Click on the article headline to read the full article. The articles are housed on the pcaCares.org website and no registration is needed.
City gardeners who routinely rely on impatiens to add color to shady areas may be surprised this spring to discover fewer of these easy-care plants at garden centers.
Blame it on the rapid spread of a nasty fungal disease called Impatiens Downy Mildew, which shows up as a whitish powdery growth on the undersides of leaves. Many growers are cutting back on their production of impatiens. But don't despair -- garden experts say there are many alternatives, including New Guinea impatiens, which is not affected by the fungus.
Photo: Gardeners will have to replace blighted impatiens with alternative shade plants, such as coleus.
The model sits, motionless, legs crossed, hands resting on one thigh.
The room is carpeted, quiet. Larry Rosen and Leo Weisz have taken positions facing her, sitting on straight-backed wooden chairs about six feet away.
A surprise snowfall, among other things, deterred all but these two from coming to the weekly portrait sessions Weisz has been holding for more than ten years, here at the Green Hill Condominium in Wynnewood.
"Playing Klezmer brings me back to my childhood,” says drummer Elaine Hoffman Watts of the Eastern European Jewish music that suffused the West Philadelphia home where she grew up.
The first female percussionist to graduate from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, she has played with Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington. But in recent years, she and her daughter, trumpeter Susan Watts, have returned to their family roots.
The two have played together at concerts and festivals throughout the country and beyond, as the Klezmer revival, which began in the late 1970s, continues to spark audience demand for this joyful and poignant music. They are known as “The Fabulous Shpielkes.”
Family patriarch and noted Klezmer musician Joseph Hoffman brought his family’s repertoire of “Jewish music” with him when he emigrated from the Ukraine. His son, Jacob Hoffman, a classical musician, was a percussionist for the Philadelphia Orchestra; and played for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, theatrical performances and silent movies.
Jacob Hoffman taught his daughter Elaine how to play the drums when she was 7 years old. She soon joined him in playing at home and at family get-togethers and celebrations. “I did not have lessons until I was 12 years old,” she says.
“In my father’s day, everyone wanted to be American,” she says. "Klezmer was something to be played at home, among family. Who knew it would grow into this whole big thing?”
Are you, or do you know someone, who is a Philadelphia resident age 50 or older, who would benefit from a free appointment with a computer tutor? The Free Library of Philadelphia offers free, one-on-one tutoring, by apointment only, at its Central Parkway Branch. "We find that people who are anxious about learning to use a computer or laptop do best when they can work privately, one on one with a tutor," says Richard Levinson, a spokesman for the Free Library's Central Senior Services. Levinson.The two tutors, Caitlin Seifritz and Lou Seitchik, are known for being patient, kind and helpful, Levinson says.
The power and creative passion of older artists will take center stage at three exhibits during Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s (PCA) 11th annual “Celebrate Arts and Aging” festivities during May.
The public is invited to meet the artists at these receptions:
May 9 from 4 - 6 p.m.
Philadelphia Senior Center Main Branch
509 South Broad Street
May 20 from 4 - 6 p.m.
Philadelphia Free Library
Parkway Central Branch1901 Vine Street
May 29 from 4- 6 p.m.
Center on the Hill…the place for active adults
8855 Germantown Avenue (adjacent to the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill)
More than 170 artists' work will be on display. All of the artists are age 55-plus; many are new to art and have seen their creative talents blossom in their later years.
Held during Older American Month and supported in part by PECO, “Celebrate Arts and Aging” also offers seniors special discounts for an array of cultural and performance venues. Participating organizations are featured on a special senior arts passport.
Imagine a time when a respectable woman couldn’t walk into a restaurant alone; when women took jobs only out of sheer necessity; and less than 6% of married women worked outside the home.
This was the United States in 1900, when, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the top three jobs women held were as servants, textile workers and agricultural laborers.
But times were changing, propelled at least in part by progressive women like Eliza Sproat Turner, according to Cynthia Little, Ph.D., historian at the Philadelphia History Museum.
Remember “Pretty, perky Peggy King?” These days, fans can hear her reminiscing with stars of yesteryear on her radio show Off the Cuff, on the web at wyyr.com at 7 p.m. (EST) on the last Sunday of every month. Recent guests have included Kaye Ballard, Pat Boone, Joel Grey and Rose Marie.
Talent plus petite good looks, an effervescent personality and some amazing serendipity contributed to King’s becoming one of the most popular stars in the early days of television.
Recently, relaxing in her Philadelphia apartment and looking out over the city’s skyline, she reminisced about her career.
While on a family vacation to Rocking Horse Ranch in upstate New York, Carolyn Stanish watched her 2-year-old daughter Cora interact with older adults and became inspired.
“We just happened to be at the ranch during Seniors Week. We noticed that Cora was outgoing and responded very well to the older adults. She really brightened their day. It was heartwarming to see,” said Stanish, a stay-at-home mom of two young children in her 40s.
After taking a class about building community projects at Landmark Education, her commitment to interaction between the really young and the really old solidified, and she started Generations Connect. The program brings elders and children together for craft, play and music activities.
Each year in late December, Anita Barnes Cauthorn decorates her home with festive wreaths and ribbons in red, green and black – the colors of Kwanzaa. A carved kinara (candle holder), waits for the lighting of Mishumaa Saba (the seven candles), one for each of the seven nights between December 26 and the first of January.
Cauthorn began celebrating Kwanzaa in 1979, when her sons were ages three and seven. “When I first started out, I had my kinara set up and I also had a Christmas tree,” she says. Gradually, she shifted her thinking. “I wanted to emphasize the religious aspect of Christmas. So I decided that we would celebrate its true meaning, the birth of Jesus Christ and the next day start our decoration and celebration of our cultural holiday, Kwanzaa."
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the city. From the locally famous Holiday Light show at Macy’s Center City (formerly Wanamaker’s) to the world-renowned Mummers Parade on Broad Street New Year’s day, there are many holiday traditions that generations of Philadelphians have come to know and love.
One relatively new and immensely popular holiday attraction is The Christmas Village in Philadelphia. Every Thanksgiving since 2008, the area near City Hall has been transformed into an outdoor holiday market. Modeled after traditional 15th century Christmas markets in Germany, it brings old European Christmas charm to the city.
Vendors housed in more than 60 wooden booths sell a variety of unique holiday items, gifts and, of course, food. You can find everything from wooden nutcrackers and tabletop windmills; to handmade jewelry, artwork and crafts; knitted hats and scarves; and traditional toys.
A Taste of the Old World
Traditional German cuisine is a staple at The Christmas Village. You can get your fill of Bratwurst with sauerkraut, potato salad, and pretzels. Original Austrian Strudel is available in both sweet and savory varieties.
Putting a little ball in a small pocket is a new subject for Irene Reiter, an English teacher and author of nine textbooks on English.
After recently discovering the game of pool, she began dividing time between sharing her love of literature and learning the skill and dexterity required by billiards. The veteran teacher has discovered another sense of accomplishment by learning how to maintain a proper grip on her cue stick (purchased second-hand) after figuring angles necessary to pocket a specified billiard ball.
Those teaching her to play at Ann's Choice in Bucks County, where she moved a few years ago from Northeast Philadelphia, are impressed.
Practice makes 'pretty good'
"She practices," says James Bulera, "and she's pretty good now."
"I'm a minnow compared to these players who are all very good," says Reiter, 85. "But I'm having a great time and they're putting up with me."
Nooks, Kindles, Tablets, i-Pads, androids -- if all the options make your head spin, take heart - a special workshop November 3 will help demystify the differences, pros and cons of each.
Stu Levy, a professor from the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, will present a 45-minute session at Philadelphia Corporation for Aging's second annual Senior Education Fair. Levy's presentation will cover cell phones, smart phones, e-books and tablets. "I will discuss the various ways e-book readers connect to download their books, and capabilities and Apps for tablet," Levy says. "I will also explain "Apps" -- how to get them and what they do, with some some examples of specific ones."
Levy's will be one of seven sessions at the Nov. 3 event, which takes place at PCA, 642 N. Broad Street, from 1 - 4 p.m. Admission is $2, and includes participation in three sessions, and a healthy snack. Registration closes on Friday. To register, call 215-765-9000, ext. 5055 or email: email@example.com.
See the story below or click here for details on other sessions.
