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Finances: Jim Terwilliger On What’s New in 2020


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Issue 61 • January-February 2020 For Active Adults in the Rochester Area

Bonsai Master Henrietta resident Bill Valavanis is a world-renowned expert and grower of bonsai trees. He often travels the globe to share his passion

5 Clever Ways to Supplement Your Retirement Income Moving Away in Retirement? Things You Need to Consider Meet the Oasis Tappers. Local Dancers Love to Entertain

Savvy Senior: How to Get Free Legal Assistance

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July/ February / August 2019 January 2020 - 55 PLUS






Finances: Jim Terwilliger On What’s New in 2020


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Jan. / Feb. 2020 Don’t miss a single issue of 55 PLUS. To subscribe, please see coupon on page 47.


Issue 61 • January-February 2020 For Active Adults in the Rochester Area

Bonsai Master Henrietta resident Bill Valavanis is a world-renowned expert and grower of bonsai trees. He often travels the globe to share his passion

5 Clever Ways to Supplement Your Retirement Income Moving Away in Retirement? Things You Need to Consider

Find us on facebook

Meet the Oasis Tappers. Local Dancers Love to Entertain

Savvy Senior: How to Get Free Legal Assistance


55 PLUS ROC55.com





24 LANDLORD Savvy Senior 6 12 MONEY • So you want to be a landlord? It may • Drive an Uber, sell your expertise, be Financial Health 8 a mystery shopper: New and old ways to not be as easy as you might think make money in this ‘gig economy’ Dining Out 10 30 COVER • Henrietta’s Bill Valavanis: Bonsai 14 NEW LIFE My Turn 27 • Moving away in retirement. What to master Golden Years 36 consider. 38 WRITING • Author writes book on pushing Addyman’s Corner 46 16 SECOND ACT

Long-term Care 48 55 PLUS Q&A Miriam Zinter, 55, of Brighton on juggling her job as mortgage officer with work as a comedian


55 PLUS - January July / August 2019 2020 / February

• Never too late to turn a dream into reality, says businessman

through life’s challenges, confronting the unknown



• Not necessarily underground, and not actually a railroad

• A winter frolic with grandkids

20 DANCE • Meet the Oasis Tappers

• A fall fishing trip to the Adirondacks with friend is just priceless



• Wooden cane production, a family affair

• Gary E. Albright of Honeoye Falls: Preserving what’s precious


Had a Stroke. Back on Stage.


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



A. S.





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

Read Todd’s story and learn more: crouse.org/toddhobin.

July/ February / August 2019 January 2020 - 55 PLUS


savvy senior By Jim Miller


How to Get Free Legal Assistance

here are a number of free and low-cost legal resources that can help baby boomers in need, but what’s available to you will depend on where you live, the type legal assistance you need and your financial situation. Here are several options to check into. Legal Aid: Directed by the Legal Services Corporation, legal aid offers free legal assistance to low-income people of all ages. Each community program will differ slightly in the services they offer and income qualifications. See LSC.gov/find-legal-aid to locate a program in your area. Free Legal Answers: This is an online program created by the American Bar Association that matches low-income clients with volunteer lawyers who agree to provide brief answers online for free. This service will not answer criminal law questions, and it’s not available in every state. Visit ABAfreelegalanswers.org to look for a program in your state. Pro Bono and Senior Legal Hotlines: Usually sponsored by state or local bar associations, pro bono programs help low-income people find volunteer lawyers who are willing to handle their cases for free. There are also a number of states that still offer senior legal hotlines, where all seniors over age 60 have access to free legal advice over the telephone. To find out if either of these services is available in your state, go to LawHelp.org, and click on “Find help near you.” Senior Legal Services: Coordinated by the Administration on Aging, this service may offer free or low-cost legal advice, legal assistance or access to legal representation to people over the age of 60. The local county Office for the Aging can tell you what’s available in the community. Call the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-


55 PLUS - January July / August 2019 2020 / February

55PLUS roc55.com

Editor and Publisher Wagner Dotto

Associate Editor Lou Sorendo

Writers & Contributing Writers

Deborah J. Sergeant, Christine Green, Christopher Malone Lynette M. Loomis, Kimberly Blaker Todd


Jim Terwilliger, Susan Suben Jim Miller, John Addyman Bruce Frassinelli, Harold Miller

1116 to get your local number. National Disability Rights Network: This is a nonprofit membership organization that provides legal assistance to people with disabilities through their Protection and Advocacy System and Client Assistance Program. If you are disabled, visit NDRN.org to find help in your state. Other Options: If you can’t get help from one of these programs, or find that you aren’t eligible, another option is to contact New York state or local bar association, which may be able to refer you to a low-fee lawyer. Or, you may want to consider hiring a lawyer for only part of the legal work and doing other parts yourself. This is known as “unbundled legal services.” Many bar associations offer public service-oriented lawyer referral services that will interview clients and help identify the problems a lawyer could help them with. If a lawyer can help with your problem, the service will provide you with a referral to a lawyer. If the problem does not require a lawyer, the service will provide information on other organizations in your community that may be able to help. Most of these lawyer referral services conduct their interviews and make referrals over the phone. To contact your state or local bar association, go to www.FindLegalHelp.org.


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12/4/19 1:54 PM

financial health By Jim Terwilliger


What’s New in 2020?

he federal government always keeps us on our toes. Calendar/tax year 2020 is no exception. Most of the numbers coming out of Washington that impact our tax and retirement planning lives are different this year, just as they tend to be every year. The federal tax framework that was put into place starting in 2018 tax year, however, is still intact. No material changes were made for 2020 (except for any year-end moves Congress may have made after this article was written). For the second consecutive year, the so-called “chained” CPI was used to adjust most income-tax-related numbers. Defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as an alternative CPI, it is based on the idea that in an inflationary environment, consumers will choose less-expensive substitutes. As such, chained CPI is generally lower than CPI. For 2020, the adjustment from 2019 is about 1.5%. While the difference is subtle between CPI and chained CPI, use of the latter, over time, will make annual income-tax-related adjustments less favorable for taxpayers. Federal Income Tax. Seven tax brackets, ranging from 10% to 37%, were carried over from 2019 tax year. In 2020, the taxable income range within each of the seven brackets increased by about 1.5%, resulting in a modestly lower tax bill for the same taxable income compared to 2019. The standard deduction was increased from $12,200 to $12,400 for single taxpayers and from $24,400 to $24,800 for married filing joint. Additional modest deductions, unchanged from 2019, are available for those who are blind or age 65 and older. The highly generous federal estate tax exclusion saw an increase


55 PLUS - January July / August 2019 2020 / February

of about 1.5% from $11.40 million to $11.58 million. The portability provision remains, allowing a married couple to now shield $23.16 million from federal estate taxation. The annual federal gift tax exclusion remains at $15,000 for 2019. Retirement Accounts. The news is mostly good on this front. Several contribution limits were increased for 2020. They include: 1) 401(k)/403(b)/457 salary-deferral limit increased from $19,000 to $19,500. 2) SEP IRA limit increased from $56,000 to $57,000. 3) SIMPLE IRA limit increased from $13,000 to $13,500. The catch-up contribution limit for No. 1 for taxpayers age 50 and older increased from $6,000 to $6,500: there is no catch-up for No. 2: and the catch-up contribution limit for No. 3 remains unchanged at $3,000. For traditional and Roth IRAs, the 2020 contribution and catch-up limits remain unchanged at $6,000 and $1,000, respectively. The ability to contribute to a traditional IRA now begins to phase out at $104,000 AGI for joint filers and $65,000 for single if covered by an employer retirement plan (vs. $103,000 and $64,000, respectively, in 2019). If only one of a married couple is covered by an employer plan, the phase out begins at $196,000 AGI for joint filers (vs. $193,000 in 2019). There is no phase-out if there is no coverage by an employer plan. The ability to contribute to a Roth IRA now begins to phase out at $196,000 AGI for joint filers and 124,000 for single (vs. $193,000 and $122,000, respectively, in 2019). Social Security. Inflation adjustments for Social Security benefits are based on CPI, not chained. This time around, the difference is minimal. The 2019-to2020 benefit increase is 1.6%. This follows a 2016 increase of 0%, a 2017

increase of 0.3%, a 2018 increase of 2.0% and a 2019 increase of 2.8%. The ceiling on wages taxed for Social Security purposes increased from $132,900 in 2019 to $137,700 in 2020. While this 3.6% increase will not make current high-income workers happy, the good news is that it will pump additional funding into the system to keep the program solvent longer. Medicare. The Medicare Part B premium increase for 2020 averaged about 6.7% across all six tiers, substantially higher than last year’s increase. The new Tier 1 Part B premium, which most folks now pay, is $144.60 per month compared to $135.50 last year. The good news is that the smaller Part D surcharge for Tiers 2 through 6 (none in Tier 1) decreased by about 1.5%. Note that Medicare premiums and surcharges for 2020 are based on 2018 modified AGIs. New for 2020 — income brackets used to define the six Medicare Part B premium and Part D surcharge tiers are now indexed to inflation. That’s good news for higher-income retirees who find themselves in one of the five higher tiers. This inflation adjustment may result in some folks shifting down one tier, resulting in lower premiums and surcharges. As always, you are encouraged to consult with a professional tax preparer and your financial planner in order to take advantage of taxplanning opportunities. James Terwilliger, CFP®, is senior vice president, senior planning adviser with CNB Wealth Management, Canandaigua National Bank & Trust Company. He can be reached at 585-419-0670 ext. 50630 or by email at jterwilliger@cnbank.com.

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July/ February / August 2019 January 2020 - 55 PLUS


DiningOut By Christopher Malone



Faroe Island salmon ($26). This seared fish is served with a ball of jasmine rice and vegetable medley, which consisted of Brussels sprouts, sweet potato and cauliflower.

RHC in the ROC


Upscale Casual Canalside Cuisine

ad this restaurant reviewer known of Richardson’s Canal House, 1474 Marsh Road in Pittsford, this review would have been done last year. There’s nothing like writing a review and commemorating a 200year anniversary of a building. In a contemporary American world where demolishing and rebuilding is such a go-to resolve, this 1818 Erie Canal inn and tavern stands strong and proud. H o w e v e r, t h e 1 9 7 9 b o r n Richardson’s celebrated 40 years this year. Cheers! W h e re a l o t o f re s t a u r a n t s present an aesthetic to convince a patron they’re traveling back in time,


55 PLUS - January July / August 2019 2020 / February

Richardson’s Canal House (or RCH) doesn’t have to try very hard. This establishment, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has wood paneling, a display of old paintings and stone walls, among other qualities to welcome patrons in a new world. The dining area is cozy, not to be interpreted as “small,” and the small bar is such a cool aspect. There is an outdoor patio as well; however, the cold late-November weather didn’t permit my friend Sam and me to sit outside. The concise one-page menu didn’t allow easy decision-making. We started off with a pair of RCH manhattans ($11 each), one dry and the other perfect,

with a combination of dry and sweet vermouth. The house cocktail was nice and crisp. Soon the starters filled the table: beer-braised Berkshire pork belly ($9), pastrami spiced smoked salmon ($11), and a crab cake ($12). Albeit a typical crab cake, the hockey puck-sized patty was delightful with a lightly crisp outside and soft meaty inside. Sweet and sour pickled cabbage is served on the side along with a thick puddle of chipotle aioli. Put them together and it’s an amazing treat, easily shareable among two or three people. The beer-braised pork belly was a standout. Served atop arugula and topped with a red onion marmalade

and pickled mustard, the pork was plentiful for a small plate-sized starter. The meat was soft and practically melted in my mouth. The most unique and artistic presentation went to the pastrami spiced smoked salmon. The cool salmon sat on top of a crispy potato latke. The soft Liptauer cheese helped the strategically placed salmon adhere to the potato cake. Capers served as salty decorations. The salmon was served on the cooler side but it didn’t affect the flavor negatively. Sam ordered the Faroe Island salmon ($26) as his entrée. The seared fish was served with a ball of jasmine rice and vegetable medley, which consisted of Brussels sprouts, sweet potato and cauliflower. The veggies and rice were great and, although I hate to use the word “typical” — these were just that. They weren’t lacking in flavor and tasted as a person would expect but portion size, especially with the vegetables, was limited. The salmon was up for discussion. There has been only one instance while dining where a restaurant asked me how I wanted my salmon cooked, and it was at The Revelry on University Avenue. My fiancé and I asked for it medium and it was really delightful. Although the staff did not ask us how my other companion wanted his fish cooked, it came out similar to the salmon at The Revelry — warm and pink. I enjoyed the fish as is. My other companion wished it was cooked slightly more. It’s the beauty of eating out, not just for food reviews. Food should be a topic of conversation, and Richardson’s Canal House made us chat. The 24-hour short rib with red wine carrot sauce was my entrée of choice. I asked it served with the veggie medley and mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes were as to be expected, being mashed potatoes, and they were super soft and light. Nothing else was needed on the mashed spuds, and, when combined with a slice of the beef, it definitely tasted like a natural companionship. The short rib meat was very tender and flavorful. The red wine from the sauce stood out, but wasn’t overpowering. This entrée was a much larger portion than the salmon, but portion isn’t everything. Quality is better than quantity, and leftovers

The most unique and artistic presentation at Richardson’s Canal House goes to the pastrami spiced smoked salmon. The cool salmon sat on top of a crispy potato latke. The soft Liptauer cheese helped the placed salmon adhere to the potato cake. Capers served as salty decorations.

