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Skaneateles: Highest Concentration of Seniors in CNY

Marilyn Pinsky Talking Fashion with Seven Women


Issue 34 August / September 2011

For Active Adults in Central New York

Meet Three Golf-aholics For local golfers, there are not enough hours in the day to play

Wayne’s World Meteorologist Wayne Mahar, who recently turned 55, talks about growing up poor and following his passion for the weather

Genealogical Society Turns 50

New Life Thanks to Dance Lessons

How a Fayetteville woman turned her life around

August / September 2011 - 55 PLUS

THE LION KING Roars Into Syracuse


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55 PLUS - August / September 2011

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55 PLUS - August / September 2011



August / September 2011


Health Watch 6-7 Gardening 8 Financial Health 9 My Turn 12 Golden Years 28 Aging 36 Visits 42 Druger’s Zoo 44 Consumer’s Corner 45


Only $15. Check to 55PLUS P.O. Box 276 Oswego, NY 13126


• Village of Skaneateles has the highest concentration of seniors in CNY


• Fayetteville resident has a total life makeover thanks to dance lessons


• For some in CNY, there aren’t many hours in the day to play. Call them golf-aholics


• Wayne’s World: Meteorologist Wayne Mahar strives for balance in life






• CNY Genealogical Society turns 50


• It’s genealogy, not gynecology. It’s only after a long time that genealogy has become such a buzzword


• Explore Kingston, Canada’s first capital


• Vietnam vet writes two manuscriptsboth focusing on post-traumatic stress disorder

August / September 2011 - 55 PLUS


HEALTH WATCH Aging: What to Expect as We Get Older By Mayo Clinic staff


onder what’s considered a normal part of the aging process? Here’s what to expect as you get older — and what to do about it. Do you expect to find a few more wrinkles and gray hairs each time you look in the mirror? These are just some of the changes you’re likely to notice as you get older. You’re not necessarily at the mercy of Mother Nature, however. Here’s a list of common aging-related changes — and what you can do to promote good health at any age.

heart to work even harder to pump blood through them. This can lead to high blood pressure (hypertension) and other cardiovascular problems. What you can do about it — To promote heart health, include physical activity in your daily routine. Try walking, swimming or other physical activities. Eat a healthy diet, including plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. If you smoke, ask your doctor to help you quit. Your risk of heart disease will begin to fall almost immediately.

Your cardiovascular system

Your bones, joints and muscles

What’s happening — Over time, your heart muscle becomes less efficient — working harder to pump the same amount of blood through your body. In addition, your blood vessels lose some of their elasticity and hardened fatty deposits may form on the inner walls of your arteries (atherosclerosis). These changes make your arteries stiffer, causing your

What’s happening — With age, bones tend to shrink in size and density — which weakens them and makes them more susceptible to fracture. You might even become a bit shorter. Muscles generally lose strength and flexibility, and you may become less coordinated or have trouble balancing. What you can do about it — Include plenty of calcium and vitamin D in your diet. Build bone density with weight-bearing activities, such as walking. Consider strength training at least twice a week, too. By stressing your bones, strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Building muscle also protects your joints from injury and helps you maintain flexibility and balance.


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Your digestive system What’s happening — Constipation is more common in older adults. Many factors can contribute to constipation, including a low-fiber diet, not drinking enough fluids and lack of exercise. Various medications, including diuretics and iron supplements, may contribute to constipation. Certain medical conditions, including diabetes and irritable bowel syndrome, may increase the risk of constipation as well. What you can do about it — To prevent constipation, drink water and other fluids and eat a healthy diet — including plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Include physical activity in your daily routine. Don’t ignore the urge to have a bowel movement. If you’re taking medications that may contribute to constipation, ask your doctor about alternatives.

Your bladder and urinary tract What’s happening — Loss of bladder control (urinary incontinence) is common with aging. Health problems such as obesity, frequent constipation and chronic cough may contribute to incontinence — as can menopause, for women, and an enlarged prostate, for men. What you can do about it — Urinate more often. If you’re overweight, lose excess pounds. If you smoke, ask your doctor to help you quit. Pelvic muscle exercises (Kegel exercises) might help, too. Simply tighten your pelvic muscles as if you’re stopping your stream of

urine. Aim for at least three sets of 10 repetitions a day. If these suggestions don’t help, ask your doctor about other treatment options.


What’s happening — Memory tends to becomes less efficient with age, as the number of cells (neurons) in the brain decreases. It may take longer to learn new things or remember familiar words or names. What you can do about it — To keep your memory sharp, include physical activity in your daily routine and eat a healthy diet. It’s also helpful to stay mentally and socially active. If you’re concerned about memory loss, consult your doctor.

What’s happening — With age, your skin thins and becomes less elastic and more fragile. You may notice that you bruise more easily. Decreased production of natural oils may make your skin drier and more wrinkled. Age spots can occur, and small growths called skin tags are more common. What you can do about it — Bathe in warm — not hot — water, and use mild soap and moisturizer. When you’re outdoors, use sunscreen and wear protective clothing. If you smoke, ask your doctor to help you quit. Smoking contributes to skin damage, such as wrinkling.

Your eyes and ears

Your weight

What’s happening — With age, the eyes are less able to produce tears, the retinas thin, and the lenses gradually become less clear. Focusing on objects that are close up may become more difficult. You may become more sensitive to glare and have trouble adapting to different levels of light. Your hearing may dim somewhat as well. You may have difficulty hearing high frequencies or following a conversation in a crowded room. What you can do about it — Schedule regular vision and hearing exams — then follow your doctor’s advice about glasses, contact lenses, hearing aids and other corrective devices. To prevent further damage, wear sunglasses when you’re outdoors and use earplugs when you’re around loud machinery or other loud noises.

What’s happening — Maintaining a healthy weight — or losing weight if you’re overweight — is more difficult as you get older. Muscle mass tends to decrease with age, which leads to an increase in fat. Since fat tissue burns fewer calories than does muscle, you may need to reduce the number of calories in your diet or increase your physical activity simply to maintain your current weight. What you can do about it — To prevent unwanted weight gain, include physical activity in your daily routine and eat a healthy diet. Also keep an eye on portion sizes. You might not need to eat as much as you used to.

Your memory

Your teeth What’s happening — Your mouth may begin to feel drier and your gums may pull back (recede) from your teeth. With less saliva to wash away bacteria, your teeth and gums become slightly more vulnerable to decay and infection. Your teeth also may darken slightly and become more brittle and easier to break. What you can do about it — Brush your teeth twice a day and clean between your teeth — using regular dental floss or an interdental cleaner — once a day. Visit your dentist or dental hygienist for regular dental

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Your skin

Your sexuality What’s happening — With age, sexual needs, patterns and performance may change. Illness or medication may affect your ability to enjoy sex. For women, vaginal dryness can make sex uncomfortable. For men, impotence may become a concern. It may take longer to get an erection, and erections may not be as firm as they used to be. What you can do about it — Share your needs and concerns with your partner. You might experiment with different positions or sexual activities. Be open with your doctor, too. He or she may offer specific treatment suggestions — such as estrogen cream for vaginal dryness or oral medication for erectile dysfunction.

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By Jim Sollecito

Today’s Top 10 List


e are a society of defined numbe rs that make us comfortable. The number 10 comes to mind. Letterman’s “Top 10.” The 10 Commandments, and every countdown from New Year’s Eve to a rocket ship blasting off always starts with 10. I seem to recall a Bo Derek movie that was all about this number as well. So in that same spirit, allow me to offer the “Top-10 things to do in your yard” that don’t cost a lot, but will pay dividends in a big way at this time of year. 1) If you are going to water something, do so thoroughly. Don’t stand there and baptize it; soak the plant so a small puddle is formed that doesn’t just drain as soon as you move the hose. 2) If you don’t follow the LAWS (Light, Air, Water, and Soil) then you’ll have an “everbrown.” The most critical element even for established plants that you can add is water. Not sure if a plant needs it? Get an inexpensive moisture meter and be sure. 3) Too much and too little water show up almost the same way with a hurting plant—wilted leaved, a sad overall appearance. Yes, you can have too much of a good thing, so always see if a plant needs water before applying. 4) There are some bugs that seem to be on houses and inside rooms that aren’t causing any harm, but are a nuisance. These are box elder bugs, and we saw a lot of them last year, so chances are we’ll have them again. One recommendation for control is to remove female box elder trees from the area because these bugs feed on developing seeds. 5) Thyme is short, you need to add more perennials to your landscape. They’ll reward you by coming back and looking great next year and beyond. Try that with a petunia. Friends don’t let friends plant annuals. 8

55 PLUS - August / September 2011

6) If you haven’t got any weigelas planted on your property, then don’t complain when the annual Monarch butterfly migration skips your home. If there was one genus of plant that I’d have on every landscape possible, it would be one of the wonderful varieties of weigelas. 7) Labor Day is a great time to fertilize your lawn. The other holiday would be Memorial Day, but for some reason, people seem to feel they need a four-step lawn program that starts with melting snow. Most of the time, this is a giant waste of money. 8) I don’t sell bagged four-step lawn programs because not only are they unnecessary (see No. 7 above) but also involve throwing chemicals where they usually are not needed. I don’t even like the way they smell sitting in the stores that sell them. If it doesn’t smell right, then something must be wrong. 9) Nobody, I repeat, nobody in Central New York needs to add lime to their soil in order to have a healthy lawn. Our soils are already in the “sweet” pH range, so adding lime is another giant waste of time and money. 10) Fall is for planting. Why? The ground is warmer, the days are getting shorter, and the fall rains are usually ample. Plants have stopped putting on top growth and start root development. Plus, we seem to have more time now, and enjoy the days since we know that The Great White will once again reappear. If you do half of these things I listed, you’ll be 10 times happier with the appearance of your landscape. Now that’s a list worth doing. Jim Sollecito is the first lifetime senior certified landscape professional in NYS. He operates Sollecito Landscaping Nursery in Syracuse. Contact him at 468-1142 or at

Editor and Publisher Wagner Dotto

Associate Editor Lou Sorendo

Contributing Writers

Sandra Scott, Aaron Gifford Mary Beth Roach, Ken Little Cathy Schaffer


Eva Briggs, M.D., Bruce Frassinelli Marilyn Pinsky, Harold Miller Jim Sollecito, David J. Zumpano Marvin Druger


Donna J. Kimbrell Marlene Raite Tracy DeCann

Office Manager

Laura J. Beckwith

Layout and Design Chris Crocker

Cover Photo

Chuck Wainwright 55 PLUS –A Magazine for Active Adults in Upstate New York is published six times a year by Local News, Inc., which also publishes In Good Health–CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper.

Health in good

CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper

Published at 185 E. Seneca St. PO Box 276 Oswego, NY 13126. Subscription: $15 a year © 2011 by 55 PLUS – A Magazine for Active Adults in Upstate New York.

No material may be reproduced in whole or in part from this publication without the express written permission of the publisher. Third class postage paid at Syracuse, NY. Permit Number: 3071

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


financial health By David J. Zumpano

What Exactly is a Trust? Metaphorically speaking, it’s that little red wagon you had as a kid


oe recently went into the law office of an attorney, as he had heard a lot about trusts, but didn’t really understand how they worked. He did not want to give up control of his assets, and he feared that having a trust would require him to do so. After sitting down with the attorney and asking what a trust was, Joe was surprised at the answer. The attorney explained that a trust is really like a little red wagon. He asked Joe if he had had a little red wagon as a kid to which Joe promptly replied, “Absolutely!” The attorney pointed out how Joe was in control of that red wagon and whatever he wanted to go in it, went in, and whatever he wanted to come out of it, came out. Joe had full authority to take that wagon anywhere he wanted, and when he was done with it, he got to decide who would play with it. Joe smiled and recalled the memories of his little red wagon and understood completely, but he didn’t understand how that story related to a trust. The attorney then asked Joe to consider, “What if you wrote a book of instructions that was like that little red wagon?” This book of instructions would indicate what assets could go into your trust, what assets could come out of your trust, and to whom and when. Imagine that the little red wagon could also go anywhere you wanted it to go. Joe, acting as the trustee, could invest his assets anywhere he wanted: a local bank, his broker, or even online. The attorney explained that the only difference, when a trust owns assets, is the name on the account. In fact, Joe’s name would still be there, but he would be identified as

a trustee rather than simply his name individually. The attorney further explained that Joe could set his instructions according to what comes out of the wagon (distributions) and who gets to benefit from Joe’s assets (beneficiaries) and when. The attorney continued to identify that if Joe were no longer able to pull the wagon because of a disability or death, the trust would have instructions to identify who got to play with the wagon when he was done with it. This person is referred to as a successor trustee. Just like Joe, the successor trustee would be able to take the wagon anywhere Joe would have allowed, under his instructions. Further, if Joe wanted, he could even restrict what type of investment the successor trustee could utilize. The attorney concluded by expressing that the purpose of a trust is to create a book of instructions that will take all of Joe’s assets and hold them for him and those he chooses, just like his little red wagon held all his precious items as a child. The book of instructions can further identify who gets to control the wagon and who gets to benefit from the wagon, when Joe is no longer able to control it. Do you have a little red wagon? Learn all the ways revocable trusts can benefit you and your family. Call an estate planning attorney today. David J. Zumpano is an attorney and a certified public accountant (CPA). He operates Estate Planning Law Center. He can be reached at 793-3622.