Going, going -- two tickets to the Arden, Wilma or Philadelphia Theatre Company -- or if comedy is more your speed, to the Helium Comedy Club. These are just a few of the many items available through 10 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30, in the third annual PhillyMeals on Wheels online auction. As of this writing, bids for each of these pairs of tickets were below half of the actual ticket price.
Other items include a Nomination charm bracelet; gift certificate to the East End Salon; and a catered dinner for 20 by Betty the Caterer.
For the family, you could get a sweet deal on tickets to Sesame Place, Six Flags Great Adventure, the Adventure Aquarium, Garden State Discovery Museum or Please Touch Museum. Bids on all of these are currently well below market value, with a four-pack to Great Adventure valued at $265 still awaiting an opening bid of $88.
The PhillyMeals on Wheels campaign benefits seven nonprofit, community-based programs that provide home-delivered meals to Philadelphia senior citizens.
By Leslie Feldman
Latin dancing is all the craze and seniors are getting into the act. What's more, you don't have to be as agile as the professionals on Dancing with the Stars to enjoy it.
At Star Harbor Senior Center in Southwest Philadelphia, Marisol Ramos-Allen teaches a salsa class every Wednesday from 2 to 3 p.m.
"Participants don't necessarily see it as exercise, but rather a fun way to move their bodies," Ramos-Allen explained. "The rhythm of Latin music is energetic, romantic and enjoyable. I encourage participants to learn the dance routine and bring out their identity to the dance moves. It has brought out confidence and helps to build their self-esteem, making them more energetic."
Senior centers throughout Philadelphia will host open houses Thursday, Sept. 13, as part of the city's Senior Week 2012. These events will showcase how today’s seniors centers help keep bodies and minds active and socially engaged – all keys to healthy aging.
A number of centers will offer Voter ID information and education as part of their programming. Attendees at the open houses also can tour the centers, meet the staff and enjoy lunch.
Among the activities planned:
*Philadelphia Senior Center - Tioga Branch in North Philadelphia offers a Qi Gong Chinese exercise class and a macramé lesson
*Peter Bressi Northeast Senior Center hosts a seminar on Medicare and Medicaid, and a food demonstration.
*Center in the Park in Germantown invites guests to participate in exercise and fitness demos
The open houses are part of Senior Week 2012, taking place September 10 - 15. The following Philadelphia senior centers will be hosting open houses. For more information contact the center directly:
You may have heard the story: Two cousins were cleaning out the attic of the family home in Ohio when they came across a stash of century-old baseball cards - along with a steamer trunk, and a dresser filled with their grandmother’s carefully folded clothing. Wisely, they decided to find out if the 700 cards were worth anything. It’s good they did, because 37 of them sold at auction recently for $566,132.
Seven women gathered on the hardwood floor of a dance studio in July for the first session of The Keepers Project. Among them: a longtime dance enthusiast; a woman recovering from major eye surgery; and a writer who, at 61, was the youngest in the group.
Dance teacher Anne-Marie Mulgrew assured participants that no particular skill or physical ability was needed. “We’re here to connect and share,” Mulgrew said.
Through the workshops, which run monthly until March 2013, participants share personal stories and family history — and learn to tell these stories through creative movement. “The dance is just one part of it,” she explained. “It’s really living theater.”
Mulgrew said she was inspired to create the project after attending a creative arts and aging conference last year.
Looking for a "Chat room?" Want to "Friend" someone? Hoping to connect with some serious "Gamers?"
Philadelphians of a "certain age" know - the best place to connect is at a senior community center. But you have to be at least 55 to join.
Don't like the term "senior citizen?" You're not alone. Some centers have even changed their names to get away from it. But a visit to any of Philadelphia's centers shows that much more than the name has changed.
Computer classes, photography clubs, tai chi, Zumba, and belly dancing are just a few of the offerings at the 23 senior community centers located in neighborhoods throughout the city, and funded by Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA). There are also 11 satellite sites, which offer meals and some programming.
Bernice Paul, 95, often paints alongside art students in a studio at Rosemont College in Bryn Mawr. “The professor likes me,” she says. “He tells the class I’m an inspiration.”
Asked if creativity plays a role in healthy aging, Paul replies: “Definitely so. I’ve found for myself it works, and I’ve made a lot of friends.”
This spring finds her artwork on exhibit at three venues. Her oil painting, “Wissahickon Creek,” is on display during May at Center on the Hill…the place for active adults in Chestnut Hill, as part of PCA’s “Celebrate Arts and Aging” festivities.
Yuk Fai Tsang is a busy man. He gets up at 3:30 a.m. most days and goes down to the garage of his senior apartment complex to practice Tai Chi at a time when he is unlikely to be disturbed or encounter any pollution from car fumes. A widower for the past 10 years, he makes himself breakfast from a heated mixture of ginger juice, hot milk (1%) and an egg and credits this concoction as a prime reason for his good health. No sugar, he is quick to point out. About 8 a.m., he will walk his great-grandchildren to school.
But, for the next few hours, he devotes himself to art.
“Games” mean different things to different people. For some, it’s the extreme physical challenge of a triathlon; for others, a test of wits over a chess board. Coming up in June, the 27th annual Games for Adults 50+ offer opportunities at both ends of the sporting spectrum, and many more in the middle. And, for the first time, some events are scheduled on Saturdays, making it easier for those who are working to participate.
Photo of Ralph Munoy in 2011 Games by Kevin Cook
Life hasn’t been the same for Donna and Timothy Decker since they saw “The King and I” at the Walnut Street Theatre in January.
“I was crying,” she says, “and I said to my husband, ‘Sorry honey, but you don’t hold a candle to what Andrew just did.’”
That wasn’t a criticism of her husband; it was recognition of Andrew Terranova’s skill and artistry in providing audio description for blind and sight-impaired audience members.
Donna Decker, who turns 54 next month, has retinitis pigmentosa. Visually impaired since she was very young, she lost her sight completely at age 37. Yet, she’s raised five children, is a trained neuromuscular massage therapist — and she loves the theater.
During an audio-described performance, Terranova sits at the back of the theater and speaks into a transmitter which sends his voice to small, portable receivers attached to ear buds worn by audience members. The earbud is worn in one ear, so the dialogue can be heard clearly with the other.
Asked how long he’s been painting, artist Benjamin (Ben) Cohen, 88, replies, “I guess forever.”
Cohen’s painting, “Lakeside,” an idyllic scene of a lakeside house with autumnal trees in the background, is the signature artwork for Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s (PCA) 10th annual senior arts festival, "Celebrate Arts and Aging."
It will be on exhibit during May at Independence Visitor Center in the city’s historic district and featured on posters, mailings, and electronic media publicizing the citywide celebration. (See story above)
“My philosophy is that art should be uplifting and thought-provoking and may allow for quite a smile. There is enough horror and aggravation going on nowadays. If I can make someone smile, I want to do that,” the artist says.
“Lakeside” was inspired by the one of the many outings Cohen has enjoyed with the Rancocas Valley Plein Air painters. A group of more than 30 local artists, they visit a different outdoor site to paint each week, weather permitting.
“Poetry renews and deepens the gift that most surely makes us human: the imagination.”
-- Poet John Burnside, 2012 winner of the T.S. Eliot Award.
National Poetry Month is drawing to a close, but that’s no reason to put aside your pen – or your imagination. Philadelphia's first poet laureate, Sonia Sanchez, is just four months into her reign, and the poetry scene here is thriving, with poetry readings, classes and workshops, open mics, and meetups. Following is a sampling:
by Pam George
Teaching your grandchildren to become good stewards of the environment never can start too early. Read on for a few ways to help get the kids started on the path toward a sustainable lifestyle.
Activities in our area include the Morris Arboretum's Tree Adventure (pictured here), where you and your grandkids can see what it's like to live in the treetops, just like birds in their nest!
A few years ago, a loud blip was heard in the elderblogosphere. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, it’s the wide world of the internet where seniors display their writing skills. Some tell the minutia of their lives, others post recipes, but many tackle weightier subjects like politics, the environment, and senior healthcare.
Elderbloggers are at least over fifty years old, some even into their high eighties. The prime example of an elderblog is Time Goes By, presided over by Ronni Bennett. Ronni, who is 70, used to be a producer of TV shows in York City, and her blog is quoted and referred to in all things senior more than any other elderblog on the ‘Net.
Ronni’s blog carries links to a roster of elderbloggers she’s more or less vetted. It’s a cozy, chummy elderhood of bloggers. Readers, especially older ones, need not fear to go there.