The hockey puck-sized crab cake was delightful with a lightly crisp outside and soft meaty inside. can be the intangible (or inedible, in this case) memories of the overall experience itself. Before tip, the bill for two people enjoying one cocktail each, three starters, and two entrees came to a seemingly steep $110.16. Richardson’s Canal House lived up to providing a wonderful dining experience. Patrons don’t have to get incredibly dressed up and there is not one pretentious aspect to the restaurant. The restaurant, to note, is also very clean. Kudos also goes to the staff. Everyone was extremely cordial. We were informed about the history of Richardson’s as well its present state. With a restaurant that is 40 years strong, it’s not a surprise.

Richardson’s Canal House Address 1474 Marsh Rd, Pittsford, N.Y. 14534 Phone 585-248-5000 Website/Social richardsonscanalhouse.com www.facebook.com/richardsonscanalhouse www.instagram.com/richardsonscanalhouse/ Hours Sun.: Closed Mon. – Sat.: 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. (lunch); 5-9 p.m. July/ February / August 2019 January 2020 - 55 PLUS



5 I

Ways to Supplement Your Retirement Income

f your career is winding down, you can plan now to supplement your retirement income. Thanks to the “gig economy,” many people work for themselves. Nation1099.com estimates that about 11% of U.S. adults work full time as freelancers. But many work part-time as a freelancer or in addition to a regular job. One of the many perks about gig work is that you choose how much or how little you care to work. The flexibility offers true freedom while still bringing in some money and keeping you as active as you’d like. Instead of the hassle of starting your own business, try one of these easy ways to get a gig.


Sign up for ride sharing apps like Uber (www.uber.com) or Lyft (www.lyft.com) or delivery services like Grub Hub (www.grubhub.com) or Door Dash (www.doordash.com). If you have a smartphone, good driving record and a late-model vehicle in good condition, just add a friendly demeanor and you’re ready. The app allows you to choose when and where you want to drive. By maintaining good ratings with top-notch service, more business comes your way any time you’re available.

2.Mystery shopping

Also known as secret shopping, this gig involves working as a contractor for a third party hired by a business that wants an honest opinion about its goods and services. For example, a fast food restaurant wants to know if its employees are keeping the place clean, using the approved signs and uniforms,


By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

55 PLUS - January July / August 2019 2020 / February

recommending additional items and overall presenting the right image. If you have a PayPal account (most pay this way), can observe and remember many details and can follow the many rules of the shop, you can get free goods and services (from oil changes to clothing to meals out) and a small stipend for your time. You can stack up several evaluations in a single day or snap them up whenever you’d like. Sign up at Sinclair (www.

sinclaircustomermetrics.com), Best Mark (https://apply.bestmark.com), Market Force (www.marketforce. com/become-a-mystery-shopper) and Intelli-shop (www.intelli-shop.com/ shoppers). Avoid scamming entities that ask for money upfront.

3.Selling your skills

By now, you are really good at what you do. Many websites offer an easy way to sell your knowledge

CPA: How Gig Work Affects Your Taxes Consider how gig work affects your financial status if you’re drawing on Social Security. G. Joseph Votava, Jr., CPA, tax lawyer and financial adviser with 30 years of experience, is CEO of Seneca Financial Advisors, LLC in Rochester. He said that if you’re not at full retirement age and you draw on Social Security, the Social Security benefit will be reduced by $1 for each $2 you earn in excess of $19,240 (for 2020). “Starting with the month you attain your full retirement age [status], your benefits will no longer be reduced,” Votava said. If your goal is just to flex your entrepreneurial muscle, stay active and earn some pin money (providing your definition of “pin money” is less than $19,240), then don’t worry about it. Votava also reminds would-be gig workers to remember that since they’re not employees, they’ll have to pay self-employment tax and quarterly estimated tax payments. It adds up fast. “Normally, an employee pays half of this and the employer pays

the other half, but when you are independent, you pay both halves yourself,” Votava said. “So instead of a 7.65% tax, they have a 15.3% tax on top of the federal and state income taxes.” He added that once retirees are 65 and drawing on Medicare, they must make sure that their income falls below the thresholds for the surcharges for Medicare B and D premiums, as a result of the Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA). “There are various brackets depending on whether they are single or married,” Votava said. “The higher the income, the higher the surcharges. This is a much more complex topic, but nonetheless one that is often overlooked when generating extra income in retirement.”

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$100,000 earners are the fastest growing segment of freelancers Source: https://nation1099.com/ as a contract worker. As with mystery shopping, don’t sign up for a site that requires money upfront. Although some provide premium membership, they at least allow participation for free. Try Guru (www.guru.com), Elance (www.elanc.com) or Upwork (www. upwork.com) for selling business, artistic, legal, writing, secretarial, sales, engineering, architectural, programming and other skills. While the people seeking workers aren’t necessarily all rock solid and paying top rates, they’re generally vetted and you can safeguard your payment by opting for secured funds paid to the site and held by them until you complete the project.

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4.Selling your expertise

If you enjoy mentoring and teaching, then instructing online through Udemy (www.udemy.com) or Varsity Tutors (www.varsitytutors. com) to share your knowledge with the world.

5.Doing errands

You’re likely your family’s go-to for help because you know how to do a lot and you have the time. Why not get paid to help others? Tasks such as childcare, tutoring, personal care, cleaning, home repairs and dog walking are available at sites like Care (www.care.com) and Takl (www.takl. com).

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55+new life Moving Away in Retirement Considering relocating away from family in retirement? Find out the pros and cons and how to manage life if you do By Kimberly Blaker


hen you’re finally able to retire, a new and exciting chapter in life begins. You no longer have to dedicate your time and energy to a job or raising kids. For many retirees, this means a return to focusing on their own wants and needs. One of the most significant changes new retirees often consider is moving to a new city or state. The idea of relocating is an exciting way to embrace your new life. But it’s also a big decision you may want to consider carefully, especially if it means leaving family behind.

Living in a place you want During earlier adulthood, people often relocate based on their jobs or the best location to raise a family. Retirement provides you the opportunity to choose where you want to live just because that’s what you want, therefore, eliminating many factors to consider. There are many reasons retirees choose to relocate. Most often, they want to live in a place that offers them a better way of life. A significant factor retirees consider is choosing an area where they’d love to live. Maybe you live in a suburban area but really enjoy nature and hiking. Or perhaps you’ve lived and worked in a crowded city for years, but would rather spend your time relaxing by the beach. After you retire, you’re better able to prioritize your personal preferences when deciding where to live. Think about what things you enjoy and the type of environment that makes you feel your best to help narrow down your options. 14

55 PLUS - January July / August 2019 2020 / February

Another important factor to consider is affordability. If you’re thinking about moving after retirement, you may want to consider downsizing. If all your kids are grown and gone, you probably don’t need as much space. Plus, you may have different needs that are better served with a smaller home. Retirement means you likely have less income than you did before. So having a smaller mortgage or rent

payments, lower property taxes and insurance, and less maintenance and repairs can save you a bundle. If you’ve got equity in your home or home values in your area have risen since you purchased your home, you might even make a profit from selling it. Do you currently live in an area with a high cost of living? If so, you may be able to find an area you’d enjoy with a much lower cost of living,

Moving away from family and friends is easier than ever before because of all the technology now available for keeping your relationships close through virtual connection. But is it a good idea? thereby offering you multiple benefits.

The pros and cons of relocating Deciding to move away from family and friends after retirement is a big decision. Creating a list of personal pros and cons is a helpful tool to help you process all the factors. Everyone has their own unique pros and cons based on various aspects. The ones below can help you get started. But don’t forget to add your own.

The pros • Leaving behind obligations, old drama or bad memories • Getting a fresh start • Finding a more appropriate place for your stage of life • Finding a new community with whom you have more in common • Leaving an area that has a younger population and a family focus • Saving money by downsizing or living in a less expensive area

The cons • Being away from familiar and special places • Having to develop new routines • Not getting to see family and friends regularly • Starting over anew takes a lot of effort • Needing to make new friends and find new social outlets • Moving can be difficult and stressful

How about the kids, grandkids? One of the biggest hesitations retirees have about relocating is that it’ll take them away from their kids and grandchildren. If you’re used to living close to them and enjoy the benefits of living

nearby and spending lots of time together, leaving family behind can be difficult. You may feel relocating is right for you, yet you’re still worried about living so far away from your loved ones. Fortunately, there are many ways to keep your relationships strong, even from a distance. Moving away from family and friends is easier than ever before because of all the technology now available for keeping your relationships close through virtual connection. Gone are the days of delayed communication through limited means. You can now easily see your kids or grandchildren at the push of a button. Through social media, you can follow them to see regular updates, pictures and videos of important things happening in their lives. It’s just as easy to have direct communication at any time using text messaging and phone or video calls. Video calls can give you the feeling you’re right there with your family. At the pace technology is advancing, long-distance communication will only continue to get better. In some ways, living away from your family can make seeing each other even better. When you live near family, you may not put as much effort into seeing each other or the quality of your time together because everyone’s lives are so busy. If you live further away, the times you get to spend together will be more focused, special and memorable. You can travel to each other’s locations or meet for vacations together for a fun change of pace. The time leading up to visits can be fun too with countdowns or sending messages to each other as the visit gets closer and your excitement builds.

If you do move away If you do decide to relocate, the best thing you can do is go into it

prepared, so it’s a great experience from the start. You’ll want to begin by figuring out precisely what you want out of your new home, town and life to narrow down the places that make the most sense for you to move to. Even if you already have a dream location in mind, know the reasons why you want to live there and that it’ll actually meets your expectations for retired life. It’s a good idea to visit any new places you’re seriously considering relocating to and spend time there. You’ll want to be familiar with the area you choose to relocate to. Check out the city or town, including the more mundane aspects of it, like places where you’ll run errands. Talk to locals, also, particularly those at a similar stage of life, and get their perspective. Realtors and librarians are both excellent resources for getting more information about what your potential new hometown has to offer. Once you’ve relocated, look for ways to get involved and become a part of your new community. Leaving your old home also means losing the relationships and routines you were used to. At the same time, as a new retiree, you have a lot more time on your hands than you’re accustomed to. So find healthy and fun ways to fill that time to ensure you’re taking advantage of your new opportunities. Look for group classes that align with your interests or offer the opportunity to try something new. There are often classes specifically for senior populations where you can meet other people to build new relationships and enjoy retired life together. Both the local library and city recreation department are helpful resources for finding these classes and groups. You can also go online to Meetup. com to find various social groups with a broad array of activities and interests. It’s a great way to do the things you love and make new friends who have something in common. Retirement is a time of change that can be both wonderful and daunting. So whatever path you’re considering, weigh your options carefully to find the best situation best suited for enjoying your new life. July/ February / August 2019 January 2020 - 55 PLUS


55+ second


Mid-life Career Change: Accounting to Real Estate Never too late to turn a dream into reality, says businessman By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


John Sherry, owner of JM Sherry Realty, in Rochester: “One thing I learned about myself, I didn’t want to sit in front of a computer eight hours a day. 16

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ohn Sherry of Greece, now 64, followed a seemingly predictable sounding path toward a reliable career in accounting, following his magna cum laude accounting degree from Rochester Institute of Technology. Little did he know, he wouldn’t stay in his chosen career forever. For the next 26 years after graduation, Sherry worked in accounting, finance and management roles at Eastman Kodak. When the company closed, ending his employment, he was 46 years old. It was February 2002, just months after 9/11. Since he couldn’t find a job in the wobbly economy, he had to find something else to do. Then he had an epiphany: he really did not like accounting. A little introspection revealed that he had always had an interest in real estate. He landed a job with a

“There’s no time like the present [to start a business]. Don’t waste another day thinking about it. If you’re that passionate about it, do it.”

