ve got you covered. Top 5% in the nation for patient safety! At Oswego Health, safety is our priority, and we recognize and can appreciate everyone’s concerns today when it comes to healthcare. For the second year in a row, we have been named one of the top 5 % in the country for patient safety by Healthgrades! So why travel for your medical needs, when the safest care is right at home!

Learn more about our services in the community at oswegohealth.org 16

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55+ bookstore Claiming Their Independence Independent bookstores remain prosperous despite digital competition By Mary Beth Roach Bill Reilly, Debbie Engelke, Jim Roberts and Laura Larson wrote new chapters in their life stories, when they opened their respective bookstores. Reilly had been in advertising sales for Newsweek magazine in Manhattan, but in the 1990s, he retired, moved to Oswego, married and opened the river’s end bookstore in downtown Oswego. Few job prospects in her field and an affinity for used books led Engelke to open her Time and Again Books and Tea in Oswego 20 years ago. When Roberts’ wife, Ann Marie, was offered a new job in the 1980s in Syracuse, it would also create a new business opportunity for him. Life changes for Larson brought her back to the Ithaca area from Seattle, where she has recently been able to realize a lifelong dream.

Bill Reilly Bill Reilly bucked the national

trend and refused to be deterred by naysayers when he, with his wife, Mindy Ostrow, opened their store in 1998 at 19 W. Bridge St., at the corner of West First Street. Many told him a bookstore wouldn’t work in Oswego, and he was trying to start his business at a time when independent booksellers were shutting down. “I was fearless and determined,” he said of himself then. Today, at the age of 70, Reilly, admitted that he might not be as fearless, but he is no less excited about the store. And 22 years after opening the doors, any naysayers have long since fallen by the wayside. The feedback from his customers, he said, keeps him energized, whether it’s an email complimenting a bookseller or the father that tells him that every time he drives by the shop with his children, they want to come in. It’s important to communicate with the customers, he said, and he and his staff do that, not only with

the face-to-face (or perhaps more accurately, facemask-to-facemask) interactions, but also through their newsletters and their website, www. riversendbookstore.com. The staff includes four employees and four staff members, he said. Reilly decided to retire from his career in NYC at the age of 46. He had achieved all he had set out to do in that job and was ready for a change. He had been traveling to Oswego to visit a longtime friend for many years, and during one of those trips, he met Ostrow. The couple continued a long-distance courtship for a time, but Reilly eventually relocated to Oswego, and they were married within a few days after his move. Although Reilly and Ostrow have lived in the Port City for decades, they are from downstate, and they both wanted to open a business that would give back to their new hometown. They wanted to provide a business that didn’t already exist in town, such as a bar or a nail salon, he

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said. There was no store in Oswego that was selling new books. But by the mid-to late 1990s, independent booksellers were closing, with megastore, like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, looming large. The couple realized they were “against the tide,” he said, but they “had their eyes open.” Now, Reilly said, independent booksellers are seeing a renaissance, and national stats prove him right. The New York Times last summer noted that The American Booksellers Association membership has grown to 1,887 members with 2,524 locations as of spring in 2019. That marks the highest participation since at least 2009, when there were about 1,650 indie bookstores. And when the growing digital age challenged booksellers with ebooks and audiobooks, for example, Reilly said they decided to embrace technology. Their website continues to handle a great deal of sales during the global pandemic, and it partners with libro.fm for audiobooks. Reilly riversendbookstore has a prime location at 19 W. Bridge St., at the corner of West First Street, and the large windows along both streets provide plenty of natural light. In addition to the store’s 10,000 titles, there is a section dedicated to local and regional authors; “The Hideout,” where young children can go to read; colorful murals; and near the ceiling, in the center of the store, there’s a lighting creation replicating Oswego’s iconic lighthouse. Reilly and Ostrow want their store to be a hub for the community, he said, where a cross-section of the population can meet, and during a recent visit there one morning, the store had customers of all ages browsing throughout. “We all love books,” he said.

Debbie Engelke Debbie Engelke considers her books her employees, since they’re the ones who help to pay the bills, and those books offered through the store at 18 E. Utica St., Oswego number about 40,000. It takes a lot of inventory to run this kind of business, she noted. The store includes a variety of used books, DVDs, books and music on CDs, specialty magazines, a selection of other collectibles, and aromatic teas from around the world. The store came about after En18

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gelke had troubles locating a job in her field. She had earned a master’s degree from SUNY Oswego in English and writing arts, but there were few job possibilities in the area, and commuting to a larger city or relocating were not options. After several years, she recalled her husband, Ray, suggesting she start the bookstore she had always wanted to run. So the couple began the work to make that happen. In talking with other used bookstore owners, she decided that buying instead of renting a site made more sense. So eventually, they purchased the house on East Utica Street and created the shop. She decided to make it a used bookstore, as opposed to one that carried newer titles, because of her love of older books. Because she is an avid reader who enjoys 10 to 12 books a month, the cost of new books can be cost prohibitive, she said, so she has been a longtime fan of used books. “I’ve been buying used books for myself my whole life. I like nothing better to see what I can find that I didn’t know existed,” she quipped. To keep enhancing their inventory, the Engelkes travel far and wide, and their journeys have taken them to such places as Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maine and Toronto. But one of her most surprising finds was something that she had in her own attic. Many years prior, she had purchased a book for $4 for an Irish friend that featured hand-paint-

ed renderings of old buildings in Dublin that had been demolished. Before presenting him the gift, she learned that he was growing weary of gifts of Ireland that people were constantly giving him. So, she kept the book, putting it in a big box in her attic. When she and Ray were preparing to open the shop, they came across the book. Debbie looked it up on the Internet and found that it was worth $1,200. She put it online for sale, and although it took about three years later, it sold for a little over $800. As like so many others, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the business as well. She lost the summer tourism business, which is a substantial revenue source for her. However, she has been taking calls from customers. doing curbside sales, and she is continuing to sell through Amazon. She pays a monthly fee to be post items on that mega-seller’s site. During the pandemic, some of her customers, she said, have been staying home and reading a great deal. She explained that they may have gone through all the current books of their favorite authors and call her, asking her to locate earlier books by these authors that are out of print. And she enjoys making recommendations of books from similar genres. “Even if you don’t know what you want, we might be able to help you,” she said. The shop’s website is http:// pweb.westelcom.com/keptwo/.


sell for $2 to $4. Thirty-three years after taking over as owner of the shop, the 62-year-old still admits that he loves his job. He finds great satisfaction in helping customers locate hard-tofind items, and he finds himself learning from them. “They teach me my business by telling me what they want, what they’re looking for, and why they’re looking for it. They continually keep me educated on what people are looking for and why,” he said. He does some online sales, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, but he said his customers enjoy the experience of browsing through the brick-and-mortar store and finding those books they didn’t know they even wanted. “That kind of serendipity happens all the time,” he said. The shop’s website is www.thebooksend.com.

Jim Roberts Jim Roberts is the owner of The Books Ends Bookshop, which specializes in used and out-of-print books. A career change for his wife, Ann Marie, brought the couple to Syracuse in the mid-1980s, and while walking in their Eastwood neighborhood one evening, they came upon the shop at 2443 James St. A few days later, Roberts applied for and got a clerk’s job. He had been working there for about two weeks when he knew he had found his calling. As he recalled, “I went home to Ann Marie and I said, ‘I found what I’m going to do for the rest of my life. I don’t know how I’m going to do it yet, but this is what I want to do.’” Fate would end up showing him how he would do it. Due to some life changes for then-owner Lois Favier, she sold Roberts the store, and he’s been the owner since 1987. Currently, in addition to himself, he has one other full-time employee and four part-time staff. The shop, which specializes in rare, used and out-of-print books, boasts between 45,000 to 50,000 titles, Roberts estimated. He has a few, which he keeps in the back of the store, that date from the 1600s and are priced in the thousands of dollars, and more current books that

Laura Larson Laura Larson, 57, is realizing a long-time dream in opening her bookshop, Odyssey Bookstore, near the Ithaca Commons area, earlier this year. She divorced about three years ago, and her youngest child had graduated from high school so she had to decide what to do next. “I truly wanted to have a book-

store. My happy place as a child was ‘The Corner Bookstore’ in Ithaca,” she said. She moved with her family to Ithaca when she was 9, went to Cornell University, and then moved away. She has since returned to her home base, living in Ulysses, less than 10 miles from Ithaca. However, she knew being a lifelong reader and owning a bookstore were two very different things, so she attended training classes and acquired the space from a friend at 115 W. Green St. After a two-year process, she was ready to open. She took delivery of books on March 13 of this year, and then the pandemic forced a shutdown just days later. She was able to manage some sales through the shop’s website, and physically reopened several weeks ago, following state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for cleaning and social distancing. The space might be relatively small, but Larson has arranged more than 6,000 titles in various nooks throughout, with sections for children’s books, fiction, non-fiction, and the Finger Lakes. There’s also an area set aside with books for and about Cornell alumni and professors. She knew from the start that she wanted the store to be “very, very centered in Ithaca,” she said. The name of the town comes from the Greek island of Ithaca in Homer’s “Odyssey.” The store’s name also resonates for Larson on a personal level. “I left and then I came back. I felt like the odyssey for me was the vibe I was going for. Every book is a journey and shared tales and adventures, but also about being home, and finding home.” The shop also affords Larson the camaraderie with her five staff and her customers. “I had always known I would benefit from the voices of others,” she said. “How wonderful it is to have these wonderful voices in the store — whether it’s the community or the booksellers — and how much richer everything is because of that.” The bookstore’s website is www. odysseybookstore.com.