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Disney’s THE LION KING to make its long-anticipated premiere in Syracuse

isney’s THE LION KING will play an exclusive four-week premiere engagement at the Crouse-Hinds Theater beginning Tuesday, Sept. 6, with performances playing through Sunday, Oct. 2. Opening night is set for 8 p.m., Friday, Sept 9. Individual tickets for THE LION KING are on sale now at the Oncenter War Memorial Box Office, Famous Artists and Ticketmaster, by visiting or calling 1800-745-3000. Reservations for groups of 20 or more are now being accepted by calling 315424-8210. Ticket prices start as low as $42. Additionally, premium ticket packages are available, which include a prime seat location, a commemorative souvenir program and an exclusive merchandise item. The North American touring production of THE LION KING has been seen by over 12.7 million theatergoers and grossed more than $834 million to date. Having already played more than 60 cities across North America, THE LION KING now proudly makes its Syracuse premiere at the The Oncenter – Crouse-Hinds Theater. For more information, visit

Broadway’s award-winning best musical to play at The Oncenter—Crouse-Hinds Theater

The Tree of Life from THE LION KING National Tour. The show will be in Syracuse from Sept. 6 though Oct. 2. Photo by Joan Marcus.


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August / September 2011 - 55 PLUS



88491 / 55 PLUS MAGAZINE

my turn By Bruce Frassinelli

The Day I Die How I want my family to handle my funeral arrangements


have just finished committing to writing my wishes for the handling of my funeral service and the post-service get-together I am requesting. The mere idea of this exercise is driving my wife, Marie, nuts, because she doesn’t want to think about death — hers or mine. Although I am in great health, I have just hit 72, so I can hear the tick-tick-tick of our mantle clock just a little louder these days, so I thought it would be a good idea to make my wishes official. Sort of gives a new meaning to the phrase “death wish,” don’t you think? After all, some can view these requests as a bit on the morbid side, but I am relying on Marie and my son, Mike, to carry out my wishes.

Here are some of my requests: • Be cremated in the most economical way possible — I am sure this will endear me in perpetuity to the local funeral director who might have been salivating at a big payday. • Don’t have an open-casket viewing — I just can’t bring myself to the thought of having relatives and friends standing or kneeling by the casket, elbowing each other and commenting, “Didn’t they make him up to look good?” • Have a memorial service that is not somber but one that celebrates my life. As part of this service, I would like to invite family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances to share recollections and reminiscences that are apropos of the things I did or said during my lifetime — I am really curious how this will play out with the parish priest, who might not go along with the plan. If that happens, I am 12

55 PLUS - August / September 2011

The mere idea of this exercise is driving my wife, Marie, nuts, because she doesn’t want to think about death — hers or mine. asking Marie and Mike to take the “event” to an establishment whose owner might appreciate the finer points of life (or, in this case, death). • Have after this service a “let’s celebrate Bruce’s life” gettogether, which includes food and drink following the service at a location that befits the occasion, where people can have a chance to enjoy each other’s company and to reminisce. Even though I might not be there to enjoy it, I would like the bartender to make a chilled Manhattan up with two cherries — my favorite drink — and have it sit on the bar for the duration. I would like ‘50s and early-‘60s music played to commemorate how much I enjoyed this musical era and the wonderful memories it held for me and those of my age. I want “Moments to Remember” by The Four Lads featured prominently. I would truly enjoy being “roasted”

by anyone in attendance, especially my children who do hilarious imitations of my idiosyncrasies even now. My hope is that I can be aware of what is being said so I can join in the laughter; it would be a shame to miss what people had to say about me that they might not tell me to my face. I want Marie to engineer all of this, because her organizational skills are legendary. In the event she predeceases me or declines this “honor,” then I appoint my son, Mike, whose quirky sense of humor parallels mine. The fact that we are both journalists might explain it. When I showed Marie this document, she was horrified. When it comes to christenings, first holy communions, confirmations, weddings and, yes, funerals, she is dogmatic in her reverence for these milestones She admits being torn; on the one hand, she wants to respect my wishes in death, but, on the other, she doesn’t want me to become the punchline of a community joke. She says, though, that she takes comfort in the expectation that I will outlive her, so she will not have to deal with “the situation” — as she calls it. I end my official request this way: “While I understand that some of these requests may be seen to be a bit unorthodox, I ask my family to acquiesce to and embrace my wishes.” The document is typed, dated, notarized and crisply folded. It sits next to my will and nearby the ticking mantle clock waiting for something to happen. Bruce Frassinelli can be reached at


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n 2009, 7.8 million children lived with at least one grandparent, a 64 percent increase since 1991 when 4.7 million children lived with a grandparent, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau. Among children living with a grandparent, 76 percent also were living with at least one parent in 2009, not statistically different from the 77 percent who lived with at least one parent in 1991. “The people with whom children live affect their well-being,” said Rose Kreider, a family demographer with the U.S. Census Bureau. “These statistics give us a lot of detail about the number of parents children live with, as well as whether they live with siblings, grandparents or other relatives.” These statistics released in June come from the household relationship module of the Survey of Income and Program Participation collected in 2009 and published in the report Living Arrangements of Children: 2009. In 1991, 5 percent of white, 15 percent of black and 12 percent of Hispanic children lived with at least one grandparent. By 2009, 9 percent of white, 17 percent of black and 14 percent of Hispanic children lived with at least one grandparent, a significant change for white children but not for black or Hispanic children. Many children who do not live with a parent live with a grandparent. More than half of the children living with no parents were living with grandparents. Percentages for black children (64 percent) and non-Hispanic white children (55 percent) did not differ from Hispanic children (61 percent), but the percentage of Asian children living with no parents who lived with grandparents was lower, at 35 percent.

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August / September 2011 - 55 PLUS




Skaneateles Village has highest concentration of seniors in CNY By Aaron Gifford


Almost four residents in 10 in the village of Skaneateles are 55 or older, according to Census figures. Pictured are people strolling on a recent Sunday morning on West Genesee Street. 14

55 PLUS - August / September 2011

kaneateles is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Central New York. Thousands of people of all ages flock there, especially in the warmer months, to spend time near the lake or visit the community’s shops, restaurants and festivals. Never assume, however, that the older adults you see there are visitors. They may very well be smiling and strolling about as if they’re on vacation, but chances are they’re permanent residents. According to the latest Census figures, 38 percent of the village’s 2,567 residents are over 55. That gives Skaneateles the distinction of having the highest concentration of seniors in Central New York. Historians and village officials attribute that number to several factors. First, homes in Skaneateles are significantly more expensive than homes in most other Central New York communities. Young families are more apt to buy starter homes elsewhere, raise children, save money for decades and move to Skaneateles when they become empty nesters, said Pat Blackler, village historian. “A lot of people have to establish themselves first and wait for their kids to move out,” she said, but stressed that there are still many life-long residents there. Blackler, like many village residents, came from somewhere else. The Boston native lived in Rochester

55+ for several years before her husband bought a commercial apple orchard in LaFayette. The couple loved sailing, so they chose to live in Skaneateles. That was 45 years ago. “This is the last stop for many folks,” she said. Mayor Martin Hubbard is in the same boat. He grew up in Geneseo, near Rochester. His did business throughout Central New York, but he chose to set up shop in Skaneateles. “I would guess that most of the folks over 55 are not from here,” said Hubbard, 59. “There are a lot of natives, but a lot of people came here because it’s enticing, scenic and the envy of so many other communities.” Susan Dove, executive director of the Skaneateles Chamber of Commerce, said the village has had a strong senior population for at least the past two decades. Many residents had initially vacationed in Skaneateles before moving there. She estimates that about 5 percent of the 978 residents over 55 live in homes on the lake during the summer and fall and winter in Florida or other warmweather states. The transplant list almost included Bill and Hillary Clinton, who vacationed there in 1999 and considered a permanent residence there during the former First Lady’s successful run for Senate. They chose an affluent community in downstate Westchester County instead. Like many other Central New York communities, Skaneateles was founded near the close of the 18th century by Revolutionary War veterans who received tracts of land for their service. Industry developed and disappeared here, just as it did in many other settlements along Route 20. But in Skaneateles, the residents stayed behind. “People came here and stayed here because it was gorgeous,” Blackler said. “Eventually people were able to be more mobile. They lived here and worked in Syracuse.” The vast majority of Skaneateles homes contain two floors. Blacker believes that the senior population would be larger if there were more ranch-style houses.


While it’s true that many residents came from family money and accrued significant money on their own, the village of Skaneateles has more economic diversity that most people think, the mayor added. Many of the most elaborate and expensive homes are within the town of Skaneateles but not within the village limits. Blackler said the village of Skaneateles, with an area of 1 1/2 square miles, appeals to older adults because the stores, banks, post office and restaurants are within walking distance. “You can walk everywhere, and there are no rolling hills,” she said. “Older people love to walk to the lake and sit for awhile.” Two senior apartment complexes are located just outside downtown. The Skaneateles YMCA has also played a significant role in preserving the village’s reputation as a seniorfriendly community. There, older adults engage in everything from arts and crafts to ice hockey. “Skaneateles is a pretty active community to begin with, for all ages, but the baby boomers are especially

active and very competitive,” said Dorthea Hughes, Skaneateles Y executive director. Mornings are the busiest time at the Y, as many members are still employed and prefer to get a good sweat in before work. In addition to exercise rooms and activity areas, the facility also has three pools, a hot tub and an ice rink, where a group of men who surpassed the half century mark regularly engage in pick-up hockey. There are also many widows and widowers who spend a good portion of the day socializing at the Y, Hughes said. More than 30 people 55 and up participate in the Y’s “Prime Time” on any given day. It’s a group program where members work on stretching and toning their muscles. Step aerobics, cycling and Pilates are also popular with the senior crowd, Hughes said. “The 55-and-up crowd is no stranger to the most rigorous exercises,” she said. “They’re active here in so many ways. The spiritmind-body connection is important to us.”

Group of women who takes part in the Skaneateles YMCA & Community Center’s “prime time” fitness class, which is a low impact cardio and weight training class for active older adults. They are, form left, Donna BernardinuCarr, Jane Teffar, Margaret Sovik and Susan Warburton. August / September 2011 - 55 PLUS


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55 PLUS - August / September 2011

Hughes, who says she is “getting pretty close” to 55 herself, grew up in Delhi and moved to Skaneateles in 1990. James Ciaccio is a shining example of active older adults in Skaneateles. He’s employed as an emergency room physician at Community General Hospital in Onondaga, but finds plenty of free time for hiking, downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, working out and playing basketball. Two years ago, at the tender age of 56, he decided he wanted to play ice hockey. “I skated as a kid but never tried playing ice hockey until I was in medical school,” he said. “I played in pick-up leagues and then stopped at 24. But I never really had any instruction on how the game should be played.” He was playing basketball in an over-40 league when a buddy told him about the learn-to-play hockey program at the Skaneateles Y. The workout, Ciaccio was told, is incredible. “I gave it a try and I loved it. It’s easier on the joints (than basketball). I could play hard and I wasn’t sore,” he said. Now he plays about once a week in the fall and winter. There were more than 20 people in his “graduating class” of hockey trainees, including several in their 40s and 50s. During one game, Ciaccio’s shoulder popped out of place and a teammate on the bench helped him pop it back in, “just like the tough guys in the pros,” he quipped. Ciaccio says he loves the can-do attitude of him community. “A lot of people here embrace the idea that you’re never too old to try something new,” he said. According to 2010 Census figures, the median age for males in the village of Skaneateles is 41, while the median age for females is 51.8. That figure also indicates that there is a strong contingency of widows in the village. In fact, there are 89 women over the age of 85 compared to only 19 men in that category. Census figures also show that there are 205 people in the village of Skaneateles between the ages of 55 and 59, and 577 people over 65. While Skaneateles was at the top of the list, several other Central

New York communities have a significant percentage of older adults. In Fayetteville and Liverpool, 33 percent of the population is 55 or older. Manlius, Solvay and North Syracuse both recorded 28 percent in that category, while Camillus and Tully were at 26 percent. East Syracuse appears to be a bit younger, with 22 percent of its residents 55 or older, according to 2010 Census figures.

Seven States Now Have Median Age Over 40


he U.S. Census Bureau released in May a 2010 Census brief on the nation’s changing age and sex composition that shows the nation grew older while the male population grew faster than the female population over the last decade. According to “Age and Sex Composition: 2010,” the median age of Americans is now 37.2, with seven states recording a median age of 40 or older. New York is not among those states — the median age here is 38. The brief also shows the male population grew 9.9 percent between 2000 and 2010, while the female population grew 9.5 percent. Of the total 2010 Census population, 157.0 million people were female (50.8 percent) and 151.8 million were male (49.2 percent).

Selected Age Categories Between 2000 and 2010, the population 45 to 64 years old grew 31.5 percent to 81.5 million. This age group now makes up 26.4 percent of the total U.S. population. The large growth among 45- to 64-yearolds is primarily because of the aging of the baby boom population. The 65-and-older population also

grew faster than most younger population groups at a rate of 15.1 percent to 40.3 million people, or 13.0 percent of the total population. For those under 18 and between the ages of 18 and 44, growth rates were much slower. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of people under 18 grew 2.6 percent to 74.2 million people, comprising 24.0 percent of the total population.