John Sherry, owner of JM Sherry Realty, in Rochester

brokerage company that offered him a position in commercial real estate. “I thought about it and realized it was a neat fit,” Sherry recalled. “One thing I learned about myself, I didn’t want to sit in front of a computer eight hours a day. I wanted to be out talking with people, meeting with people, talking with them about real estate and helping them finance it.” One of his earliest sales was a shopping center. He sat punching numbers into a calculator with the buyer, telling him what his mortgage would be and the projected rate of return. The man bought the center. “I thought, ‘Could it be this easy?’” Sherry said. He continued working for the firm for 15 years. At age 60, Sherry launched his own real estate business, JM Sherry Realty, in Rochester. Still selling commercial investment real estate, he helps house flippers or people who want property to rent out or use as commercial space. The business also offers property management. In addition to “the school of hard knocks,” Sherry learned the business through a few conferences and through continuing education. He said that since New York doesn’t require a license to sell commercial real estate, many people don’t understand the differences as agents. “With residential, you talk about schools and crime rates and the life of the roof,” he said. “With commercial, you have to know about the traffic and the area’s median income levels. Would you put a BMW dealership in a high poverty area? You have to know the area.” H e a d d e d t h a t c o m m e rc i a l real estate is more about business acumen and consulting than about salesmanship. “I’ve learned that by telling the truth and saying, ‘I wouldn’t put that

business there’ they’ll listen to me,” Sherry said. “It’s more along the lines of having business sense and telling people things. You could be one block off the corner and totally out of the sales traffic area, where no one will see you.” The biggest surprise for his midlife career switch is how much he enjoys it. The flexibility was especially important when his children were young and he wanted to attend their events or help his wife, Beth, by taking the children to doctor visits, for example. “I enjoy the different people I’ve met,” Sherry said. “My clients become friends. I enjoy that a lot. It suits my personality. I’m a type A personality so I enjoy being busy. I enjoy when people refer me out because they had a good experience.” But Sherry also notes a few disadvantages of operating his own business. “I never get a chance to take a vacation, so I can experience burnout,” he said. “It does take a mental toll on you. It’s very stressful. You wake up every morning unemployed and have to go find a paycheck and you still have all your expenses. I work weekends, nights and I work around the clock. I wake up to 100 emails.” He has no employees and would be interested in hiring if he could find the right people willing to work for his small business and if he had the time to train them. Sherry is a big Amerks and Red Wings fan, and also roots for the Cleveland Browns. When he gets the chance, he also likes to go on cruises. Despite the drawbacks of operating his own business, his only regret is that he didn’t get into real estate sooner. He advises anyone interested in changing to their dream career, “There’s no time like the present. Don’t waste another day thinking about it. If you’re that passionate about it, do it.”

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55+ history The Underground Railroad Not necessarily underground, and not actually a railroad By Lynette M. Loomis


erry Bennett is one of the area’s frequently sought-out speakers on the Underground Railroad. He averages 12 to 15 talks annually at places such as Susan B. Anthony House, Rochester Museum and Science Center, historical societies, area schools, senior clubs, community and recreation centers, and libraries. Among several things, Bennett attributes his initial interest in the Underground Railroad to attending the old red brick St. Louis Elementary School in Pittsford — the former Hargous House and a stop on the “railroad” —  and being shown the hidden cavern used by runaways. Also acting as a catalyst for his interest is support and encouragement from his daughter Erin, who illustrated two children’s books from the slavery period, “Patchwork Path” and “Hush Harbor.” He shared those works with fourth- and fifth-graders in schools. In addition, reading Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and the runaway slave Jim, and remembering family stories about his grandmother’s exchange of notes with Samuel Clemens spurred his interest. He also discovered that his greatgrandfather, Daniel Pratt, was an active abolitionist in Elmira. Since the early 2000s while visiting family in the South, Bennett and his wife Linda gleaned additional details that he has added to his repertoire, including little-known facts. These include Levi Coffin, a white Quaker in North Carolina known as the president of the Underground Railroad, who helped slaves flee to both Ohio and Indiana. Frederick Douglass (born Fred Bailey), an escaped slave who eventually settled in Rochester, was a famous orator who spoke against the evils of slavery. He was a “stationmaster” who helped 18

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Jerry Bennett explains that slaves used quilts as coded maps as they fled the plantation in search of freedom up north. The wagon wheel, for example, meant “get ready to travel”; the log cabin was a safe place; the bow tie was a clue to get dressed up and look ‘free.’ Controversy exists over the existence of these quilts. slaves escape to freedom in the North. Also relatively unnoticed is William Still, a freed black man in Philadelphia, who kept a secret journal of all runaways seeking help from the Anti-Slavery Society. Women also were actively involved

in the anti-slavery movement. Susan B. Anthony not only lobbied for women’s rights, but also the abolishment of slavery. Harriet Tubman walked from Maryland to Pennsylvania to secure her freedom. She then risked her life again by returning to the South close to

a dozen times to free various members of her family and was one of the most famous conductors of the railroad.

Conducting change A conductor, a person of any color, helped runaway slaves move from one station to another. Regardless of race, if a conductor was caught, he could be severely punished or killed — not to mention the runaways (freedom seekers) who were often subjected to severe beatings. Sojourner Truth (born Isabella), a slave on a Dutch plantation in New York’s Hudson River area, was sold three times; her son was illegally sold. She walked to freedom, and with the help of her literate friend, Olive Gilbert, published a set of memoirs titled, “The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave.” Truth was the first black woman to file and win a lawsuit against a white man in an American court and was reunited with her son. For as many famous people as we can name, there were hundreds of unknown people involved in the network of safe houses traveled by fugitive slaves. While the term “railroad” makes people think of some orderly, well-established route, author Eric Foner reports that it was a series of small networks not particularly wellorganized. Safe homes were about 12 to 15 miles apart — the average distance a runaway could maneuver at night while on the run. Ship captains also helped stowaway slaves reach the North. Douglass traveled by ship using forged seaman’s papers. Men and women, desperately trying to free themselves from slavery, faced almost insurmountable odds. They had very little food and no medicine, likely walked or ran on bare feet, and had no weapons to protect themselves from humans or bloodhounds, often with a bounty for their capture. And if they did reach a free state, the danger did not end there. The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 viewed escaped slaves as stolen property rather than people and encouraged — even coerced — the recapture of fugitive slaves. Both abolitionists and freed blacks played a critical role in the escape process. Canada became “Canaan land” and freedom.

Manillas (slave bracelets, in brass) were the principal currency of the slave trade. European slavers, visiting the West African slave strongholds called barracoons, traded manillas and other goods for enslaved Africans. The approximate price: man at 35 manillas, a woman at 25 manillas, a teen-young adult at 15 manillas. Children had no value in this trade. According to Bennett, the U.S. Navy caught Jonathan Walker, abolitionist and ship captain, smuggling slaves from Florida toward Jamaica (the British Empire having already abolished slavery). The slaves were returned, and Walker was fined, jailed, and branded (with “SS” for slave stealer) — the only American to be treated in such a manner. In 2019, Jerry and Linda Bennett visited the John Rankin house in Ripley, Ohio, high up on Liberty Hill overlooking Kentucky, the main streets of Ripley, and the Ohio River. Rankin was one of the most active conductors on the Underground Railroad.

Where it all happened One of the nearly 2,000 freedom seekers assisted by Rankin and his family, a woman called only Eliza, crossed the icy Ohio River with her baby held high. Her desperate race to freedom was retold to the Rankins and to a visiting friend — Harriet Beecher Stowe. She included Eliza’s story in her book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” published in 1852. It chronicled the horrors of slavery using stories and vignettes. Because some thought her work was fiction, in 1854 she released her source

notes, “Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” and proved to the disbelieving, that slavery and its horrors did exist. Many people are surprised by the story behind “Amazing Grace,” a well-known anthem of the civil rights movement. John Newton penned this hymn in the late 1770’s while a pastor at a church in Olney, England. But his “wretched life’ was patterned after his previous job, a slave ship crewman and captain, working the slave triangle from England to West Africa to the Americas. Later, he supported member of Parliament and ardent abolitionist, William Wilberforce, as an eyewitness in his quest to abolish slavery across the British Empire, says Bennett. Bennett spends many evenings and weekends prepping and giving talks to the community. “I may be giving the talk, but it is really a conversation between those of us who have gathered different resources. It is a sharing of knowledge and it’s a true story that needs to be told, retold, and kept alive,” he said. For more information or to schedule a presentation, Bennett may be reached at jprevention@earthlink. net. July/ February / August 2019 January 2020 - 55 PLUS


55+ dance

Meet the Oasis Tappers Dancers range in age from 58 to 102 — friendship, fitness, fun and communitygiving are the central values of the group By Christine Green


t a recent Oasis Tappers practice Bonnie Bourdage of Penfield said that of all 18 dancers in the troupe she is “one of the babies” at age 73. But then Jeanette Gruttadauria, 63, of Greece noted that she is “the baby.” Problem is, they are both wrong. The true “baby” of the group is Dawn Quattro of Gates. At age 58 she truly is the youngest of them all. But who is the oldest Oasis Tapper? Well, that’s Marion Fahy of Rochester.


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She is a spry 102 years old. If it isn’t already obvious, the Oasis Tappers are a vivacious, fun group of men and women tap dancing their way through their golden years. “We just have wonderful people, we have a lot of fun, we have great dances, we love to perform in front of audiences and make them happy. It just gives you a nice feeling,” said Marie Bross, 76, of Victor. She has been part of the dance troupe for over 13 years though, as a former dance

Some dancers of the group Oasis Tappers ready to rehearse. They perform their routines at senior centers, nursing facilities, festivals, parties, holiday events, and a variety of other venues all over the area.

More on Oasis Tappers? Want to learn more about the Oasis Tappers? You can find them on Facebook where they have posted videos of several of their routines. To learn more about joining the troupe and the Oasis Institute visit rochester.oasisnet.org. For performance information email them at centerstage3@yahoo.com. teacher herself, she has been dancing most of her life. The group formed under the guidance of Rochester dancer and choreographer Cayla Allen. Allen started teaching tap dance classes for the over-50 crowd through the Oasis Institute in 1995. Oasis is a nonprofit

organization that provides learning experiences and opportunities for adults over 50 at locations around the country. They currently serve over 10,000 people in Rochester and the greater Finger Lakes region. Erika Atkinson of Webster took over as director and choreographer of the Oasis Tappers 18 years ago. Classes take place at TNT Dance Explosion on Titus Avenue twice a week. Participants must have taken at least one intermediate level tap class and have permission from the director to join. There are currently 18 active troupe members that range in age from 58 to 102. As of right now 17 of the dancers are women. John Baccoli, 88, of Irondequoit is the only gentleman dancer. He’s good naturedly taken on the role of a soldier coming home from war for their “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” routine as well performing as the king himself (Elvis Presley, that is) in another performance. The tappers perform their routines at senior centers, nursing facilities, festivals, parties, holiday events, and a variety of other venues all over the area. They’ve even performed on stage at Geva Theater. The Oasis Tappers are serious dancers with years of collective experience and practice, but their dedication to dance is only surpassed by their dedication to each other. Anyone witnessing their joyful interaction as they practice can tell that there’s a lot of laughter intermingled with the sounds of the silver taps on their patent leather dance shoes. “It’s a wonderful group of people,” said Jean LaBarbera, 76, of Gates. “They are such great people and I enjoy tap dancing a lot.” In addition to being a joyful experience it’s a good workout, too. Ginny Stephenson, 81, travels to the city for practice from Brockport because dance, “keeps your spirits up. We dance to music that makes you happy. And it’s good for you.” Indeed, despite the chilly fall day outside the dancers were working up a sweat practicing nonstop to Christmas songs for their December holiday shows. Maryanne Lettis, 76, lives in Brighton and is the Oasis Tappers production manager and has danced under the tutelage of Erika Atkinson for 18 years. Being a member of the Tappers has been a special part of her

Tap dance classes take place at TNT Dance Explosion on Titus Avenue twice a week. Participants must have taken at least one intermediate level tap class and have permission from the director to join. life.

