Keeping in sync with the times

Another great article from that’s a wonderful read!  Loved hearing about how Etta Freed Lerman rolled with the times, embracing computers, having a ball & having a darn good time as a writer who spanned amazing times!  Most of all, I enjoyed her love of the mechanics of typing:

From the Roosevelt to Eisenhower administrations (1930s-1950s), our home was headquarters for Philadelphia’s Democratic 20th Ward.  My father, an attorney, party leader and later a magistrate, was the ward leader. Like statesman and printer Benjamin Franklin, he designed his own political mailings.

Our dining room was a hub of activity; everyone in the family helped out, along with typists hired by my father. As a child, I worshipped them, sitting at their feet, marveling at their fingers flying over the keys and delighting in the clickety-clack of the old standard workhorse. Typing on a keyboard today, it’s hard to imagine what a difficult chore it was back then. It was through these working women that I came to appreciate the skill of typing.

When my father started his own business, Mom became his secretary, typing out his letters, bills & responses to vendors’ invoices.  I loved to hear the sound of her striking the keys, the DING! of the carriage return.  To this day, I love using a manual typewriter.

Got a bit teary, reading, “Beginning with my first job in 1943, when I was 16, I have always enjoyed the independence that work offers.”  Brings to mind Mom’s story about Ellen Lear, her best friend in the universe.  She & Ellen became great buddies when both worked at Strawbridge & Clothier’s, an upmarket department store in Philadelphia.  Both of the worked in the Book Department, which back in those days was remarkably comprehensive & hosted regular visits by the top writers.  Mom had heard about a business course offered at a local college.  She would have loved to have taken the course, but the Depression that dashed her dreams of getting a teaching degree put it beyond her reach.  But she knew Ellen’s parents always encouraged their only child to reach for the stars & noted that it seemed a good fit for her friend’s skills & interests.

Mrs. Lear always thanked Mom for that advice.  Ellen took the course, got a job with a top-notch Philadelphia firm representing the interests of a major Texas family whose ranch was only slightly smaller than the King’s & had business holdings around the world.  The wonderful news is that Ellen would rise to be a Director.  The sad news is that it necessitated her move to Texas, which just about broke their close-as-sisters hearts.

So many wonderful memories of Mom & of a special friendship that touches my heart as much today as when the two ladies were jabbering on the phone!

How does Etta’s story touch YOU?


A voice for the ages – Aretha Franklin posted an excellent tribute to the inimitable ARETHA FRANKLIN.  If you get the chance to hear her entire Grammy performance of the Nessun Dorma – she stepped in for an ailing Pavarotti – enjoy every glorious moment.   And, of course, the New York Times pulled out all the stops in praising the Queen of Soul.

NOT just for hospice!

It gripes my soul how many of the techniques that I used to keep Mom happy, healthy & humming along after a nasty health crisis at 85 finally derailed her health from 5 stars to 4 is typically relegated to being for hospice care.  Argh!

Massage was a big part of her later & last years.  How is it possible that so-called medical professionals found it in any way suspect, especially for hospice patients?!

Fragile financial networks & the elderly

The Takeaway had a sobering broadcast (about 4/5 in) on homelessness.  Although it was focused exclusively on African-Americans & includes prominent mention of  “systemic racism” as a factor, it emphasized the key point that goes across all races – that poverty is not necessarily what plunges people into disaster.  It could be an $800.00 car repair that leaves someone without a strong financial network able to make a loan  without transportation to a job, which is subsequently lost, and they can’t get a new one because they lack wheels to get there.

The importance of financially stable networks.  John & I didn’t have family members able/willing to step up with help when our financial stability cracked & crumbled after Mom’s final illness – four days after 9/11,  the criss-cross of crises – some related, some not – that followed, plus my inability to get any sort of full-time employment at 50+, let alone at the corporate salary/perks I expected to pull in until retirement.  BUT a strong friendship network/community connections kept us in our home.  Multiple times.  Today, we are slowly moving past being financially iffy, but will we ever feel the sense of security we once took for granted?