Median Age In 2010, the median age increased to 37.2 from 35.3 in 2000, with the proportion of older Americans increasing. The 1.9-year increase between 2000 and 2010 was a more modest increase than the 2.4-year increase in median age that occurred between 1990 and 2000. The aging of the baby boom population, along with stabilizing birth rates and longer life expectancy, have contributed to the increase in median age.

Geographic Distribution In the 2010 Census, seven states had a median age of 40 or older: Maine (42.7), Vermont (41.5), West

The median age of Americans is now 37.2, with seven states recording a median age of 40 or older. New York is not among those states — the median age here is 38 Virginia (41.3), New Hampshire (41.1), Florida (40.7), Pennsylvania (40.1) and Connecticut (40.0). In both 1990 and 2000, West Virginia and Florida had the highest median age of all states. Maine overtook West Virginia and Florida as the state with the highest median age in 2010, while Utah remained the state with the lowest median age. States with the lowest median age (excluding the District of Columbia) remained the same as they were in 2000: Utah (29.2), Texas (33.6), Alaska (33.8) and Idaho (34.6). Utah had the highest percentage of population under age 18 (31.5 percent) and remained the only state with a median age under 30. All states experienced an


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Cuttin’ a Rug Author has a total ‘life makeover’ after the age 50 By Cathy Schaffer


t was October 2009 and I was participating in the Fred Astaire National Ballroom competition in Orlando, Fla. Prior to this event, I had danced in several regional competitions and done well, but they were not as well attended as this one. Dancers from all over the United States were in attendance. My partner and instructor, Roman Manolachi, and I were about to dance cha-cha, rumba and swing in a championship round, along with 20 other couples on the floor. The excitement was palpable. The female contestants were dressed in costumes decorated with feathers, fringe and Swarovski crystals. Their partners were looking suave and sexy in their unbuttoned Latin shirts. Everyone had prepared hard for this day and only the best would enter the winner’s circle. We finished the quarter round and waited for the results. My heart jumped out of my chest when we were called back to the semi-finals. When we made it to the finals with the last five couples, we were beside ourselves. Finally, we danced our last dance and lined up to hear the results. The announcer introduced the sixth place couple and when it wasn’t us, I grabbed Manolachi’s arm and hung on. The announcer went through two more places and then the words, “And in third place, from Syracuse, New York, Cathy Schaffer and her partner Roman Manolachi.” Manolachi presented me to the audience with a bow and we went 18

55 PLUS - August / September 2011

and took our medal and stood in the winner’s circle. I will never forget that moment. All of the hard work and struggles to get to that place in time were suddenly so worth it.

The author dancing the swing.

My confidence was soaring. Not bad for the first time at a national competition. But it wasn’t always like that. A year prior, I was a lonely,



overweight, soon-to-be-separated from my husband, 53-year-old. At 5-foot-3 inches tall, my weight had skyrocketed to 170 pounds while my self-esteem had plummeted to an all time low. My guilt-ridden, negative persona was struggling to fill an emotional void by eating and drinking. I couldn’t get enough processed sugar into my body to cover up the emptiness I felt. The collision course I was on with my health was completely out of control. But as fate would have it, I received a gift certificate to the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Fayetteville. I had never danced before but needed something to help me change direction. When I arrived, I found world champion dance professionals that welcomed me just as I was. I didn’t realize it then, but that was my start into competitive ballroom dancing and a total life makeover.

Dancing after 50 This year, Dancing With the Stars celebrated its 12th season on the air. Each season, this show and others like it, such as “So You Think You Can Dance,” draw in millions of viewers. America has embraced the elegance and glamour of ballroom dancing and has catapulted these shows to the top. Because of this, many adults have taken up ballroom dancing, for social and competitive reasons. For some people, dancing has been part of their lives for a long time and they are thrilled to see the resurgence of interest. My friends, John and Maureen Goodman, met on the ballroom floor more than 50 years ago. But for others, ballroom dancing is a new hobby and entering into ballroom competition is a completely new experience. Kate Rosenthal discovered ballroom dancing in her mid50s and now competes yearly. The woman that I truly admire, Tao Porchon-Lynch, celebrated

Partner and instructor, Roman Manolachi with Cathy Schaffer after placing third in a dance competition. her 90th birthday at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino competition last year and danced a fantastic salsa routine with her instructor.

Why ballroom dancing? “Ballroom dancing is the only sport that brings men and women together,” says Vlad Ivanov, owner of the Fred Astaire Dance Studio. Ivanov, who is from Russia, has won many titles with his partner and wife Karina. They and their partner Natalia Oreshkina moved to Fayetteville five years ago to open the studio.

“Couples learn to express their emotions through the dance and in this way become more connected to one another,” he said. Ivanov sees dancing as a way to bring people together. Manolachi, a professional dance instructor at the studio, sees dancing as a way of melding art and sport together. “No other sport has this combination,” he said. For him personally, dancing is a way of communicating with people. “When I dance and present myself to the people, they are interested in me and what I have to August / September 2011 - 55 PLUS


say,” this champion dancer comes from passion. from Moldova states. Igor Abashkin and “This is because they see Katia Kanevskaya, the emotion and then they world renown dancers are curious about me.” from Moldova and the The dances lend Ukraine, respectively, themselves to expression agree. When I asked them of feelings and emotions. what it takes to get to Dancing the waltz is their level of dance, they a flowing meditation both just smiled at me of grace and elegance. and said, “time, practice Rumba requires passion and lots of hard work.” while cha-cha is sexy When I spoke with and playful. Anger gets them, they were headed worked out in paso to Blackpool, the most doble. Swing is just silly prestigious ballroom and fun. Tango brings competition in the world. out the fire that often Competing requires stays hidden unless it is focus and concentration. coaxed out by the dance. Sometimes I show up to “Dancing is a gift that a lesson when I am at my allows people to stop their lowest ebb but dancing busy lives and become requires me to get out aware of themselves and of whatever mud I am each other,” said Ivanov. stuck in and focus. Igori Bogatiriov, The instructors are another instructor at wonderful about pulling the studio with many you in to the moment, no Schaffer: “I was a lonely, overweight, soon-to-beEuropean championship matter what the day has separated from my husband, 53-year-old. At 5-foot-3 wins, feels that ballroom brought. Learning how inches tall, my weight had skyrocketed to 170 pounds dancing allows to focus serves me well in while my self-esteem had plummeted to an all time low.” one to experience my multi-tasking lifestyle. a multitude of cultures. Dance competitions, by Waltz and Viennese waltz come necessity, require you to be able from Austria. Argentine tango is to pick yourself up when you fall, from Buenos Aires. Paso doble stems What does it take to be a literally. During a championship competitive ballroom dancer? from the bullfighters of Spain. The round at a competition, doing The physical effort required Latin dances hail from Haiti, Puerto Viennese Waltz, my foot caught to dance competitively is Rico, and the Dominican Republic. the edge of the floor and I lost my aerobically challenging. “In the United States, it is a balance. I could hear the gasps of To dance 12 dances in a row at gift for adults to be able to dance the spectators and felt the concern competition requires a high level competitively and achieve personal of the judges as I landed harshly of stamina and concentration. goals,” Bogatiriov added. on the floor. But the music doesn’t I have gone from a size 16 to Dancing helps break through stop and the other competitors a size 6 just by dancing. obstacles that have been clouding don’t wait for you to get back up. The Latin dances require the use the colors of our lives. People of abdominal muscles that are often dance and the aerobic, lowStick-to-itiveness necessary neglected due to sedentary lifestyles. impact activity starts to shape So I quickly picked myself From the stories that their bodies. Next they begin to up, reassured my partner that professionals tell about their open up about themselves and I was OK and returned to the early careers as dancers and socialize with one another as waltz. Afterwards, many of the the sacrifices that they made, it their self-assurance grows. professional dancers told me how is clear that perseverance and Women get their girl on and proud they were that I got back determination propelled them find themselves shopping for up and started dancing again. to where they are today. clothes that show off their legs Life is like that isn’t it? We have Ivanov likes to say that and new-found body. Makeup to get right back up and try again if determination, perseverance and flatters their beaming faces. we ever expect to move forward. practice are all it takes to become Men start to lose their bellies Patience is mandatory. Without whatever you want to be. It’s nice and find muscle underneath their it, you will never dance well. It if you have talent, but that’s not developing core. Confidence takes time to learn technique and what puts the medals around replaces doubt and uncertainty form. The body doesn’t always want your neck. I think perseverance and life starts to blossom again. 20

55 PLUS - August / September 2011

Cathy Schaffer, who lives in Fayetteville, is an instructor in intuitive dance and gives private and group lessons. Intuitive dance is dedicated to helping women find their true beauty within. You can email her at

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to do what is required because it doesn’t feel natural or the muscles aren’t ready. Patience is essential when it comes to developing your abilities and when you don’t meet your expectations. I have not always done well in every competition. But I have come to accept this and understand that there will be more competitions and I will improve with time. Dancing competitively has taught me control over my body. It’s really hard to get your feet, arms and head moving in all the right ways at the same time, so they come together looking like one fluid movement. If I can control all of these parts, then I can control my eating habits as well. Practicing continues to give me a new respect for this precious gift that I have been given in the form of my body. So often I hear women talking about their thighs, hips, legs, butt, etc. with disparaging remarks. Yes, at the age of 57, I could make some comments about sagging skin in my thighs, but I won’t do that anymore. My body has been good to me, it does what I ask it to do when I move, and that’s enough. I have finally fallen in love with this body and I try to treat it with respect. I eat right, I take vitamins, I go for my yearly maintenance and I sleep well. The only way this body is going to do well in competition is if I respect and love it. Dancing has lead me down a path of self-discovery and provided me with a map that enables me to look at life in a healthier way, both physically and emotionally. It is my hope that we will go to the World Championships in July and then in November go to the Ohio Star Ball. I have a lot of work to do before I get there. But I know that with the full support of an excellent set of instructors, it is possible. Thanks to my wonderful instructors, I am dancing with the stars.

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Can’t Get Enough?

Steve Clark, 58, putting at the Cazenovia County Club.

For golf-aholics, it’s always time to hit the green By Aaron Gifford


ne of the advantages of being an older adult is you have more time to do things you enjoy. This could be due to retirement or because the kids are finally out of the house. Golf is one of those hobbies that some people can’t get enough of, and it easily ranks among the top warm-weather leisure activities for Central New Yorkers 55 and up. But the words leisure or fun should not imply that senior golfers here don’t take their game seriously. Whether they prefer to play in competitive tournaments, in mixed league or with friends and family, the most dedicated “golfaholics” describe their passion for the game almost as a religion. Some would play seven days a week if they could. Here are their stories:

Steve Clark, 58, Cazenovia Country Club ■ Addiction got to the point where he insisted on having clubs in his car at all times Clark grew up near the Lyndon course in Fayetteville. His father and uncle were avid golfers, and back then Arnold Palmer was among the most decorated sports heroes. When Clark was 10, he and his buddies used to


55 PLUS - August / September 2011

scour the Lyndon course for nine-hole punch ground that had been littered on the grounds. Employees would honor the cards if the kids purchased a snack first. “I remember playing 63 holes in one day when we were about 11 years old,” said Clark, a retired concrete business owner. “I got home at 8:30 that night.” And after that marathon outing, Clark was hooked. His father, Donald, became an original member of the Cazenovia Country Club in 1965, and the family moved to that community three years later. Clark has played that course for 43 years now and remains a member, playing every day of the week at times. In the winter, he’ll play a few rounds in Pinehurst, N.C., and a few more at the Lexington Country Club with his dad, now 91. “He’s trying to shoot his age, and making a pretty good run at it,” Clark said. “I hope I’ll be able to do the same thing when I get older.” For now, Clark has a 6 handicap and usually shoots about 78 at the Cazenovia course, regularly enjoying several rounds under par. He got his ex-wife, Meg, a job at the country club after their divorce. Their son, Duane, also works there, and their daughter Cassie worked there in the past.

“Everybody’s there — my family and my golfing family,” Clark said. Clark played through high school. He didn’t play as frequently while attending college at SUNY Oswego because there was no one to play with. He managed to play once or twice a week during the early years of his marriage and after starting his concrete business, but he also played softball, which took him off the course at least one night a week. But he quit softball at 30 to join a golf league, and gradually increased his time on the course. Clark’s addiction got to the point where he insisted on having clubs in his car at all times. That decision was made about 25 years ago, after a co-worker asked Clark to join him on the course. Clark had to drive more than an hour round-trip to retrieve his clubs at home and missed a round of golf. “I still have nightmares about it,” he joked. Clark was interviewed by phone as he was vacationing in Maine. He still brought his clubs on the trip even though no golf outings were planned, “on the slim chance that someone might be up for a round later.” “Even if I don’t play,” he said, “I can hit some range balls into the ocean.”