Until, one day, an upstart elderblogger appeared. And she caused, as Ronni Bennett called it, “A Tempest in a Blogging Teapot.” Ronni devoted her blog of December 17, 2007 to the subject:
Everyone has a story, it’s said. Since its founding nine years ago, StoryCorps’© oral history project has collected more than 40,000 stories from everyday people, among them: a conversation between a boy with Asperger's syndrome and his mom; an older Brooklyn couple recalling the journey from falling in love to confronting the man’s fatal illness; and a 9/11 widow remembering her husband’s last phone call.
During its early days, StoryCorps set up a recording studio in New York’s Grand Central Station to record the memories and experiences of people from all walks of life who passed through there. Since then, the organization has developed a number of ways to capture America’s voices.
I met him at Back-to-School night. In spite of there being only one child left in his match-the-parent-to-the-student ice breaker, he pretended to not know which child was mine. He had a beautiful smile. I added it to my “collection”.
My child, an innocent courier, brought home periodic announcements of his prophetic love. “Tell your mother that I love her,” he’d say. So as not appear unkind, simply put I’d respond, “Tell him that I love him, too.” Within the next two years the courier graduated and the “I love yous” stopped.
The setting: An upscale bar filled with established gay men of all sizes, shapes, colors, and ages, survivors of everything that followed Stonewall.
“Thom! How nice to see you--I’m sure the last few years must have been quite a trial for you, but if it’s any consolation, you still look great.”
“Thanks, John. Good to see you, too. I’m looking forward to getting out more after a few years of self-imposed exile. How about doing something together some time? (Then, after several minutes of fumbling with my phone’s buttons) Here’s my card. What self-respecting homosexual doesn’t have a card?”
At retirement age, after thirty-five years of knowing each other peripherally in social circles that not only didn’t intersect, but repelled, the die was cast.
Her name is Mrs. Marcia Smith-McCall. Her greatest triumph is overcoming a horrible disease: multiple sclerosis.
My wife, with assistance from me and my beloved Mother, helped to put four African-American children through college, which is a rarity.
I was chosen to be the Queen of the Mardi Gras parade at my local senior center. I invited a nice man, who was a volunteer at the front desk, if he would like to be my King. He answered “sure” with a happy smile on his face.
I borrowed two colorful Mardi Gras boas, with battery-operated lights on them, from my next door neighbor; and shiny beads from my daughter, who travels to New Orleans every year. Our costumes were complete for the celebration.
A song that is sung by Sam Cooke takes me back over 50 years ago to my first love. A handsome young man who even gave me a picture of himself and on the back he wrote, "I pray that we would not forget each other for our whole lifetime." In the song, it says about a lifetime remembering each other. Today 50 years later, I still sometimes wonder how different my life would have been if I had not broken up with him.
Winter doldrums setting in? Get a jump on the spring season with indoor container gardening. Whether you live in a small or a large space, winter is a wonderful time to start.
In addition to brightening your home, container gardening offers other advantages for your gardening pleasure. No invasive weeds or tree roots. No harsh weather conditions. No outdoor pests. Some plants can even help reduce indoor air pollution, according to a NASA study.
Here are some tips for cultivating your indoor garden, whether you choose flowering plants, vegetables, herbs or a more basic green plant.
Many profound expressions of love have been bestowed upon me; sacrificial, romantic, unconditional, reciprocal, adorational, mystical, spiritual, and reverent.
The sacrificial love occurred during the Great Depression of the 1930s when my teenage mother rendered me, her infant daughter, unto a loving, elderly Christian couple to care for me until she was able.
This elderly couple had a grown son who lived elsewhere, and had previously lost their only daughter from a terminal illness when she was age twenty-one, in the year 1925. I replaced the love and emptiness they lost and felt.
Perhaps it’s just my imagination, but it seems as though the world has been a colder and lonelier place since the current economic recession began. On Wednesday, February 8th at 1:30 P.M., we at the Philadelphia Free Library are going to strike back with a special pre-Valentine’s Day program for single booklovers over 50.
Please bring a book you want to talk about, as we plunge into the world of Speed Dating for the passionate reader.
Martha Young came to Philadelphia from North Carolina when she was just a baby, brought by her father, to fulfill her mother’s dying wish.
Ulysses Moore, too, came from North Carolina, to pursue his dream of being a city bus driver which he could not do in the Jim Crow South.
Tony Chandler had just turned 18 when he left North Carolina with $1.50 in his pocket and a cardboard suitcase for his clothes.
James Moseley came north from Georgia with his family in search of better medical care for his father.
Horace Preston fled Georgia in fear for his life, after hitting a dog that belonged to a white man.
Mrs. James Inel Jefferson’s father moved the family north to find better education for his children; but she, half Cherokee and half French, found herself bullied because of her dark skin.
They were among six million African-Americans and people of color who made the journey from the South to the North between 1900 and the 1960s because of the promise of a better life.
These six senior citizens, all members of Center in the Park in Germantown, are now featured in a video, "Journeys of Promise."
Photo: The late Horace Preston, as featured in "Journeys of Promise"
Franni Segal of Monarch Travel Services in Philadelphia says if you want to plan a getaway, obstacles such as age and special needs don't have to stand in your way. Specially arranged trips can be planned, she says, for a gathering that requests kosher arrangements, for example, or one with special medical considerations. Groups may have trips arranged to fit their needs.
Over the past 15 years, Segal has helped arrange trips for seniors as old as the mid- to late-80s. Monarch offers packages from four-to-five-day cruises (or longer) in the Caribbean to river cruises through Europe, including Russia, among other global destinations.
"We can do this - we should do this!" -- Jack Nicholson as Edward Cole in The Bucket List
Like many veteran retirees, I had never heard of a “bucket list” until a movie by the same name came out in 2007. I just called it a wanna-do list. It was very brief. It also was do-able — and accomplished.
What’s in your bucket? You know, the one you’ve been dropping your retirement hopes, dreams and desires into for years. Think about it for a minute.
Photo: Skydiving was one of the "to-dos" that Nicholson and Morgan Freeman checked off in the "Bucket List" - is it on yours?
The holidays are a great time to do things you’re always planning to do, but never get around to. Or things you haven’t done in years. Some of the things tourists travel for miles to do. Now, when the city's decked out in its finest, take time for yourself, or to treat visiting friends and family to some of its charms - both old and new.
Here are some uniquely Philadelphia experiences to make the holidays memorable. Best of all, many are free.
• Check out Franklin Square. Just north of Independence Mall, at the foot of the Ben Franklin Bridge, Franklin Square was long neglected and abused. Fresh and refurbished, it has a carousel and a most unusual miniature golf site — each of the “hazards” is a model of a Philadelphia landmark. And in December, the square is decked out for the holidays.
• Stroll the Penn campus. The University of Pennsylvania has been around since the 1700s, but it has never been more beautiful or dynamic. Locust Walk offers a charming stroll, especially when the trees are filled with twinkling lights. The new Penn Park, between Franklin Field and the Schuylkill River, has spectacular views of the city.
• Visit the African American Museum. Celebrating its 35th anniversary, this museum, at 7th and Arch Sts., has been underappreciated in the past, but is now a dynamic destination for visitors to the city’s historic district. The core exhibition “Audacious Freedom: African Americans in Philadelphia 1776 – 1876,” offers a high-tech, innovative look at a key period in African American history. Admission for seniors and youth 4-12 is $8; other adults $10.
• Discover the Comcast Center. At 17th St. and JFK Blvd., it’s Philadelphia’s tallest building. Its high-tech lobby, open to the public, features a 2,000-square-foot video screen that takes up almost an entire wall, and features eye-popping computer-generated video projections.The current show is a 3-D holiday-themed presentation.
• Don’t forget Wanamakers. The former Wanamakers department store (now Macy’s) is still a must-visit at this time of year, with its giant holiday light show in the atrium and concerts featuring the glorious sound of the 100-year-old Wanamaker organ, largest operational pipe organ in the world.
Who can explain it? Who can tell you why?
Fools give you reasons; wise men never try
-- Rodgers and Hammerstein, “Some Enchanted Evening”
Love is the stuff of poets and songwriters, novellists and dreamers; but it is also one of the most basic elements of human nature. Is there anyone who has never loved or been loved? Anyone who has never tried to express or describe love?