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55+ books

Book by Local Authors Among Amazon’s Best Sellers ‘Running Silently,’ a book about winter culture, winter sports and the joys and sorrows of owning dogs, reaches best seller status in Amazon’s category of ‘New Releases in Animal Care and Pet Essays’ By Carol Radin

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oman on skis. Huskies on harness. Snowpack. Speed. Put them all together and you have skijoring — cross-country skiing combined with sled dog racing and super-powered by dogs who “mush!” “Running Silently,” by Betsy Waterman and her late husband Gary Waterman chronicles an exhilarating era in a marriage with a very full household of six huskies and border collies overflowing with heart, spirit, and personality. All those qualities and more emerge in the book with humor, suspense and fascinating characters of both the canine and human varieties. Winter sports enthusiasts and dog lovers — or not — will enjoy “Running Silently.” Situated in the snowy New York North Country and Tug Hill region, it conveys a vivid sense of place, with engaging details about the local winter culture and the joys and — sometimes— sorrows of owning six big lovable dogs. That the Watermans could turn their personal experiences into a universal story is more meaningful than it may at first appear. Gary Waterman, a musician and very fit winter athlete, had not thought about writing a book at all. Then 20 years ago, he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia. The book was his therapy, Betsy recalls,

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“to escape the drudgery of his illness.” And so were the dogs. Betsy — who lives in Sandy Creek, northern Oswego County — fondly remembers the day when she got three dogs past the nurses, so they could visit Gary in the hospital. A dog visit is not like a human visit — It’s about bounding up on the bed, furry nuzzling and lots of licking. And so goes the book: beyond Gary and Betsy’s outsized enthusiasm for animals, beyond the North Country towns, the caring neighbors, the dog trainers and the touring races, it is Gary and Betsy’s border collies and Siberian and Alaskan huskies who are the stars. Completing half the book, Gary crafted lively details and imagery that belied his illness. For instance, he recounts a day when he and Betsy were walking 13 dogs because they were taking care of friends’ dogs in addition to theirs. Struggling to keep however many leashes untangled, he quipped, “Dogs, especially puppies, don’t always travel in a straight line. It was a walking border collie kaleidoscope!” Respect and affection for dogs fills every page. Of huskies, Gary wrote, “You can just see their joy for life, their mountainous energy, their power, and best of all, their ‘I’m so glad you came to visit me’- ness.” Of their sled races: “There is just something about being

connected to and working with dogs … It’s the bond that develops. To see them pulling their little hearts out for you is uplifting.” And pull they did, intelligently, intuitively. In the part of the book that Betsy completed, she writes of occasionally racing on skis and shouting a command to go left when she had meant to say right. On more than one occasion, her border collie Casper flicked a look over his shoulder when this happened, discerned her body language, and then shifted right. Gary lost his battle with leukemia and died in the summer of 2000. Betsy put his uncompleted book away, unable to think about it for years. Finally in 2017, she felt emotionally ready to revisit their 33-year marriage. Gary and Betsy met when they were in high school, though different ones: Betsy at Weedsport, Gary at Port Byron. The two of them met on a bus for an inter-school trip to the United Nations in New York City. They married barely out of their teens, and throughout the ensuing years, Betsy earned master’s and Ph.D. degrees, becoming a psychologist and a college professor. Gary was a musician who worked as a buyer for Onondaga Music and later in life re-trained to be a massage therapist, which afforded him more flexible work time and spare


Betsy Waterman completed the book that her late husband started about their lives with a full house of dogs and skis. time to be with Betsy and pursue their many interests together again. “I was always more the outdoors person,” Betsy remarks. “I had to drag him kickin’ and screamin’. Once he got started in anything though, he was interested in perfecting, taking lessons, competing.” In “Running Silently,” Gary was indeed the competitive skier who wanted to perfect the faster and the longer, while Betsy was into more leisurely, short-distance outings. That ended, though, the day she took Leo, their border collie, out with her and clipped a leash onto his collar so she could hold on to him while she was skiing. “He just took off!” she says. Suddenly, she realized, “I kind of enjoy speed.” That got Betsy and Gary thinking about more comfortable harness equipment for the dog — and then dogs in the plural; Betsy had as many as three dogs pull her, but usually went with two. She and Gary did not actually know that what Betsy was doing was a real sport, until one day another woman saw her on a trail and exclaimed, “You’re skijoring!” It was a revelation. Gary and Betsy looked it up. Gary bought her a book. They discovered that all kinds of equipment exist expressly for skijoring! From there, the couple’s quest for the dogs to do the job unfolds, with Gary’s vivid characterizations of dog

Betsy Waterman of Sandy Creek skijoring with her husky Ichabod, and her border collie, Casper. owners and trainers who sold dogs, intuitive first meetings with dogs before making a buying decision, and life as owners of what was basically a lot of dogs, all with their own personalities, loyalties and conflicts. Gary and Betsy really draw the reader in. Drama builds around veterinarian visits for strange maladies and wounds. Bayley, their beloved adventurous border collie, was shot on two separate occasions by unknown parties! And there is more than enough suspense every time one of the dogs runs off, as dogs will, and their owners search madly. One particularly fascinating incident involves an entire sled team of 10 dogs which cuts loose and runs off, disappearing in a heavily forested area while still harnessed together. Read the book to find out how that one ends! Although Gary had written extensive notes for his draft, and Betsy was able to follow those notes, she faced her own dilemmas about how to pick up where Gary left off. Certainly she had practical considerations about voice and structure, but even more, she had to face the memories. At first,

“It was a fresh loss,” she says. “When I was writing sometimes I cried but then it was also a joy to write.” She pushed on because she intended the book as a permanent record for their five children. What she had not anticipated was the effect on Gary’s nine grandchildren, many of whom were too young when he died to remember him. “One of my sons and his family reads a part of it as a family every night.” Betsy’s granddaughter Lauren created the colorful drawing for the cover, giving Betsy the very red jacket that Betsy always wore in those days. Another granddaughter who is 15 is writing her school book report on it. Now in publication, the book has become Amazon’s best seller in the category of “New Releases in Animal Care and Pet Essays.” Betsy’s own words, though, about a story both complete and alive, would be a more apt category. “It is genuineness and humanness!” “Running Silently,” Simply Pets Books, 2020, is available at www. Amazon.com. February / March 2021 - 55 PLUS

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55+ celebrity

A Lesson from Alex Trebek By Bruce Frassinelli

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he answer is Alex Trebek. Who was the best game show host ever? Along with millions of others, I was a big fan of Jeopardy host Alex Trebek, who lost his very public battle with stage four pancreatic cancer last November. He was 80. Every weekday evening, in ritualistic fashion, I parked myself in my favorite easy chair recliner watching my big screen TV to match wits with three super-intelligent contestants. In almost every instance, I wound up in fourth place. I was in awe of Trebek’s talent and unflappability as he reeled off the answers to complicated, tricky and sometimes near-unpronounceable tongue-twisters. He mixed in just the right amount of wit, ad-lib humor and an occasional dash of

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condescension if a hapless contestant performed extremely poorly. In case you have been cloistered for 36 years on some mountaintop retreat and just returned to society, Jeopardy works in reverse of other game shows. For example, Trebek might say, “This picturesque county seat borders the shores of Lake Ontario in Central New York State and is where Al Roker went to college.” The contestants were charged with coming up with the correct question: “What is Oswego?” From time to time, especially when I was having a pretty good run of answering correctly, my wife would say, “You should try out for Jeopardy.” I was too embarrassed to tell her that I did once, unbeknownst to her and other family members, but never made the cut.

I sneaked off to Merv Griffin’s Resorts Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City several years after Trebek took over the show in 1984 to try out for Jeopardy. There were hundreds of people there vying for a shot at fame and fortune. I made it through the 10-question pre-test with eight correct answers vs. the passing score of 7. I was interviewed to test my personality and ability to react quickly to questions. I must have performed adequately, because I was told that I was still in the running with 24 other prospective contestants. We 25 were then confronted with a 50-question test in which I performed miserably and was eliminated from further consideration. Because of my poor performance, I vowed to keep the experiencing secret and am revealing it now for


the first time. Even these many years later, I can feel my face flush with embarrassment — that’s how horribly I did in that second qualifier. In the thousands of columns I have composed during my 60-year journalistic career, I have written just one that had Trebek’s name in it until now, and with his passing I am feeling bad about having panned him. It was during the October 2018 Pennsylvania gubernatorial debate that Trebek moderated between incumbent Democrat Tom Wolf and Republican challenger Scott Wagner. Wolf went on to win re-election easily with 58% of the vote. When I first heard that Trebek was going to be moderator, I was star struck and thought what a great catch it was for the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, the event sponsor, to nail down such a beloved icon. Almost immediately, though, I concluded that Trebek, a Canadian native and California resident, might be out of his element. I was right. He performed poorly. From the outset, it was clear that Trebek was not going to be a traditional moderator. While this in itself is not necessarily a bad thing, the moderator’s role is to stay in the background and let the candidates be the stars. That didn’t happen. He spoke almost as long as the two candidates combined. He said that he accepted the invitation on the condition that he would get to moderate his way — with a “conversation” among him and the candidates rather than a “debate.” It didn’t take long for the rumbling and grumbling in the sold-out audience of 2,100 to start. During his four-minute opening, compared to a minute and a half for each candidate, Trebek told several jokes that fell flat. “I’m not here to embarrass the candidates,” he said. “They are perfectly able to do that all by themselves.” He also joked, “I won’t tolerate any booing or hissing, even if it’s directed at the candidates.” Actually, the only booing and hissing that did occur was aimed at Trebek himself. It came when he noted that the Pennsylvania state legislature’s approval rating is just 14%. “The only thing with a lower rating,” he said, “is the Catholic Church.” His reference to the church’s sex-abuse scandal did not go over well at all. Also maddening was when Trebek took issue with some of what

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the candidates said and interjected his own views about education and other controversial subjects. Calling Trebek a “failed moderator,” candidate Wagner wanted two additional debates, but they never happened. Trebek took a great deal of criticism from the news media and Pennsylvania voters who thought he spent too much of the allotted debate time speaking himself, without giving the candidates the opportunity to explain and defend their policy positions. After the debate, Trebek realized that he had performed poorly and issued his “sincere apologies.’’ Trebek said he thought that as moderator he was to provide a “certain light-hearted approach while still being able to challenge the candidates on their records. I didn’t realize that I was to ask a simple question, then let the gentlemen go at each other.” In his apology, Trebek said, “I was naïve and misunderstood my role as moderator,” he said. “I offer my sincere apologies to the people of Pennsylvania, a state I dearly love.” It took me nearly a week to contact Trebek after the debate. When I finally got a return call from him, he reiterated without equivocation that he had bombed. Trebek told me that he learned a valuable lesson at age 78 — “Stick to what you know and do best. In other words, I learned that I need to stay in my own lane,” he said.

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55+ antiquing Antique Underground Makes a Comeback Bruce Block ran Antique Underground from 1986 until it closed in 2002. In November, he re-opened the store in a new downtown Syracuse location

Bruce Block opened his Antique Underground store in downtown Syracuse in November.