55+ Clark has seen tremendous changes to the sport during the past half century, mostly due to improving technology and equipment. Oversized drivers, for example, have helped many golfers who would have otherwise quit the sport out of frustration. “When I started, you had to be more precise and you always had to hit the ball in the center of the club face,” he said. “Now, I’m seeing guys who are getting longer [hitting the ball further] as they get older. I think the ease of play is a great thing.” The most special thing about golf, Clark said, is the fact that any type of player can still hit a great shot during an otherwise bad round of golf and salvage a great time on the course. “You can have a bunch of bogies, and then make birdie from 40 yards,” he said. “There’s nothing that can compare to that in the sports world. Everyone — no matter how much they play — gets a shot of adrenalin when they hit a good shot.” Clark views golf as much more than a game. It’s an institution, he says, that teaches honesty, integrity and social skills. “It’s the most social sport in the world. More business deals get done on a golf course than in any other sporting event,” he said. “But it’s also great because of its values. If you cheat you’ll be shunned. It makes people honest. If more people played golf, there would be fewer wars.”

Bob Hayes, 74, Camillus Country Club ■ As a night patrol officer, Hayes found himself on a golf course after his shift, often as early as 8 a.m. Bob Hayes first got into golf in 1947 while caddying at Bellevue Country Club in Syracuse. Every Monday, caddies were allowed to play the course before noon. He played there as often as he could and caddied for the top amateur golfers in the area. “The local [amateur] tournaments were a big deal back then,” Hayes recalled. “They had to use long bamboo poles to keep the crowds back.”

Hayes started playing almost every day during the warmer months after he got out of the Navy. He became a Syracuse Police officer in 1960, and played with friends after work. They visited public courses throughout Central New York, “but through our connections, we also got to play at country clubs like Bellevue or LaFayette.” As a night patrol officer, Hayes found himself on a golf course after his shift, often as early as 8 a.m. but sometimes not until noon. He started playing at Camillus Country Club in the mid-60s but didn’t become a member until his son turned 18. Hayes also coached basketball and baseball. Even though Hayes plays Monday through Friday, he focuses more on the social aspect of golf and less on the competitive side of the game. He usually plays with friends and rarely keeps score anymore. He’s just as content organizing leagues and tournaments as he is playing in them. One of the events he put together is entirely made up of old-timers that competed against each other in high school sports. “These are all former jocks in football, basketball or baseball,” Hayes said. “They all played in the 40s and 50s. Now, their curve balls that didn’t break then are all breaking at about 3 feet, and the jump shots we made then would have to count as 3pointers for us now!” “As for golf, if it wasn’t for the social part of it I wouldn’t be playing,” Hayes added. “I used to be a decent player, but now I’m worse. Now I’m putting left-handed because the way I used to putt doesn’t work anymore. No matter how old you get, anybody who is still playing the game is always learning.” Hayes is on the course five days a week, but avoids it on weekends because he doesn’t want to fight the crowds. In the winter, he plays about once a week in Clearwater, Fla., often with longtime friend Tom Young, a former Syracuse mayor who played youth basketball under Coach Hayes. And Hayes maintains that the


Golfer Bob Hayes. most important part of golf is the “19th hole” where players share a beer afterward. “We brag if we have anything to brag about,” he said, “but we usually console each other.”

Barry Guinn, 60, The Pompey Club ■ Got more serious about the game when he reached his 30s Unlike most of the men he golfs with, Barry Guinn did not start swinging a club until the ripe old age of 26. He initially played with some friends after work and liked it so much that he joined a summer league. “I grew up playing hockey,” the SUNY Oswego alum said. “I figured I had the right kind of coordination. But it was a hard game to learn.” Guinn had young children when he first started playing and only had time for a Saturday round in addition to the weekday league night. He got more serious about the game when he reached his 30s, spending times at Radisson and Drumlins country clubs before settling in at The Pompey Club some 25 years ago. He still plays with some of the same guys there as often as five days a week. Guinn is all about just getting on the course without worrying about scheduled tee times. He’s stayed August / September 2011 - 55 PLUS


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Barry Guinn, 60, plays at Indian River Golf Club, Vero Beach, Fla. at Pompey because the club will organize foursomes of members who want to play as soon as they arrive. “There are times when I’ll do that four days a week,” he said. “It’s wide open. You don’t always know who you’ll be playing with or against.” Guinn balances the social aspect of golf with his competitive side. He plays with his wife, who is also a Pompey Club member, and joins friends for a golf vacation in Hilton Head, S.C., for the entire month of March. But he also enjoys local senior and pro-am tournaments. He’ll spend hours at the rage or on the putting green to prepare for such events in addition to regular 18-hole rounds. “I’m usually working on something,” he said. Guinn has a 7 or 8 handicap at Pompey and generally scores between a 78 and 82 on 18 holes. His top score at Pompey this year is 74, or 2 over par. Guinn is a retired elementary school principal in the West Genesee Central School District. He said that job helped him to become a better golfer. “I think it helped me keep my cool,” he said. “I also think golf is a game of integrity. If you cheat, then you are really cheating yourself. You have to accept adversity. There are good breaks and bad breaks, but if you work through it you can have a good round.”

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The Social Security Office Q: What is the earliest age that I can receive Social Security disability benefits? A: There is no minimum age as long as you meet the Social Security definition of disabled and you have sufficient work to qualify. To qualify for disability benefits, you must have worked long enough under Social Security to earn the required number of work credits and some of the work must be recent. You can earn up to a maximum of four work credits each year. The amount of earnings required for a credit increases each year as general wage levels go up, and is currently $1,120. The number of work credits you need for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. For example, if you are under age 24, you may qualify with as little as six credits of coverage. But people disabled at age 31 or older generally need between 20 and 40 credits, and some of the work must have been recent. For example, you

Q&A may need to have worked five out of the past 10 years. Learn more at www. Q: What is the purpose of Supplemental Security Income, or SSI? A: SSI is designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people who have little income and few resources. It provides financial assistance to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. You can receive SSI even if you have not worked and paid into Social Security. SSI is a Federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenues (not Social Security taxes). Find out more at www.socialsecurity. gov/ssi/. Q: My brother recently left me some money. Will this inheritance affect my SSI benefits? A: We consider the money inherited from your brother income for the month you receive it. That could make you ineligible for SSI that month, de-

pending on the amount of the inheritance. If you keep the money into the next month, it becomes a part of your resources. You cannot have more than $2,000 in resources to remain eligible for SSI. You should call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 and report the inheritance. Representatives can tell you how your eligibility might be affected. People who are deaf or hard of hearing may call our toll-free TTY number, 1-800-325-0778, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. Q: Who is eligible for extra help with Medicare prescription drug costs? A: Medicare beneficiaries with limited income and resources may qualify for extra help. The extra help can save them money. It pays part of the monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments under the new Medicare prescription drug program. The extra help is estimated to be worth an average of $4,000 per year. Help someone qualify and apply at By Deborah Banikowski, Social Security office’s district manager in Syracuse.

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August / September 2011 - 55 PLUS


golden years By Harold Miller E-mail:

Buffalo’s Initial Honor Flight: June 5, 2010 Honor Flights: A Fitting Tribute to WW II Veterans “We can’t all be heroes. Some of us have to stand on the curb and clap as they go by.” — Will Rogers


isa Wylie, administrative associate at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo—a former Auburnian and family friend—has helped me and many others to become cancer survivors. During a recent visit with Wylie, she unveiled one of her pet projects: She also shared the poignant story that drove her and Sister Jo-Anne to become co-founders of this wonderful organization. Staff Sergeant Robert P. Wylie, U.S. Army Air Corps, World War II veteran, was a charter member for the building of the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. Unfortunately, he died before ever having the privilege of seeing the fruits of his dedicated labor. Consequently, his daughters cofounded Honor Flights in his memory and in order to insure that other veterans of this deadliest military conflict in U.S. history would not be denied the chance. The average age of our WW II veterans is 84 and almost 1,000 of them are now dying each day. Skyrocketing health-care costs have drained the savings of most and robbed them of the opportunity to see the magnificent war memorial, for which they have waited over 60 years. Honor Flights is a volunteer organization entirely funded by donations and its mission is to fly WW II veterans to Washington at no


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charge, while tending to their needs and insuring that this grand trip will be the most memorable of their lifetime. The preparation, execution, and logistics of these trips are daunting. They start with the meeting and greeting of the participants two to three weeks before the actual affair. The veterans are given instructions and uniforms—T-shirts and hats—as well as a run-down on what will happen during the jam-packed events of the day. Mandated guardians must be trained in the care of their charges— they will be responsible for any medications or other special needs. Normally, at least two thirds will require wheelchairs on both ends of the trip, as well as special buses to transport them on a tour they will never forget.

Memorable moments Wylie gave me a run-down on their most recent trip this past May: The group consisted of 27 veterans and their guardians who were flown by commercial jet from Buffalo Airport to Baltimore-Washington Airport

where they were greeted by military personnel from all branches of the service, and on this occasion, a flotilla of water cannons. After boarding special buses, the group is shown a documentary about the building of the World War II Memorial. Upon arrival, they were greeted by Senator Robert Dole and many other military personnel. Back on the bus, the entire entourage was served box lunches as they took a whirlwind tour of the capital. During the afternoon session, they visited the Air Force Memorial, Navy Memorial, Korea Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, and finally the Lincoln Memorial. Completion of the tour included the ceremony of the changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery. Their day in Washington ended with dinner at The Old Country Buffet. The cuisine matches the taste of this group, who spent the early part of their lives eating from canteens on the battlefield in order to save America’s freedom. The most heartfelt and emotional

part of their journey into the past lies ahead as their charter flight returned them to Buffalo Airport, where they received a hero’s welcome. More than 150 family and friends greeted them with cheers and tears. Actually, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. The establishment of Honor Flight “hubs” is growing rapidly with over 80 added nationwide within the past few years. I spoke with Woody Mench, one of the founding directors of www. He told me that the Rochester hub has flown over 750 veterans to Washington since they organized the venture in May of 2008. Fortunately they have the support of local television stations and raised $77,000 with a telethon last March.

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What the future holds I asked Mench about future plans after the WW II veterans have played out. He advised that they are already planning to extend these remarkable honor flights to include veterans from the Korean, Vietnam, and Iraq conflicts. Recently, Syracuse has launched and is trying to set up funding. The Syracuse hub needs donations now to launch its first Honor Flight. Earl Morse, a physician’s assistant, retired from the Air Force in 1998 and began working for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Springfield, Ohio. When the World War II Memorial was completed in 2004, he discussed visiting the memorial with many of his WW II veteran patients. Many said they would like to do so, but most agreed that it was not financially feasible. That inspired Morse’s idea about a network of volunteers to assist these veterans. The first Honor Flight took 12 veterans from Springfield to Washington in May of 2005, and the Honor Flight Network began. However, time is running out for this great endeavor. The youngest WW II veterans are now 84, many years beyond their life expectancy. I’m sure that most people reading this know of at least one WW II veteran who would qualify, and be honored to make this journey. We do. Why not call up the appropriate website and learn more about how you can help make it happen? Discussing your options; simplifying the system

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             


             

          


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“Who wants to do weather in Las Vegas?� Mahar asks as he explains why he once turned down a job in that city. 30

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Wayne’s World


Meteorologist Wayne Mahar started from humble roots, growing up poor after his alcoholic and abusive father committed suicide By Aaron Gifford


t’s early afternoon on a June weekday, and Wayne Mahar has already worked out, skated in a sunrise ice hockey game and logged in several hours at two jobs. And yet, his day is just getting started. Mahar takes a break before starting the evening forecast, dedicating most of his lunch hour for a magazine interview. Weather means more, he began, when you learn about it the hard way. Growing up in coastal Brunswick, Maine, Mahar spent plenty of time outside in violent thunderstorms and blizzards, standing by his single mother as she scrambled to gather enough money at minimum-wage jobs to pay the rent. While temperatures and precipitation could be severe, Mahar recalled, there was something strikingly beautiful about the weather outside. “I got wet a lot, and we were quite cold,” he said, “but you learn to appreciate everything that comes with the seasons.” “One of my favorite sayings is, ‘Our lives are not determined by what happens to us, but by how we react to what happens to us.’ I guess that’s where hard work and persistence comes in, and still does.” Mahar, now 55, went on to become the chief meteorologist for the CNY

Central family of broadcast stations, the owner of a nationally reputable weather service, a fill-in practice goalie for the Syracuse Crunch, a friend to all cats and dogs, and a local celebrity. Faithful viewers often tout Mahar’s forecasts as gospel, coining the phrase “Wayne Said it Would.”

School of hard knocks He started from humble New England roots, growing up poor after his alcoholic and abusive father committed suicide. It was just Wayne, his mother Priscilla, and their pets. “She worked in a shoe factory,” Mahar recalled. “We didn’t have a house. We never owned much. But no matter where we wound up, we always had a dog or a cat.” Mahar even loved weather as a young child, working several newspaper routes to buy thermometers. At 11, he signed on as a paid weather observer for local newspapers and radio stations and used the money to buy more equipment for measuring temperatures and precipitation. By the time Mahar was 17, he had learned how to do precise weather forecasts and expanded his business to include 75 clients, ranging from ski resorts, to cities, to nuclear power plants. “I thought I was just a kid who was nuts about the weather,” he said, “but I guess I was an entrepreneur.”