And we have no children of our own, no close family connections to the younger generations.  That puts us in the heart of a demographic increasingly finding themselves with rising costs, low fixed incomes (and the loss of Social Security benefits when a spouse dies), and an increasingly shredded social net that once kept people out of dire straits.  Oldsters & the elderly.

Listen & learn.  The older couple you know, the elderly aunt or uncle, might be on the verge of financial devastation.  Or already there & staying silent.

Hitching my star to a soapbox

It shakes me, seeing how every age of human within this wildly spiraling era are finding themselves beset with the crazies & unable to unclench themselves from its clutches.  We need to hit pause.  Not pause & rewind.  Being retrogressive has always ended up in even bigger messes.  Moving forward with intent, awareness, an appreciation of the ends that result from the means in our lives.  We need to stop doing things that do harm but tantalize because they make lives easier.  Convenience has trumped sensibility for way too long.

From atop my soapbox, it looks like a wise course of action is to slow down.  Countless people know in their bones that things are a mess as they are, but it’s easier to be sped along as part of the wild rumpus than put on the brakes.

I am going to do my bit by doing the tangible things I can – writing up four proposals for community-centered, connection-building events designed to draw people together in fun & soul-satisfying ways.  To pull out my soapbox & ask some youngers to join me in cupcaking & cooking & crafting – – communicating through creativity.

Enough with the talk – on with the do!


She doesn’t get it

A close-to-the-heart friend offered suggestions on ways I could produce more robust income streams – sign up as a home aide with a visiting health care agency, get a job as an Activities Director at a nursing home – or – “If you want to reach people before they get to the Nursing Home stage, try working at an Assisted Living Organization as an Activities Director.”  Sigh…  One of my nearest & dearest, yet she hasn’t a clue about how I’m experiencing my here & now calling.   My heart’s desire is to open the eyes of young middles olders to the importance & value of aging ever upward.  AT EVERY STAGE, including what’s though of as OLD.

Face it – the only person who is NOT “getting up there in years” is dead.  A person’s point of view on growing “elderly” begins in the cradle & grows from there.  But unlike every  previous generation, stretching back through millennia, many people in their 50s & younger didn’t experience multiple generations regularly rubbing elbows, living in the same town or nearby, getting together en masse at least once a year.  Sunday dinners a la Blue Bloods are increasingly rare, which is sad because food has created a sense of community, a sense of bonding, of shared moments.  Through the millennia.

What my friend doesn’t understand is that we’re in a moment that’s unique – and scary.  We are in totally unknown terrain, flying blind & most people don’t know it.  They increase their use of social media, which isolates more than it connects.  Increase their screen time, which stresses as much as it informs.  Let very little children use digital devices, in spite of warnings about the long-term damage they do.  Digital devices make a joke of privacy, expose millions to ID theft, do as much damage as good.  Yet millions upon millions continue to get utterly in their thrall, even outright addicted.

We are an increasingly divided nation, which was EXACTLY Osama Bin Laden’s aim when he directed our own planes, loaded with men women children, against our own buildings.  His knew the USA wouldn’t be destroyed by turning iconic buildings into rubble, murdering thousands of people, destroying many more thousands lives.  It was to create a breach for the inexorable crush of the worst parts of human nature bearing down on a tiny opening, ripping it open, tossing & crashing the structure of our nation from a bulwark of democracy to its own pile of rubble.

What my friend doesn’t understand is that my here & now calling is to be one of the countless human cattle prods zapping people into awareness of the crazies all around us, looking to suck us in, to bring us down, to make the United States another example of a great nation being brought down by our own obliviousness, our unwillingness to see hard issues in a clear light, to look back to the quick sand of our origins that’s sucked us under ever since a slave holder wrote ‘All men are created equal.’

There’s sure no job title for it.  And it is essential that we step up, embrace it & get to work patching up that hole that was blown in our national psyche seventeen years ago.

She might not get it, but I do & that’s what matters.