By Margaret McCormick

E

verything old is new again for Bruce Block — and for his business, Antique Underground. If you’ve lived in Central New York for a while and you appreciate antiques, it’s like the return of an old friend: Block owned and operated the original Antique Underground, in the sprawling basement of the historic Hogan Block Building in Syracuse’s Armory Square, from 1986 to 2002. He closed it to pursue other passions. He opened the new Antique Underground in November. It’s not underground, but instead occupies a multi-room space on the ground floor at 124 E. Jefferson St., in downtown Syracuse. It’s a co-op, in a sense: Block leases space to about seven other dealers. “But you know me,’’ he says with a smile. “I’m still the boss.’’ Starting a business at any time is challenging, let alone during a pandemic. But for Block, 75, it made sense. The coronavirus put the brakes on any travel plans for 2020 and he was getting restless at home. He also had a stash of antiques — plus jewelry and other wares he has collected in his travels. He considers the store an extension of City Market, the seasonal outdoor arts, crafts, vintage and

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antiques marketplace he launched in Syracuse in 2014. On a recent weekday, Block tended to business matters from a long black mid-century modern sofa and chair set at the front of the store, fielded phone calls (“Do you still buy diamonds?”) and moved about the place, tidying up and rearranging displays. A young man came in to inquire if Block had any silver (“Do I have silver! I have tons of it!’’) and Block proceeded to show him a case full of silver statement pieces from around the world. The store’s emphasis is on mid-century modern furniture, furnishings and décor — which remains very popular at this time — but there’s also furniture that dates to the 1800s. You’ll also find Pyrex, pottery, china, glassware, linens and vintage clothing, as well as paintings by local artists, colorful textiles and clothing from Block’s travels, pottery from some of Block’s favorite contemporary pottery makers and hand-crafted wood and industrial-style furniture made by local artisans. “Mid-century modern is really important now, especially with furniture,’’ Block says. “But we have things from many eras, really.’’ Block grew up in New York City, studied theater at City College of New York and remembers when it

Some Pyrex items available at Antique Underground. The store, which opened in downtown Syracuse in November, leases space to about seven other dealers. cost $77 a month to rent a five-room apartment in the city with friends. His work life has included stints as a ballet dancer (though he found he liked folk dance and the freedom of modern dance better), social worker and teacher. One summer, Block recalls, he came to the Skaneateles area to work with a friend who had an antiques business. He liked the customer-focused and ever-changing nature of the business enough to want his own


piece of it. “It just kind of snowballed from there,’’ he says. He opened Antique Underground, which became a retail anchor of Armory Square. This past fall, he looked at a couple spaces in Armory Square before calling his old landlord, developer Bob Doucette, and asking him what spaces he might have available. “I was surprised that Bruce was going to open his retail store once again and totally delighted,’’ Doucette said via email. “I loved the Antique Underground when it was in the Hogan Block. It was such an interesting store and drew tons of visitors from the region and beyond. “Bruce was one of the people that made Armory Square unique and a fun place,’’ Doucette adds. “I love the fact that he’s back and I hope he inspires other retail entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to life. Retail has been hit hard lately but it’s one of the activities that makes a city a city.’’ Over the years he didn’t have a brick-and-mortar business, Block taught adult education courses on antiques for Syracuse University and escorted groups to antiques shows and sales in New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia. He eventually took his clients up on their suggestion to offer small group tours to exotic places. “We know you travel elsewhere in the world, why don’t you take us?” one of them said. Block has traveled to Thailand, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Tibet, South Africa, Spain, France, Argentina and many other places. He lives in a Spanish-style house on the east side of Syracuse with his partner, Patrick Dwyer. He looks forward to getting a vaccine for COVID-19 and plans to lead small group adventures to Vietnam and Cambodia in 2022. “The nature of what I can do has changed because of the pandemic,’’ Block says. “It’s not always going to be like this.’’

If you go… What: Antique Underground Where: 124 E. Jefferson St., Syracuse Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday Information: 315-481-9960; https://antiqueunderground.com

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55+ resolutions Financial Resolutions – Start 2021 Off on the Right Foot By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

H

ave you made a New Year ’s resolution to start exercising, drink more water, stress less or lose that extra 20 pounds? All of these can improve your health; however, it is also important to look for ways to improve your financial health in these turbulent times. Living within one’s means is always a good idea, and is especially important for people approaching retirement age, according to Randy L. Zeigler, private wealth adviser and certified financial planner with Ameriprise Financial Services, an Ameriprise Private Wealth Advisory practice in Oswego. “Manage cash flow wisely,” he added. “Keep debt balances and monthly debt payments at zero or low levels.” One means to do this is to use credit cards only for their convenience and to pay off their balances monthly. Where consumers get into trouble is

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buying items when they do not have the money to pay for them. “Do not use credit cards as lifestyle expansion methods,” Zeigler said. “The high interest rates ultimately just reduce your lifestyle and available cash.” He also wants more people to resolve Zeigler to be generous with their resources as they become aware of needs in their community. “Plan for long-term financial goals, including one’s own retirement needs and consider assisting children and grandchildren with longer-term education goals, if you are able,” Zeigler said. “Invest in variable equity investments to build capital toward one’s long-term goals. Avoid making investment decisions based upon fear

and emotions.” Planning for retirement is one of the top priorities listed by Ethan Gilbert, partner and certified financial planner chartered financial analyst at Rockbridge Investment Management in Syracuse. “If you’re still working, try to save as much as you can in retirement plans like a 401k, or if self-employed, an individual 401k or IRA,” Gilbert said. “People in their young 30s don’t have the capacity to save as they’re having children and they have a mortgage. But once the house is paid off and your children are grown, if you don’t have a lot of retirement savings, those last five or 10 years are your opportunity to significantly increase or maximize what you’re putting into your 401k.” Gilbert also advises a couple in their 60s to resolve that the higher wage earner delay receiving Social Security and continue working — and saving — until age 70. “The-lower income-earning person taking their benefit might mean Gilbert tapping into your IRA or 401k but it’s worth it, especially in today’s low earning environment,” Gilbert said. For example, a husband who dies at 83 will leave his widow the higher benefit to use until she dies several years later, since the lower benefit of the two drops off.


C h r i s t o p h e r W. R h e a u m e , accredited asset manager specialist and financial adviser with Edward Jones in Auburn, wants people to resolve to look at their finances and tweak their financial plan every year. “At the end of the year, evaluate your excess d i s c re t i o n a r y spending,” he said. “If you’re in debt, create a debt reduction Rheaume plan. Especially for those close to retirement, automate your savings and investments so you can remove the temptation to spend money that should be saved and invested. It creates a sense of security and freedom. If you have evaluated your discretionary spending and get out of debt and you’ve automated savings and investing, it gives you freedom to do what you want to do. Often, people spend and see if there’s something to save.” Looking at spending and saving can also provide a more realistic look at what retirement expenses will be like and if a couple needs to adjust their expectation for their standard of living based upon the money they will have available. Rheaume also wants more people to plan to have three to 12 months of cash on hand for emergencies. In addition to these measures, it is important to put legal documents in order. That is one of the resolutions advised by Daniel Cuddy, personal financial representative and certified financial planner at Cuddy Financial Services in Auburn. “You should review your legal documents such as your will, healthcare proxy and power of attorney to ensure they are up to date with the appropriate disposition wishes, beneficiaries, and designated agents,” Cuddy said. “It would be best if you took care to ensure that all of these documents are up to date and still reflect the best planning for you, considering the current and anticipated tax environment. If you do not have any of these documents, you should make sure that you make an appointment with your attorney to discuss the importance of having them.”

55+ insurance No Time Like the Present to Buy Life Insurance By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

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f all the insurance you will ever buy, life insurance is the one you will definitely use. But like all insurance, you should periodically review your coverage to ensure it still meets your needs. Daniel Cuddy, personal financial representative and certified financial planner at Cuddy Financial Services in Auburn, said that checking policies annually is a good idea. “It is an excellent time to review all of your beneficiary designations on your life insurance policies and retirement plans, such as your 401(k)’s, 403(b)s, deferred comp, and your employer’s retirement plans,” Cuddy said. “There may have been life changes since the last time that they were updated or designated initially. “You should check with your company or investment company that holds your retirement plan assets to determine who the current beneficiaries are.” Consider factors such as the beneficiaries’ needs. If your children h a v e b e c o m e m o re f i n a n c i a l l y comfortable and in less need of help, consider designating some assets to important charitable causes. Those purchasing life insurance should consider how their demise would financially affect their family members left behind, since they would have to deal with the costs for their burial, debts and the loss of income to the household. “At this age, people don’t think about the need and purpose for life insurance,” said Christopher W. Rheaume, accredited asset manager specialist and financial adviser with Edward Jones in Auburn. “Someone may not even need the life insurance anymore or they may need to adjust the type of insurance.” For example, insurance that includes riders to cover long-term care expenses may be more important at

this point than only coverage related to income replacement for some families, especially when a household has two income earners and the children have grown. At this point, looking at endof-life needs is important. G r a n d p a re n t s w h o p ro v i d e regular childcare for their working adult children should consider what their passing would mean to their grandchildren’s care. Would it make sense to designate more assets to those families than to a single adult child with no such responsibilities? Fair does not always mean equal division of assets. “For us as financial advisers, we have to evaluate the whole picture to know the type of life insurance you should have,” Rheaume said. “It’s easier if you have two kids under 5. As you get older, goals and objectives change.” That is why advisers look at the needs of the family to strike a balance between supplying those needs and maintaining affordable premiums for the policyholder. Advisers also look at the objectives of the policyholder. “We truly believe in customizing a strategy,” Rheaume said. “We want to understand what’s most important to you, develop a customized strategy to help you achieve your goals. We partner with people to help them reach their goals.” If you think it is too late to buy life insurance, you may be wrong. Some policies are available in New York for people up to age 85. Factors such as health conditions, current age and tobacco use are what underwriters scrutinize to determine eligibility and rates. Although life insurance generally costs less for younger people, it’s not too late for anyone 85 and younger. Discussing what is available with an insurance agent can uncover what options are available for an individual. February / March 2021 - 55 PLUS

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55+ cover

Injection of Hope New president provides spirited leadership at SUNY Upstate Medical University By Lou Sorendo

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rue leadership rises in the face of adversity. That is being proven today by physician Mantosh Dewan, who recently became the president of SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. Dewan leads the region as it continues to battle one of the greatest health threats known to mankind — the global pandemic known as COVID-19. Deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the United States exceeded 400,000 as of mid-January. In Onondaga County, the toll was more than 500 and rising. The first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine recently arrived in Central New York with injections beginning in mid-December, giving hope to a region devastated by the deadly health threat. Dewan has been with SUNY Upstate for several decades and was the chairman of the psychiatric department before he was appointed interim president early in 2019. He said this vast experience and background help in terms of leading the organization on a successful basis. “I think the main advantage is I know so many people and have served with them on every level,” said Dewan, who began his training at SUNY Upstate in 1975. “I trained here for four years and many of the senior people I work with now were actually residents with me in the trenches,” he said. He said those kinds of relationships are invaluable, and he could not 28

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imagine walking into an 11,000-person organization and beginning to build relationships. “You absolutely cannot replace a 45-year relationship, no matter how hard you try. Instead of asking, ‘Can I talk with you?’ it is more like, ‘Hey, I need a favor.’ It’s a really different relationship.” Dewan’s background in psychiatry allowed him to develop the essential

skills valued by all leaders. He managed an inpatient psychiatric unit for many years, and experienced challenges posed by seriously ill patients. “What you learn is not to get rattled easily and not to react because something in front of you is difficult,” he said. “Despite someone who may be out of control and saying hostile things that are hurtful, it’s important not to


Dr. Mantosh Dewan at his office at SUNY Upstate Medical University on Nov. 20. Photo by Chuck Wainwright.