That business, now called Precision Weather Service LLC, still exists today. As a teenager, Mahar used some of its profits to spinoff a nonprofit corporation that helped fund local school curriculum in Maine. He hired a handful of weather enthusiasts as the business grew and obtained formal training at the National Weather Service center in Portland, Maine. Mahar married his wife, Dianne, at the age of 19, and needed a job that provided benefits, so he accepted a position with the Portland CBS affiliate, WGME, as its weekend weatherman and weekday fill in. He worked there for several years until looking for a more prominent position in bigger markets. But many stations that made job offers did not perform their own forecasts and essentially wanted someone to recite existing weather reports. “I didn’t want to rip and read,” said Mahar. “I wanted weather equipment and I wanted to make forecasts.”

Syracuse bound He turned down positions in Cincinnati, Raleigh, N.C., and Las Vegas, because “who wants to do weather in Las Vegas?” In January 1985 Mahar accepted a position at WSTM in Syracuse. It was a reasonable August / September 2011 - 55 PLUS




distance to his mother and his wife’s relatives in New England, and the station allowed Mahar to maintain his business. WSTM also agreed to purchase radar and other forecasting equipment. At the time, Mahar said, “the snowiest major city in the country had no real meteorology.” “In my opinion,” he said, “they started a whole new era of taking weather seriously.” T h e m e t e o ro l o g y i n d u s t r y exploded during Mahar ’s career, largely because of online computer technology, algorithms that track storms and radar that can see inside weather systems. A five-minute warning for a tornado, he said, can save hundreds of lives. The broadcast business changed as well. Thirty years ago, Mahar never imagined that so many people would access weather reports on their computers, or that he would be overseeing a team of meteorologists who work for multiple TV stations inside one building. “The weather reports are more accurate and more accessible, but

the game is the same,” he said. “The attitude that I’d like people to realize is, when a forecast goes wrong, we don’t like it. I hate it when people say, ‘I wish I could get paid and still be wrong.’ Believe me, an inaccurate forecast bothers us [meteorologists] more than anyone else.” Mahar says the local meteorology market is competitive, but the local weather forecasters have tremendous respect for each other while enjoying the rivalry. In fact, he said, meteorologists and reporters in almost every city enjoy getting together for drinks with their peers after the late night news. “Not me, though,” Mahar said, noting that he never drank alcohol. “It doesn’t mean I don’t like them. It’s just not who I am.”

Business skyrockets The lake effect patterns kept the job interesting, and Mahar continued to run his business on the side. He bought a house in Baldwinsville and raised two daughters. The cost of living was reasonable and the family had grown fond of Central New York,

so Mahar decided to stay here rather than pursue other opportunities in major metro markets. He never looked back. Meanwhile, PWS really took off and began taking on clients worldwide. Today, it was about 10 employees between its offices in central New York and Portland, Maine, with a current workload of about 200 clients, including National Grid, the New York City transit authority and several ski resorts. Clients order very specialized weather reports pinpointed to times, locations and precipitation levels. Much of the company’s business is centered on major entertainment events, including the Grammys, the Golden Globe awards, major movie premiers, MTV’s spring break specials and the NBA All-Star game. Mahar was even hired to pinpoint forecasts for Reese Witherspoon’s wedding. “I was on the phone with the wedding planner every hour. When weather means money, they call us,” he said. “In LA, the mindset is a few sprinkles are like an all-day rain. They’ll put up $50,000 of tenting just

Mahar playing goalie for Syracuse Graywolves +50 travel team in March at War Memorial. His team beat the Rochester Rockers 4-1. The game helped raise funds for the local Make-A-Wish Foundation. 32

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to avoid the slightest threat of getting wet.”

Crunch time Despite his Hollywood connections, the event Mahar is most proud of is the AHL’s first outdoor hockey game played by the Syracuse Crunch last year at the state fairgrounds. His expertise was needed to make sure the ice met professional regulations during a typical unpredictable Central New York winter. Mahar was proud to be part of that milestone: He’s a Crunch fan and periodically fills in as a practice goalie at special events. Mahar played hockey as a youngster but took about 20 years off after his daughters, Emily and Caitlin, were born. Emily went on to play premier-level soccer with the Syracuse Blitz Club and Caitlin competed in rowing and equestrian events. Their father managed to get to about “95 percent” of their competitions, even when it involved tournaments in other states. He also took karate with them to enjoy an activity together. He stuck with that for 11 years, eventually earning a third-degree black belt. “I cherish those times,” Mahar said. “If you miss those moments you can never get them back.” Caitlin is now married and works in marketing. She is on track to complete a master ’s degree soon from Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies. Emily is finishing the master’s-level physician assistant program at Le Moyne College. Mahar got back on the ice again at age 50 after a two-decade break. He was pretty rusty at first, but played twice a week and joined two teams. One of them, the Syracuse Gray Wolves, has players 10 and 20 years Mahar’s senior. They often skate in the morning, which works for Mahar’s schedule. Pete LaSure, Gray Wolves player and tournament coordinator, describes Mahar as one of the most intense persons he’s ever met.

His intense side “On TV he’s jovial and so easy-going, but when he straps on

Having a soft spot for animals, Mahar founded the Priscilla Mahar Animal Welfare Station after his mother passed away at the age of 85. It has raised several thousand dollars so far for 14 area animal shelters or rescue programs. those pads he’s a totally different individual,” LaSure said. “He doesn’t say a word when he gets into the zone and he goes into lock-jaw mode. To him, every puck is stoppable and there’s no such thing as a goal. He’ll stand on his head to stop a puck.” If the team is losing, Mahar will creep out of the goal more, even behind the net, to play the puck and give his team a boost getting it down the ice, LaSure said. After the game, Mahar takes on a gradual change where he’ll start to relax more, smile more and return to the easy-going guy seen on TV.

“He is sincerely a very nice guy,” LaSure said. “He never has a bad word to say about anybody. I never heard the guy say even one curse word.” Mahar estimates that he currently works 60 to 65 hours a week, or about 25 hours less than what he worked 10 years ago. He gets about five hours of sleep a night. He’s usually working out in his home gym before sunrise, lifting weights or sweating on the elliptical. “My schedule is probably not one that most people want,” he said. Mahar, who turned 55 earlier August / September 2011 - 55 PLUS




this year, maintains that age is just a number that should not be feared. Still, with that milestone he continued to meticulously track every session on the elliptical machine and then pushed himself for better results. At his annual physical five years ago, Mahar said he set a record for 50year-olds in a stress test that requires patients to continue running on an inclining treadmill. Mahar finished the test in 19 minutes. “I still push myself in everything I do,” he said. “Coming from nothing, it’s just something I feel I need to do. I guess I want to push myself harder to fight age. My wife describes me as intense.” Mahar ’s advice for those over 55: Find a physical activity you like, whether it’s tennis, bowling, golf or even walking. Do your best to include that activity in your routine at least once a week for a while, and then challenge yourself to get it in twice a week or more.

Pet project Having a soft spot for animals, Mahar founded the Priscilla Mahar Animal Welfare Station after his mother passed away at the age of 85. It has raised several thousand dollars so far for 14 area animal shelters or rescue programs. The Syracuse Crunch and local radio personality Lisa Chelenza, who also does the “Pet Pointers” segment on the YNN cable news station, are also involved with the program. More than 100 dogs were adopted at its inaugural Canine Carnival last year at Wegman’s Good Dog Park on Onondaga Lake, which was attended by more than 3,000 people. This year’s event is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 6. Mahar spearheaded his television station’s Toys for Tots initiative, now in its 20th year. He also teamed up with Wegman’s to host “Wayne’s Weatherdeck Parties” for less fortunate residents in various Central New York communities.

Even though Mahar’s daughters are out of the house and nearly finished with college, retirement is not on the weatherman’s Doppler radar screen right now. He would like to travel with his wife more and spend more time on the ice, but he also can’t fathom life without forecasts. Even when he’s on vacation, Mahar checks his emails regularly and thinks about the clouds back home. Even his cell phone number has the word “Snow” in it. He recently signed another threeyear contract with CNY Central. “I see myself slowly winding down, but I can’t do nothing,” he said. “I see myself, at some point, finishing up my full-time TV career and continuing to work and grow my private weather business. Whether that is at the end of this current contract or further in the future, I don’t know yet. At the least I owe it to my wife for us to spend more time together.���

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aging By Marilyn L. Pinsky

A Style of Their Own A conversation with seven women about fashion


hough I love dressing up, I have never been able to develop a style that I felt was my own. In my quest to discover the secrets of those who do have a signature look, I spoke with seven women admired by others for their wonderful sense of style. Bertha Adams, a retired lab technician from General Electric and the co-host of “Feedback” on FM 1540, is a member of the Greater New Testament Missionary Baptist Church. She plays many roles in the church and is also chaplain for the National Council of Negro Women, a member of the Onondaga County Health Department Auxiliary, a representative to the Federation of Women’s Clubs and is active on other community boards. Linda Cohen is a media professional, the host of Upstate Medical University’s weekly radio

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show, “HealthLink on Air,” and the former host of Time Warner Cable’s “Families in Focus.” As a speech and language therapist, former Fayetteville-Manlius school board member and current Syracuse/ Onondaga County Youth Board Member, she has devoted her community involvement to promoting children and their parents to reach their fullest potential. Cynthia M. Giannuzzi, the owner of an upscale recycled women’s clothing boutique, The Clothes Mentor, is a professional makeup artist and guest lecturer across the country, presenting information on skin care, cosmetics and fashion. The founder of Joseph Anthony & Co. along with her husband Joseph, she is also the former owner of Boutique on James, an upscale consignment clothing and accessory store. Toni Harblin, from Watertown, has spent her career in the media and fashion worlds. A former radio host,

she has appeared in TV commercials, produced bridal and fashion shows, has been involved as a model and has served as fashion coordinator for charitable organizations, as well as being a fashion consultant to the Miss New York State Pageant. Phyllis Hill Slater owns an engineering and architectural firm on Long Island and is an internationally recognized leader of Women-owned Businesses. She sits on numerous boards i n c l u d i n g N o r t h S h o re - L I J , a major hospital and health system downstate, AARP, Institute for Student Achievement, Long Island Development Corporation and was the former president of the National Association of Women Business Owners, chair of Black Women Enterprises and board member of FCEM—World Association of Women Entrepreneurs. Anne Stewart, a former Central New Yorker, lives in the greater

Mary Anne Winfield

Phyllis Hill-Slater

Washington D.C. area and works parttime for the Maxwell-in-Washington Program, the Maxwell School, Syracuse University. Mary Anne Winfield is the owner/ CEO of Winfield Ink, a public relations firm in Central New York. She was the founding co-publisher and editor of the original Syracuse Magazine published from 1977 to 1982. She also served as director of publications for the Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce and was executive vice president of a local advertising agency. She is active on several boards and non-profit organizations.

• Mary Anne—”Classic casual (a throw back to Lauren Bacall for every day and Grace Kelly for fancy affairs, sans tiara.)”

How do you describe your style of dressing? • Bertha—”Creatively comfortable” • Linda—”Sophisticated Bohemian” • Cynthia—”Contemporary classic. Still coordinating, but with ease. A cross between Chico’s and Ann Taylor” • To n i — ” S i m p l e , c l a s s i c , sophisticate” • Phyllis—”Whatever is on sale” and “one statement at a time” • A n n e — ” Ta i l o re d , w i t h a few ruffles now and then. Simple with some color and a bit of bling occasionally. I wear a lot of jackets and sweaters with pants. In the summer, capris with tees or 3/4 sleeve shirts. Dresses here and there.”

Has has your style changed over the years? • Cynthia—”My look has changed as clothing in general has become more relaxed. My style in the past was always structured with a classic overtone—a Jackie O type of style. Now I stay within my complimentary color family of warm overtones and choose clothing that most compliments my body shape. Accessories put the finishing touch on my look.” • Toni—”My style has essentially remained the same—classicsimplicity while still following current trends. Though I have always liked bringing bright colors into my wardrobe, black and white has been my basic look.” • Linda—”In the early 60’s I went through the ‘collegiate’ look, and then as the 60’s progressed, I transformed into the work shirt-jeans and army boots ‘hippy’ look. But for the last 30 years or so, my style really hasn’t changed.” • Bertha—”My daughter Annette says that even when she was a young child she thought I was very fashionable. I keep everything I buy so I can always pull from my closet. I like to be comfortable but having been brought up in a church family, I always had to be aware of what I

Toni Harblin

Bertha Adams

wore. And my role now as mother of the church still dictates what I wear, as everything has to fall in line with that image.” • Phyllis—My style has changed as my size has changed. Just because they make it in my size, doesn’t mean I should wear it.” • Anne—”It’s hard to put my finger on it, but when I look at pictures of myself from the ‘80s with big shoulder pads, suits and bows, I know that my style has changed.” • Mary Anne—”I take more chances now than when I was younger. I may try an appealing ‘fad’ knowing I will toss it quickly if it doesn’t work. And definitely more color; I lived in beige for years.” How about comfort vs. style? What about jeans? There was general agreement that though comfort is important, it still had to fit within each person’s image of their individual style. • Bertha and Linda had a wonderful discussion about being “cold blooded” and how important in our climate it was to combine warmth, comfort and style; because of that, layering factored big for both their looks. • Though Toni leans more toward staying with the “in look,” comfort is still an important factor for her too. “Moving to a small town, it’s hard to dress down, but well-cut jeans and a smart top can take you from a small

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town to the big city.” • Mary Anne said she demands both comfort and style from her clothes, particularly when looking for outfits that will take her from meetings to dinner. • Phyllis said, “Jeans are not for me. The only thing I wear that is denim is a gold lame’ pantsuit. Comfort is first, then style. With good taste, style will always follow.” • Anne—”I look for both!” • Bertha never wore jeans to church until recently. “I looked around the church when I was there for meetings and realized that people were dressing in a more relaxed fashion, so I started to also,” she said. • “Denim can be made to work for all ages and body types without having the ‘mommy jeans’ look associated with the over-50 set,” said Cynthia. “I recently outfitted a woman who said, ‘I’m 85 but I don’t want to dress 85; I want to be stylish.’ The jeans we chose gave her the look she was trying to accomplish without looking dated.”

knees and then decide what your skirt length should be. Then again, if you wear opaque tights you can probably get away with going shorter.

