Category Archives: Elderblog

Thomas Jefferson Said

Evidently, Tom knew what he was talking about!

“If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their Fathers conquered… I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies… The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.” – Thomas Jefferson

1950’s Candy

Guess what I just did? I bought a whole bunch of candy from the 1950’s. I’m gonna take a break from counting calories and instead I’m gonna enjoy some tastes from the 50’s.

Remember the lollipops that didn’t come with a stick? Instead they had a loop of something or other so you could fit your fingers through it. I got ’em.

How about the coconut watermelon slices? Uh-huh!

Do you remember those wonderful wax bottles? I loved them. But no, I held myself back and didn’t order those.

Here’s what else I got:

Marshmallow Ice Cream Cones, Candy Lipsticks (they tasted sooooo gooood), Chocolate Gold Coins, Anise Bears, Turkish Taffy, Atomic Fire Balls.

I should’ve bought some Candy Buttons. Maybe next time.

Now all I have to do is wait for my package to arrive. You’re jealous, aren’t you?

Bowling – The Pin Boy

photo from

Well, it’s official. I’m really, really old! Yesterday I had to explain what a pin boy was. This “back in the day” knowledge of mine rushes in and sometimes startles me. I can’t believe how much the world has changed since I entered it.

Anyway, for those who lack my firsthand knowledge–The pin boy’s job was to set the bowling pins up after they’d been knocked down. Each boy covered four or five lanes and on a busy night, you sometimes had to wait for him to reset your lane. He was also in charge of clearing downed pins if they tipped over and stayed in the playing field.

There were no electric contraptions coming down to pick up and swish the pins backward. Everything was done by muscle. Oh, and the pin boy had to place the bowling ball in the chute to return it to the player, too.

It may not sound like it, but being a pin boy was a pretty good job. Several kids I knew held the job and loved it, except for the times they got hit in the ankle by a flying pin or bowling ball. But they had elevated steps to stand on located between the lanes, so an experienced pin boy hardly ever got hit unless he was caught off-guard moving from one lane to another. Then the players would hear him scream, “ouch.”

Jeez. Now that I think about it,  I can remember when the guts of a computer took up an entire room…but that’s another “back in the day” story.

Ghosts, Candy & Hitting Up The Drunks

Back in the day, Halloween was sheer delight. No one worried about razors in apples, or the safety of the streets. Parents stayed at home and gave out candy. Kids went door to door showing off their costumes. (most homemade using a bit of ingenuity.)

Every year, after the trick or treating was over for the younger set, my mother circled around to the back of our house and returned through our front door dressed as a ghost, screeching and making sounds that I guess she figured a ghost might make. My father and I  always made quite a fuss until the ghost disappeared out through the back of the house again. A few minutes later, my mother would reappear, usually coming up from the basement steps. (Sheet stowed away for another year.)

We didn’t receive mini bars of candy, either. Full-size candy bars were the order of the day.

And nobody frowned about teenagers coming around for treats later in the evening. If people ran out of candy, they dropped nickels in the bags. Neighborhood stores stayed open and gave out great treats, and when I became one of those teenagers, my friends and I always stopped in at the local bar. We thought of it as “hitting up the drunks” (My mother would’ve passed out if she knew.) But the drunks handed out some A-#1 largesse. They’d take change off the bar, usually a lot more than a nickel, and drop it into our bags. They actually liked being included in the fun and asked about our costumes and laughed and joked with us.

Those were the days.

Frivolous For The Soul

I had a need to write about something frivolous this week. With the downturn of the stock markets, and the low roads being taken by the politicians, I’m thinking I need to raise my spirits.

So here goes. If you look up the word frivolous on the internet, here are some of the things you find.

How would you expand the powers of the vice-presidency? I’d make it so they could fly in space anytime they want to.

There were other really good answers to this question, too. Like, “I’d give the VP the power to prosecute individuals for wearing white after Labor Day. ” If you want to see more, go to Booman Tribune.

How about this? Here’s the newest luggage model from Samsonite. Stop in at Core77  to see more frivolous, whacky stuff.


Are you up for a frivolous lawsuit? There are many, but here’s a good one.

In 1991, Richard Harris sued Anheiser-Busch for $10,000 for false advertising. Harris  claimed to suffer from emotional distress in addition to mental and physical injury. Why? Because when he drank beer, he didn’t have any luck with the ladies, as promised in the TV ads. Harris also didn’t like that he got sick sometimes after he drank. The case was thrown out of court.

Whenever I feel somewhat off-balance, I tend to do something frivolous. This week was no exception. My vacuum cleaner blew up. It’s been acting strange for quite a while now, so its refusal to budge another inch came as no surprise, really. I decided its breakdown was a sign that I should do something frivolous to make myself feel better. So, I ordered an iRobot Roombah to do all future vacuuming for me.