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New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, left, gets briefed on SUNY Upstate Medical University’s aggressive approach in combating COVID-19, by right, Frank Middleton, PhD; SUNY Upstate Medical University President Mantosh Dewan, MD; and Stephen Thomas, MD. Thomas, Upstate’s chief of infectious disease, serves as lead principal investigator for the Pfizer/BioNTech global phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial. Middleton is a co-developer of the Clarifi COVID-19 Test Kit, a saliva swab COVID-19 diagnostic test. The saliva swab diagnostic test is used widely throughout the SUNY system for testing students for COVID-19. react and still treat them respectfully.” While that certainly can be difficult, health care professionals must understand the patient who is under stress of his or her own kind. “That’s what we need to do with our organization,” he said. “When I took over, the organization was under tremendous stress.” The appointment of Dewan came during a time of controversy at Upstate. A criminal investigation followed alleged improprieties at Upstate involving employment contract, personnel and human resources issues. “The idea was to take the positive and not react to some of the negative stuff people were saying,” Dewan added. “We have wonderful people and are nurturing them, supporting them and watching them flourish. To me, that’s been the most gratifying part of the last three years,” he noted. The 69-year-old Syracuse resident earned his medical degree at Bombay University before coming to the U.S. 30

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in 1975 and did his residency at University Hospital, SUNY Health Science Center in Syracuse. Dewan is a SUNY distinguished service professor and also served as interim dean of Upstate’s medical school. He has also served as director of both undergraduate education and residency training.

Beyond expectations A native of Bahrain, India, Dewan came to the U.S. as a young man and said he was delighted to earn a faculty slot in the psychiatric department at SUNY Upstate, an environment that nurtured him. “However, there was never a time I thought I could get here, partly because of never thinking I could,” he said. Dewan never applied to be interim dean or president. “It’s not what a person with my background dreams about,” he said. “I am very happy being a faculty member

and still love teaching and writing, but the positions of dean and president are nothing that I thought were possible or something to aspire to.” “It is absolutely gratifying and humbling,” Dewan said. “I keep saying it is a real privilege to be able to do this and be tapped to do this. “I often say how I have had more jobs that I have not applied for than I have applied for.” He said 2020 was a difficult year, but it also was perhaps the most gratifying for many health care professionals at SUNY Upstate. Dewan said the organization has “amazing” people who are being duly recognized for the remarkable work they have done in the face of COVID-19. “We are committed to serving the community in an even better way because we know we can and there’s a need. We are up to the challenge,” he said. He said in 2021, expect more expertise and programs at SUNY Upstate as well as increased capability to treat additional patients. Dewan said new leadership at SUNY Upstate is exceptional. “Our chief executive officer, Robert J. Corona, and our four deans for example are all really terrific. We have all the ingredients: superb leadership and incredibly good people that work here. Now that we are aligned, I am very excited about tomorrow,” he added. Corona said Dewan leads by example with the highest integrity. “He is decisive, strategic, very intelligent and has a gift of being able to deliver tough messages with kindness and compassion,” he said. “He is a true champion of those who have the greatest need. He empowers his people and allows them to thrive while doing their jobs, and is the furthest person from a micromanager.” “I always believed that when you think of any organization, you first need to select a group of very good leaders,” Dewan said. “You hire the best people, not just for leadership, but at every level. But then, you turn it over to them. They are the experts, and no matter how smart or arrogant you are, you can never know what the person on the ground knows.” He said he strives to hire the best people and trust them, with his job being to support them.


Upstate Medical University President Mantosh Dewan, MD, delivers his 2020 State of the University Address in the TedX Theater Central New York Biotech Accelerator Oct. 28. Photo provided. “We all know what the work is: We need to provide the best care for our patients, educate students as well as we can, and we need to do the best research,” Dewan said. “We know what the target is. I often tease and say, ‘My job is to hire the best people and support them, and then get out of their way and worry about how we are going to get better parking,’” he added.

Expand and grow During Dewan’s stint as interim president, the university expanded several services, including urology, neurology and mental health for children. “SUNY Upstate is often seen as just another hospital or sometimes another big hospital,” Dewans said. “But the way we look at it is twofold. First, it is a regional medical center

and we serve a very large population. Secondly, it’s the only public academic medical center in the region, and our primary motivation for doing anything is to serve the public.” Dewan said his team views the growth in that same spirit. “What we want to do is provide a level of care that is better than the patient can receive anywhere else. That’s the academic difference. We have more specialists, expertise, machines and technology, because that is what is required to be a good educational enterprise,” he said. He said it is essential to teach the next generation with the best of all resources. “That is just of the one thing that drives us. We don’t just want to have more, we want to have better,” he added. Perhaps closest to Dewan’s heart are enhanced mental health services

for kids. It’s the first child psychiatric unit in a general hospital in the region. There are several in state psychiatric centers. “There is a very good one at Hutchings [Psychiatric Center in Syracuse], but this is the first time we’ve had one,” he said. “It’s something the community has been asking for.” However, even if a highly ranked insurance provider such as BlueCross BlueShield covers a child, he or she would not be admitted to Hutchings because it does not accept that form of insurance, Dewan said. A child would then be directed to health care facilities out of the region, such as in Saratoga Springs. “We want to be available for anybody who needs anything at any time and provide the highest level of care,” he said. Also, the new president helped February / March 2021 - 55 PLUS

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create the first-ever neurological institute that was recently launched at SUNY Upstate. “It’s not just about getting together tenured surgeons. Each one is a general neurosurgeon,” he said. “They can do everything. Each one also has a specialty and can do things even others in the group can’t. When you put them all together, it’s very heartening. “If you need care when you walk in, there is someone who has the expertise to take care of you no matter what. We are the only hospital in the region where you can walk in and receive excellent treatment for literally anything you want.” It is a comprehensive level of care and academically based, which generates trust among patients and ensures them they don’t have to go elsewhere for treatment, Dewan said. Although other hospitals in the region provide sufficient basic care, they transfer patients to Upstate on a regular basis when availability allows. SUNY Upstate gets referrals from the Greater Syracuse area plus a region that encompasses 17 counties and even beyond for certain treatments. In terms of a support system, Dewan enjoys the support of his wife along with their two adult children. Due to his hectic work pace, he has been unable to focus not only on his family, but himself. “Recently, I haven’t done a lot of sensible stuff in terms of caring for myself,” said Dewan, noting he takes advantage of the times he can get outside at home to come up for much needed air. “I’ve temporarily given up on the things that I really enjoy.” That includes participation in a tennis league, a source of both exercise and camaraderie. He and his wife Anita have two children, son Amant and daughter Radhika Fliegel. They enjoy traveling as well as their three grandchildren. “A little time with them rejuvenates me for a very long time,” he said. The Syracuse resident earned his medical degree at Bombay University before coming to the U.S. in 1975 and did his residency at University Hospital. He is a member of the American Psychological Association and Organization of Advancement and Integration in Medical Sciences.

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Pandemic Proof SUNY Upstate Medical University steps up big in the face of deadly COVID-19 threat By Lou Sorendo

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nder new leadership provided by physician Mantosh Dewan, who was recently named president of SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, the organization has achieved worldwide recognition while in the trenches battling COVID-19. Dewan said excellent care has been provided during the pandemic because SUNY Upstate has an exceptional depth of expertise in infectious diseases. In addition, he said, significant progress made on the research side has led to groundbreaking innovations to offset the health threat. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently ranked a diagnostic COVID-19 test developed by SUNY Upstate Medical Center and Quadrant Biosciences in Syracuse No. 1 for detecting the virus in its early stages. The test, called Clarifi COVID-19, also ranked No. 3 worldwide for its sophistication in detecting the virus among all saliva tests available. Helping to spearhead the effort was Frank Middleton, Ph.D., a research scientist at SUNY Upstate. More than 580,000 Clarifi tests were reportedly administered across SUNY campuses during the fall semester. While there are other saliva-based tests that are easier than the nasal swab testing procedure, Dewan said Middleton helped create a test that is unique in terms of finding COVID-19 even when 12 separate saliva samples are put together. “What is not appreciated is his true genius. His test can detect the virus at a very minute level,” Dewan said. “It is much more powerful than many of the ones that are being used commercially.” On Nov. 19, Upstate University

Hospital did nearly 1,000 COVID-19 tests. Meanwhile, Middleton’s lab did 20,000 tests on the same day. “That’s the genius. There is nobody that can do that scale-wise,” he said. Dewan said it was a gratifying experience to be able to support health care professionals to develop something new in only three months. The widely employed test was the first to be FDA approved. “If you think your job is to serve, this is a time we have served better than ever before,” he added. Meanwhile, SUNY Upstate’s physician Stephen Thomas was the lead principal investigator for the worldwide Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine trial, which has shown a more than 90% efficacy in preventing COVID-19. The SUNY medical school has served as one of the global Phase 3 vaccine trial locations. As the lead principal investigator, Thomas, Upstate’s chief of infectious disease, supported Pfizer and BioNTech as they prepared vaccine trial data for submission to regulatory agencies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in November. Thomas’ team has also been testing treatments with monoclonal antibodies. “So we will have vaccines to prevent COVID-19, a very good sophisticated test to figure out if you do have it, and then very good treatments if unfortunately you do have it,” Dewan said. The SUNY Upstate president and his staff recently received a commendation from the SUNY Board of Trustees for exceptional leadership in combating COVID-19. He said keys to earning the commendation included the outstanding leadership exhibited by those who spearheaded the innovation


earned the commendation, Dewan said.

Aggressive response

SUNY Upstate Medical University President Mantosh Dewan, MD, speaks with SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras, right, during one of the chancellor’s visits to the Upstate campus last fall. Photo provided to develop the highly efficient saliva test for COVID-19. Dewan said tens of millions of dollars were saved as a result of the new test at the publicly funded facility. Normally, each test on average costs about $100, but SUNY Upstate — being a public entity — provided it at cost for $15.

Ready for battle When COVID-19 struck in March and April, SUNY Upstate was ahead of the curve and prepared. However, while the hospital was properly secured, downstate facilities were being deluged with patients. At that time, its SUNY sister school, Stony Brook University, had about 400 COVID-19 patients. Upstate University Hospital, meanwhile, had about 20. In response, Dewan said SUNY Upstate sent several teams of nurses, pharmacy technicians, and respiratory therapists to Stony Brook.