Even if you have the body of a 30-year-old, at what age should you no longer wear short skirts? The group agreed that hem length was not a decision to be made solely based on age, but on knees. As we get older our knees tend to get wrinkly. So the advice here was to look at your

How important are accessories to your look? • Toni—”Accessories are very important for me, especially this year. A long scarf knotted at the neck, a wide belt cinched at the waist over a long top or jacket, they both immediately add a fashion look. This past winter, fur was everywhere. A fox fur collar on a coat or jacket was very in and I really liked this look. It added a bit of glamour. Accessories add style without breaking the bank.” • Anne—”I do like jewelry. Most of it is not good jewelry, although I have a few nice pieces given to me over the years. I always look in the mirror and usually edit by taking something off!” • Bertha—”I love my jewelry and I feel that I’m not fully dressed until I’m properly accessorized. The wearing of a scarf is crucial for me. I wear scarves or some facsimile thereof all the time; I have boxes of them! My neck must be covered with a scarf, turtleneck, dickey or closefitting high collar.” • Phyllis—”One of the things I find is that as I’ve gotten larger, and my clothes simpler, it is my

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What about footwear? There was no real agreement on comfort vs. style in footwear. The group ranged from “requiring total comfort all the time,” to “wearing ‘not-that-comfortable’ really great shoes but just wearing them for a short time to a special event,” to “only reluctantly giving up my 4-1/2 inch spikes.” On a cautionary note, Anne related: “Last year I fell wearing what I now call my ‘stupid shoes’—great summer black, very high, platform wedges. I loved them but I fractured my 5th metatarsal and sported a big black boot for weeks. I still look longingly at my wedges but haven’t put them back on—yet! I am also working on my balance.” But like Anne, most everyone still kept shoes they loved even though they can’t wear them anymore; they just visit them in the closet.

accessories that make my outfits. They are what add the statement to my canvas.” • Cynthia—”Once you know your clothing personality, you will know how to accessorize yourself. For example, if you are a sporty-natural, you will feel most comfortable in minimal jewelry, a smaller handbag or wristlet and with post-type earrings or hoops. I tend to go with all matching accessories for my look.” What has been your biggest fashion coup? • Mary Anne—”Some great coats over the years because in this climate, who ever sees your outfit?” • For Toni it was “the courage to wear a hat with an evening gown and feel comfortable doing it.” • Phyllis—”I would say diamonds. Diamonds make everything else look expensive.” How long do you hold on to your mistakes or styles no longer in fashion? The answers to this ranged from “about 20 minutes” to “forever.” The forever people felt that at this age they’ve seen styles come around again and felt comfortable in their ability to modify them to look up-to-date. The “dump it and move on crowd” felt that if it never worked, it wouldn’t improve with age. • Phyllis—”The only thing I regret getting rid of were some clutch handbags. Who knew they were coming back?” • Anne—”Not holding onto clothes is easier now that I have moved to an apartment. I am much more organized as I do not have a lot of room to store things I never wear or are outdated.” • Bertha—”I am definitely one of ‘the forever people’. At my age I’ve seen it all come and go and with a little tweaking I can make whatever I wear fit into the current trends.” There was a great discussion about shoulder pads and the group agreed to disagree. Those who had broad shoulders hated them and those without great shoulders loved them. • Bertha—”I tend to stay away from shoulder pads because I have very broad shoulders but I have Continued on page 46

families CNY Genealogical Society Turns 50 55+

Group staging big celebration in North Syracuse Oct. 14–15 By Aaron Gifford


lot can be said for those who are more intrigued by the dead than the living. The Central New York Genealogical Society has embraced that reputation for a half century and will celebrate its 50th anniversary in October. The organization has helped hundreds of area residents find the names and locations of their ancestors from hundreds of years ago, and continues to publish a quarterly newsletter, “Tree Talks.” Although genealogy remains the second most popular hobby in the United States behind gardening, it is often underappreciated due to competition from so many other activities to choose from and societal changes that have p e o p l e f o c u s i n g m o re on the present and the future instead of the past. But local enthusiasts believe never losing sight of where we came from and the role our ancestor played in shaping history is extremely important. “It’s good to find out who you really are,” said Sheila Byrnes, society board member and head of its planning committee for the Oct. 14-15 event. “Once you find out who your ancestors are, you learn where you got your talents from.” Longtime member Barbara Schwarting said

most of her colleagues in the society initially got involved to learn from the many speakers presented each year or to borrow and share ideas. The group holds six meetings a year with full-day speakers in the spring and fall. The group’s board of directors currently has 13 members. “Tree Talks,” meanwhile, offers lead articles on topics of interest to genealogists and abstracted records for counties across New York state. Schwarting said it’s easy to get hooked on researching your family history.

“Genealogy is an addiction,” she said. “It is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle: When you find one piece of information regarding a parent, great-grandparent and so on, you want to find the next piece. And that keeps continuing, though you never find all the pieces, so you have to keep looking. Many times you hit a brick wall. “Researching your family history becomes a way of life. You start with the people you know best — your parents — and then slowly move back to each generation. There are all sorts of ways to conduct research: Talking with relatives, talking with others who are doing the same thing, going to repositories, such as the local history and genealogy section of the downtown [Syracuse] library, New York State Archives in Albany, land records in court houses, census records found in many places, Salt Lake City library, and now, the Internet.” Longtime members echoed Schwarting’s sentiments. Sheila Byrnes started in 1990, when she was balancing a full-time job with college courses, raising a family and visiting her mother in a nursing home. She needed a hobby, something in her life that she had more control over. A genealogy course advertised in a North Syracuse community newspaper seemed like the perfect fit. After a few weeks, she traced back five generations of ancestors on her father’s side using newspaper obituaries and vital August / September 2011 - 55 PLUS




Anniversary Celebration to Take Place in North Syracuse Oct. 14-15 CNY Genealogical Society’s Oct. 14-15 anniversary celebration will take place at the Comfort Inn & Suites in North Syracuse. There will be exhibitions, vendors and workshops hosted by nationally renowned genealogist Barry J. Ewell, of Salt Lake City, and several others. Ewell is also the keynote speaker for the Friday night banquet. The celebration is open to members and non-members, and costs vary by activity. For more information, visit www.rootsweb. anniversary.htm records maintained at Onondaga and Oswego County clerks’ offices. Byrnes took her search to New England because New York state, often called the “black hole of genealogy,” does not maintain records before 1880. She traced relatives to the Revolutionary War and went even further back to England, where her ancestors emigrated from 20 years after the Mayflower. She even traveled to Ireland to research her mother’s side of the family, locating 200-yearold land records in churches. “As I went along,” she said, “it became very personal.” During the entire course of her research, Byrnes found family connections to six Revolutionary War soldiers, a War of 1812 soldier, several Civil War soldiers, six U.S. presidents, Susan B. Anthony, two Salem witches and several more interesting ancestors. Her grandfather O’Connor came to the United States way of Canada in 1898 by crossing the St. Lawrence River on a ferry boat. Irish descendants can be difficult to trace because name changes were common; immigrants named O’Connor, for example, often dropped the O’ in their last name. In addition, Ireland’s national archives were destroyed during the war with England in 1921, limiting available 40

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documents to land records maintained by churches. While the Internet is a fantastic tool for genealogy, Byrnes stressed, “always try to get back to the original documents.” “There’s still a lot of misinformation out there, but once you learn a little bit about it [genealogy], you can find places online that sell copies of the original documents, and you’ll save a lot of time and money that you would have spent on travel. The Internet is a good place to start, but you may still need to go to the repositories.” Jean Palmer, another longtime member and the group’s secretary of six years now, worked at the Onondaga County Public Library with the late Gerald Parsons, a founding society member, published author and one of the most accomplished genealogists in the nation. She learned a great deal from Parsons and remained with the society long after retiring from the library. During her research, Palmer traced her mother’s ancestors back to 1660 Massachusetts and her father’s to Ireland. Palmer has also enjoyed hearing about others’ journeys. One local resident discovered that a greatgreat grandfather who worked on the Erie Canal was sent to Albany to retrieve payment for himself and his coworkers, but he kept the money instead and used it to open an art gallery in Washington, D.C. “When you find out the events of their [descendants] life, it’s fascinating,” Palmer said. “It makes a wonderful hobby. It’s like eating popcorn — once you get started, you want more. It’s like a puzzle that you want to keep working on.” The great thing about genealogy, Palmer said, is that you can never run out of cases to work on. You can trace the roots of those who married into the family, and you can always continue tracing a family line prior to its arrival to the United States. Some enthusiasts have discovered information dating back to 16th Century England. Society membership grew from 254 in 1961 to 910 in 1989, but then it decreased to 435 in 2010. Still, members believe genealogy could

become a popular activity for future generations if it’s marketed the right way. “That’s another advantage of the Web,” Byrnes said. “It could be very stimulating for kids, and educational. It’s detective work and it’s challenging. It’s your own mystery to find out who you are. It should never be viewed as something that only retired people are into.” Palmer added that some folks take up genealogy to learn about their family medical history and genetic risks for cancer, heart disease and other conditions. Regardless of the reason for getting involved with genealogy, experts say, the best way to get started is to take a course. Sheila Byrnes teaches beginner- and advanced-level classes in the West Genesee Central School District’s continuing education program. “It’s difficult to learn about the process by just doing Internet searches,” Byrnes said. “You need to learn about what public records are kept and where they are.” It’s also key to understand what online resources are available. The Heritage Quest site, for example, is available at public libraries. In addition, the Mormon Church in North Syracuse can access a massive database maintained by church headquarters in Utah, and has copies of original records available for purchase. The Onondaga County Public Library’s central location at 447 South Salina, meanwhile, is heralded as one of the top genealogy repositories in the nation. It has about 30,000 volume books of records, 15,000 microfiches and 6,000 microfilms. Holly Sammons, head of the library’s local history and genealogy department, said the collection was started by local librarians in the 1880s. “It was a vision some of the librarians had,” she said. “The vast number of people in the United States today can trace their ancestors back to the Erie Canal. People moved west after it opened. People came here to work on the canal or work in the salt mines and then moved on.”



It’s Genealogy Not Gynecology It’s only lately that genealogy has become such a buzz word By Richard Palmer


hen I was a kid I told people I wanted to become a genealogist. I was told that it would take many years of training at a medical school and an internship. I answered: “I mean genealogy, not gynecology.” “What’s the difference?” they would ask. “Mainly,” I responded, “you don’t go to the doctor’s office to trace your family tree.” I’d then get a puzzled stare. That was long before genealogy became the buzz word it is today. Prior to the 1970s most people had never heard of it and,

except for the Mormons, were not generally interested it. It was something that Aunt Fanny had done in the 1920s and the yellowed pedigree charts were in a box moldering away in the attic. But that all changed with the 1977 TV series, “Roots: The Saga of an American Family,” by Alex Haley. It sparked worldwide interest in genealogy and soon sleepy libraries, genealogical and historical societies were overwhelmed with people seeking to trace their family trees. By that time I had already been doing genealogy for years and had been interested in my

Attending the first meeting of the Central New York Genealogical Society board was, from front row from left, Joyce Scott; Katherine Mendel; and Dorothy Roberts. Back row from left is Robert V, Moyer; John Downing; Gerald J. Parsons; Eleanor Myers, who housed many such meetings at her home; Leon Peters, society president; L. Pearl Palmer of Baldwinsville; and an unidentified person. All are now deceased.

family heritage even longer. I was a “late comer,” as they used to term children of older parents who were pretty much “over the hill.” I was born in 1941. My father was born in 1894 and my mother, in 1906. So I grew up with a much older generation of people. I was “old” when I was born. Or least it seemed that way. With the exception of my uncles, most of my other relatives were either at the old folks home or in the cemetery. I never knew my father’s parents as they were gone by the time I was born. I am from the village of Palmyra, which was populated by descendants of old Yankee stock settlers from New England. Among other things they carried on the old-fashioned tradition of applying last names as first names, which tends to confuse researchers. For instance, my uncle’s first name was “Durfee.” This is an unusual first name. As it turns out he was named for a family friend with the last name of “Durfee.” My name is Richard Ford Palmer, named for my second great-grandfather, Richard Ford, who came from England to Palmyra in pioneer times and was the local butcher in town. Likewise my uncle, “Ford Palmer,” was named for the Ford family on his mother’s side. To me, he was always “Uncle Ford.” My direct ancestor, Noah Palmer, settled near Palmyra in 1810 with a large family on a Continued on page 48 August / September 2011 - 55 PLUS



visits Explore Kingston Canada’s First Capital

Small town with the vibrancy of a city By Sandra Scott


isiting a foreign country has never been easier or more fun. Head north to Cape Vincent, take the small ferry to Wolfe Island, the largest of the 1000 Islands, and then the free ferry to Kingston, the first capital of a united Canada. Kingston is located strategically where the St. Lawrence River flows from Lake Ontario. The “Limestone City” with its 19th century limestone architecture is as easy to navigate as a small town but has the vibrancy of a city. The first stop should be the Visitor Information Centre, the former train station, for maps and other tourist information. Outside the building is 42