“I have always loved tap,” she told 55 Plus magazine. “I grew up with movie musicals. Oasis Tappers, under Atkinson’s choreography, is the closest I will ever come to dancing like those great dancers; and with a group of men and women who love it as much as I do.”  Atkinson [who is only in her 40s] isn’t quite old enough to be an official member of the Oasis Tappers yet, though she is a dedicated leader for the troupe. “My favorite part about this group is that they all love being there. They are eager to learn, to advance and to perform. They love the music I play, and are so excited to learn new choreography. They are very inspiring to me, as some of them are 40 years older than me! This makes me feel like I can dance forever. They are wonderful

as well in the fact that they are like moms to me and grandmas to my kids. They give me advice, help when I need it, and really are my second family. So very supportive. Every one of them is special to me.” Friendship, fitness and fun are clearly the central values of the group, but community giving is also an essential part of why each one of the Oasis Tappers give it their all when they dance. Seeing the happiness their productions give those who watch is the highlight of every show. “We have lots of instances where people in wheelchairs are sitting in the front row and their feet are going like crazy and they’re jumping in their seats,” said Bonnie Bourdage, 73, of Penfield. “It’s just so fulfilling to say we were able to bring some joy to them.”

Oasis Tappers get ready to dance. July/ February / August 2019 January 2020 - 55 PLUS


55+ business Wooden Cane Production, A Family Affair Rod & Staff in Corfu combines form and function By Lynette M. Loomis


ow can anything so beautiful be so useful? That’s a common question asked of Bev Myers, owner of Rod & Staff, LLC in Corfu, which creates colorful, handcrafted wooden canes and walking sticks. Myers didn’t aspire to be the president of a company. She and her husband, Guy, purchased the business in 2006, but when her husband died suddenly in 2012, she took the helm. Rod & Staff is a very specialized business. Its products are both artistic and functional. The canes are custom cut for each person and the orthopedic handle is made to match the rest of the cane. Despite their beauty, the canes are designed to support people’s weight and meet very specific standards. The company also creates hiking sticks, sporting seats, drumsticks, lacrosse sticks, fan pulls, cork-its, rolling pins, barrettes, yo-yos, spinning tops, sporting calls (duck, goose and deer), and brooms. Myers, age 57, relies on her entire family for help. Her 88-year-old father, Pete, makes all the sporting seats (hundreds in a year), and cuts all the cane blanks on a table saw. He also cuts out, sands and drills all the cane handles. “I enjoy going out and working in the shop because it gives me something to do and I like helping my daughter. It also gives me a sense of worth and keeps me healthy,” said Pete. Bev Myers purchases wood, attends and sets up all the shows, continues to expand her knowledge of wood and does the final sanding on the canes and handles. Sales originate from three areas: wholesale (small shops and large companies); website (rodandstaffllc.com); and high-end art and crafts shows. Myers is the face of the business at festivals. “I am trying to do as many as two to three days local shows as I can,” she said.


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Walking sticks and canes are a work of art. Rod & Staff in Corfu.

Canes made by Rod & Staff are custom cut for each person and the orthopedic handle is made to match the rest of the cane.

At Your

e c i v r e S


Lessons for seniors

Bev Myers, owner of Rod & Staff in Corfu. Her daughter Janoah glues all the handles on the canes and does the hand painting. Her son Brandon has “taught me everything that I know, one part at a time. He is really the one who knows everything and has been very gracious in keeping me going. My cousin, Lyle, helps whenever I need him. He comes to run machines and prep sand. He turns all the bowls, pens, rolling pins and drumsticks.”

Made in U.S.A. The products come in roughly two dozen color combinations and the wood is dyed and laminated by a plywood company in Maine. They have been the supplier for about nine years. Customers appreciate that the products are made in America, Myers said. Steve Vandermaille was in a grocery store in Rochester and noticed a man walking with a beautifully shaped and colorful cane. He approached the gentleman to see where he bought the cane and the man was eager to make the referral. “My cousin in Florida has had a knee replacement and was using the usual wood cane,” Vandermaille said. “I was so impressed by the unique design and exceptional quality of the cane I ordered a cane for him from Rod & Staff as a birthday gift. With his second replacement coming up, the cane will

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One ad working for you for two months. Lowest rates ever $50 per month. (585) 421-8109 be well used.” Myers said the hiking sticks have become more popular as people try to remain healthy. “One of my customers sent an article that states walking with a hiking stick [like the Europeans have done for years] promotes stability, endurance and better heart health,” she said. “I received a phone call from Sidney H. Sobel, a doctor in Rochester who has purchased several of my canes. He went on to say how much he loves my canes and gets stopped all the time. It dawned on me to ask him to email me the compliments that he was giving me.” The doctor responded in an email, “Nearly every day I that I carry my Rod & Staff cane, I receive a comment about how beautiful it is and a question about where I got it. Over the years, I

have collected several of your canes and a wonderful solid cherry walking stick. Each one gives me great pleasure. “One of these days I shall drive to Corfu from my home in Rochester to meet you and give you a big hug, and to tell you how much I value your craftsmanship and artistry each day as I carry the cane that you crafted.” “You never know where life will take you. I have been fortunate to have the support of my family in my business and enjoy the contact I have with my customers. My motivation to continue is the fact that I get to see the joy in customers’ eyes, especially cane users, when they can purchase a cane that is beautiful, stable and fit for them. They continue to return year after year for a ‘new addition’ to their collection. That is why I love the business,” Myers said. July/ February / August 2019 January 2020 - 55 PLUS


55+ landord

So You Want to Be a Landlord Rental business can be profitable but it can require a great deal of work By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


ou have residential property (or could buy some). People need to rent houses and apartments. What could be a simpler way to make money? While investing in real estate can represent a sound financial move, it’s vital to understand what it takes to be a landlord. For one thing, it’s not a hands-off investment. Faucet broke? It’s the job of the landlord to fix it. The fridge is not working? Call the landlord. Trisha Isaman, senior director of housing programs at The Housing Council at PathStone, Inc. in Rochester, said would-be landlords also need to understand the market in the area where they hope to rent a property.


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“Will you receive enough rent to cover your purchase?” she said. “Will you need to cover the mortgage?” If the going rate for a rental like yours is less than what you need to cover the mortgage, taxes, repairs upkeep and occasional vacancy periods, then it’s not a sound investment. “Plan for at least one month’s vacancy a year in your expenses so you can make sure you have funds available,” Isaman said. Landlords are also responsible for getting properties up to code and seeking and dealing with tenants legally. Rental laws include federal, state and municipality laws. Saying, “I didn’t know” is no excuse. Isaman said that getting organized f ro m t h e s t a r t c a n h e l p m a k e

recordkeeping easier, as landlords must keep track of expenses, records, leases and receipts. “That’s very important at tax time,” she added. Landlords should also form a plan as to how they’ll maintain their properties: hire a pro, contract with a property management company or do it themselves. Of course, DIY is the least expensive; however, it’s very time consuming and the landlord must have a wide array of skills. Hiring professionals as needed will cost more, but not as much as a property management company. That option takes care of most of the headaches, but also nabs a good share of the property’s income. Isaman said renting out property

Resources For more information about home rental, visit www. landlordology.com/new-yorklandlord-tenant-laws and https:// a g . n y. g o v / c o n s u m e r- f r a u d s / housing-issues. Each month, The Housing Council at PathStone, Inc. in Rochester offers landlord classes on operating rental properties for $55 per person. is a big commitment. “It takes a lot of management and oversight if you don’t have a property manager,” Isaman said. “There’s maintenance and emergencies in the middle of the night.” Consulting with the local code enforcement office and building inspector about what it takes to get a certificate of occupancy can help landlords better understand the process. For example, stipulations include requirements on fire escapes, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. The office should have a checklist available to help landlords get their property in compliance. John Sherry, owner of JM Sherry Realty in Rochester, sells investment properties. He advises landlords to go with a property management firm if they own more than just a couple units. “The laws of New York state have changed and not for the better for landlords,” he said. “Dealing with the different municipalities and their certificates of occupancy and the HUD housing stuff and their regulations: it’s becoming overwhelming for a person to manage a portfolio.” Sherry said that careful screening of tenants can prevent many of a landlord’s headaches. Unfortunately, many new landlords are so eager to get their properties occupied that they go for the first person who can pay the rent. “You’re better off having a vacancy for a while,” Sherry said. “You can’t get tenants out easily if things go wrong.”

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my turn By Bruce Frassinelli Email: bruce@cny55.com


Explicit Rock and Rap Lyrics: Now and Then

ome of my not-so-young contemporaries will from time to time lament the fact that our beloved songs of the rock era of the ‘50s and ‘60s were oh-so-tame compared to today’s explicit rock and rap lyrics. Remember the fun songs — “Pink Shoe Laces,” “At the Hop,” “Happy Birthday, Baby,” “Sea Cruise” “Little Darlin’” and “Lonely Boy”? I am here to tell you that some of our songs were not as innocent as revisionists would have you believe. In some of these songs, you had to dig beneath the surface to understand the subtleties of what the lyrics were really saying and their hidden meaning. For example, in some hit recordings, male singers reflect on a girl’s “many charms.” Those who have studied the origin of rock songs from the ‘50s contend that this is a reference to her breasts, butt and other prominent body parts. The Everly Brothers’ No. 1 hit

“All I have to Do Is Dream” features this line: “When I want you/In my arms/When I want you/And all your charms…” Many believe that the 1967 Beatles’ recording of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was a clever reference to the hallucinogenic drug LSD. The late John Lennon laughed out loud when he heard this theory, insisting that the idea for the song came from a drawing that his son, Julian, did of a classmate whose name was Lucy. The 1967 Rolling Stones recording of “Let’s Spend the Night Together” triggered almost immediate condemnations by church and other community leaders. The BBC outright banned the recording. As the Stones were about to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show, Sullivan suggested that they change the lyrics to “Let’s spend some time together.” Lead singer Mick Jagger agreed, but when it came time to perform the song live on the show, he mumbled the lyrics, letting viewers

to fill in the blanks. Because of Jagger’s shenanigan, Sullivan never invited the Stones to appear on his show again. The nearly incomprehensible 1963 mega hit “Louie, Louie” by the Kingsmen was banned by a number of radio stations because of its rumored explicit lyrics, but few could understand the words. In fact, there are some bogus versions of the lyrics that are truly obscene, even featuring the f-word. The real lyrics, however, despite being difficult to make out by most ears, are suggestive rather than lewd: “Louie, Louie/ Oh no/You take me where ya gotta go/Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah baby/Louie, Louie/Oh baby, take me where you gotta go.” Some parents complained to then Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, whose office began a 31-month investigation and concluded that most people could not make out the lyrics of “Louie, Louie” to determine whether they were obscene, so no action was ever taken.