“That was remarkably brave of these people because at that time, we were really not understanding COVID-19 as well,” Dewan said. “It was a huge threat. They went from a very safe place in Syracuse to a hot bed in Stony Brook.” Meanwhile, when Manhattan was flooded with COVID-19 cases, the U.S. Army set up a 1,000-bed field hospital in Javits Center in New York City. The state Department of Health took it over, and began to look for the expertise to manage the facility. That’s when Upstate dispatched one of its emergency room doctors, Chris Tanski, who was designated the chief medical officer at the convention center. Rebecca Milczarski, Upstate’s director of nursing recruitment and retention, became the chief nursing officer while Housam Hegazy, Upstate’s division chief of hospital medicine, was on site as the chief of the hospitalist division. “I was cited for good leadership, but really it’s the work of these amazing people who work at Upstate” that

In the midst of COVID-19, Dewan said the SUNY Upstate leadership staff had to become more nimble being that no one had experienced a pandemic before. SUNY Upstate used an incident command system, a concept borrowed from the armed forces, and established Stephen Thomas, chief of infectious disease at SUNY Upstate, as its leader. During the onset of the pandemic, about 100 staff members from every sector of SUNY Upstate met every morning and evening to react to a whirlwind of unexpected virus-related activities. “The team would huddle and determine what it needed to do and then assign someone to do it,” Dewan said. “We learned how to become more nimble and responsive.” He said oftentimes within a large organization like SUNY Upstate, timeconsuming discussions were held to reach the right answer. Now, whether it involves how to keep staff, patients and visitors safe, decisions need to be made and implemented much more quickly. “ We ’ v e a c t u a l l y b e c o m e a much more efficient and collegial organization. We had 100 people from every part of the organization, many of whom worked in silos previously, become even more valuable,” he said. “They stepped up in a way I have never seen before.” Everyone on the team is cell phone accessible and available around the clock, he noted, and sleep is certainly at a premium. The second wave of COVID-19 has resulted in more patients in the hospital than during the first wave. “Fortunately, we are better prepared. We have learned lessons and are doing very well with this,” he said. Dewan said efforts are being made to reach out to communities across the region and encourage them to adhere to the same safety protocol that led to success during the first wave of the virus. That includes social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands. “If we do all of the right things, there won’t be a need for another lockdown,” he said. “We have to do a little bit more to avoid a lot of pain.” February / March 2021 - 55 PLUS

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aging By Marilyn L. Pinsky

Old Regulars at Downtown YMCA What happened to some of them?

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or most of my working life, lunch times were spent at the Downtown YMCA and I would see the same dedicated exercisers year after year. I’ve been wondering what happened to their routines now that they are in their 80s. I managed to track down four of them. Here are their stories.

Sidney Devorsetz

“Physical activity, particularly sports, has always been appealing to me,” said Sidney Devorsetz, “It is healthy and relieves stress as well.” “Indeed, h a v i n g practiced law as a litigator for 60 Devorsetz years generated more than a fair share of stress and anxiety for me. Team sports were an enjoyable release largely because they combined exercise with competition and socializing, and included softball, basketball and handball in my 20s and 30s. However, it became more challenging for the organizers to round up the requisite number of players to be at a field or court at the appointed time. Therefore, it was time to move on to more individual endeavors such as jogging and frequenting a gym for a workout, although I still played tennis.” “As far as injuries go, I sustained an elbow injury playing lacrosse in college which required surgery, but fortunately has not been disabling. I dealt with chronic back pain for years, but played through it. After giving up platform tennis a few years ago, I am free of pain, although I miss it and 34

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would like to play pickleball now.” “The enjoyment, as well as the physical and mental benefits associated with exercise, are the reasons I am convinced that if one stays in shape, he or she will sleep sounder, be less likely to fall or otherwise become disabled, such as suffering back pain from lifting as well as perhaps being more mentally alert. It affords more options available to us for whatever time we have left, such as independent travel, hiking, touring, etc.” “Currently, my daily routines include close to an hour walk (though if it is subzero and a bone-chilling, windy day, I pass) and my indoor exercise includes one of three rotating full body workouts prescribed or scripted by a trainer with emphasis on leg, core and upper body strength and balance.”

Marvin Goldenberg

Marvin Goldenberg, a patent attorney, played baseball, football and golf when growing up in the New York City area. He was 10 when he started playing golf and played on both his high school and college teams. Goldenberg At 17 he won the Queens County Interscholastic Golf Championship. “After moving to Syracuse, my principal exercise was playing four wall handball at the Y and the JCC. I’d go after work, play for two hours and then go home for dinner. I still continued golf in a GE-work league weekdays and on weekends with friends.”

“When we moved from the city to Manlius it was less convenient to get to the gym, so I started running. When I was a kid in high school I could not even run once around the track, but after playing handball for seven years I thought I’d give running a try again. It was winter. I put on my army boots, hit the road and found I could easily run a mile. Then I ran for exercise for 20 years until my knees started bothering me. My father had been a world class race-walker, so I decided to do that. I competed against walkers in my age group and at age 80 set two national records, in the 5K and 3K indoor racewalk. My last race was two years ago.” “In my 50’s I was having back spasms, so bad that at times I couldn’t get out of bed. A doctor told me I should stop running. As I left his office, I said to myself, ‘to hell with that advice.’ After a combination of rest and easy movement I recovered sufficiently to go back to my regular routine.” “I am sufficiently disciplined to do what I consider is good for me. As I’ve aged, I’ve combined the exercises into walking for aerobic benefits and weights to retain upper and lower body strength. My routine now is short and intensive, but done regularly whether I feel like it or not. That has helped me stay fit and avoid injuries.” “For me, the principle benefit of exercise is to live a better life, not necessarily a longer life, although that probably also results.”

Beverly Miller

“Not being all that well coordinated when I was young, I rarely played any sports. But in 1978 when starting work at the Onondaga County Department of Health, I saw an advertisement for an early bird exercise class at the YMCA. Walter Price was the wonderful leader of what the Y called


a ‘group of young professionals,’ but I called it an adult scout troop. We got ribbons to put on our refrigerators for various milestones to keep us incentivized. We e v o l v e d from indoor e x e rc i s i n g t o Miller walking and then into running. And Walt, like the scout leader, would keep us going — organizing pancake breakfasts, impromptu pool swims, a New Year’s champagne run at the Rose Garden. It was really a chance to be a kid again.” “I’d be at the Y by 6:30, run, shower, have breakfast with the group and then be at work by 8:30. I discovered that running wasn’t necessarily competitive given that you’re competing against your own time and other runners weren’t dependent on you to maintain a certain pace.” Walt’s incentivizing must have worked as Bev did three Mountain Goat competitions. “Through the years these early morning exercisers have become my best friends and support group. They even were the contacts for my postretirement jobs. About eight of us get together socially with spouses and some of us have traveled as a group to Prague and London. We have been through births, deaths, divorces and the problems of kids’ growing up years. When my husband Mel passed away, being able to go to the Y three times a week to run and have breakfast with them was the best support for me.” “With hip and knee problems, a bunch of us have become walkers; we call ourselves ‘the walking wounded.’ We’ve had injuries but did PT and gradually went back to the group. We keep asking each other, ‘Do you think this is doing us any good?’ And we say ‘yes’ and keep going.” “A downtown Y contact told me about the Active Older Adult Outdoor Walking Club at the East area Y. That has kept me active during COVID-19 and the senior men and women walkers are most welcoming. For me, the exercise and the social component are inseparable.”

Jack Estabrook

An all-around athlete, Jack Estabrook, owner of Estabrook Printing, played football, baseball and tennis in high school, then boxed at Colgate, boxed in Golden Gloves and worked out with Estabrook the wrestling team. He was also the Colgate Red Raider (mascot) for three years. “After college, I sparred with professionals at the Main Street Gym where boxers like Basilio and Backus worked out. Then I started playing handball, mostly singles at the Y and the Public Safety Building. I also played softball competitively around Central New York for 20 years and for one year, played semi-pro football for the Frankfort Falcons.” “At the same time, I played a lot of golf. When my sons were in grade school, I coached Pop Warner for three years with Jerry Rapp.” “But handball was always my main ongoing exercise, a great sport where ‘eye-hand’ coordination is key. I played until two years ago, even winning a doubles tournament, but there comes a point in your life when it’s just not practical anymore.

Handball players move away, get hurt and competition is tough.” How do you get yourself up to exercise when you don’t feel like it? “You just do it. It’s like Colombo, who when he put on his raincoat, was a detective. You put on your sneakers and handball gloves and you’re ready to go!” “In a handball tournament I had my front teeth knocked out. I picked them up, gave them to the referee, and kept playing. I broke a finger another time, taped it to the adjacent finger and finished the game. I’ve had both shoulders replaced. I’ve broken my nose five times. Once I was serving in a game and my right bicep snapped; first and only time I couldn’t finish what I started.” “I am still active, just a little slower, but I still ‘get it done’. I hunt deer with my three sons, which gives me plenty of fresh air and exercise. I find my own firewood, cut and split it, and I keep busy around the house as ‘chief maintenance manager.’” As Jack says, “I may be a different breed, if I want to do something, I do it. I had a quadruple bypass, played two weeks before the operation and then started playing again.” “Currently I stay active selling printing and selling promotional stuff’, plus I see people who don’t necessarily want to see me: working for CNY Investigation Bureau and lawyers.”

Still kicking: Marvin Goldenberg and Beverly Miller (seated). Sidney Devorsetz and Jack Estabrook are in the background. They still keep an active exercise regimen February / March 2021 - 55 PLUS

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55+ love Rekindling Romance at 55-Plus By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

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oes familiarity breed contempt? The adage holds true for some couples. Now that they have raised their children and have more time for each other, they may realize that their spouse seems like a stranger. “It sounds cliched, but it does happen,” said Jon Loomis, licensed clinical social worker in private practice in Auburn. “People can take one another for granted over time and really get stale based on that.” In part, the phenomenon of marriage becoming boring by midlife has to do with the changes going on at that time. It can feel like one’s sense of purpose is slipping away. Trying to find that purpose in another person places undue pressure on their partner. “For many of us in our culture, we’re such a work-oriented that retired people can find themselves depressed because work is a big part of our selfdefinition,” Loomis said. “If we can accept the aspects of who we are and we can find useful volunteer work, that help people maintain a sense of purpose.” Finding purpose independently leaves some breathing space within the relationship to rekindle the romance. “The best definition of a healthy relationship I’ve heard of is two people who are generally happy who want to