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Engine 1095, “The Spirit of John A.” On June 6, 1891, John A. MacDonald, Canada’s first prime minister, passed away and the train carried his body back to Kingston to be buried next to his family. The Visitor Information Centre is also where to board the Confederation Trolley Tour for an excellent overview of Kingston. Well-trained guides share three centuries of the city’s history laced with humorous anecdotes. From Fort Henry to the penitentiary, the tour covers all the highlights with an option to get off at Fort Henry or Bellevue, the home of Sir John A. MacDonald. Bellevue, the Italianate-style house with three floors on seven

levels, was the home of MacDonald, a lawyer responsible for forming the confederation. Before touring the house, view the informational video and displays dealing with MacDonald’s life and family at the visitor center. The house, which he shared with his first wife, Isabelle, has some interesting period items, including the beautiful baby cradle that belonged to the MacDonalds and the wash tub shaped like a boot and covered to keep the water warm. Costumed staff is on hand to answer questions. From the heights above the city is Fort Henry, an UNESCO World Heritage site. The fort was built from 1832 to 1837 to replace an existing

55+ fortification from the War of 1812 era. The fort’s museum has an impressive collection of British and Canadian artifacts. Learn about the life and times of the fort along with some of the fort’s legends — including resident ghosts — and view restored rooms that once served as soldiers’ quarters, the kitchen, and rooms for other functions. Various shows are held throughout the year such as the firing of the Noon Day Gun. On Wednesdays during July and August at 7:30 p.m. witness the spectacular Sunset Ceremony when the Fort Regiment performs intricate bayonet drills and field maneuvers with period music, gun salutes and a fireworks finale. One of the unique Kingston attractions is the Penitentiary Museum, across the street from the penitentiary. Located in what was the warden’s house, view fascinating displays that include artistic items created by the inmates such as the watch fob made of hair that exhibits an amazing attention to detail. Hear personal stories about inmates. A docent explains, “Some of the inmates could not deal with the outside world and after they were released they committed a crime so they could return.” The museum traces the history of Canada’s penitentiary system from an era of hard labor to the current day with a focus on rehabilitating. Given its location on such significant waterways it is only natural that Kingston is home to the Great Lakes Marine Museum. Learn about the tall tales and nautical adventures through the exhibition galleries filled with touchable exhibits. The shipwreack gallery looks at the world of shipwrecks and underwater exploration. Take a self-guided tour of the icebreaker The Alexander Henry berthed by the entrance. Pick up one of several self-guided walking tours located at most tourist sites throughout the city. Topical tours include naval historical sites, exploring the various streets of Kingston, and an architectural tour. One tour includes a stop at the Cathedral of St. George with a New York state connection. Of special


note is the memorial to Molly Brant, sister of Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant. Because the Brants were loyalists during the American Revolution they moved to Canada. Molly bridged the gap between the Indian and white cultures and was the only female founder of the cathedral. The free City Hall tour includes the Memorial Hall, Ontario Hall and the Hall of Royals but one of the most interesting stops is the jail cells where drunks and other minor offenders were held overnight. Set sail out of Kingston on one of the several sightseeing cruises of the 1000 Islands. Some include meals and music. The lively narration includes a repartee between a lady and John A. MacDonald using his very words. See Whiskey and Admiralty Islands along with Half Moon Bay near Gananoque where boaters have been gathering on Sunday mornings since 1887 to attend religious services without leaving their boats. There were many great homes and camps along the shore including the new multi-million dollar mansion built by an American from Watertown whose wealth came from those green pine tree deodorizers that dangle from car rear-view mirrors. There is much more to discover. You’ll be amazed at what Kingston has to offer. The Museum of Health Care has the largest collection of medical artifacts in Canada. It is both educational and eye-catching. Explore the area’s diversity by enjoying the culinary contributions by its Asian, Indian, Greek, Italian and Portuguese communities. In addition to global flavors, Kingston’s restaurants offer fresh and organic options year round. Kingston Brewing Company, Ontario’s oldest authentic brewpub, offers a wide selection of local brews and the area has a budding wine industry. Adults need to have a passport or an enhanced driver’s license to enter Canada. Children traveling with both parents do not need a passport . For more information log on to or call 888-855-4555.


Senior Living on Syracuse’s West Side

One bedroom subsidized apartments for Seniors or those persons with long-term mobility impairments. On site manager and maintenance personnel in the building. Laundry, bus line, handicap accessible, elevator, security camera and emergency call systems. Rent is based on 30% of your adjusted gross income. Maureen Quirk, Manager

1700 W. Onondaga Street, Syracuse, NY 13204 Call 315-471-8427 Fax 315-474-1224 TDD/TTY: 1-800-662-1220


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Low income, affordable housing for seniors Rent based on income level to determine which tier of rent you pay on a unit. Annual income guidelines apply.

Rent Tiers: $459.00 / $479.00 24 hour emergency maintenance, free weekly grocery shopping bus, community room with kitchen, secure building, heat and hot water included in rent APPLICATIONS NOW BEING ACCEPTED

(315)422-0347 TDD-TYY (800)662-1220 This is a NYS Housing Trust Fund and Federal Tax Credit program

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druger’s zoo By Marvin Druger

Adventures in the Galapagos Islands


ne day, my wife, Pat, announced: “We are going to the Galapagos Islands.” I was busy working on a radio script, “Science on the Radio” on WAER-FM 88.3, and I didn’t pay much attention to what she said. I uttered my usual response to such statements: “I don’t want to go.” “Then I’ll go without you,” was her response. After a brief discussion, we “compromised,” and Pat made arrangements with the Road Scholar travel organization for us to visit the Galapagos Islands for a week. Time passed quickly and, before I knew it, Pat said, “Pack your bag, We’re leaving tomorrow.” I hastily threw clothing and things into a suitcase, and, the next day, off we went. To save air fare, we decided to start our flight from the Rochester

airport. So, we drove to Rochester and stayed at a hotel overnight, before embarking on a plane at 6 a.m. the next morning. The hotel was at the airport and we could park for an extended time in the yellow parking lot for $1 a day. This may not have been a great bargain, if you consider the amount of gas we used driving endlessly at night around the airport, looking for the yellow parking lot. Eventually we found it, and an obscure shuttle bus drove us to the hotel. We slept restlessly, afraid that we would miss the plane. We didn’t. The 14-hour trip from Rochester to Chicago to Miami to Quito (the capital city of Ecuador) to the Galapagos was painfully long, but uneventful. I didn’t bring a book to read, so I sat in a window seat, watching the wing of the airplane to make sure it didn’t fall off.

Druger during his visit to the Galapagos Islands. “We saw sea lions, penguins, lizards, iguanas, sharks, crabs, giant tortoises and many varieties of birds. 44

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On a long airplane trip, I tend to doze, as if I’m in a coma, but I can’t sleep in the confines of the airplane seat. I can’t seem to figure out how to position my head. To add to my woes, the passenger in front of me eased his seat back, further restricting my breathing space. Partially re-circulated air blasted germs into my face, while I tried to blank out the discomfort from my mind. Pat sat in the middle seat, and was squashed between me and a stranger sitting in the aisle seat. Somehow, she managed to close her eyes and sleep through it all. A flight attendant dutifully announced safety instructions. She told us about life jackets, and described how to proceed in case of a water landing. Who was she kidding? Then again, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger did manage to safely land a US Airways jet in the Hudson

River. I wondered if this would work in the Pacific Ocean? Free food is no longer served on airline trips in the U.S., but we were hungry and were willing to pay for a turkey and cheese sandwich. The flight attendant sold the last sandwich to the person sitting next to Pat. The passenger saw my forlorn expression and commented, “Don’t worry. You’re not missing anything.” Pat and I have had the privilege of traveling to many places in the world, but this was our first trip to South America. The Galapagos Islands consist of about 13 major islands and many smaller ones. The islands are located about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, and are the product of undersea volcanic action. About 3 percent of the land area of the Galapagos is urban and agricultural, while about 97 percent is designated as a national park. Charles Darwin visited four of the islands, collected specimens, and his experiences at the Galapagos Islands contributed to his ideas about natural selection and evolution. We flew from Quito on the mainland to Baltra Island in the Galapagos, and boarded the boat at Baltra. We lived on the small boat for seven days, as we traveled to visit different islands. There were 14 mostly retired tourists, a crew, and a guide. We spent the days ashore, and ate our meals and slept on the boat as it traveled at night. The cabin had two beds, a noisy air conditioner, and a bathroom with a shower, sink and toilet. When we entered the room, I immediately spotted two small moths. I am not a fan of bugs, and I envisioned myself soaked in insect repellent every night to avoid mosquito bites. I wondered if “Quito” was short for “mosquito?” As it turned out, there were no bugs in the room on the entire trip. The mosquitoes preferred staying near the island vegetation, rather than attack the ship that was anchored offshore. There were some inconveniences in the cabin. Washing laundry was not permitted, and we had to use and reuse the same dirty, wet towels for several days. The sink had a push faucet that would provide a small amount of water each time it was pushed. No paper was permitted in the toilet, so all used toilet paper had

to be put into a can by the side of the toilet. The shower was fine, except for the rising water because of a defective drain. This turned out to be a good feature, since our feet could be soaked in deep water in the shower after we returned from a beach trip. What were a few highlights of the trip? • The amazing diversity of animals and plants. We saw sea lions, penguins, lizards, iguanas, sharks, crabs, giant tortoises and many varieties of birds. Every organism seemed oblivious to humans, and we could get quite close to them. Everyone was an avid photographer, and my favorite photo was a photo of everyone taking a photo of yet another orange crab. • Snorkeling was a popular activity. I put on a wet suit, flippers and a mask, but I couldn’t seem to be able to breathe properly through my mouth. Also, I kept falling down near the beach because I tried to walk forward with my flippers. Pat and I decided to forego the snorkeling, but we wished we had been given more opportunity to practice. On the other hand, I wasn’t eager to swim in an open fish tank, with sharks and stingrays that “never attack humans.” • We hiked on treacherous rocks on nearly every island. It was hot and humid. One lady in our group passed out from the heat. Several people tripped and fell on the rocks including Pat and me. On one island, we climbed 379 wooden steps, in the blazing sun, high heat and humidity, to get a spectacular view of the surroundings. I thought this trip was supposed to be mainly for older people? It was really for older people who were in great physical condition. Our regular workouts at Fitness Forum in Fayetteville paid dividends and we managed to endure the rigors fairly well. • On one island, we stood on a red line that was supposed to be the equator, as identified through GPS technology. A guide demonstrated the Coriolis effect. There was a pan of water with leaves floating on top. The guide pulled the plug and the water and leaves swirled clockwise. Then, he did the same thing with the pan of water one foot away from the red line on the other side of the Equator

and the water swirled down the drain counterclockwise. Wow! One of the members of our group had a doctorate in biophysics. He took the guide aside and questioned the validity of that demonstration. The guide admitted that it was faked. The reason the water swirled in opposite directions was that he twisted the drain plug in opposite directions to start the flow of water down the drain. No wonder that it swirled in opposite directions on opposite sides of the equator, if indeed the red line really marked the equator at all. Some members of our group were upset by this fraudulent demonstration, and they felt that the guide should have told everyone that this was simply an illustration of what would happen under ideal conditions. The Coriolis force is very weak and can be observed in movements of large air masses and weather systems and on either side of the equator, but not in water going down a drain, where other conditions are much more influential. There were many other memorable moments on this trip. Since we have traveled extensively, people often ask us what was our favorite trip? My answer is that every trip was our favorite one, since each trip imprints special experiences in our memory. So, despite my negativity about traveling anywhere, or doing anything new, I follow my wife’s adventurous spirit and go wherever she decides we should go. And we always learn something and have fun. August / September 2011 - 55 PLUS


aging Continued on page 38 noticed that as I get older and my physique changes, that shoulder pads have come into play more.” • Linda talked about suits she had bought years ago that have large shoulders and she still wears them, calling them “retro classic.” I love that

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idea—give it a name and make your own fashion statement. What do you think women shouldn’t wear after a certain age? • Anne—”I think it is like pornography. You know it when you see it! On the other hand, I see many women who dress like old ladies—too stiff or too dumpy. It is a fine line that we have to walk!” • Mary Anne—”Bikinis!” • Bertha—“Short skirts/dresses and low-cut dresses/blouses I don’t think looks tasteful on older women. With all the church-related activities I am involved in, it just wouldn’t be appropriate.” • Linda thought perhaps “short shorts,” but that may depend on your legs, etc. And I don’t like long flowing hair on a woman after 60. It rarely fits the face, but long hair gathered up in a ponytail or bun can be stunning.” • Phyllis—”Anything that embarrasses the kids!” Do you need to spend a lot of