I think I need to give my little robot a name so I can call to it while it works. Hmmm.

View From My Balcony

It’s important to get rid of your mental noise once in a while, and you don’t need a balcony or a pier to do that. We’re all so busy, it’s hard to remember to take time out for quiet. Fortunately, it takes very little forethought to take an adult “time out.” For instance, try this some Saturday morning. The moment that you wake, but before you open your eyes, roll onto your back. Imagine yourself in your “happy place.” (You have one, don’t you?)

My serene spot is always by water. Maybe yours is in the mountains, or remembering sitting on your grandma’s lap with her arms wrapped around you. Whatever, or wherever–allow your imagination to drift away. Stay there for ten full minutes. What do you hear? Nothing, if you train yourself to do it right. This is where I go.


Don’t be afraid to daydream sometimes, either. Release the stress. Some people do that by writing a poem. This Daydream Haiku was written by Brigitte

The forest daydream,
Wherein I pick blackberries,
And find inner peace.

… inspired by daydreaming with a friend about moving to the mountains

DAME, too, suggests slowing it down a bit when things get too crazy.

…’today’ I’m a tad stressed. Generally I’m a go with the flow kinda girl but today the next few months seem positively overwhelming. Somehow just daydreaming about trouncing about in wool and bloomers carrying a feed bag, picking the flowers, baking the pie, and listening to the wind in the trees, is enough to catch a little mental relaxation.

No matter what you call it: time out, daydreaming, or mental relaxation–we all need it.

“Dumbfounded” by Matt Rothschild

Before I even started reading this memoir, I had to chuckle over the Author’s Note. Matt wrote:

“I’m not going to feed you that same old baloney about how memory is imperfect…The truth is that while everything in this book happened, it didn’t always happen the way I say it did. Sometimes I changed names or descriptions of people and places. Big deal. Sometimes I altered chronology…made people look foolish when they weren’t so foolish, made people look good when they were fools…–I know you’ll love this one–said things happened in one place when they really happened somewhere else. Okay, so maybe that is a big deal…Some of this stuff is damn funny and some of it’s tragic. Just don’t take the window dressing too literally.”

I suppose Oprah would have apoplexy over that statement. It had the opposite effect on me. I wanted to read more.

You don’t expect a book written by a Jewish fellow to start off with a chapter involving Santa Claus, but this one does. The first chapter is titled Why I Don’t Believe In Santa Claus and it has nothing whatsoever to do with religion. As a matter of fact, Matt didn’t even know he was Jewish until he was in the second grade.

Abandoned as an infant by his mother, Matt was raised by his grandparents, while their daughter, his mother, chose to hobnob across Europe. If this makes the book sound like a tearjerker, pack that notion away. Although some chapters are poignant, for the most part, the book is fresh, humorous and, at times, uproarious.

His grandfather, who was a genteel, aristocratic gentleman, had the good luck to marry a woman who was a real firecracker. She jokingly referred to the Rothschild family as a crazy cult. Speaking to her husband, she made remarks like:

“…your cult’s had so much shock therapy that if they held hands, they could provide enough electricity to power New York City.”

Getting to know Matt’s grandmother through his eyes is an unforgettable trip you won’t want to miss.

Peppered throughout the memoir are other fascinating characters–Elaine, who once convinced him that since they spent so much money in FAO Schwartz they should be entitled to some free gifts, The Petty Thieves.  His short association with a reclusive old woman living in his building, who hadn’t been seen by any of her neighbors in thirty years, Greta Garbo Lives Next Door, leaves you wistful, wishing he had time to find out more about her.  And there was his third-grade teacher, Ms. Wood, who delighted in giving him D’s on his papers, which he hid from his grandparents until they were eventually found, All in the D’s. His grandmother didn’t pull any punches that day,

“Oh, Matthew, what the hell are these?”                                                            .

Although this book is written by a person who lived just steps away from the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue, you never get the impression that it’s from the perspective of a rich kid. If anything, you feel Matt didn’t even realize he was rich until he reached puberty. (That’s another amusing story to read about).

What makes this memoir beautiful is that it is honest, in spite of what Matt tells you in the Author’s Note. His writing is witty, sincere, unerringly compassionate, hilarious and totally entertaining. Pick up this book; it’s a memorable read.

[Goodnight, Mr. Newman. We loved you.]

DO NOT Keep a Diary

About a week ago, I sent an email out to several friends asking them to share a favorite childhood memory with me. Many of those who replied were the same people who have been telling me they can’t write.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I strongly feel everyone should be writing something –anything– so that the only thing one leaves behind isn’t just ashes. What would be the point of your being here if that’s all you leave?