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get together to share that happiness and well being with the other,” Loomis said. “The culture promotes the idea that if you’re unhappy alone that finding the right person will fix that.” While the busyness of rearing a family and building a household and career may have distracted from that fundamental unhappiness with one’s self, it becomes much more apparent once the demands of family and career start to wind down. That is why finding fulfillment and happiness independent of the partner is so vital. Rekindling the romance starts at a much more mundane level: trying to learn about the other person. When you first dated, you wanted to know her favorite flower, song and food. You wore the dress he liked and baked him his favorite cookies. After 35 or more years of marriage, it may feel like all the mystery and excitement is gone. Learning about the spouse requires communication. “I look at relationships as living entities in need of ‘feeding.’” Loomis said. “They will need the kind of care any living thing requires. That means regular communication, and to the best of anyone’s ability finding time for each other and participating in activities they may have found enjoyable together as a couple earlier on if they’re physically able to and can

afford to” To get the communication going, Jodi Mullen, Ph.D., at Integrative Counseling Services, PLLC in Oswego, re c o m m e n d s d o i n g s o m e t h i n g together, whether it’s playing cards or cooking together like you used to or trying something mutually new together. “Make doing something with your partner part of your routine,” Mullen said. “We’ll go out for a walk at least once a week, but don’t make it, ‘Oh, I have to do that walk with my partner.’ It’s very easy to get lost in your own endeavors. Make sure you have opportunities to do things together.” Mullen recommends reading “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman, a book about how people perceive and express affection in a relationship. The languages are: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. “You can Google assessments and quizzes you can take to find out what your love language is,” Mullen said. “Some couples have very different love languages. Take a quiz and talk about it. It can be really eye-opening, too, because you have been together so long.” Sometimes, only one spouse perceives the difficulty in the relationship while the other claims it


is just fine or that the other spouse is “too romantic” or even that romance is for young people only. It is helpful to use “I” statements that are very specific, such as “I always liked how you would write me a little note each Saturday” or “I like spending time with you and want to do things together more” instead of statements like, “You never show you care about me” or “Why do you always work late and go fishing with your friends every weekend?” Mullen said that it’s important how the other spouse frames it. Instead of complaining about the lack of romance or demanding what you want, it is better to suggest trying something new for fun. Above all, never drudge up the misgivings of the past (“You forgot our anniversary last year; you don’t care about me at all.”) during conversations about your relationship, as that creates the impression you only care about past failures. Complement the behaviors that make you feel loved and your spouse may take notice, such as, “Thank you for filling the car with gas; that helped me out a lot” instead of only general statements like “You’re the best” to show a deeper level of appreciation. Avoiding conflict will not mean a strong relationship. In fact, it can mean just the opposite: a boring relationship where real needs are stuffed down and resentment forms. For some, seeking counseling may help. Christopher Battles, licensed mental health counselor and owner of Equanimity Counseling in Oswego, said that rekindling the flame of romance “can take some unexpected and exciting turns,” he said. “Couples rediscover themselves and their desires through recommitting to trust and openness. I invite clients to look at ‘the flame’ as a sign of the health and balance of their self-concept.” Battles also recommends Gary Chapman’s love languages, as well as the work of Drs. John and Julie Gottman. They co-founded and lead a relationship company and therapist training entity called The Gottman Institute. John Gottman was recognized in 2007 as one of the 10 most influential therapists of the past quarter century. He wrote “The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work,” among other books.

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golden years By Harold Miller

Email: hmiller@mcsmms.com

Keys to the Fabric of a Fulfilled Life in Retirement Someone to love, something to do, something to look forward to Someone to Love It all began at the Kapa Epsilon Sorority dance held at the Hotel Syracuse. I walked across the expansive ballroom dance floor, introduced myself and asked this beautiful red head in an ankle-length plaid skirt and bobby socks, for a dance. We danced together well, and I enjoyed her company. After the dance we chatted awhile and I got Janet’s address and telephone number. Six months passed before I had a reason to call her. My alma mater, Smith Tech, which was the first trade school in Upstate New York, was having its first prom dance for its first graduating class. After that we dated regularly, became engaged and married in 1955. Fortunately, I still have my high school sweetheart — cum mother of five, grandmother of 20 and great-grandmother of 10, soon to be 11 — at my side. Unfortunately, most of our relatives and friends who live to our ripe old age (we have been married 65 years) are widowed or divorced. Remarriage is often difficult because it muddles splitting up the spoils among the kids. Therefore, some just live together as boyfriend and girlfriend, which is perfectly acceptable in this day and age.

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Something to Do Many marriages break up in retirement because of too much togetherness. Husband and wife need to get away from each other occasionally, get out of the house more often. One of the horror stories that circulate within our community is of the husband who follows his wife around the kitchen as she empties the dishwasher and places the dishes in the cupboards. We see many retired executives with nothing to exec, fussing and fuming and trying to cope with idleness. A type A personality who has raced through a career at 80 miles-perhour cannot just slam on the brakes and let the engine idle — eventually the engine will stall. Anyone who has followed this column knows that I strongly advocate a “retirement career.” Grandma Moses became an artist at age 80. I have become a writer and journalist among other things, after a successful career as entrepreneur. Everyone has a hidden talent never pursued because of the constraints of a career. Some women are much better adapted to retirement than men because their routine changes little, but men cannot easily slow to their wife’s pace. It has been our observance that idleness can kill you as surely as an incurable disease.

Something to Look Forward To Every day should be eagerly anticipated and never wasted (I was given a second chance and appreciate this more than most). A part of the day should be set aside for something you enjoy and subsequently look forward to. For me, this time is at the end of the day, after the work is done, sitting on the deck with a good book or magazine and a glass of wine — usually followed by a game of cards with my wife. Anything will do, a trip to the mall, taking a friend to lunch or simply taking a walk. Then there are the long-range things like visit family or friends, taking a cruise, annual family gatherings during the holidays and so on. In spite of the fact that I am retired, I still maintain an office within the family business. This allows me to get out of the house during the week — therefore I can look forward to the weekend. The important thing is to avoid the deathtrap of letting one day meld into the next and living a humdrum existence. Wrapping this all up, another perspective from granddaughter Kali La Rue’s journal, via the pen of Mary Ann Rademacher: “Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.”


my turn By Bruce Frassinelli Email: bfrassinelli@ptd.net

E

‘The Way We Blabbed When I Was a Kid’

ach generation has its own way of speaking. When I was a teenager, we had secret phrases which were intended to baffle our parents and other adults. Even before that, when I was in kindergarten, I had my school photo taken wearing a T-shirt that featured a drawing of famed drummer Gene Krupa and the phrase “hep cat.” A “hep cat” was someone who was really with it, someone who dug the scene. I doubt whether that was an apt description of 5-year-old Bruce, but, hey, what did I know? I was reliving some of these words and phrases recently as I began analyzing and comparing some of the comments and shorthand that I see in Facebook and other social media posts — phrases such as “lol” (laugh out loud) or “jk” (just kidding) or “wtf” (I’ll let you figure out that one). The other day, just as an experiment, I said to one of my granddaughters, “You’re the ginchiest.” (You’re the greatest.) She looked at me oddly, unsure of whether to say “thank you” or “why, what did I do?” “Baby, you’re the ginchiest” is the catchy phrase popularized by Edd “Kookie” Byrnes on the hit TV show “77 Sunset Strip.” Although he had no singing talent to speak of, Byrnes made a hit record with “Hawaiian Eye” star Connie Stevens, “Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb,” which climbed to No. 4 on the Billboard Top 100 chart in 1959 and sold more than 1 million copies. “Fog in my noggin’,” another phrase from that song, also caught on among my crowd. It means that a person is not thinking straight or can’t remember something. When my friend, Frank, would exaggerate about his female conquests, my friends and I accused him of “lighting up the tilt meter.” (lying). I vividly recalled when I came

home one night after watching the movie “Blackboard Jungle,” the film that launched Sidney Poitier’s acting career, and called my father “Daddy-O,” he was far from amused, despite not knowing what the term was supposed to mean. I normally referred to him as “pop.” If a guy had a souped-up hot rod and could make a spectacle of himself by burning rubber on the main drag in town he really had it made in the shade. Today, being in the shade is shielding yourself from the sun and possibly cancer, but “made in the shade” in my day meant that everything was coolsville, not a care in the world. Two of my era’s superstars — Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon — starred in a series of beach movies. One of them was called “Beach Blanket Bingo.” This was one of those coded phrases intended to misdirect parents. The phrase is an offshoot of “Back seat bingo,” which is where quite a bit of teen lovemaking occurred. Of course, back then, unlike today, there was enough space in the back seat where stuff could happen. Although “Beach Blanket Bingo” (1965) showed a lot of female skin, it was chaste by today’s film standards,

Splitsville

and I assure you that there was no bingoing going on either under or on top of the beach blankets. Some of my Italian friends were called “greasers” because of the way they slicked back their hair with hair preparations. This morphed into a pejorative term that took on gangster connotations, most notably references to members of the Mafia, but when the Broadway show, then movie “Grease” became an international phenomenon, “greasers” became much more accepted, especially if they looked like John Travolta. Here are some of my other favorite ‘50s expressions and their meanings: • Cruisin’ for a bruisin’ — A person who persists in being a pain or an annoyance and will just not quit or go away. • Built like a brick shithouse — This is a phrase we would use among us guys in describing a girl’s extraordinary “charms.” I guess you can call it “locker room language.” We might also observe that she was “stacked,” in other words curves in all the right places. If we wanted to compliment a girl directly, however, we would remark about her “classy chassis.” Of course, say stuff like that today will ensure a date with the Me

Cruisin’ for a bruisin’

Daddy-O

Fog in my noggin’

You’re the ginchiest February / March 2021 - 55 PLUS

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Too court of public opinion for reeducating. • Keep it up, and you’re gonna get a knuckle sandwich — When a person persists in insulting you and won’t let up even after you’ve asked him politely to stop. • Chickie-run — The phrase was used in the 1955 movie “Rebel Without A Cause” starring James Dean and Natalie Wood and refers to teen drivers who race toward a cliff at breakneck speed in junker cars. Whoever jumps out first is a “chicken.” There were plenty of unique terms we used that have fallen by the wayside or have been superseded by more up-to-date, if less colorful, expressions. We would call the local drive-in theater the “passion pit,” because those fogged up windows did not come from high humidity in the atmosphere but from the passion being expelled inside the vehicle. We had to make sure that we at least noted the name of the motion picture that was playing in case mom or dad asked. It was rare that we ever saw the entire movie. We were too busy doing other things. If your girlfriend or boyfriend was not very good company on a date, you might ask, “Why are you being such a wet rag?” If a friend asked why you weren’t going on a date with your girlfriend, it might be because you and she were in Splitsville (broken up). If a friend was getting overly excited about something, you might tell her, “OK. OK. Don’t have a cow” or “don’t flip your lid” or “don’t spaz out” or “don’t throw a hissy fit.” Proving that there is an exception to every rule, just once in my life did a girl refer to me as her “dreamboat.” Here is how I might have described a night of hangin’ with my friends when I was 16 in 1955: “We cruised the main drag with the top down before going to the flick. Man, it was crazy. Something was pumping, because the fuzz were all over the place. We saw some crazy chicks being handcuffed. I told Paulie, who was driving, to cool it until we passed the scene, then told him to put the pedal to the metal. He was about to ask some dude what all the ruckus was about, but I told him to put a lid on it, because I didn’t want us to be stoolies in case the cops talked to us.” 40

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55+ business

At 65, Sue Speach is still involved in Speach Family Candy Shoppe, a business started in 1920 by her late husband’s grandfather Michael Speach

Spreading the Sweetness Speach family business becomes tradition in Central New York By Mary Beth Roach

S

ue Speach didn’t expect to be a business owner. “Never in a million years would I have thought I would own a business,” she said. And she hadn’t been until 1982. Up until then, she had been a schoolteacher.