The world’s oldest known love poem was carved into a stone tablet more than 4,000 years ago, in the part of the world which was then Sumer, and is now Iraq.
Timeless and universal as it is, the nature of love remains one of the greatest mysteries of life. Using high-tech tools, scientists have documented the effects of love on the brain and body. But they can’t explain the reasons why one person lights up the reward pathways of the brain on an MRI, while another does not.
Only those who love can even hope to do so.
We are inviting readers to share their love stories with us, for possible publication.
Both the dead and the undead will be offering tricks and treats around Philadelphia this Halloween. There are opportunities to join in a public read-aloud of Bram Stoker’s Dracula; venture into the gothic recesses of one of the world’s most notorious former prisons; hear some of Laurel Hill Cemetery’s 75,000 stories come to life; or check out the macabre holdings behind the classical façade of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Read on, if you dare.
H.L. Mencken once said “The writing profession is reeking with this loneliness. All our lives we spend in discoursing with ourselves. . . . The loneliest people in the world we writers are.”
But it need not be so.
To be sure, most people need a certain amount of quiet and solitude to commit their thoughts and ideas to the page. But writers have always sought out the company of other writers – think of Gertrude Stein’s Paris salon, frequented by Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound and Thornton Wilder. Or the Algonquin Round Table, where Herman J. Mankiewicz, George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber kibbutzed and collaborated on numerous plays, in addition to their individual creations.
Today, the wonderful high-tech world of Meetup, listservs and Nanowrimo makes connecting with like minds as easy as clicking your mouse, and can help banish loneliness forever.
Social Security District Manager in Philadelphia
Plan to start receiving your Social Security retirement benefits in January of 2012? We recommend you apply this October if you would like your benefits to begin in January.
If the prospect of traveling to an office does not appeal to you, then save yourself a trip and consider the advantages of applying online for Social Security retirement benefits. The Social Security website makes the process easy and convenient.
(also see related story, below, about upcoming event)
Dr. Dan Gottlieb, host of WHYY's "Voices in the Family," will lead a panel discussion on "Moving into Retirement" at the continuing care retirement community, Beaumont at Bryn Mawr, on December 3rd at 1:00 p.m.The discussion will focus on the difficult questions that face retirees and their children as they prepare to make the move into retirement: When, how, and who will help?
The panel will include Willo Carey, Margit Novack, and Peter Hecht. Carey is the executive director of WHYY's "Wider Horizons" service as well as the past vice chair of the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, and a member of the advisory board for the University of Pennsylvania's Institute on Aging. Margit Novack is the president of Moving Solutions, a moving consulting firm with a particular focus on retirees. Peter Hecht, CFP®, is a first vice-president of investments for UBS, specializing in retirement planning.
When you hear the words "senior center," if all you can think of are bingo and hot lunches, you are way behind the times!
Instead, think Wii, rock 'n roll dance parties and computer classes. Always wanted to learn a language? Among the 23 full-service senior centers in Philadelphia funded by PCA, you can find classes in French, Hebrew, Spanish, Yiddish - and English as a second language. And there are still hot meals to be had, at these and 11 satellite centers in neighborhoods throughout the city.
September is Senior Center Month; a good opportunity to reflect on what centers have been, and where they are going.
Today's senior center is a world away from the early days; as are today's seniors and soon-to-be seniors. Those early days were the post-World-War II years. Philadelphia Senior Center, the oldest in Philadelphia and third oldest in the nation, was founded in 1949. The San Francisco Senior Center in California, which claims to be the oldest, was founded just two years earlier.
In fact, tomorrow's senior center may not even be called "senior;" based on responses to a survey of senior center directors conducted by the National Institute of Senior Centers. Some 63% said they favored changing the names of their programs, and 70% said baby boomers can't relate to it.
They have more than 100 years’ combined experience working in Philadelphia’s clothing factories during the heyday of the city’s garment industry.
Now, when they get together for their weekly sewing class at Lehigh Senior Center they do it for fun - and they say sewing brings back memories.
Photo of Marie Brantley and Mecolia Richardson by Evangelina Iavarone
The word “revolutionary” may not spring immediately to mind when thinking of the Victorian era, but perhaps it should. Between the years 1837 and 1899, inventions were produced and patented at an unprecedented rate. According to the Museum of American Heritage, in those 62 years, the United States Patent Office registered 1,115,393 new patents .
Among them was the Singer sewing machine, for which Isaac Merritt Singer received a patent August 12, 1851. The company now is celebrating its 160th anniversary by gathering people’s stories about their Singer sewing machines, with chances to win a limited edition 160th anniversary sewing machine.
Vintage ad from Singer Sewing Machine Company Facebook page
All of you loving husbands out there, please don’t be offended when I say this: husbands (maybe not all, but some) tend to bounce back more quickly from the death of their spouses than do wives. This is not a reflection on their devotion to their lost wives; the world is just a much more welcoming place for widowers.
In fact, stories abound about widows lying in wait like vultures to seize upon a freshly minted widower, swooping in to console and casserole him even before he’s had a chance to change the message on the home answering machine. Thus, a perfectly decent, and perfectly ordinary, older married man is transformed into a hot commodity, merely by the passing of his wife.
Increasingly, it seems the world is being divided into two types of people: those who use Facebook and those who don’t.
Facebook can reconnect you with friends and family, near and far. It’s a free, convenient way to see what everyone in your life is up to. Plus, you can get short updates, tips, coupons and inside scoop from your favorite authors, TV shows, news reporters, musicians, sports teams and even local businesses.
Facebook facts and myths
Facebook skeptics have their reasons for staying away, but some are based on misconceptions; for example, the fear that "everyone will know my business."
Worries about privacy are always a valid concern on the Internet. But Facebook users have control over what they post, and who sees it.
If you're reading this, you've already taken the first step towards becoming part of the "Facebook Nation;" you, along with 2 billion other people worldwide, a're on the internet. About 685 million of those people use Facebook, more than twice the population of the United States. If you aren't one of them, but have been edging in that direction, here's a "how-to" that might help. (If you are on, you may want to check out the story below for some advice on privacy):
How to Join Facebook
1. Get on the Internet.
2. Go to Facebook home page www.facebook.com.
3. Fill in categories at right, under “Sign Up.”
4. Provide required information. (Birthday information is required to screen for minors under 13.)
5. Click “Sign Up” button.
6. You may see small box with jumbled letters. This is to make sure you are a human who can recognize squiggly letters and not a spamming computer that can’t. Type in what you see. If you get it wrong, it will give you more chances.
Own a computer long enough and you’ll become familiar with one of the following scenarios:
• A scroll of seemingly meaningless computer code takes over your screen.
• The computer reports that operating files are missing.
• The computer simply doesn’t work properly—if at all.
• The screen goes dark.
Whom can you call? Quite a few services fit the bill.
Do you see that short middle-aged woman over in aisle three, wandering dazed and bewildered through the teeming shelves of skin care products? That’s me, or possibly you. In fact, it’s every woman, because for as long as the advertising industry has existed, women have been a favorite mark.
The strategy is pretty simple: When you need to sell a worthless product you start by creating an artificial demand for it. Anti-aging creams and lotions are a great example. So, ever since we donned our first training bras, Madison Avenue has drilled into our pretty little heads that wrinkles and saggy skin are something to be dreaded and avoided at all costs. And I do mean costs.
The result of decades of media brainwashing is that we are convinced that it is close to a moral imperative to “do something” about those unsightly wrinkles. So successful has this campaign been that there is no longer any question as to whether or not we will embark upon an expensive and time-consuming skin care program. The only question, as we browse through aisles and aisles stocked with over-priced and under-effective products, is -- which will we choose.
Well, maybe if we de-mystified the process a bit the media wouldn’t have such a hold on us. I’m pretty sure I understand how it’s done and I’m prepared to share the formula with you.
But first, we must give credit where credit is due: to Leonard B. Stern. Though you may npt know his name, parents owe a debt of gratitude to Stern, for those rare moments of peace and quiet on long car trips when our kids were occupied with Mad Libs - his creation.
One is in the entertainment business – the other advocates for the most vulnerable among us. On Sunday (June 5) following the 2 p.m. performance, these two very different organizations will weave together comedy and pathos in a thought-provoking afternoon of entertainment and conversation.
The occasion is Lantern Theater Company’s matinee performance of “Vigil,” a play Stage Magazine called an “intensely witty and brazen” dark comedy – about death.