July/ February / August 2019 January 2020 - 55 PLUS


The Kingsmen’s lead singer, song, which zoomed to the top of I’ll shower your heart with tenderness Jack Ely, was performing in pidgin both the country and pop charts. endlessly.” English, screaming at the top of his When he was 26, Johnny The lyrics to “Hideaway,” the lungs and wearing new braces, so his Burnette recorded a top-selling tune 1958 recording by the Four Esquires, enunciation was greatly garbled, and in 1960, “You’re Sixteen.” The lyrics was banned by some radio stations the anti-lyrics rumors took off from raised eyebrows when he sang, because of these lyrics, “Wish I knew there. “You’re all ribbons and curls/Ooh, what a hideaway/I could take you to/I would To give you an idea of how far a girl/Eyes that sparkle and shine/You’re pass the night away/Making love to we have come, the Everly Brothers’ sixteen, you’re beautiful and you’re you.” 1957 No. 1 hit, “Wake Up, Little mine.” The Shirelles’ “Tonight’s the Susie,” was banned by Boston radio One of the most suggestive songs Night” in 1960 pulls no punches with stations for its suggestive lyrics. of the era was 1968’s ”Young Girl” these lyrics: “…You say you’re gonna Don and Phil tell the tale of a by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap. love me/Tonight’s the night.” young couple who fell asleep at a “Young girl, get out of my mind/My You probably don’t know it, but drive-in movie and didn’t wake up love for you is way out of line/Better run even the phrase “rock ‘n’ roll” was until 4 in the morning. “ Whatta we girl!/You’re much too young, girl.” originally black slang for “sex.” gonna tell your mama/ Whatta we gonna When I first heard the song, I Disc jockey Alan Freed, who led tell your pa/Whatta we gonna tell our turned up the volume on the car the rock ‘n’ roll generation in 1954 as friends/When they say `ooh-la-la’?/Wake radio to make sure my ears were the nation’s preeminent disc jockey, up little Susie…” not playing tricks on me. “With all and who is credited with coining Record producer Archie Bleyer, the charms of a woman/You’ve kept the the term “rock n’ roll,” revealed this who started Cadence Records and secret of your youth/You led me to believe tidbit when he disclosed that the hired the Everly Brothers, didn’t like you’re old enough to give me love/And term came from 1922 blues singer the song because he said it sounded now it hurts to know the truth.” Trixie Smith who recorded “My Man like Susie and her boyfriend slept Puckett followed up this hit Rocks Me (with One Steady Roll).” together (had sex) at the drive-in later in the year with the equally The next time someone says to movie. suggestive “Lady Willpower,” whose you, “OK. Let’s rock ‘n’ roll,” you Despite the pushback from lyrics were: “Lady Willpower, it’s now might wonder: What does the person Bleyer, the brothers recorded thex 4.75” or never/Give your love to me,- and mean? 7.25 55+ - Roch/FingerLakes Christopherreally Community

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only the wages you earn from a job or your net profit if you’re selfemployed. Non-work income such as annuities, investment income, interest, capital gains and other government benefits are not counted and will not affect your Social Security benefits. Most pensions will not affect your benefits. However, your benefit may be affected by government pensions earned through work on which you did not pay Social Security tax. You can retire online at www.socialsecurity.gov. For more information, call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Q: I have never worked but my spouse has. What will my benefits be? A: You can be entitled to as much as one-half of your spouse’s benefit amount when you reach full retirement age. If you decide to

receive Social Security retirement benefits before you reach full retirement age, the amount of your benefit is reduced. The amount of reduction depends on when you will reach full retirement age. For example, if your full retirement age is 66, you can get 35 percent of your spouse’s unreduced benefit at age 62 (a permanent reduction); if your full retirement age is 67, you can get 32.5 percent of your spouse’s unreduced benefit at age 62 (a permanent reduction). The amount of your benefit increases if your entitlement begins at a later age, up to the maximum of 50 percent at full retirement age. However, if you are taking care of a child who is under age 16 or who gets Social Security disability benefits on your spouse’s record, you get the full spouse’s benefits, regardless of your age. Learn more about retirement benefits at www. socialsecurity.gov/retirement.

July/ February / August 2019 January 2020 - 55 PLUS


55+ cover

This is what Bill Valvanis’ backyard in Henrietta looks like. Several of his bonsai trees add a great deal to the place. 30

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Bonsai Master Henrietta’s Bill Valavanis: This activity can grow on you By John Addyman


ime and love. Spend 90 seconds with a bonsai, and you know it’s gotten a lot of love over a long period of time. Careful love. Introspective love. A bonsai, literally a plant in a tray or pot, is a living thing, always changing, always trying to grow. Through pruning, root cutting, grafting and training with wire, the plant becomes something alive that has conformed to your wishes and actions. Seasons and years pass, and the bonsai needs to be handled, manicured, watered and appreciated. “Taking care of a bonsai is more than taking care of a pet,” says Bill Valavanis, 68, of Henrietta, an internationally recognized expert in all things bonsai and penjing, its Chinese counterpart. From his Henrietta International Bonsai Arboretum, Valavanis extends his knowledge, expertise and passion July/ February / August 2019 January 2020 - 55 PLUS


Samples of bonsai trees maintained by Bill Valavanis. all over the world. In November, he led a tour group of bonsai aficionados to Japan, a trip he takes twice a year. His flock viewed private and museum gardens and saw special bonsai exhibits in Tokyo, Kyoto and Omiya. He picked up interest in bonsai when he was 11, and by age 15, was giving his first lectures and workshops. Two years after moving to the Rochester area, he took his first bonsai studies with masters of the art in Japan. Then came degrees in ornamental horticulture from SUNY Farmingdale and Cornell University, 32

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and in 1972, a master ’s teaching certificate in Ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement) at the Shofu School in Japan. Young Bill Valavanis then went three directions at once, infused with a spirit to share bonsai in as many ways as he could, respecting the discipline and strictures of a Japanese art form, but adding a helpful, enthusiastic and you-can-do-this-too American approach to the art. First, he published the first two volumes of the Encyclopedia of Classical Bonsai Art. Then he started a periodical, International

Bonsai magazine. He also edited the Bonsai Bulletin. He has a blog at valavanisbonsaiblog.com. Second, he opened up a business of providing pre-bonsai plants, containers, tools and even ready-toenjoy bonsai trees. The business, The International Bonsai Arboretum, is behind his home in Henrietta. Third, he taught at workshops behind his house. Then he quickly expanded to lead classes in Canada, South America, Europe, Australia, Indonesia, China, the Philippines, and Taiwan. He began offering guided tours to bonsai exhibitions all over the

world. He judged, exhibited, lectured and held workshops in conventions all over North America and beyond. And in the process, he was the first American asked to judge a bonsai competition in Japan. He gathered enough frequent flyer miles to take a free trip to Mars. And yet, every day is a new experience for Valavanis. “I’ve been studying bonsai for over 57 years,” he said. He said bonsai is a “very quiet art, very subtle.” Your bonsai is something you check every day, making sure it’s watered, taking care of weeds and invasives, and watching the many finite changes it goes through. “It’s not always the destination that’s important,” he said. “Getting there is the pleasure.” Valavanis leads a full schedule of introductory bonsai classes three days a week when he’s not globetrotting, showing students how to deal with different kinds of trees. For his students, patience helps. Attention to detail helps. Some knowledge of plants helps. It’s easier to train an architect or an artist in bonsai,” he said, “because they have developed their sense of creativity.” Gardeners have to put aside some of their instincts to do well with bonsais. “They’re too concerned about keeping things alive,” he said. “Again, it’s not always the destination that’s important; getting there is the pleasure.” Getting there takes some doing. You need a plant stock — a pre-bonsai sapling, for instance — and tools. Valavanis will sell you a basic prebonsai plant like a Japanese larch or buttercup winterhazel, for $30. You could also spend three times that for a Chinese quince or Japanese black pine. And you need tools — a concave cutter, scissors with a long shank, wire cutters, pliers, aluminum or copper wire, and a container for your bonsai. For shohin — or miniature bonsai — the container for your bonsai could be as small as a tuna or sardine can. The pottery containers on the most beautiful bonsai are another art form and can sell for thousands of dollars, especially those made by Japanese artisans many decades ago. And then there are the rocks — the suiseki. Valavanis leads a rock-hunting trip to Naples, New York, every year and has done the same in Puerto Rico.

Henrietta resident Bill Valavanis, 68, working on his trees. He is an internationally recognized expert in all things bonsai and penjing, its Chinese counterpart. He has written books, given lectures and workshops about bonsai plants here and as far as Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. He looks for rocks that complement the bonsai. Many suiseki are lava stones with bubbles and crevices born of fire and water. Two bonsai lovers can see interest in the same rock, with different perspectives, different outcomes and different stories that can be told. Because bonsai is to be appreciated as a visual display, the suiseki are important. And they underline the subtlety, introspection and reflection of the total art form.

Chameleon effect Valavanis likes to tell the story of finding a particularly interesting suiseki and, with some friends — and one would suspect, a nice wine — wetting the stone thoroughly just to watch it dry off, the shape of the water changing and the colors of the stone

varying as the water evaporates. In fact, he has wooden racks full of suiseki-to-be in his arboretum. “Aging,” he says. Aging? They’re rocks. C’mon, man. “Aging,” he insists. Exposed to the outside, to wind and sun and rain, those rocks can change and become more interesting. Walking through his forest of bonsai in his arboretum, discussing the change process, he picked one rock out of the rack and took it back to his workshop. It had aged enough. Diane, his wife of 33 years, is a valued critic, with an eye to discern from a different perspective. The Valavanises have two sons — Christopher, a landscaper, and Nicholas, who graduated from SUNY Maritime as a top cadet and went to work the day after graduation in the oil July/ February / August 2019 January 2020 - 55 PLUS


industry in the Gulf of Mexico — for $160,000 a year, starting salary. Valavanis doesn’t see it in the cards for his sons to follow him into a life of bonsai. “No,” he said. “It’s too hard. You can’t make money in it. I told them, ‘Go out and get a good job with more money. Be happy. You really need a passion for bonsai.’” Thankfully, class after class, he sees that passion. The plants link him to students. Through him, those students and their bonsai grow. He also has student-clients, for instance, who don’t take their bonsai home — they leave them in Valavanis’ care, because they know he will watch them. “I get 38 new students in each class,” he said. “I hope I can keep five or six of them after a few years.” His books and magazines are also works of art. The photography is expensive and exquisite because it’s so hard to capture the real quality of a bonsai — its soul and inspiration, without professional photographic care. And his publications carry several weights — the photos give bonsai growers ideas on what’s possible and goals for their own projects; accompanying the photos are text with how-to information and descriptions that someone can read over and reflect on; and underneath it all is Valavanis’ love and respect for the art form, his enthusiasm for teaching people


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Spend 10 minutes with Bill Valavanis and you’re a friend and he’ll tell you anything you need to know. Spend an hour and get inspired. Spend a class cycle with him and become an advocate.

everything he can, and his passion for making you feel that you may not be a master, but you can master bonsai.

Give it a shot Spend 10 minutes with him and you’re a friend and he’ll tell you anything you need to know. Spend an hour and get inspired. Spend a class cycle with him and become an advocate. Clearly, Bonsai is not for everyone. One of Valavanis’ students drives from central Pennsylvania every Friday night for workshop with the master. His wife stays in the car the whole time. For bonsai is a discipline as well as an art, a calling that not all can hear, a pleasure that requires an unusual focus. But the product, especially with Valavanis’ tutelage in person or through his many writings, is stunning. Valavanis has an enormous reach. His work with the National Bonsai Museum at the National Arboretum in Washington made the museum the most visited area in the arboretum. The collection there includes a 358-year-old bonsai that survived the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, and plants donated by foreign leaders. He has curated exhibits for many years. He has overseen collections. He has transported students and friends. He has lectured. “It is a challenge and delight to make a tree that looks good,” he said. “Buy a tree and try to keep it alive if it interests you. Try your hand at making a bonsai yourself. Some view

bonsai as a craft; no, it is an ultimate art. It is always changing. When you do a sculpture, it’s done. Or a painting: when it’s finished, it’s done. But a bonsai is always living, always changing.” Valavanis is driven to enjoy and help others enjoy bonsai. Through prostate cancer, carpal tunnel surgery, feet broken eight times, two new knees and a trigger finger, he prevails. He has people who are devoted to helping him continue, particularly a crew of helpers that shows up each week to help him set up and take care of the bonsai in his arboretum. All of that makes Bill Valavanis enormously happy and fulfilled. “If I had $1 million, I’d still be doing the same thing,” he said.