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• Phyllis—”A lot of money is relative. I like going to the high-end stores and they do have a lot of good sales. At the moment, I’m wearing a white T-shirt that was originally $178 from Saks Fifth Avenue and I got it for $15!” • Anne—”I almost always shop at the discount stores. I love the hunt! Sometimes I go to a small boutique or a store out of town if I happen to be on a trip.” • Bertha—”Absolutely not. I get great finds at thrift stores and church or organization rummage sales. I discovered that by holding onto items, I usually find the perfect pair of shoes for a particular dress in my own closet.” • Mary Anne—”Absolutely not. That’s why God gave us Marshall’s.” What advice do you have to others who want to “break out of their clothing rut?” • Bertha—”Seek advice from a fashionable friend you admire or professional you trust.” • Cynthia—”As we mature, we need to be honest with ourselves and evaluate our individual body

changes. For most women our arms, necks, hands and legs change.To make yourself look thinner and more youthful, I suggest these tips: For tops, wear a three-quarter sleeve to instantly create an illusion that will make you look thinner and taller. Always extend your skincare into the neck and upper chest areas, as this will create a much smoother appearance for your skin. Along with that, find the most flattering neckline for you. As knees and legs become more fleshy and discolored, try to select a hemline at the middle of the knee or just below. Most often I recommend a very simple alteration that is called ‘caning.’ The hemline will become tapered at the bottom. This creates an illusion of one looking thinner and taller.” The last word • Anne—”I am a caregiver for my husband and I now have several friends with chronic or terminal illnesses. It is a luxury for me to get outside and move my body—otherwise known as exercise—always remembering the people who no longer can do this. So I do it and it makes my brain feel better and my body look better—even if I am wearing a burlap sack!” • Toni—”If you are not sure of your style, browse fashion magazines for ideas. Walk through various stores and see how different looks are put together, then try some on. You never know when you will find that something special that you can’t live without.” • Cynthia—”Know your colors, your body style, your clothing personality and how to accessorize.” • Linda—“Clothing is just one more way to express your authentic self. And as you age, one hopes to get more and more in touch with her—so it’s a joy to truly be yourself.” • Bertha—”Wear what makes you feel comfortable and feel good about yourself. If you feel confident in yourself and what you are wearing, you will project that image.” • Phyllis—”Any fool can pay full price. Buy quality, not quantity.” • Or as Mary Anne, who has a black belt in shopping says, “The only thing that separates us from the animals, is knowing how to accessorize.”

consumers corner By Eva Briggs

Rehab Program Treats Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease


or most people, training conjures up images of people preparing to compete in athletic endeavors by running on treadmills, doing calisthenics, hoisting weights and listening to the exhortations and encouragement of coaches. But there’s another type of training specially designed to help people with lung disease. It’s called pulmonary rehab. Chronic obstructive lung disease, COPD, affects about 10 percent of the U.S. population. The risk doubles for every decade after the age of 40. COPD is the fourth-leading cause of death in the U.S. Damaged lung tissue and airways restrict the passage of air into and out of the lung. While smoking is the most common cause, it can arise from asthma, air pollution, exposure to workplace toxins, and from genetic causes. Pulmonary rehabilitation is one modality for improving the quality of life for people with COPD. It also helps selected patients with asthma, cystic fibrosis, and after lung surgery. Pulmonary rehabilitation is a non-pharmacologic approach to improving the function of patients with COPD. It doesn’t replace medications, but can be a part of a comprehensive approach. The goal is to reduce symptoms like shortness of breath, and to improve the functioning of patients with lung disease so that they can feel less short of breath, participate in activities, and feel less anxious and depressed by disease symptoms.

Team approach A typical pulmonary rehab program takes place in a hospital outpatient setting under the

supervision of a coordinator whose multidisciplinary team might include respiratory therapists, nurses, exercise physiologists, pharmacists, psychologists, and others. Each session lasts several hours, and they’re held three times per week for a sixto-12-week period. Three key components are exercise training, self-management education, and psychosocial support. Who benefits? Patients who continue to feel short of breath and whose activities are limited despite optimal medication treatment. Contraindications include diseases that might be worsened by or interfere with rehab, such as uncontrolled heart disease. Exercise training focuses on both endurance (aerobic) exercise and strength. While measurements of lung capacity don’t change, exercise enables muscles to use the available oxygen more efficiently. With regular exercise, muscles actual increase their stores of the enzymes that utilize oxygen in the bloodstream. The effect is increased stamina, the ability to work farther with less shortness of breath. Self-management education

assists patients to better understand their disease. Learning to recognize early signs of disease flares and what to do helps limit set backs. Any chronic disease is scary, and COPD is no exception. Groups that provide coping strategies and stress management can help alleviate the anxiety and depression produced by the disease. After pulmonary rehab is completed, the benefits may slowly diminish over time. The reasons are many, including decreased adherence to exercise regimens and the natural progression of COPD over time. Many programs provide post-rehabilitation maintenance in hopes of prolonging the benefits. COPD is under-diagnosed and under-treated. If you have symptoms like a chronic cough, recurrent episodes of bronchitis or similar respiratory infections, or shortness of breath, get checked by your doctor. Your medical history, physical exam, and tests like a lung X-rays and pulmonary function tests can make the diagnosis. And getting the right diagnosis is key to getting the right treatment.

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August / September 2011 - 55 PLUS


Genealogy Continued on page 41 100-acre farm after the ark ran aground. Of the 14 children he had, I am descended from his youngest son (born when he was 68 years old), Adoniram Judson Palmer, who was named for a famous Baptist missionary. Noah had served in the Rhode Island Militia during the Revolutionary War. So this heritage tended to rub off on me because my family used to talk about it. We were proud of the fact we were descended from the first Palmer family in America, who came from England to Plymouth, Mass. in 1621 — a year after the Mayflower. Thus I had an ingrown curiosity about my ancestors with such seemingly peculiar names as Clyde (my father, named after a nearby village);

Durfee, Ford, and further back in time, Patience, Peleg and Silas. About as old fashioned as you can get. My mother’s name was Clara, but to me she was always just “Ma.” When I was a kid, genealogy was not as prevalent. About all we had to prove our lineage were some inscriptions in faded handwriting of births, marriages and deaths. Genealogy had been very popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries but waned during World War I. It had gone the way of the picture postcard and stereopticon slide. So when genealogy was revived a typical library patron would say “I need help tracing my family tree.” Even so, the general public perception of a family tree was something that grew in the front yard of the old homestead. After “Roots” sparked a renewed interest in genealogy, many dabbled in it for a while but quickly became discouraged and quit when they hit a dead end and they didn’t

know where else to look for anyone beyond their immediate family.

Central New York Genealogical Society One of the first programs fostered by the Central New York Genealogical Society was a training session to teach members how to compile a four generation pedigree chart which were eventually compiled and published in “Tree Talks,” the society’s quarterly. The society evolved in the early 1960s as an idea of the late Eleanor Myers of DeWitt, who for years had been bitten by the genealogy bug. She spent countless hours doing research in many places, especially in the local history and genealogy department of the Syracuse Public Library. When she noticed others working on similar projects without interacting with each other, she concluded the time was right to form an organization

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of like-minded people. She put a notice in the newspaper that a meeting would be held at her Myers’ home on Jan. 7, 1961. Since I lived on the other side of town I boarded the bus the day before and got a transfer. The meeting was well attended. From this small beginning was born an organization that has, over the years, become nationally and internationally recognized in the field of genealogy — especially through its award-winning publication, “Tree Talks.” Little did I know that 50 years later I would be the only surviving charter member of that group. Of course I was only a teenager at the time and everyone else were “grown-ups.” But what better way to learn the ropes of genealogy than from experienced people? They were good teachers. To attend meetings, I bummed a ride, rode my bicycle, took the bus or hitchhiked. Frequently I tagged along with Mrs. Myers on her research trips to county courthouses and libraries in the area. From her I learned how to cull through old records such as deeds, wills and court records in the quest for information on ancestors. Mrs. Myers also organized little groups who spent sessions abstracting births, deaths and marriages published in old newspapers and copying tombstone inscriptions in cemeteries. These were eventually organized and published in “Tree Talks.” Those were the days I fondly recall before computers when genealogy was done the hard way — through personal research. Today, I still prefer using my own research skills by visiting libraries and historical societies, cemeteries, etc. augmented by genealogy websites. Although a wealth of resources is available on the Internet, to me the local history and genealogy department of the Onondaga County Public Library in Syracuse remains the best place to do research. It is rated one of the best in the nation and has many resources unavailable electronically.

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August / September 2011 - 55 PLUS




By Mary Beth Roach

Mike Valerio, 64 War veteran relives experiences through his novels Mike Valerio is a Vietnam vet, a retired firefighter, a former paramedic and tractor-trailer driver, and most recently a writer, having penned two manuscripts, although yet unpublished. The Nation of the American series consists of “The Martin Group” and “Courage of the Lions”—both focusing on posttraumatic stress disorder. Through his stories, the Cayuga County vet, 64, hopes to shed light on the trauma that affects so many of the soldiers of this younger generation as they return home after serving their country in Iraq and Afghanistan. Q. What motivated you to write these manuscripts? A. I wanted to do something for the veterans in Iraq and Afghanistan— for the soldiers fighting—something no one else had done, and I knew they were going to have a lot of difficulties with post-traumatic stress disorder. Most people know about posttraumatic stress, but they don’t know about the symptoms. There are about 2,500 books that cover the symptoms, but no one ever talks about what causes them. Q. What kind of research did you do? A. I researched about 119 different documents on post-traumatic stress disorder. Out of 119 documents, I was able to determine that only one briefly covered the trauma that causes posttraumatic stress disorder. Everything else covers the symptoms. Doctors are very well educated people, but to be frank, they don’t experience this type of thing. The soldier who was in combat, particularly one who was in multiple combat tours, experiences something 50

55 PLUS - August / September 2011

different than a single combat tour, and I wanted people to understand. Q. Tell us a little about the two books. A. It’s one story cut up into two parts. My intention was to take veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and create a war in the future and put them in this war. What I did was create a second war in Vietnam. Any time you talk about a second war in Vietnam, you can see people cringe. The reason being it’s the worst place I could think of to have a war. That’s why I set it there, not to revisit ancient history. I put it there to shock people. The story starts with an AfricanAmerican president named Andrew Fields. He’s sitting in the Oval Office. It’s election night and he knows he’s going to win a second term in office. But the United States fought one war too many, and it’s gone from economic recession to depression in less than a year. And he knows he’ll be president, but he’d be president of a country that’s in economic ruin in a world of depression. And he thinks back to what caused the war—the appearance of a group—13 men everybody thought were dead for more than 40 years and the secrets they knew. And that’s where I end the prelude. Then we go two years earlier and that’s where the story begins. Q. When did you write these? A. I started the story in January 2004. It was actually part of an earlier novel I wrote in 1987, “In The Shadow of the Giants.” I used that as a basis to write this.

Q. Was it published? A. No it was not. I haven’t had very much luck being published. To be perfectly frank, I’ve learned more and more as I go along on here. And I realized that the original version wasn’t written very well. Before I started in 2004, I sought the counsel of published authors. They recommended a pen name and to take the work and have it reviewed by a book doctor. Q. What was her prognosis after the last rewrite? A. After the last rewrite, she said I did a pretty good job. Q. Have any of your veteran friends read either manuscript? What was their reaction? A. The reaction from veterans and the younger people in the military was 100 percent approval. It was very good. I [also] had a very high approval rating from people who were not in the military. Q. You weren’t a writer. You had another job before? A. I was a firefighter for 30 years and a moonlighter for a paramedic service. After that, I drove a tractortrailer across the country for 11 years.

August / September 2011 - 55 PLUS


Join OASIS this Fall and Celebrate10 years of inspiring adults 50 plus to learn, grow and connect.

How? First check out some of this fall’s unique and exciting classes below! Then be sure to register starting August 23rd. Not a member? Not a problem, just call (315) 464-6555 or go online at Classes have nominal fees, but membership is free! Hurry, you don’t want to miss out, classes start September 12th, 2011. Here’s a Sampling of Fall Classes Award winning John Langdon, PhD, professor of History, Lemoyne College will offer an Overview of World Affairs

Wendy Davenport, MA, British and American Literature, will offer OASIS Book Group! Here is a sneak peek of two titles: Secret Daughter by S.S. Gowda, and Ape House by Sara Gruen.

Karen Kemmis, PT, DPT, MS, CDE, CEEAA, Physical Therapist, Upstate Medical University, will present Exercises for Osteoporosis OASIS in Concert 2011 Four-Part Series Opens September 13th with Andrew Russo, Piano Virtuoso Mr. Russo will present a program of known and unjustly-neglected classics and perhaps an avant garde piece or two. Be prepared for an ear and eye-popping musical experience!

Be sure to check the OASIS catalog for class numbers and dates! For further information contact OASIS at (315) 464-6555 or go to


55 PLUS - August / September 2011

CNY 55 Plus