When Charles Simms, a retired steel worker, saw a neighbor working on a quilt one day, “I said to myself, ‘I can do that,’” he remembers. “I could sew a little, but I didn’t know quilting. I had no idea how involved it would be,” he says now.
Since then, Simms has created a number of quilts, all made from scraps of recycled material – mainly shirts, curtains and blouses. He is one of 167 older adults, including several quilters, whose artwork is on display this month, as part of the ninth annual "Celebrate Arts and Aging,” presented by Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA).
It’s funny how things turn around on us. We spend the first part of our adult life envying people with great jobs, and the last part envying people with great hobbies, many of whom had the opportunity to develop the latter mainly because they lacked the former.
Eventually, if you’re fortunate enough to be able to retire, your avocation will become your vocation. Which means that if you’re over 50, still working, and haven’t yet developed a riveting hobby of some kind, you need to find one right away.
Keep in mind that retirement comes in two flavors, planned and unplanned, and in either case you’ll be in for a rude shock if you haven’t planned your post-work world. But before you rush to take up scrapbooking or sign up for lessons in Italian, take a few moments to consider some of the really creative and exciting diversions out there.
There’s the exhilarating pastime of tornado chasing, for example. Or, you could indulge your criminal tendencies with locksport, the sport of picking locks. Baton twirling – you’ve seen it, but have you tried it? It’s tougher than it looks. And for the fan of medieval history who’s too wimpy to fence, there’s boffering - sword fights with padded weapons.
But maybe you’d prefer to select a pursuit that complements your deeply held principles and values. Say, for example, you’re committed to ending the global nuclear arms race by promoting a less cataclysmic alternative -- such as spud guns. Not to be confused with scud missiles, these involve the launching of projectiles at high speed through the use of pneumatic pressure or the combustion of gaseous fuels.
Also known as potato cannons, their “ammunition” consists of chunks of potatoes or other vegetables; even huge ones such as pumpkins. Just think of how much safer, not to mention funnier, the world would be if countries gave up their nuclear weapons to compete in a vegetable arms race. Countries invading each other to seek out and destroy vegetables of mass destruction. One could go on and on….
Hopefully, you’re beginning to realize that when it comes to hobbies, there are many fascinating options to choose from.
Josephine Anderson’s clay sculpture, “The Working Man,” is one of the 167 artworks by seniors on display for Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s“Celebrate Arts and Aging” during Older Americans Month in May.
The piece portrays the head and shoulders of a man who seems to be surveying the scene in front of him: a brightly colored desk and chair on one side and, opposite that, a bookcase with a vase and clock on top.
Anderson, 63, says the piece was inspired by her brother, Tyrone Lee, who teaches welding at Jules Mastbaum High School in Philadelphia. “He’s been a teacher for 30 years, and he’s still not ready to retire,” she says. “He loves teaching; he loves his students.”
Lee has yet to see this artwork, and, while he is its inspiration, the face in the piece is more abstract. It could be any modern-day working man, according to Anderson.
South Philadelphia artist Marie Ricciuti's colorful, evocative painting “The Overseer” is the signature work for Celebrate Arts & Aging in 2011. It was among those displayed last year; this year, another of her works, "The Birth Mother," is on display at the Free Library of Philadelphia, one of three exhibit locations displaying 167 works by older artists.
"My paintings are symbolic and psychological in content." Ricciuti says. "The woman in this painting, 'The Overseer,' represents myself. My cacoons represent myself in gestation and also represent love and safety. My husband, a double amputee, is inside a cacoon and I am standing nearby protectively overseeing him. The parrot on my arm is also a symbol of love and safety."
When you think of a “senior artist,” what comes to mind?
Picasso, who created more than 400 paintings in the three years before his death at 92?
Or someone like Nancy Huo, who was over 70 when she took her first watercolor class at On Lok Senior Center? Two years later, she painted “Beautiful Young Chinese Lady,” pictured here -- an impressive achievement -- but far from unique, as Philadelphians have an opportunity to discover this May.
Throughout May, three exhibits of works by 147 older artists are on display in Philadelphia, as part of "Celebrate Arts and Aging." A reception (free and open to the public) at each location will offer the public a chance to see the art, and meet the artists.
Presented by Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, and sponsored in part by Phillyfunguide and PECO, the celebration also offers discounts for senior citizens to more than 30 exhibits and performances; and hundreds of opportunities to discover and exercise their creativity.
I’ve long been addicted to “To Do" lists.
This is partly because they provide me with the illusion of control over my life, but mainly it’s because I experience intense satisfaction in briskly checking off items on the list.
In fact, I often add tasks to my list that I’ve already completed just so I can check them off, thereby experiencing a sense of accomplishment even before I begin.
Visitors to the Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society's museum/library/gift shop on North York Road in Hatboro often ask the society's executive director, Ernie Montella, this question:
"When did the Phillies change their name from the A's?"
The Phillies are the sun, moon and stars in Philadelphia's current sports universe, but that wasn't always the case. During the first third of the 20th century, the Athletics provided the city's championship swagger, stars and warm memories.
Last month a touching story was reported in The Chicago Tribune about Kristine Casey, the 61-year-old woman who acted as a surrogate for her daughter and son-in-law, successfully delivering her own grandson.
Casey is probably the oldest woman in the State of Illinois to give birth which, even without the surrogacy, is obviously quite remarkable. But to give birth as a surrogate, and then to your own grandson, is truly astounding.
The background to this miracle of modern science is the daughter’s sad history, having tragically experienced the loss of stillborn twins and a miscarriage. Joyful as their storybook ending is, I have to confess to mixed emotions when contemplating the situation.
Despite what the ads for prescription drugs and medical supplies may lead you to believe, the second half of life can be filled with promise and richness. People age 50+ have been shown to possess a unique resilience and zeal for life that is unmatched by younger generations. If you remain eager and open to gaining new insights, you can navigate the special challenges of growing older with confidence.
Many resources are available to help make your ‘encore years’ the best ones yet, while sidestepping landmines along the way. Coming of Age recently published ‘The Age for Change,’ a free e-book focused on helping adults 50+ manage their current and future life challenges. Told through the personal stories of people growing older, the e-book touches on many issues of real concern to adults in their 50s and beyond.
You may have already begun to ask yourself some of these questions: Have I saved enough for my retirement? Now that my children have moved out, what will I do with my empty house? Are the physical changes I’m experiencing normal?
With spring’s arrival Sunday, outdoor adventures await. Ours is a city of contrasts; rich in history and tradition, yet welcoming new flavors and possibilities. The arts are to be found not only in museums but in surprising places all throughout the city.
Whether your preference runs to scenic, historic, gastronomic, or a combination of these, here are some suggestions for springtime strolls, sure to help you leave cabin fever far behind.
I never had a Bat Mitzvah.
This set me apart from many of my classmates – third graders enticed to suffer through years of Hebrew school by the promise of a big, splashy party at the end. But as an intensely shy ten-year-old, I was horrified by the prospect of a gala featuring me as the guest of honor, preceded by a solo performance before family, friends and congregants at which I would be required to chant in an ancient language while a rabbi looked over my shoulder, shaking his head mournfully. So when my mother gave me the choice of Hebrew school or ballet class, I opted for group recitals in tights and tutus as the lesser of two evils.
Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) is offering a double dose of health and flowers with a special event in conjunction with the 2011 Philadelphia International Flower Show.
“Growing Healthy with the Flower Show” on Monday, March 7 will feature health screenings, fitness activities and gardening tips, light refreshments, vendor exhibits, and a special guest appearance by Philadelphia Eagles Safety Quintin Mikell.
PCA's event will take place from 1:30 to 4 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn, 1100 Arch Street across the street from the Pennsylvania Convention Center.Seniors can attend this event for just $10, and then head over to the Flower Show with a free pass they pick up at the PCA event ($35 value; limit one pass per person).
“Gardening is such a wonderful activity, combining exercise with fresh air and growing things. It has both physical and mental health benefits, and we want to help seniors find ways to get engaged,” says Joan Zaremba, PCA director of marketing and corporate relations. "Philadelphia now has all of these community gardens and some of the senior centers have gardens too. There are a lot of opportunities even if people don’t have a yard.”
Cindy Little, 66, a historian with the Philadelphia History Museum in Center City, says she often finds herself practicing her "Zumba" footwork while waiting for her train weekday mornings. Zumba, a Latin-inspired fusion of dance and fitness, lends itself to such spontaneity.