Some of the tools Valavanis use to keep his bonsai tress in shape.

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golden years

Email: hmiller@mcsmms.com

By Harold Miller

New Yorkers Continue to Flock to Florida In the process, they’ve helped Florida become the third largest state, ahead of New York


oday, six out of 10 retirees pack up and leave our Empire State when they retire, and most are moving to Florida. The most famous New Yorker, President Donald Trump, is the latest to announce he’s changing residency. In September he filed a “declaration of domicile” saying that his property in Palm Beach in Florida will be his permanent residence. Just before this announcement, the legendary New York City businessman Carl Icahn made news when he said he is moving out of New York City to Florida. About 15 hedge and private equity funds have already moved to Palm Beach. Icahn has already put the stamp of approval on moving out of New York City where the cost of operating a business has skyrocketed in the past few years. Now a bunch more will follow. The exodus started in earnest with the changes to the U.S. tax code in 2017 – specifically a $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions and an existing estate tax (Florida has no state tax nor an estate tax). Additional savings for the average retiree in Florida includes lower property taxes, lower electric and fuel bills and generally a much lower cost of living Needless to say, the seemingly endless sunshine and warmer climate have an attraction all their own. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau showed that while Florida received more movers than any other state last year (net domestic migration of 132,602), New York’s outflow to the Sunshine State were the highest (63,772 people). New York had one of the largest outflows of any state with a total of 452,580 people moving out within the past year.


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‘New York had one of the largest outflows of any state with a total of 452,580 people moving out within the past year.’

Consequently, the mass-migration from New York state and other high tax states in the Northeast such as New Jersey, Massachusetts and Connecticut, have triggered a second building boom in Florida —the first building boom occurred when Disneyland opened in 1971. Palm Beach County, where I now reside part of the year, has seen one of the highest increases in population over the past couple of years. Everywhere you look you’ll see building cranes piercing the sky. Three 20-story condominium towers overwhelm the quaint little mission church next to it that we sometimes go to. One of our favorite restaurants on the Intercostal has been torn down and will be replaced with a huge development, including restaurants, shops and high-rise apartments all on the waterway. The quiet little town of Juno Beach on the ocean, where we live, had dirt roads leading to it when we settled

there 40 years ago. Today the traffic is intense. The main artery from the Northeast is Interstate 95, which runs from Maine to Miami. The Federal Highway Department is scrambling to widen it and soon it will have five lanes in both directions from Miami to Maine At the turn of the 20th century, Florida was little more than an endless sandy beach that stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to the mainland of North America. Henry Flagler, founder of Standard Oil Company, developed the Florida East Coast Railway and consequently built hotels, churches and schools from St. Augustine to Palm Beach to Miami. Only the wealthy could afford to build the winter get aways that followed, until Walt Disney opened Disney World in 1971, which opened the housing market for the middle class. Now everybody can afford a home in Florida but in some cases, they can’t afford not to.

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55+ writing

Delving into Death Author writes book on pushing through life’s challenges, confronting the unknown By Christine Green


hen David Seaburn’s father died in 1998, he felt compelled to write about his experience. Writing about his father’s death helped him process the difficult emotions surrounding the grief and heartache that was churning within. In 2013, he put a version of his essay on his blog. “When I was 48, I hoped my father’s death would teach me about dying. At 63, I think it has taught me mostly about living; that life is short but beautiful; that even though time is measured, there is enough, if you pay attention; and that everything that matters in life is here, now.” Since then over 45,000 people have read his post, and he still gets emails from readers telling him that sharing his story helped them deal with the losses in their own lives. Seaburn, 69, of Spencerport, is a blogger at the Psychology Today website as well as an acclaimed novelist. He is an ordained Presbyterian minister who served at a church in Bergen in Genesee County between 1975 and 1981. He left full-time ministerial work for a career in the mental health field. In 1986, he took a position as an assistant professor of psychiatry and family medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC). He taught in the family medicine residency program, practiced medical family therapy, and was the director of the family therapy training program. After 20 years in this role, he left to become the director of the Family Support Center in Spencerport. He is retired now but is part of a


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team of psychologists and family physicians who coach physicians at URMC on effective physician-patient communication. Seaburn’s latest book, “Gavin Goode” (2019 Black Rose Writing) explores how the friends and family of a man on the edge of death push through pain to cope with life’s uncertainties. When asked where he got the idea for the book, Seaburn said it all began with a phrase that popped into his head one day: “I don’t know how, and I don’t know why, but I think I died today.” He let this odd phrase rattle around in his brain a bit before realizing that it was actually the beginning of a novel. When he put pen to paper, he used it as the opening line in chapter one. The book focuses on a man named Gavin Goode who inexplicably finds himself in the hospital, and also inexplicably, unable to communicate with his doctors and family. As the book unfolded, he knew that it wasn’t simply the tale of Goode’s brush with death. The book became a character study of the people in Goode’s life, too. “Who are all these people?” contemplated Seaburn. “Whenever a tragedy happens, it’s not like it is the only thing going on in your life. There is still life happening. And sometimes there are serious and difficult things going on already. So, I wondered, ‘what were the challenging things going on in these folks’ lives at the time?’”

Cover of David Seaburn’s book, “Gavin Goode.”

Diverse views Each chapter of “Gavin Goode” is told from the perspective of a different character including his wife, son, daughter-in-law, a family friend, and a coworker. It’s a gripping drama that reminds readers that seemingly small, harmless actions can cause ripples that touch people even beyond one’s immediate circle. And that in the midst of great trauma, people still must move on with their lives, even if their steps forward are painful and minute. Yet despite the seriousness of the plot of the novel, the book doesn’t dive into despair nor does it leave readers hopeless. Ultimately, it’s a character-driven story about living not only with life’s difficulties but beyond them into a place where light still dwells. “Gavin Goode” is his seventh novel, and some fans say it is his best yet. “He’s just knocked it out of the park with this one,” said Kecia Binko of Spencerport. Binko appreciates the care and

“When I was 48, I hoped my father’s death would teach me about dying. At 63, I think it has taught me mostly about living; that life is short but beautiful; that even though time is measured, there is enough, if you pay attention; and that everything that matters in life is here, now.”

David Seaburn of Spencerport, is the author of “Gavin Goode,” which explores how the friends and family of a man on the edge of death push through pain to cope with life’s uncertainties. Photo by Christine Green. detail Seaburn puts into the characters in his books. “They’re very real, very relatable. You can see people you know in your own lives in his characters. They are very heart-touching kind of stories; they are very good and wholesome. Sometimes there are some

things that are tough, but he writes in a way that just draws you in.” Alan Lorenz of Brighton is a family doctor at the URMC who has known Seaburn since the 1980s when they worked together at the medical center. They co-authored a professional book

and collaborated on a few academic papers for national conferences. Lorenz said Seaburn’s experience with family therapy gives him a unique understanding of how people deal with difficult situations, especially in a medical setting. This perspective makes his characters realistic and easy for readers to identify with. “Dave is a very good listener. He asks very astute questions and as a result of that skill, he’s always been very attuned to how stories evolve. His appreciation for people in general and how they make sense of their lives” is evident, Lorenz said. Seaburn’s personal history of loss has also guided his fiction writing. When he was just 8 years old, his grandmother, who lived with his family, died. This first experience with death was a pivotal moment for Seaburn. “I thought, ‘She’s never going to move. This is not sleep,’” he said. Before he was 16, he faced the deaths of 10 more close family members and friends. “I think clearly that was a bedrock set of experiences that made me begin to worry about and think about time, how things are uncertain, and people die,” he said. Those themes became important again as he stepped into his role as a minister and then as a therapist, helping people deal with difficult life situations. Now, as a writer, he explores these concepts through fiction. “I think it would have been hard to write about other things than what I write about,” he noted. Learn more about Seaburn and his writing at his website davidbseaburn. com. Goode is also available on audio from Beacon Audiobooks. Read his blog at the Psychology Today website by visiting psychologytoday.com/us/ blog/going-out-not-knowing. July/ February / August 2019 January 2020 - 55 PLUS


55+ wintertime

A Winter Frolic with Grandkids By Kimberly Blaker


f your grandkids are like most, weekends and school snow closings are the highlight of the winter season. Get into the spirit with some of these fun outdoor activities. After you’ve expended your energy outdoors, there’s plenty of fun to be had indoors as well.

Outdoor Winter Frolic Take a snowshoe hike. Buy or borrow snowshoes for the family, and go on a trek through the woods or a field. Take your compass. But also tie brightly colored strips of fabric to tree branches to mark your path. Dress warm and keep track of time to prevent overtiring and frostbite. Look for animal tracks and burrows; identify trees by the bark and shape of their trunks; learn how to tell the time or direction by the position of the sun; and other nature and survival activities. Visit an ice sculpture show. Look for these captivating displays on college campuses, in city parks, and


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indoor arenas. Check with your local and nearby chamber of commerce or state travel bureau for events listings. Visit a zoo. During the winter months, zoos often bring guest animals and offer special exhibits. Arctic and cold climate animals may be more active, and indoor exhibits are easier to view because of smaller crowds. Build an igloo or snow fort. Choose a day when the snow is suitable for packing. Use a square or rectangular container for building snow forts, which are often found in toy departments. Be sure to stagger the blocks for support. Take a winter carriage ride. Look

for horse-drawn carriages in tourist or trendy towns and quaint villages. Bundle up, and take warm blankets and hot beverages. Then enjoy a cozy ride through a snowy, festive town. Enjoy a winter fest. Visit your chamber of commerce or state travel bureau website for a list of winter festivals and events. Activities to look for include light displays, fireworks, winter sports competitions, recreational activities, exhibits and ice sculpture displays, sleigh rides, snowshoe tours, and more. Have a snow-sculpting contest, and invite your neighbors to participate. Roll a snowball as large as you can. Then fill buckets with snow and carefully dump them on top. Gently pack the snow and smooth it with your mittens. Sculpt and shape your creation using small shovels and gardening tools. When your sculpture is complete, gently pack and smooth it with your hands again. Make an ice tree. Instead of throwing out your holiday tree, turn it into a winter display. Stand it in

your yard, turn the water hose on low, and spray upward and toward the trunk of the tree. As ice forms, continue spraying until you achieve your desired effect. Go sledding. If you have small hills in your backyard, use a trash bag for sliding down them. Better yet, head to some real hills with your toboggan or sled. Keep safety rules in mind for safe wintery fun.

Indoor Activities For Blustery Days Head to a museum. Most cities, even small towns, have a historical museum. Hands-on science, art, or natural history museums are found in most metropolitan areas or at nearby universities. Grab your roller blades or skates and head to your nearby indoor rink. These arenas are updated for today’s kids and are a blast for grandparents and kids alike. If you’ve never roller-skated, take a class at the rink. Create an indoor snow family. Buy black and white clay from an arts and crafts supply. Roll snow people out of the white clay, and shape hats with the black. Make arms with tiny twigs, scarves from narrow fabric strips, eyes and buttons from whole pepper, and noses from broken orange-colored toothpicks. To u r a m a n u f a c t u r i n g plant. Tours are often available to the public even if they aren’t wellpublicized. Just call to find out.