Don’t even think about keeping a diary. Because you probably won’t. However, having a notebook sitting on an end table, a pretty one with flowers or something on the cover, might be just the thing. If it’s there, maybe you’ll write in it once in a while. I guarantee someone from the future will thank you for it.

From time to time, I’ll show some of the responses I received to my question. The ones I’ve chosen to share today probably took a mere five minutes (if that) for the respondents to write.

Here’s one from Judy H. It’s only two sentences long, but it says a lot about how kids entertained themselves before computers, and about the lack of crime in our neighborhoods.

I think my favorite childhood memories were playing games in the street – like “giant step” and neighborhood games like “Cops and Robbers”. Those were the days when you could run around the neighborhood without being afraid.

This one is from Judy C. Again, very few sentences. This one is a whopping three sentences. Who knew before there were Good Humor trucks, there were Good Humor bikes?

Let’s, see, I think it would be when my grandfather was a VP with Good Humor. I used to visit the warehouse where all the Good Humor Ice Cream bicycles were kept and riding them around the warehouse, not to mention eating the Good Humor ice cream birthday cakes he used to have made for me. Wow, that was a looooooooooooonng time ago!!

It doesn’t get much more succinct than this from Denise O.

When my sister ;o) got me Tony the Pony
>Xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox LOVE THAT TONY!!!

For the record, Denise is my sister and I bought the Tony the Pony for her birthday when she was four or five years old. Tony is a legend in our family. But who would know the story of Tony if we didn’t write about him?

Trust me, you need to buy yourself a notebook.

The Saga Of The Squirrels

It was 7:00 a.m. I sat on the porch sipping tea when it happened. First, I heard the loud flutter of wings swooping to the ground, and then I saw the landing, It was a hawk gunning for two squirrels, who minutes before were running around the trunk of a tree, playing and squealing at each other. I expected them to scamper up the tree, but instead they stayed grounded. The hawk flew at them, but was unsuccessful. Flying close to the ground made it difficult for him to strike at the squirrels. They were too fast for him. After two attempts, the hawk gave up and flew away.

Here’s another Squirrel vs Hawk story. Again the squirrel outwits the hawk.

 I am at my computer just now and a hawk landed in the oak outside the window.  A squirrel was sitting on the next branch and it became Squirrel vs Hawk.  The hawk eyed the rodent, the rodent hopped up to the branch the hawk was on.  The hawk backed off, the squirrel returned to the lower branch.  The hawk moved closer to the squirrel and the squirrel hopped back up to the hawk’s branch.  The hawk spread its wing intimidatingly and the squirrel went back to his own branch.  Finally the hawk gave up and flew to the fence and then into the other trees.

Hawks aren’t the squirrels’ only problem. Dogs love the pursuit, too. Check out Basil

Basil spots a squirrel behind a bench. Before I can know what’s happening, he jumps on the seat, then the edge of the bench’s back, from which he proceeds to jump off, in an attempt to follow the squirrel up the tree. Of course, he falls to the floor, from where he continues his chase.

This happens in less than 30 seconds. After the squirrel jumps to another tree, he resumes the walk as if nothing had happened.

It appears cats are a major problem for the poor squirrels, too. See Martannasmimi’s Weblog

Rocky fell from his home,  a nest in a big tree. He was about to be attacked by a huge cat when Popa rescued him. Marta was amazed to see this tiny helpless little guy.

We called our local animal rescue person, a very nice woman who lives down the road . Jean is an older woman who has been taking in local injured wildlife for many years.

Some days are luckier than others.

“Auditions” by Barbara Walters

Even before you read one word of Barbara’s book, you understand what a remarkable life she has led. Printed inside the front and back covers are the names of all the people she has interviewed–the famous and the infamous.

Reading about her childhood, with its constant ups and downs, was fascinating mainly because her father was the founder and owner of the Latin Quarter. Her mother was like any other kind and doting mother, except it appears she showered more attention on Barbara’s sister, Jackie, who was autistic. To her credit, Barbara admits to being jealous of that at times.

But the real reason I bought Barbara’s book had to do more with the loud, reverberating crash women heard when she smashed through the glass ceiling into a field that had always been a male bastion. She became the first female co-host of the Today morning show. In 1974, that was unprecedented. Then a couple of years later, the even louder boom–Barbara Walters became the first woman “ever” to anchor a network evening news program. Single-handedly, she turned the knob and opened the door for all the women who followed her. I will always admire her for that.

The book is a history book written in an entertaining format. Her in-depth interviews with personalities like: Katherine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Anwar Sadat, Clint Eastwood, Oprah, Fidel Castro, Henry Kissinger, Elizabeth Taylor, Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher and many others, including all of the Presidents the United States, while always revealing onscreen, are even more captivating on the pages of her book, where she discloses additional tidbits of information.

A good read! If you happened to live through it all with Barbara, even better.