In 1982, she and her husband, Michael, took over the Speach Candy Company, a business that had been in Michael’s family since his grandfather, also Michael, opened the shop in 1920. As the third generation in the family-owned business, the couple breathed new life into the enterprise,


expanding it and adding a retail component. Sue had continued teaching school until 1986, and by the end of 1987, she and Michael had also expanded their family with three children — Michael Jr., Melissa and Connie. Much has changed over the past three-plus decades. Sue transferred ownership to her son, Michael Jr., in 2007; Sue’s husband died about two years ago; and the business name has changed to Speach Family Candy Shoppe. But yet Sue, at age 65, is still involved, helping her children, Michael Jr. and Connie, in the shop. When Sue and Michael first began, they were working out of their home, but eventually moved to a small shop on Burnet Avenue where they were able to sell directly to customers from the small counter space in the front while having the manufacturing in the back. They relocated to Old Liverpool Road, but parking was difficult for customers, Sue said. Eventually, they took over the shop’s current spot at 2400 Lodi St. on Syracuse’s north side. Michael’s father, Ernie, had owned the building, the former Court House restaurant, less than a mile from where the business was originally begun on North Townsend Street. From here, they continued to operate both the retail and wholesale sides of the business, with Sue crediting Michael for being the “go-getter” while making sure their candy was in some of the area’s grocery stores. When Michael became ill, Sue had to make some changes. She said she needed to step back and take care of her husband and find a job that offered benefits. “I needed to start thinking about the future, and my son was willing to hop on board. He really has made the business really more than I could have imagined,” she said. When she turned the shop over to Michael Jr., she took a job at the U.S. Post Office. She continues to work there from 10 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., and then she comes into the shop to help out. “I still have that connection here,” she said. “Now I don’t have any of the pressures to keep things going. Michael has really found his niche.” Today, she helps package the

Sue Speech pictured with her son, Michael Jr., and daughter, Connie, who run Speach Family Candy Shoppe in Syracuse. candy, dips chips and fruits in the chocolate, and sometimes decorates the tops of those decadent truffles, which have become a trademark of their shop. “I love having her here,” her son said. “It’s quality time. We’re doing what we both love doing and we’re doing it together. We’re working on projects.” And she’s a good sounding board for him. “If I’m thinking of a new idea or a new project or something new I’m working on, it’s nice to have someone to get a little feedback from,” he said. The word “family” was incorporated into the business’ name several years ago, and it is quite appropriate. Family — whether immediate, extended or

“adopted” — has been key for Sue.

Sweet gestures When she and her husband first started in the shop, balancing the needs of her family and the business were hard, she admitted, and she explained that she had a lot of support from extended family. Her parents, aunts and uncles and Michael’s uncles had all come into the store and pitched in to help, she said. “They donated hours and hours to us really. It was a family affair. Even the people we hired ended up being part of our family,” she said, with a deep undertone of gratitude. The Christmas holiday has always been the candy shop’s biggest season, February / March 2021 - 55 PLUS

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so much so that the family didn’t celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25. When they did a few days later, it would be an occasion marked by family and employees alike. “Our particular business is wrapped around holidays for the most part,” she explained. “We couldn’t celebrate Christmas on Christmas Day because we were exhausted. Our Christmas was always the Sunday after. Our big Christmas dinner was the Sunday after,” she said. “When we did do something, we would include our family from here. We would have Christmas dinner and we would have people that were with us every day. They were our family. We know them so well,” she added. Family memorabilia is scattered throughout the shop, including portraits of the founder, Michael; two of the founder’s sons, Ernest and Joseph; Michael and Sue; and Michael Jr. and a collage of photos from the shop’s earlier days. “Grandpa Speach”, as Sue calls him, got his start in the candy-making

business with the old Coughlin Brothers, a local candy shop that also made cough drops. It was here that he learned hard candy. But being an immigrant from Italy, Grandpa Speach’s recipes were in Italian, Sue said. And of course, as anyone who has inherited family recipes knows, measurements are not always included. So while some of the recipes have been handed down, many have been developed over the years. For example, Grandpa Speach didn’t make truffles; but today, the decadent candies are one of the store’s trademark treats. Grandpa Speach’s legacy lives on in Sue’s home in Liverpool. A selfconfessed lover of antiques, she said she has his copper kettles, his stoves and thermometer, spatulas and a special scoop he used for his peanut clusters. Over its 100 years, the business has certainly withstood the test of time and is now surviving a pandemic. Sue credits Michael Jr.’s technical knowhow and his drive for helping the

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55 PLUS - February / March 2021

business survive the past few months. “If it wasn’t for his online connections, we definitely wouldn’t be here,” Sue said. They partnered with Amazon in the summer of 2020 to offer a “Chocoholic Survival Kit” subscription. Each month, a lucky recipient receives a box filled with assorted chocolate treats, including assorted handmade milk, dark and white chocolates, and chocolate-covered potato chips. Because the Speaches realized that throwing a 100th anniversary celebration was not possible due to the pandemic, Michael Jr. began the “10 Decades of Giving event, in which they joined with 10 different nonprofits from January through October. Each month a chosen charity received a percentage of the sales. The program was inspired from the idea that “10 good deeds a day can change the world.” And while a good chocolate shop might not change the world, it has — and will — continue to delight Central New Yorkers for 100-plus years.

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druger’s zoo By Marvin Druger and Victoria Bartling Email: mdruger@syr.edu

It’s a Dog’s Life Death of loved pet rattles emotions

I

am not usually a pet lover and I have avoided having a live pet for many years. My aversion to pets dates back to my teenage days. My family had a cocker spaniel named Topsy. She developed a cervical problem and required major surgery. My family had to choose between getting Topsy the risky surgery, or just letting her die from her ailment. If Topsy had the surgery, she might recover. If we decided not to allow the surgery, my mother would be overwhelmed with caring for a sick dog, since all of us were in school. We decided that we had to give Topsy a chance to survive, and possibly recover. My family was too poor to own a car, so my two brothers and I called a taxi to take Topsy to the veterinarian for the surgery. My brother, Len, held Topsy in his arms and my other brother Steve and myself sat on either side of Len in the back of the taxi. As we progressed toward the veterinarian, Topsy died in Len’s arms. That was when I vowed never to own a dog. Usually, they die in your lifetime, and the loss is like losing a family member. The tragedy is too difficult to bear. So, my pets over the years have been a wooden Dalmatian named Spot, a stuffed monkey named Bobo, and two saguaro cactus plants named Spike 1 and Spike 2. Spot has two small, furry dogs clinging to her back. The animal pets require no care or expense, and the saguaro cactus plants usually live for more than 150 years. So, the cactus plants will likely be mourning over me. My companion, Victoria, has two dogs — Gracie and Linus. Gracie is a beautiful golden retriever with unlimited energy. Linus is a much smaller dog with a mind of its own.

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If Gracie is left off leash, she hangs around us. If Linus is left off leash, he disappears and doesn’t return. We have had several hunts in the forests for Linus. Victoria obviously loves these dogs, and I have come to love them, too. I bring them treats and marrow bones and they show great affection toward me.

Everyone in my family now owns a dog as a pet. In fact, my daughterin-law, Suzanne, has five dogs. My favorite dog has been Bailey, a golden retriever owned by my daughter. But I have the best of all worlds. I can enjoy the affection and warmth of having a dog as a pet without owning one and having to care for it.

My pets over the years have been a wooden Dalmatian named Spot, a stuffed monkey named Bobo, and two saguaro cactus plants named Spike 1 and Spike 2.


‘The tragic death of a pet reminds us of our own mortality. It’s sad, but true, that no matter how well we live our lives or how many good things we do, the grim reaper will be there at the end.’

Bailey, my daughter’s dog just died recently at age 13. I was devastated by the news. The tragic death of a pet reminds us of our own mortality. It’s sad, but true, that no matter how well we live our lives or how many good things we do, the grim reaper will be there at the end. Anyone with a dog as a pet knows how expensive and inconvenient they can be. I shiver when I think of Victoria having to walk her dogs in the freezing cold in winter after a late night out. I am free of that responsibility.

Fond farewell This morning, my granddaughter contacted me on Facetime. She showed me Bailey, lying quietly on the floor. She told me that Bailey was dying. She was 13 years old and they were going to bring her to the vet today to terminate her life. I was devastated by the news. I have lost my parents, a dear wife and my brother Steve in my

lifetime, and I had to tolerate the losses courageously. There was nothing that I could do about it. I felt hopeless and lost. Little did I realize that I would feel the same way about the passing of Bailey. She was my good friend and companion and there was something precious about our relationship. Whenever I visited my daughter, Bailey would excitedly greet me. Without prompting, Bailey would put a paw on my knee, as if to show affection. Then, she would lie at my feet. I could feel the warm rapport between us. Now, she is gone, but will remain in my heart and mind. Bobo and Spot are inanimate, so I

don’t have to worry about losing them. But, I wonder how I would feel if Spike 1 and Spike 2 were gone? Would I mourn over the loss of my two saguaro cactus plants? I empathize with readers who have a live pet, whether it be a dog, cat, snake, turtle or Mimosa pudica (the sensitive plant). We somehow come to accept the death of a human, but the death of a pet is, in some ways, even more tragic. Maybe it’s because we know that humans will die and we are conscious of that inevitability, whereas pets don’t know that they too will die. A friend jokingly told me, “If you want your children to learn about death, get them an aquarium with fish.” Bailey lived a good life. She loved toys, Greenies, treats and people. She had a gentle temperament. She didn’t bark nor bite. She was a poor watchdog and probably would have greeted any house intruder with tail wagging and hand-licking. In the late evening, she would go to her bed on the floor in the corner of the bedroom and go to sleep. To my surprise, I will miss her dearly. But, probably, my daughter will get a new puppy. The new dog will never be the same as Bailey, but it will be loved as Bailey was loved. The tragic death of a pet reminds us of our own mortality. It’s sad, but true, that no matter how well we live our lives or how many good things we do, the grim reaper will be there at the end. So, each of us should try to live our own lives as fully as possible. There will be another pet to love, and life will go on. Goodbye, Bailey. February / March 2021 - 55 PLUS

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life after 55

Photos by Bill Reed

By Michele Reed bazanreed@hotmail.com

The Sweetest Museum in Barcelona

I

t’s my favorite season in Central New York. No, not late winter. Chocolate season. From mid-January to April, chocolate-shop windows and supermarket shelves are overflowing with everything from heart-shaped boxes of gooey goodness to cremefilled eggs and giant chocolate rabbits. If you’re like me, you consider chocolate to be the food of the gods. Science seems to agree, as its scientific name is theobroma cacao, which means food of the gods in Greek. All this yummy abundance puts me in mind of the sweetest museum we encountered on our European adventures: Museu de la Xocolata or the Museum of Chocolate in Barcelona. This little gem is literally around corner, steps away from our favorite hotel in the Spanish city. One day, wondering what the big MX logo on the front of an otherwise non-descript brick building stood for, we entered. The museum is a project of the Gremio de Pasteleria de Barcelona, or the pastry makers guild of Barcelona. It’s housed in an ancient building in the Born section of the Old Town, the medieval heart of the city. The structure is reputed to be either a barracks or a former convent, as if anyone needed further proof of the confection’s heavenly origins. The sweetness begins as soon as you walk in the door. Your admission ticket is a miniature candy bar, its label adorned with the flag of your home country. After the entrance clerk scanned our bars, he handed them back to us as edible souvenirs of our visit. Visitors start their tour learning about the cacao plant itself and its cultivation by ancient cultures of Latin America. The ancient Aztecs concocted a drink from the beans of the cacao plant, believing the resulting drink

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useful as medicine, to give them power in battle and as an aphrodisiac. (No wonder it’s a favorite Valentine’s Day gift.) It became an important part of Aztec and Mayan culture. Spanish explorers to the New World brought the drink back to Spain. Barcelona became a major port for importing chocolate to the European continent, and a rich culture of enjoying the products made from it rose up in the city, and spread throughout Europe. Hot chocolate became a favorite drink, often with churros, or fried dough sticks to dip into it, giving rise to cafes serving the beverage. Artisan chocolate makers fed Europeans’ hunger for the new food, and bonbonerias or candy shops sprung up on every corner.