View the winter sky. Visit a planetarium to see constellations and some of the brightest stars of the year. Hold a winter movie fest. Invite friends over, rent a selection of movies, and have everyone bring their pillows or beanbag chairs. Don’t forget the buttery popcorn and hot chocolate. If you’ve had enough of winter, hold a Hawaiian luau instead. Choose summery or vacation-themed movies. Serve cold drinks with little umbrellas and fruit on top. And don’t forget the beach towels. Make up funny skits with friends then put on a show for grandparents, parents, and neighbors. Choose household products and create silly advertisements. Make up goofy songs or poems about each product and dress up for the part. Be sure to videotape the skits for hilarious family memories. Put together a winter emergency kit. Include spare hats, mittens, scarves, and boots, a flashlight, and other items in case you get stranded. Your home kit should include items for a snow-in or power loss. Have everyone work together to create a list and gather items for the kits. String a snowflake streamer. Make snowflakes by folding white paper several times and then trimming different shapes around the edges. Open the snowflakes then string them on a piece of yarn, and hang it across the room. Visit the library to snuggle up for a relaxing read. When you arrive, learn how and where to find books on your interests such as sports, science, or a hobby. Then choose several books to bring home. Don’t forget to check out music CDs, audiobooks, videos, computer games, and magazines for plenty of indoor entertainment. Getaway at a weekend resort.  check your travel agency for one of the many winter resorts for outdoor enthusiasts that offer activities and accommodations for the whole family. Try downhill or cross-country skiing, snowshoe excursions, and more. Make a winter-safety trivia game.  Buy a pack of small index cards. Then write a question on each card related to winter safety with the answers written below. To play the game, take turns reading the questions while other players shout their answers. The first person with the correct answer scores a point.


Grandma Isn’t So Lonely After All

ven though older adults may have smaller social networks than younger adults, they have similar numbers of close friends and levels of well-being, a new study finds. “Stereotypes of aging tend to paint older adults in many cultures as sad and lonely,” said study lead author Wandi Bruine de Bruin, of the University of Leeds in England. “But the research shows that older adults’ smaller networks didn’t undermine social satisfaction and well-being. In fact, older adults tend to report better well-being than younger adults,” she added. The researchers analyzed data from nearly 600 adults who took part in two U.S.-wide online surveys. The participants provided information on the number of people they’d had regular contact with in the past six months. Contact included face-toface, by phone or email or online. Participants were also asked to rate their feelings of well-being over the past 30 days. While older adults had smaller social networks than younger adults, the number of close friends was unrelated to age. Younger adults had large social networks consisting of mostly “peripheral others,” such as coworkers, school or childhood acquaintances, and people who provide a service. This may be because online social media sites have led to large and impersonal social networks, according to the authors. They found that only the number of close friends was associated with social satisfaction and well-being among adults of all ages, even after the number of family members, neighbors and peripheral others was taken into account. “Loneliness has less to do with the number of friends you have, and more to do with how you feel about your friends,” Bruine de Bruin said in a journal news release. “It’s often the younger adults who admit to having negative perceptions of their friends. Loneliness occurs in people of all ages. If you feel lonely, it may be more helpful to make a positive connection with a friend than to try and seek out new people to meet.” July/ February / August 2019 January 2020 - 55 PLUS


55+ adventure

A Fond Fall Fishing Trip Forget the high taxes. Nothing can beat the kind of beauty we have in New York, especially during a fishing trip in the Adirondacks By Todd Etshman


hining about New York state taxes is something that unifies almost all of us who live here. I complain like an elderly curmudgeon about it to my financial adviser. But he takes a slightly different, happier view of it. If you’re an outdoorsman, he says, you can’t beat the kind of beauty we have in New York — and he’s right. The value of enjoying something like an Adirondack Mountain fishing trip with several 55-plus friends in the fall is indeed, priceless. So, too, is climbing all of the Adirondack Mountains and becoming a member of the revered 46er group or any other similar outdoor-related


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activity that can constitute the best days of an outdoorsman’s life. Full disclosure here is the caveat that to truly enjoy it you may have to go beyond your comfort zone, unless you’re used to dealing with the state’s sudden meteorological changes, especially in the Adirondacks. There’s also no better way to do that than with some guys who do it on a regular basis and enjoy it. These guys have the right gear, the right tool and the know-how to do exactly what you have to do to keep going on a memorable trip like the ones they’ve taken to the Adirondacks in the fall of every year for the past 35 years. T h e y ’ re n o t a l o n e . I t ’ s n o t surprising that a lot of outdoorsmen

Adirondacks Mountains this fall. Photo by Todd Etshman.

and women are over 55. At this point in their lives, they wouldn’t miss the prime fishing or outdoor recreation opportunities our state has to offer, especially in the Adirondacks. For two of my friends on this trip, that included dealing with health complications that impose fairly serious restrictions yet it would take a far greater health restriction than following kidney transplant survival protocol or bringing oxygen for COPD along for them to stay home. Our initial destination was Lake Abanakee, a lake I’d never heard of but with hundreds of lakes in the Adirondacks, it’s easy to miss one. Adversity in the form of bad weather struck right off the bat as we woke to grey rainy skies. As avid fisherman know, however, that means fish should remain actively feeding. Should that is, not definitely. Even the most skilled fishermen know there is no guarantee you’re going to get one. Some guys are superstitious about it. Asking the fishing gods to smile on you might work. An all day Adirondack fall rain means having serious waterproof rain

gear to stay dry and motivated. Late season weekdays are a favorite for my friends since there are few if any other craft on the lake and most people are either at work or they’ve already locked the cottage up for the winter by the time October rolls around. Among the fishing trip preparations is the transportation of favorite canoes the guys have used to traverse Adirondack lakes for decades. Hours pass quickly in the company of good friends and splendid fall colors. There are memories, recommendations and observations to discuss. Silence is also golden while lines are cast. Live bait can and often will hasten the fish catching process but my group members and I eschew it preferring to guess what type of lure or artificial bait can fool a fish into thinking it’s real. Today, however, not much works. The lake is known for pike and Buffalo Bill, one of the most ardent fisherman and hunters I know, does indeed get a 22 inch pike. Judging by internet pictures however, there are far bigger pike in the depths below. One of the guys reminds me pike teeth can do some serious damage and gives me special tooth proof gloves the pike can’t bite through. If only, I could get a pike to begin with. I’ve only caught one and it was a prehistoric Neanderthal looking gar pike out of Irondequoit Bay last summer. The next day brought sun and pleasant temperatures that required little weather gear. A near 70 degree sun made me think about a swim but a warm summer sun is fleeting in the Adirondacks and by late September early October, lake water is bone chilling. The day passed pleasurably but without any really big fish being caught. My boat mate got a few. In fact, after two days and about 16 hours of fishing, I had caught none. The company of good friends, a sunny day and beautiful scenery only goes so far before not catching anything gets a little frustrating. At dusk we rested our paddling arms and used a 3 horsepower motor my friend had been working on for what seemed like a decade. After Rick caught what looked like the biggest small mouth bass I had seen in years or forever, frustration started to seep in. That’s when I got one of similar

Rochester-based writer Todd Etshman fishing with friends in the Adirondacks this fall. “The value of enjoying something like an Adirondack Mountain fishing trip with several 55-plus friends in the fall is indeed, priceless.”

size, the bass of a lifetime making the whole trip so very worth it. Then it got even better. An afternoon of canoeing around Lake Durant with Blue Mountain rising up to the sky in the background yielded some of the biggest largemouth bass I ever got on the third day of the trip. A subsequent return to the same spot on Abanakee yielded a big largemouth, too. You may be wondering how good these fish taste over a campfire but I wouldn’t know. Beating it over the

head and eviscerating it isn’t for us. The only uncomfortable moment a big bass has to endure is having to pose for multiple pictures while we toast a memorable moment. The nearly pro guides on this trip made it a learning experience that should lead to even more success in the future. It’s a pilgrimage I’ll be making for as long as I’m physically able since it’s the kind of thing that will leave one smiling and knowing they’ve lived life to the fullest when their time on Earth is done. July/ February / August 2019 January 2020 - 55 PLUS


55+ preservation

Preserving What’s Precious By Lynette M. Loomis


hen the Emancipation P ro c l a m a t i o n n e e d s repair do you get out the tape and felt tip pen? Of course not. You call Gary E. Albright of Honeoye Falls. He repairs and restores historical papers and photographs to extend their lives. The most priceless things Albright works on are one of a kind or originals. Art conservation was not the original career aim of Albright when he was in college. He began as a chemistry student. When he told his professor


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he wasn’t thrilled with that major, he was guided into courses that combined his love of chemistry, antiques and art history. He was in the second class in the master’s degree program at the Winterthur/University of Delaware program in art conservation. “The difference between restoration and conservation is the concern that conservators have for the future of the object,” Albright says. “We make it look better now, avoiding procedures that might cause future damage to the object. Also, we do the best we can to make our treatments

reversible, so they can be undone by someone in the future if the object needs to be treated again. Albright says he never considered himself an entrepreneur. “When my job as conservator at the George Eastman Museum ended in 2003, I decided to go out on my own to avoid having to relocate my family. It’s hard to believe I’ve been running my own business for over 16 years. The people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had have been a pleasure.” Albright, 66, says that it has been an unwelcome surprise to people who

exacting work and one cannot rush the process. There are very few people who restore documents, which means I have been steadily busy in my home office in Honeoye Falls.”

Tools of the Trade

thought they were doing a great job at preserving irreplaceable photos and documents that the very plastic they stored it in breaks down and eats into the paper. Those people have since become some of his customers. Some of the most famous pieces Albright has worked on include the Emancipation Proclamation and extremely rare Honus Wagner baseball cards. Some of these cards have sold for $2 million at auction. Albright also worked on a photo of Frederick Douglass, thought to be lost forever, and found in the Rochester Central Library local history collections. Conservation treatment requires a combination of art history, studio art and chemistry. “Would my teachers have anticipated I would have evolved to work on national treasures? Perhaps not,” says Albright. “It requires an amazing amount of patience. It is very

To restore documents and works of art, Albright must carefully remove materials that were originally intended to preserve them, but actually contributed to their deterioration. For example, removing tape requires heat and a spatula. Restoring color when those older colors are no longer manufactured demands that Albright custom blend each color and apply it in painstaking detail. To add paper where paper is gone requires making tiny, pin prick dots, to make a pattern for the “new” paper. “Before treatment, I have to be certain that the client and I understand what his or her expectations are and what is actually possible. One client had a classic Garry Winogrand black and white photo. It was so faded there was concern that the image might disappear. I described to him an experimental process, and its risks. I would completely bleach out the image making it invisible, and then expose it to light and virtually redevelop it. It worked, fortunately, but it doesn’t always.” The job that he still remembers is the Emancipation Proclamation. “It has been a privilege, and a rush, to work on the Emancipation Proclamation. And to treat the letter of George Washington to Col. Wade, informing him that Benedict Arnold had gone over to the enemy. It gave me the chills. I also have worked on two written drafts of the US Constitution, and I’ve seen the notes in the margins of the reviewers. These are amazing materials. These are the documents that shaped our history.” In addition to artifacts of historical significance there are the pieces that have touched his heart, because of their importance to a person or family. “I have restored many family photographs for people, cleaning them and making them exhibitable. One family had a special, paper Christmas angel that topped their tree, that had been passed down for generations. Of course, it was damaged. Their look of delight and appreciation when I was able to repair it for them was very gratifying to me,” says Albright .

Loving his Work and his Life H i s w i f e Ly n n re a d i l y acknowledges that Albright can get lost in a project and spend hours in his studio, but he does have other interests. In the winter he cross country skis every chance he gets. He collects photos to share with his students in conservation and preservation. He reads almost everything including sci-fi and Newbery award winners in children’s literature, and theology. “That’s one advantage of being self-employed. I can decide when I want to work on a project.” He also plays piano for his church and is a trustee for the local historical society.