According to the official Zumba website, this phenomenon began serendipitously when Colombian fitness instructor Alberto "Beto” Perez, forgot his traditional aerobics music for class and decided to improvise using a mix of salsa and merengue tapes he had in his back pack. The class loved it, and the Zumba fitness revolution was soon underway.
In 2001, Perez, along with Colombian-born entrepreneurs Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion, formally launched the Zumba Fitness company in Miami. As demand grew, the trio added the Zumba Academy in 2005 to license more instructors. According to the Zumba website, there are now more than 10 million people taking Zumba classes in 90,000 locations worldwide.
Photo: Jerry Blavat, Jocko Henderson, Georgie Woods: photo from Philadelphia Music Alliance
Mention the names, Georgie Woods, Hy Lit, Jocko Henderson or Jerry Blavat to anyone of a “certain age” who grew up in Philadelphia or South Jersey, and you are likely to tap into a flood of nostalgia. In the 50s and 60s, these DJs were king at the AM radio stations such as WIBG Radio 99 (990); WFIL “Famous 56” (560); WDAS 1480; and WHAT 1340 AM, that ruled the air waves.
Channeled through these charismatic talkers, the wild new sounds of rock ‘n roll and rhythm ‘n blues became the ever-present soundtrack for the lives of a whole generation; and for an era of social change.
The other morning I made a ruckus trying to get my chronically late teenager up in time for school. She pleaded for “just another ten minutes” but I yelled, screamed and threatened waterboarding until I got her up and into the bathroom.
But when she hadn’t surfaced a half hour later I peeked in to find her curled up on the floor of the shower, sleeping, or pretending to sleep. She was going to get those extra ten minutes one way or another.
My daughter was treating me to a taste of passive aggressive behavior; better said, she was treating herself, because passive aggression is not only one of the most underrated tools in our arsenal, it’s also one of the most satisfying. (More about that later.)
So what exactly is passive aggressive behavior? It’s a statement or act that appears on the surface to be innocent or even sweet, but is actually motivated by hostility, containing a hidden barb of some sort - a sugar-coated pill with a really bad aftertaste. This compliment, for example, from a slim woman to a heavy one: “How brave of you to wear leggings!” It’s the kind of behavior that characterizes the so-called “mean girls”.
So, mean girls, mean women, how did we get to be that way? After all, evolutionary psychologists tell us were programmed to be pleasers. When the cavemen went off to hunt the women stayed behind to care for the kids, bonding together in the face of danger, finding safety in numbers.
My family is a curious blend of die-hard traditional and open-armed acceptance of new things – just as long as they’re traditional. Lest that seem like a contradiction, let me explain.
Like many in the “Baby Boomer” generation, I am part of a “blended” family. I was raised a church-going, choir-singing Protestant, and raised my daughter, Lindsay, likewise. Her father and I divorced, and when she was 10, I remarried. My husband Carl is Jewish, and in his household, holidays were observed more as celebrations of heritage than of faith. His 14-year-old daughter, Ariel, moved in with us when we married, and though there was often strife in the family, it was never about religion.
‘Tis the season for New Year’s resolutions. Here’s a thought: How about starting tango lessons in 2011?
Philly’s tango scene is already in bloom, with classes, milongas (tango parties) and tango practicas (practice sessions) happening throughout the region each week. (Those Saturday tango dances at Rittenhouse Square will have to wait ‘til summer.)
Dancers range from late teens to 80, says local teacher Lesley Mitchell, co-founder of Dance Philadelphia, with her husband, Kelly Ray.
“It’s easy to find a partner if you don’t have one, she says. We don’t guarantee a romance, but you’re almost certain to make new friends.”
Tango, which originated in Buenos Aires, Argentina more than 100 years ago, is a sensuous ballroom dance, known for its syncopated rhythms and dramatic flair. Popular in the jazz age, it has enjoyed a resurgence sparked, in part, by the 1990s Broadway musical “Forever Tango,” and the films “Tango”(1998) and “Take the Lead” starring Antonio Banderas (2006). Nowadays tango is a fixture on shows like “Dancing with the Stars,” and a worldwide community of dancers is flourishing.
Besides the music and the social aspects, Mitchell describes it as an exhilarating form of exercise, as much mental as it is physical. “It can be very simple or complex,” she points out. “Whichever you choose, you can still have fun.”
If you're looking for entertainment this holiday season, there is plenty to choose from; chocolate tours, a lighted boat parade and a play about five-inch-tall people are three of our favorites. But that's just a sampling; there's much more at the PhillyFunGuide, including information about accessible venuesand a weekly email with half-price tickets to theaters, museums and attractions.
For those who have nautical leanings, this Saturday, Dec. 18, would be a great time to visit Independence Seaport Museum. For the usual price of admission, you will also get a first class view of the 1st Annual Seaport Parade of Lights. You can sip free hot chocolate on the riverfront balcony while watching the parade of festive, lighted boats, led by the Jupiter, a vintage 1902 tug maintained by the Philadelphia Ship Preservation Guild.
Photo courtesy of the Arden Theatre: The Borrowers
Choosing holiday gifts for the younger generation is not nearly as much of a challenge as choosing a gift for folks your own age or older. After all these years, they may well be the ones who “have everything.” Try taking inspiration from their affinities or deficits - or a combination of both - to come up with the perfect gift.
‘Publishing as a Gift’
Here’s a gift that will leave a legacy for future generations. Seniors have memories and experiences worth sharing with others, which will be lost forever if not recorded. You can help your loved one create a book to be treasured now and for years to come.
One way to do it is through AuthorHouse’s “Publishing as a Gift” program. You can purchase a publishing gift certificate for $399 and up. For information: 1-888-519-5121.
Sending a Sunnygram
A Sunnygram is a newsletter with e-mail messages and photos from family and friends, mailed weekly so your loved one needn’t use a computer to stay connected. You can give a Sunnygram subscription as a gift ($12.99 a month, $64.99 for six months, $129.99 for a year). For customer service: 1-888-51-SUNNY.
If someone you know loves going to the theater but has a visual or hearing impairment , Art-Reach and the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia have come up with a great gift idea: Access Certificates.
are gift certificates that can be purchased in $10 increments, and redeemed for tickets to an accessible performance at one of a dozen theaters. These special performances will feature one or more of the following: open captioning (OC) for audiences who are deaf or hard-of-hearing; audio description (AD) for audiences who are blind or low-vision; or American Sign Language interpretation (ASL) for audiences who are deaf.
Here’s my rule of thumb: every quarter century or so, without fail, change your hairstyle, rethink your makeup, update your wardrobe and, as part of this makeover, identify a new role model for yourself.
I admit that adult women should be sufficiently comfortable with themselves to have matured beyond the need for a guru. But in every phase of our lives we’re covering new ground (at least new to us), so it’s helpful to focus on somebody whose attitude, philosophy and lifestyle can serve to point us in the right direction.
Remember the old TV show that used to conclude, “There are eight million stories in the Naked City…this has been one of them?”
In my family, that line was a catch-phrase that signalled the start of one of my mother's many stories. There was the time she drove a car through Philadelphia’s City Hall; the “sleeper bus” she took to California in around 1935; and how she taught my father to eat spaghetti.
Is there a person in your life who tells great stories, or perhaps someone you've always wanted to ask about their childhood, their military service or some other aspect of their lives? Here’s your incentive -- StoryCorps has created a “National Day of Listening” to prod people all across the country to sit down and do it now.
Twins Bernice Moore (left) and Beatrice Newkirk, 77, (right) didn't meet until they were nine years old. The story of their meeting, and many others, have been shared in an online blog and in a storytelling class. On Nov. 14 the two will be onstage at the Free Library along wtih a dozen other seniors at a free event which is open to the public, "Senior Storytelling Day."
Neither is sure which story she is going to tell when the big day comes. Like others of their generation, the sisters have lived through momentous times, including the Great Depression, World War II, the Civil Rights movement, and the election of the nation’s first black President.
Moore remembers going down South during the era of the Jim Crow laws, to visit her husband, then stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia. “When the train got down to D.C., I had to change cars. They put on an extra car for ‘colored only,’” she says.
A little white boy peeked through the curtain, Moore recently recounted about that incident. “He said to me, ‘What color are you?’ I told him ‘I’m red, white, and blue, the color of the flag.’”