After absorbing the history and culture surrounding the delicious confection, visitors enter the gallery of chocolate creations. This area is carefully temperature-controlled, and the sculptures are enclosed in glass cases. But the aroma of chocolate pervades the air, making the museum a true feast for the senses. Famous artworks and figures from history and literature are reproduced in chocolate throughout the space. There’s a chocolate Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, setting off on their quest. Tintin of French comics fame and his faithful dog, Snowy (rendered in white chocolate), stand ready to board a rocket for a trip to outer space. From another French comic, Asterix the Gaul and his sidekick Obelix

Asterix the Gaul and his good friend, Obelix, were among the characters from literature and comics featured in the Museum of Chocolate’s sculpture gallery.


prepare for a more down-to-earth adventure. An entire room is devoted to famous Barcelona buildings and visitors can gawk at a magnificent replica of Sagrada Familia or an ornate replica of a Modernista streetlight, adorned with gold leaf. After the sculpture portion of the museum, the tour includes a display of the candy-making process, with the machinery used to produce the chocolate and molds for fancy bonbons. Conclude your visit with a stop at the café for hot cocoa and pastries or visit the store and load up on chocolate souvenirs for the whole family. Barcelona is rich in history, culture and art, but the sweetest little corner of the city is definitely the Museum of Chocolate. Toreadors face a fierce bull in this bullfight scene rendered in chocolate.

A Modernistastreetlight in dark chocolate is adorned with gold leaf, a replica of the ones on the streets of Barcelona.

Tintin with his dog, Snowy, and Captain Haddock, prepare to board a chocolate spaceship in this photo from our 2015 visit to Barcelona’s Museum of Chocolate. February / March 2021 - 55 PLUS

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55+ visits Great Things to Do in Seattle, the “Emerald City” By Sandra Scott

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eattle is surrounded by areas that are filled with mountain greenery year-round, even in winter, giving the city the nickname of the “Emerald City.” It is the largest city in the Pacific Northwest. With its location on the Puget Sound, and as home to a cruise ship port, it is seen as the “Gateway to Alaska.” There is plenty to see and do. The Seattle CityPass is a great way to save on admission tickets to the most popular attractions. 1. Space Needle: Fifty years old in 2012, the 605-foot Space Needle is the iconic image of Seattle. When it was completed for the World’s Fair it was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. It is the best place to get a view of the area. An elevator whisks passengers to the observation

deck with viewing from both the inside and outside plus there is a snack bar, gift shop and a revolving restaurant. Walk along the Loop, the only rotating glass floor. 2. Chihuly Garden of Glass: One of the most incredible sights at Seattle Center features the truly amazing works of Dale Chihuly. Think of Chihuly as the “Willy Wonka” of glass — so imaginative and beautiful. His glass works create an eye-popping, magical display of color. The large, colorful artwork in the Exhibition Hall, the 40foot tall Glasshouse, and the Garden create an enchanting experience. The unique Garden has four monumental glass sculptures amid the trees and plants. Chihuly’s works are featured in museums worldwide. His work is easily recognizable.

Space Needle, an iconic image of Seattle, seen from a boat tour. 48

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3. Pacific Science Center: There is always something of interest for the entire family at a science museum. Learned about some of the world’s tiniest creatures, bugs including the fascinating lightning bug. The butterfly house creates a surreal experience. There are more than 300 interactive exhibits, two IMAX theaters, the unique Laser Dome, and a plethora of hands-on activities along with scheduled demonstrations. 4. Museum of Pop Culture: The unique free-flowing design of the building is comprised of 3,000 panels made of 21,000 pieces of stainless steel and aluminum. Exhibits explore the most definitive aspects of rock music, science fiction and popular culture. It was great fun watching people perform at On Stage. It is an interactive experience with guitar, drums and keyboard just waiting for people to create their own music video complete with hot lights and screaming fans. 5. Museum of Flight: Hands down a favorite for all those who love to fly. Air Force One is only one of 150 planes which are on exhibit at the world’s largest private air and space museum. The simulators allow visitors to experience an aerial dogfight, what it was like to operate a glider, and to match skills with an astronaut trying to link up with the Hubble Space Telescope. There is a dedicated Kid’s Zone. Check the schedule for free docent guided tours and informational talks by veterans. 6. Pike Place Market: The market has been in continuous operation since 1907 making it one of the oldest public markets in the United States. No trip to Seattle is complete without a picture of the iconic fishmongers “throwing” fish. There are several levels to explore featuring unique shops including antique and comic book shops plus there are small familyowned restaurants. The market was founded on the goal of “Meet the Producer.” 7. Starbucks: Seattle is the birthplace of Starbucks, the biggest coffee chain in the world. The first one is at Pike Place where their unique gift cards make great gifts. Starbucks Reserve Roastery, located in the capital district, is the


company’s newest endeavor offering the rarest and most extraordinary coffees. It is where they develop unique roasts for each individual lot making coffee an “art form — brewing, aging, infusing, and blending it into imaginative and often surprising creations.” 8. Boeing’s Everett facility tour: The Boeing Everett Factory is the largest building in the world by volume, covering 98.7 acres. It is where they build the 747, 777, and Dreamliner. Each tour, which can be noisy because it is a working factory, is about 90 minutes and includes fascinating facts about building the airplanes. They run tours seven days a week. It’s wise to buy tickets ahead of time as the tours often sell out. Visitors will see the interesting use of drones and robotics used in developing the aircraft designed for international use. Discount tickets are offered for seniors and the military. 9. Unique: Just when you think you have seen everything, walk down the alleyway under Pike Place Market and find the Market Theater Gum Wall. Learn about some of the strange and risqué side of Seattle’s history with an underground tour. Check out the 18-ft troll clutching an old VW Beetle under the overpass in the Freemont neighborhood. 10. And more: Movie buffs will want to visit Alki Beach, which was made famous in a scene from the movie “Sleepless in Seattle” and where Tom Hanks flies a kite with his son. You can also wind surf or roller blade. Check out the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, which is home to over 250 species of endangered birds, fish and mammals. Ride a ferry to Bainbridge Island or take a boat tour of the harbor where you can see sea lions basking in the sun. Formerly of Mexico,NY, Sandra Scott now resides in Oswego. She traveled with her husband, John, and other family members, for seven months a year exploring the world. Since John’s passing in 2019 she continues to travel.

No trip to Seattle is complete without a visit to the Pike Place Market, one of the oldest public markets in the United States.

Add your own bubble gum at Market Theater Gum Wall.

The 40-foot tall glasshouse in the Chihuly Garden of Glass, a place that features the work by Dale Chihuly. February / March 2021 - 55 PLUS

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By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Joe O’Hara, 71 Executive director of Peace Inc. in Syracuse offers a view of the agency he oversees and what a career in public service has meant to him Q.: What is the mission of Peace Inc.? A.: The literal, absolute mission is to help people in the community realize their potential for becoming self-sufficient, and we do that in a variety of ways. We have nine programs. Our largest is Head Start. We serve 1,077 youngsters aged 3-5. There’s also an Early Head Start program, which involved toddlers. Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is a mentoring program. We have Foster Grandparents, a mentoring program where people over 55 can assist kids in the classroom in the city school district and some of suburban districts. We serve over 85,000 meals a year to seniors throughout the city and county. We have the Eastwood DeFrancisco Community Center; we have six family resource centers throughout the city and county; and we have some senior support programs where we help people stay in their homes and age in their own residence. Our Energy and Housing unit does energy audits that enable us to put in new windows, a new furnace, install insulation and put in energy-efficient appliances.

Q.: How are you dealing with the pandemic? A.: With the pandemic here at Peace, it’s actually brought us a lot closer together in terms of cross programming. One example would be Energy and Housing. We weren’t able to go into homes for a period of time, so instead of just being idle, volunteers helped deliver food to seniors who weren’t able to come to senior sites because they were shut down during the initial stages of the pandemic. There were a lot of good, solid collaborative efforts by everybody helping each other’s programs. I believe this is the reason we’ve been able to stay open for business. 50

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Q.: Your career has been all about community service work. You were director of the New York State Fair during the late 1980s, you were on the Syracuse Common Council, and you were involved in Catholic Charities. Why did you gravitate to this field? A.: I grew up in a family of 10 brothers and sisters. I think the whole notion when you grow up in a big family is you realize we’re all in this together. You really need to build a team. I always had a sense that I wanted to be a part of something that was improving the quality of life, whether it was in the family or community. I went to college and was a political science major. I enjoyed politics and government. I started out as a caseworker with the Onondaga County Department of Social Services, and that gave me a sense that we do a lot of positive things to fulfill a lot of need in the community. I felt very good about it. It gave me a sense of achievement and accomplishment. You’re really working for something that’s bigger than yourself. I was a probation officer after I was a caseworker and realized there’s a lot of need in the community. However, you can help people if you’re able to assist them in finding employment or getting their general equivalency degree. Once I had those two experiences as a caseworker and probation officer, it made me realize that human service is something I wanted to be involved with. Q: Are there one or two things of which you are proudest? A: One of the things I’m proudest of — and it’s a team approach — is I’ve been here over 19 years, and the last 13 years, during the annual audit we’ve

been designated a low-risk auditee, which is the gold standard. You’re found to be totally in compliance. That’s very helpful with our funders because the first thing, when you write a grant, we need a copy of your audit. When they receive a copy of the audit and they see you’re a low-risk designee, they know that the monies are going to be spent appropriately. That’s really a major team effort. You need to get the program people realize that they have to adhere to the policies and procedures and you need the fiscal people to recognize the program people who are providing the services need assistance to make sure they can follow the guidance. Q,: When you take time off, what are some of your pastimes? A: I enjoy reading. I read a lot of biographies. I enjoy going to the gym. Pre-pandemic, I would go to the gym every day. At the end of the day, what I enjoy the most is sitting out on the deck in the summertime. Q.: What’s ahead for you? A.: I’m going to be retiring this summer. Q.: What are your retirement plans? A.: I don’t have any plans right now, but I’m sure I’ll keep busy.


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