Tips from Gary E. Albright I f y o u ’ re t h i n k i n g a b o u t passing along family photos and documents to your family, a few things to remember to preserve your photographs include: • Wa t c h y o u r S t o r a g e Environment; – Cooler and dryer is better. – Keep the relative humidly below 60%. • Storing and Moving – Avoid storing in basements and attics. – Choose good quality storage materials and use acid-free paper. – Use archival quality boxes and storage cabinets. – Don’t rely solely on computer storage – computers crash; Could the “cloud” fail? – If you are relocating, spend a few dollars on storage bins and bubble-wrap your photos. Cardboard boxes are too vulnerable to weather and being crushed. • Exhibiting – Exhibit copies, whenever possible, to preserve the originals. – Avoid exposure to direct sunlight and reduce damage via UV protected glass. – Ink fades, so if you think someone will want to read your journals, invest in ink known for its permanence. – Don’t spray glass cleaner on the photo’s glass – it can seep into the frame and ruin the photographic paper. July/ February / August 2019 January 2020 - 55 PLUS


addyman’s corner By John Addyman


Call of duty: Snowfall gives whole new relationship to father-son bond

on’t you love snow? If you don’t, you’re living in the wrong place. I used to love snow, when I was a little kid. We lived in Clark’s Green, on the hills outside of Scranton, and when everyone got a little snow, we got a lot. Snow changed us. My dad used to park his car in the garage under our house, down a steep driveway. The first time he couldn’t back the car out of that driveway after a snow, he parked the car in front of the school next door. And he did that for 30 years. I loved snow because we could build snowmen and snow forts and have snowball battles with the kids across the street. Does anybody do that anymore? My relationship with snow changed one night after my father — who was a traveling furniture salesman — called home and wanted to talk to me. “Is it snowing?” he asked. “Sure is,” I told him. “Go out and shovel the walk. You’re a big boy now.” “What?” Our phone was in the corner of our old dining room. When we put an addition on the house, my mom didn’t know what to do with the old dining room, so it had a couple of chairs and a sideboard and small desk in it. The desk was where our phone was. We had one phone, and it was on a party line. You had to pick up the phone and listen to hear if someone was already on the line before you could make a call. Talking to your girlfriend on a party line — or when we finally got another phone in the house, so someone could pick up that phone — was devilishly difficult. Anyway, there was a silence on my


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end of the phone after my dad gave me my shoveling orders. I looked out the front windows and sure enough, we had a few inches of snow on the ground already. “Did you hear what I said?” my dad’s voice was deeper now, sharper. “I have asthma,” I told him. “Shovel the walk,” he said. “I was out playing in the snow and all my stuff is wet,” I said. “Go shovel the walk.” “I have homework to do.” “The walk needs to be shoveled and you’re the one who’s going to do it.” “It’s dark outside.” Silence. My dad was heating up at the other end of the line. Any second, I’d have to drop the phone because of the heat he was sending my way. “John, you are a young man now …” “I was a big boy just a couple of

sentences ago … ” Silence. Yes, the phone was getting warm. “Your mother cannot shovel the walk,” he told me, voice flat but firm. OK, he was making points now. “Can I do it tomorrow?” I asked.

Treacherous footing “You’re going to go out and shovel in the dark and wind tonight, your ears and eyes will be filled with freezing, blowing snow, your boots and gloves will be wet and you’ll drop into a drift and no one will know where you are until trout season opens.” I really don’t know what he said next, but that’s what I heard in my head. “Johnny?” He hadn’t called me that in years. Was he trying reverse psychology or something? He was a salesman …

“What, father?” “Son, I cannot be home tonight. I’m in Cleveland. You have to do the walk so you and your sisters can get out to school tomorrow morning and the milkman and postman can get to our front door. I’m depending on you.” OK, he had me. I moved to the front door to take another look outside just as a car went by. I could see that it wasn’t snowing very hard. I told my dad the snow had slowed. Silence. I touched the phone line again to see if it was getting warm. Nope. More silence. Now I was sure the phone was getting warm and I wasn’t going to touch that phone line, no way, no how. “John … ” We were back to John. “John, do the walk. Put on your damn boots, put on your damn gloves, put on your damn jacket and a hat, and go out and shovel the damn walk and call me when it’s done, damn it.” Click! It appeared that negotiations had ended. I put down the phone receiver and that’s when I noticed my mom standing in the doorway of the kitchen, holding my jacket, scarf, gloves and boots. My sisters were standing behind her with big, satisfied grins on their faces. Out into the snow I went. It was beautiful outside — dark and cold and silent. Lucky for me, the snow was light and fluffy, and I moved it quickly. I cleaned the walk out to the sidewalk, started on the steps and finally, the sidewalk. I’d been so consumed with the job and the feeling of the cold night I hadn’t noticed that someone else was outside doing the same thing I was. The kid across the street, Paul, was shoveling, with his dad clearing the driveway. I finished after 15 minutes or so. Paul finished, and his dad was done and back in their house. Paul and I stood out in the middle of our street. We lived on a steep hill and when it was snowing like this, there was no traffic. We talked about school, talked about other stuff, and decided it was time to go back inside. When I opened the door, my mom had hot chocolate and cookies waiting for me. Even so, I checked the phone line. It was cool.

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long-term care By Susan Suben

Let’s Get a Conversation Going!


went to Lowe’s in August and was stunned to see Christmas decorations. Trees, wreaths and elves were decking the walls. Then I began to see ghoulish costumes displayed in September for Halloween. Every year, it seems, holidays are being celebrated — or should I say marketed — earlier and earlier. What happened to anticipation? That being said, there are some things that are never too early to plan for. Long-term care falls into that category. It’s never too soon to talk and make plans in advance for a very real risk. If you missed this chance during the holidays, make sure to discuss this necessary but hard topic as soon as you can. Whether you are an adult child talking to your parents or a parent talking to your adult children, there is much to gain by talking as soon as possible. Back in 2009, Genworth, a company focused on helping customers navigate caregiving options, started a campaign called, “Let’s Talk.” Its goal was to help individuals talk candidly about long-term care. Its intention was to guide loved ones through sensitive conversations about “potential long term care needs and solutions… making those interactions easier, more productive and often emotionally rewarding.” The campaign provided wonderful tips on how to get the conversation started. The tips outlined below have maintained their relevancy over the years because we are living longer and have a higher likelihood of needing long-term care. They can help you and your family feel better prepared to make good decisions and be more confident that wishes will be fulfilled should an illness occur. “Let’s Talk” had an underlying message: “I want to know what you think. I am here for you. I care. “


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• Be brave. Most people are waiting for someone to start the conversation. If you are respectful, your outreach will be welcome. • Be open. Your relationship with the person you are talking to will affect how the conversation plays out. Take that into consideration but try to be as open and direct as possible. The more you communicate, the more you learn. • Ask questions. Your goal as an adult child is to find out how your parents are feeling and what they are thinking about as they age. What are their greatest fears and concerns? As a parent, find out what your adult children are most worried about should you become ill and what they perceive their role to be if you do need care. • Wait and really listen. Long-term care planning is a big issue with many solutions. Give the person a chance to think things through and perhaps gather information. The conversation may be on going before you each get to know what the other person is thinking and feeling. • Discuss someone else’s situation. This could be a good icebreaker. Maybe a friend or relative has experienced a long-term care situation. What was their experience like? What choices did they make? • Have a sense of humor. Longterm care planning is not a cheerful topic but if you interject a little humor, smile and be relaxed, you’ll be able to sigh with relief that you got through it. One thing not to do is start the conversation with pre-conceived notions. Adult children often times try to make plans or decisions ahead of time about what their parents’ future should look like. Parents often don’t ask their adult children what they are capable of doing. The conversation might hit a road block because parents are oftentimes non-communicative about their financial situation. They

may feel that their privacy and independence is at risk. Both sides should be respectful of one another and this is achieved by asking questions, understanding feelings and discussing an array of options. “Let’s Talk” stressed that emotions, past hurts and habits should not pose an obstacle to the conversation. Timing is everything. The conversation should be as neutral as possible during a time when everyone is calm and rested and interruptions are minimal. T h e “ L e t ’ s Ta l k ” c a m p a i g n included a very well worded excerpt: “Talking about worst-case scenarios can be oddly freeing. It’s strange, but true. People dread these conversations, dodge them and come up with a dozen reasons why they haven’t had them. But once the silence is broken, it’s like a weight is lifted. The words have been spoken. And yet, no one was injured. There is a sense of calm, knowing that we are stronger and can weather the storm. Having talked, you are free to enjoy the time ahead. And often, a new bond is forged.” Susan Suben, MS, CSA, is President of Long Term Care Associates, Inc. and Elder Care Planning. She is a consultant for Canandaigua National Bank & Trust Company. Suben can be reached at 800-422-2655 or by email at susansuben@31greenbush.com.

55+ q&a

By Christine Green

Miriam Zinter, 55 The juggling act of being a mortgage officer and a stand-up comedian Where did you grow up? I’ve been an Upstate New Yorker all my life. First Syracuse then Rochester. I even went to school at SUNY Geneseo, Pratt and then RIT. My mother is from Haiti — so, not counting Canada — it was the first place I traveled to out of the country. I love to travel and have been to Ireland, Jamaica, Malaysia, France, Bermuda, Mexico, Germany, Austria, Switzerland as well as over the eastern seaboard of the United States,

Alaska, and Hawaii. I graduated from Fairport High School in 1981. You have worked for many years in the housing/housing lending world. What is your favorite part of your job and why? I love seeing an old abandoned building or a trash strewn vacant lot and see that someone noticed the potential in the site and invested time, money, and effort in it to

make it become something wonderful. I love going to the project when it’s complete and seeing the people who live there enjoy the space. Improving a community without gentrifying it is an absolute joy. How did you get into stand-up comedy? I remember being in a room full of women at college and describing how hard it was to walk to class in the winter. I got the whole room laughing and it felt great to make people laugh. Ever since then I’ve been interested in comedy. Then I took a comedy course at Writers & Books and started doing some open mics. I signed up for the Funniest Person in Rochester in 2015 and did a set. Comics have family and friends come to the open mics and vote on who they want to move forward. The judges also have the ability to vote people through, and it’s called the “Wild Card.” The night I was scheduled to perform, I had a final exam in statistics for my MBA. I chose to take my final and gave up my spot. What is the “Comedy Through the Ages” show was all about? There are seven comedians. We perform in order of age with the youngest going first. Each member performs a sevenminute set. I try to make mine about being in my 50s, married, with kids, aging parents, menopause, trying to keep in shape, etc. Phyllis Reed is our leader and is in her 80s. She does hers about the AARP yoga. Everyone brings a different perspective. What is the best part of doing a comedy show or stand-up gig? The best part is when people laugh. There’s nothing worse than a quiet room. After some of my shows, women come up to me and tell me it was nice to laugh about caring for aging parents. I like to make things funny that typically aren’t any fun at all.

Miriam Zinter is a mortgage officer with nonprofit lender, The Community Preservation Corporation (CPC). She is also a stand-up comedian. Zinter lives in Brighton with her family and her dog Mr. Tippy. Photo courtesy of John Schlia Photography.

Do you practice your jokes/ comedy at home with your spouse and family? No! My family is always surprised that people laugh at what I have to say. I like to work with other comics to make my stand-up better which is why Writers & Books and the Fringe Festival is so important. Other comics really help me work through my routines and hone them. July/ February / August 2019 January 2020 - 55 PLUS


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CLINICALLY PROVEN TO BE SAFE AND EFFECTIVE Acupuncture is a general practice alternative medicine, it can help a wide range of health problems at different extents. Ask for professional, confidential, personalized evaluation / consultation appointment before starting any treatment

Acupuncture Center USA

7th Generation Rui Wang, LLC Northeast Medical Center, Suite 209 4000 Medical Center Dr., Fayetteville, NY 13066 Tel1:315-329-7666; Tel2: 315-378-5556; Tel3: 607-798-7680; Tel4: 607-372-2082

Ancient Wisdom Integrated with Modern Medicine



55 PLUS - January July / August 2019 2020 / February

We take care of everything so that you can make the most of your time together.

Our expert and compassionate medical staff manage patient symptoms while our beautiful setting helps you and your loved one through the end-of-life experience with privacy, dignity and comfort. For more information, call Holly, our Admissions Nurse, at (585) 697-6308 or visit stannscommunity.com/leo-center-for-caring.

Leo Center for Caring at St. Ann’s Community ~ 1500 Portland Ave. ~ Rochester, NY 14621


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*To see the full version of our CNB Pledge of Accountability, visit CNBank.com/Pledge. Investments are not FDIC insured, not bank deposits, not obligations of, or guaranteed by, Canandaigua National Bank & Trust or any of its affiliates. Investments are subject to investment risks, including possible loss of principal amount invested. Investments and services may be offered through affiliate companies.

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