All her life, Octavia Greene heard family stories – about the ancestor who served in the Union Army during the Civil War; the young girl who walked from Kentucky to Virginia, tied behind a wagon along with a cow; and the great-grandfather who was an itinerant C.M. E. minister.
In the early 1970s, she was attending Spelman College in Atlanta, GA, when Alex Haley came to talk about his soon-to-be-published book, Roots: The Saga of an American Family. "When he finished up talking about these relatives he found in Gambia, the hairs just stood up on the back of my neck,” Greene said.
But it was another 20 years before she started her own journey into the past, which now is an ongoing quest.
We know who we are – the Helicopter Parents everyone makes fun of – always suspended in mid-air above our kids, ready to parachute in to deal with any problem. And if you’ve recently sent your beloved charge off to college you’re probably feeling, mixed in with the pride, a real sense of loss.
Because now that you’ve unpacked the dorm room, approved the roommates, given instructions to the resident advisor about curfew and lactose intolerance, you feel that your purpose for existing has disappeared. Let’s see if we can cheer you up. First, let’s challenge the idea that your child’s absence has left your life bereft of purpose and meaning.
Cannon roar and belch fire and smoke. Eyes sting and blur, trying to make sense of the forms emerging through the haze. Hundreds of men march down the cobblestoned street, ten or more across, wearing red and carrying muskets - and now they halt - kneel - and fire!
Thrilling and terrifying, despite the knowledge that it is all smoke and no real ammunition, this is the annual reenactment of the Battle of Germantown that will take place this Saturday, October 2, 2010. Hundreds of re-enactors bring to life the events of 1777 as Hessians, Highlanders, and British battled the Colonials led by General George Washington.
Activities throughout the day include a performance by MacGregor's Pipe Band, jugglers, puppeteers, and an Oktoberfest. You can also meet some fascinating characters, including Washington, British General Sir William Howe and Ned Hector, a patriot and Revolutionary War hero of African descent. For a complete schedule, click here.
When she was in graduate school in the early ’80s, Merle Drake came upon a Cosmopolitan Magazine advertisement with the words “When you’re 25 and no longer young…”
"My first reaction was that I had only few more years to be a viable member of society," she said. “The Women’s Movement was blossoming then, but the focus was primarily on younger women’s issues, not on women as they aged,”
Drake was one of the panelists at a recent forum on“Women and Aging: Image (R)evolution ,” sponsored by GenPhilly, a network of young professionals that focuses on fostering an age-friendly Philadelphia. Others were Sarah H. Kagan, Ph.D., RN, Lucy Walker Honorary Term Professor of Gerontological Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and Valerie Temple Lange, programming and community outreach coordinator at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute.
For the 13th year, Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) is raising funds to support community-based home-delivered meal programs -- but this year with a new twist. "The 'PhillyMeals on Wheels' auction has gone high-tech," said Joan Zaremba, director of marketing and corporate relations for PCA. "We've launched an online auction, with a range of exciting items for people to bid on. We hope to attract a much broader audience, enabling us to raise more funds to provide meals for homebound elderly."
The auction can be viewed at biddingforgood.com/pcaCares; among the items up for bid is a four-night, five-day vacation for two at a resort hotel in Cancun or Punta Cana, including lodging, meals, drinks and airfare. Dinner at the Palm, tickets to an Eagles game or a show at the Arden Theatre and a chance to meet Danny Bonaduce or VIP passes to "Live With Regis and Kelly" are among the other offerings. According to Zaremba, the auction goes through September 26.
"This is a fun way to do some good," Zaremba said. On the serious side of the equation, she said that 100% of the funds raised through the auction will go to support home-delivered meal programs. "There are some 20,000 senior citizens in Philadelphia who need help preparing meals," she said. "Home-delivered meal programs both provide a nutritious meal and give isolated seniors some human contact. Both are really important to their well-being."
Stretching from Pennsylvania’s southern Chester County to northern New Castle County Delaware, the Brandywine River Valley once echoed with the sounds of one of the fiercest battles of the American Revolutionary War. Today, this serene countryside offers an abundance of natural beauty and recreational attractions that make it a garden-lovers’ paradise and a perfect destination for lovers of almost any art.
From 1050-acre Longwood Gardens with its spectacular fountains, flowers. and 11,000 different plants and trees; to the antique-filled country estate of Winterthur; to the Brandywine River Museum, home to an exceptional collection of art by three generations of Wyeths; the Brandywine River Valley has much to offer.
Michelangelo famously said, “I am still learning.” At age 70-plus, it sums up the attitude of Thelma Reese, Bobby Fleisher and a growing number of women who call themselves “ElderChicks.”
Not only are they still learning, they’re sharing their wisdom with one another, and anyone else who cares to read their blog, titled “ElderChicks: Helping each other master the art of a senior life.”
Have you ever noticed that all the good female shapes, for example, the inverted triangle and that feminine ideal, the hour glass, are not to be found anywhere in nature? The natural, organic ones are the least desirable female forms, like the bottom-heavy pear, the round apple and the shapeless banana.
Many an hour of my youth was spent poring over magazines that preached acceptance and self-love while devoting most of their pages to glossy images of unnaturally shaped models, with tips about how to look more like them (more-or-less inanimate objects) and less like ourselves (more-or-less fruit).
It took me all of my childhood and adolescence and a good portion of my adult years to adjust to my own pear silhouette and to finally acknowledge the pluses as well as the minuses of this particular design.
And then it all began to shift.
Imagine a young couple
starting out in a tiny apartment in New York City. She's a reference librarian; he's a postal clerk. They like art. Fast forward. Same apartment. Same couple. But now it's filled with more than 4,000 original works of art. Floor to ceiling - on the ceiling - covering every flat surface - and under the bed.
For more than forty years, Herb and Dorothy Vogel have lived on her salary and devoted his to buying an art collection of staggering breadth. Now a small slice of that collection - 50 paintings - is on display at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. (PAFA)
As we approach the season of the romantic summer wedding, let’s spend a moment contemplating a different kind of marriage, one that we are not likely to witness being celebrated with a splashy affair at the Ritz.
Imagine, if you will, the blushing bride descending down the aisle to face not one, but a half-dozen or so expectant, eager grooms. I refer to the form of common marriage known as “polyandry,” in which a wife takes several husbands at a time. (not to be confused with "polygamy," which can refer to either a man or a woman who has more than one spouse).
Though it's never been mainstream, it's nevertheless still practiced today in certain remote villages in the Himalayas. There, the custom is for a woman to marry all the brothers of a single family.
Phyllis Voren has entertained U.S. troops within the Arctic Circle; performed in a Ritz Crackers commercial with Andy Griffith; and done improv at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles (with Robin Williams watching from the wings).
But tonight, she is lying on the floor of a Temple University Center City (TUCC ) classroom, flapping her arms.
Four students are standing around her: a figure skater who had just missed going to the Olympics and said she needed a reason to laugh; a former costumer for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus who discovered she likes performing; someone who said he got started as a student at TUCC by taking a beer-tasting class and just happened to sign up for this; and a student who wants to do standup comedy.
When Alice Dustin turns 68 next month, she will celebrate by taking her second lifetime lesson on the flying trapeze. It’s just one of the many things she does to stay young. She started learning judo in her 40s and at the age of 59, she competed in two judo tournaments.
Dustin is pictured balancing on another person's thigh.
Photos courtesy of Philadelphia School of Circus Arts.
Shopping with my mother is, surprisingly, much the same experience for me now, in middle-age, as it was in middle-school.
There are several reasons for this, but they all flow from my mother’s unshakeable belief that, as God made Adam in his own image, so each of her daughters will eventually emerge as more-or-less duplicate copies of herself. She seems to reject the concept of the separate and unique DNA of her progeny. From her perspective it’s a simple matter of peeling away all those layers of mistaken identity we call “ourselves” to reveal the true person underneath – that being “her.”
Understand that my mother is neither an egomaniac nor a control freak. She just knows this.
Wen Feng, 77, had never painted until she retired in 2004, and enrolled in a class at the On Lok senior center.
“Before enrolling in the Chinese painting class, I had no prior experience. In fact, I couldn’t even hold a paint brush properly!” she said. This month, her watercolor “Houses on Riverbank” is one of 25 paintings on display at Rembrandt’s Restaurant, as part of “Celebrate Arts and Aging.” The celebration, presented by Philadelphia Corporation for Aging and Phillyfunguide, offers senior discounts of 25% or more to cultural venues and includes five exhibits of senior art, plus dozens of classes and workshops. (see related story below)
An arts showcase, exhibit and reception will be held Thursday May 6 from 2:30 to 7 p.m. at The Center at Journey’s Way to kick off the month-long “Celebrate Arts and Aging” activities taking place throughout Philadelphia. The public is invited to join the festivities and tour the just-opened Center at Journey’s Way, Pensdale II senior housing and Adult Day Center at Journey’s Way.
Activities will include a performance by the Classic Tones singers, a one-act play, and demonstrations of weaving, beading, painting and pottery. Paintings and sculptures will be on display throughout the building. The exhibit is one of five displays of senior art taking place throughout May at locations around the city.
Research shows the arts are good for you, whether you’ve discovered a passion for painting or dance late in life, been a professional artist or simply enjoy being part of the audience. This May, Philadelphia Corporation for Aging has joined with the Phillyfunguide to create a special promotion, Celebrate Arts & Aging, that offers seniors dozens of special discounts on museums, theaters and special events; plus classes and workshops where they can exercise their own creativity.
Philadelphia has changed a lot since 1925, when W.C. Fields told Vanity Fair that his gravestone should read “Here lies W. C. Fields. I would rather be living in Philadelphia.” Born in the Philadelphia suburbs, he’d be astonished by the profusion of nightlife, entertainment, arts, culture and recreation the city has to offer today.
He’d be equally amazed at how easy it is to access information about arts and cultural events, buy tickets and find discounts, thanks to Phillyfunguide, an online regional calendar produced by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance since 2002. It provides thousands of up-to-date listings and descriptions for theater, music and dance performances; museum exhibits; classes; outdoor activities; sports; film, literary and culinary events; kids’ activities and more.
Jerry Waxler is passionate about memoir writing. Not just his – yours.
When you talk with him, it becomes clear that he’s on a quest to discover and share the underlying story of his own life, and to encourage others to do the same. He will present “Find the Story in Your Life: Four Steps to Translate Memories into Memoirs” at a free forum in Fishtown April 25, sponsored by the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference.
Waxler’s life story includes a B.A. in physics from the University of Wisconsin followed by a long career with computer software companies and what he describes as “a pretty cool midlife crisis.”
If it’s already happened, you remember it – who, where, when. And if you’re one of those Baby Boomers that hasn’t yet experienced this milestone, prepare yourself - it’s coming.
Artists age 55 and over are invited to submit artwork for inclusion in "Engage! Celebrate Arts and Aging" festivities during Older Americans Month in May. Exhibits will be mounted at three venues throughout Philadelphia.
Sponsored by Philadelphia Corporation for Aging in collaboration with the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, "Engage! Celebrate Arts and Aging" highlights older adults’ artistic talents and creativity with events throughout the city.
Most of us don’t think of ourselves as gamblers. Yet almost without being aware of it, we all regularly crunch numbers in our minds, calculating the odds of this or that as we make the most mundane decisions in our daily lives. And when we perceive the probability of a bad thing happening to be low enough, we instinctively file the risk away in the category of “never going to happen to me” and go about our business.
So we cheerfully accept the statistical possibility of death as we perform our daily grooming routines (drowning in a bathtub – 1 out of 900,900; or slipping and falling to your death in the shower – 1 out of 2,232). And we peacefully drift off to sleep at night without considering the .021% chance we will die falling out of bed.
One day – just an ordinary day – and for no particular reason other than an uncomfortable, annoying rush of homesickness, I called my then 85 year-old grandma in Seattle… just to talk.
I’d never done that before. I am, after all, an architect who’s got glamorous ambitions to chase and chic parties to attend. I’m far too busy to spend a couple minutes on the phone with my grandma. Well, that phone call changed my life. It led to a lot of things, among which was a storytelling and writing class I've been leading since September.
(Click on "Read More" for the rest of Benita's story; scroll to the bottom for "Black and White Grits, one of the stories from her class)
February can be a dismal month if you're single and would rather not be. As Valentine's Day approaches there are hearts plastered everywhere you look.
But don't despair.
If you're longing for romance, or just fun and companionship, we've put together some resources to help you find that compatible someone, whether you're a book lover, golfer, oenophile (wine-lover, that is) or just enjoy long walks in the park.
Are you reading this aloud or “to yourself?” I’m guessing the latter, i.e., that you are actually pronouncing the words in your mind as you read them. So let me ask this: exactly who are you reading to? It’s confusing, isn’t it, because the act of reading “to__” typically contemplates one person reading to another person.
However, in this case it is you reading to your self. So are these two separate persons - you and your self? My point is, there appears to be a subject/object relationship underlying every aspect of our thought processes, which leaves us with the uncomfortable conclusion that we aren’t exactly alone up there.
Peggy Leiby longed to dance, but thought she needed a partner to step out on the dance floor.
Over the years, she dabbled – doing the Bristol Stomp as a teenager; taking a ballet class here, a jazzercise class there; roller-skating to music; and taking classes in ballroom dancing.
Then in fall of 1991 she discovered something that changed her life.
“I had just turned 40,” she recalled.
She found a listing in the Inquirer for International Folk Dancing at what was then Beaver College in Glenside (now Arcadia University) “I had never heard those rhythms before – Balkan and Greek especially,” she said. “I started going every week, and fell in love with it – I loved the footwork.”
She kept going, but it just wasn’t enough to satisfy her
Story-telling would not be on most people’s top ten list of acts “most likely to pack the house” -- at least not with a crowd over eight years old. But that’s what’s happening at First Person Arts’ StorySlams in Philadelphia.
Despite the name, it’s not a contact sport – but it is highly competitive.
Artwork by Red Tettemer
Band leader and bassist Ed Wise is passionate about early jazz and dedicated to bringing it to a wider audience. “I want to tell the stories of the musicians and show people how so much of American music today has its roots in this style of playing,” he says.
Wise lived in New Orleans for 12 years up until Hurricane Katrina, and currently directs the University of Pennsylvania Jazz Ensemble. He also leads the New Orleans Jazz Band, a four-member ensemble which will perform the music of Sidney Bechet and Django Reinhardt in a Sunday, January 17 concert, sponsored by the Tri-State Jazz Society.
When I was young my mother was infamous for her habit of constantly buying and returning things. I sometimes answered the door when the man from our local department store made his weekly call to pick up packages. Once, when I didn’t know where the package was, he told me: “She keeps them in the hall closet on the top shelf." (He was right.)
True confession? I am a fashion “Don’t.” In fact, some of my outfits could easily fall under the category “Don’t Even Think About It.” Today, for example, my ensemble consists of my “mom jeans”, a pair of pink Crocs and a large, colorful fanny pack. (The last is a favorite accessory choice that causes my style-sensitive children to wince visibly when they see me).
You don’t have to go to New England to find breathtaking foliage; there are plenty of places in and around Philadelphia, and most are free. This fall, the reds and golds have been especially brilliant, and there is still time before the branches are bare. There are plenty of options, whether you want to walk, bike or drive to where you’re going. Three of my favorites are Fairmount Park; Morris Arboretum; and Valley Forge National Historical Park.
Matthew Hopkins was a precocious six-year-old when he discovered his love for words at a library in South Philadelphia. Now, nearly six decades later, he is sharing that love with children all across the city. But there have been a few twists and turns along the way.
"I was a voracious reader," says Hopkins, a bachelor who now lives in Overbrook. "I read anything I could get my hands on. I was 6 years old and reading books from the [library's] adult department. Children's books didn't work for me anymore."
Matthew Hopkins was a precocious six-year-old when he discovered his love for words at a library in South Philadelphia. Now, nearly six decades later, he is sharing that love with children all across the city. But there have been a few twists and turns along the way.
"I was a voracious reader," says Hopkins, a bachelor who now lives in Overbrook. "I read anything I could get my hands on. I was 6 years old and reading books from the [library's] adult department. Children's books didn't work for me anymore."
Seeing her son's passion for words, Lena Hopkins bought him a Scrabble game when he was 9.
Mother and son played the game often, but as the boy got older, the games stopped. Eventually, Hopkins obtained a music degree from Temple University, taught music at Settlement Music School, and plays with the University of Pennsylvania Contemporary Music Group. He also has worked with the city's Anti-Graffiti Network.