I AM OLD AND THAT’S WHY I KNOW THAT!

I am sometimes befuddled when someone says to me, “How do you know that?” If the person is somewhat younger than my 77 years, I say, “Because I was alive and sentient when that happened.” I graduated from high school the year the Brooklyn Dodgers won their only world series. I was teaching and going for my Master’s Degree when the Cuban Missile Crisis happened. I actually remember Jonas Salk and the polio vaccine. I can remember Dwight David Eisenhower, not only as a president, but as the general in the army, or General of the Armies. I can remember Pinky Lee, Captain Video, Tom Corbett, space cadet ( not the governor), Time for Beany, Kukla, Fran and Ollie, Edward R. Murrow, Joe McCarthy (my eighth grade teacher was taken away by the FBI while I was in her class), JFK, MLK, RFK,LBJ, Richard Nixon, Eugene McCarthy, Ronald Reagan and oh, so many others.
The advantage of being old and listening and watching the lies that come across the screen, on social media and the internet, and on the radio, is that I am a pretty good b.s. detector. Some of the good old fashion lies, neither misspoken, nor taken out of context statements; present themselves to me as complete fabrications based on absolutely incredulous falsehoods.
The frustrating thing is that one cannot feel comfortable telling these folks that they are lying through their teeth, without fact checking. So, after looking at a bald faced lie and saying to myself, “Do you really believe that crap?” I have to go to Snopes.com to prove it to myself and to others. The more outrageous the lie, the more people seem to want to believe it.
I have had personal experience as a lobbyist been confounded by a legislator telling me a complete untruth. I am not saying that he/she made it up. Sometimes they honestly believe it. Since I lobbied on behalf of poor and rural schools, I heard the most far-fetched untruths from even legislators who represented those districts and were actually voting against their interests.
Telling the truth is really out of fashion. It was once the coin of the realm. There were those that were noted for being straightforward and truthful. That is certainly not the case now. Thousands of people gaze into the eyes of the greatest charlatans and say that they like the person, even if they know that he/she are lying through their teeth.
How then is one supposed to comport oneself in this age of untruth? I leave that to you to choose.

PROFESSIONAL RETIREES

Had a really interesting meeting at Cracker Barrel this morning. This gentleman has been involved in local happenings for the past 15 years. He had so much to say about economics, education, history, and so many other things. However, he used a phrase about the people living in our retirement community. He said that some people have come down here to become “professional retirees.”
I asked him what that meant. He said that there are people who come here with a certain kind of mind set. Their objectives are very clear. They do not want to be bothered with the outside world. They make it clear that they want to be involved only in those things that provide gratification. Those things are normally activities that are viewed at “fun.” How about these for a list; golf, jewelry making, movies, mahjong, canasta, poker, sewing, quilting, eating at restaurants, discovering restaurants, wood working
(And there are a bunch of those because of a great wood working shop), watching tv, softball (have you ever seen am 80 year old run the bases), and all of those kinds of things. If I told you that there are copious tennis courts, 3 kinds of golf courses, three well outfitted gyms, a dog park, nature trails, lagoons with alligators (real ones), bike trails, golf carts, bocce courts, and so many other things. The only thing missing here is a cemetery and there must be someone working on that.
So, the professionals do not have to leave Sun City for mostly anything. Sure they have to shop at the local Publix, or Kroger’s, or even Walmart. However, if they want to see a movie or a show, those things are provided. Some are for a nominal fee- $3. They have also had some heavy duty entertainers, for which tickets are at a premium and cost some dough. Community wide problems, such as inferior stucco on most of the homes, are handled at community wide meetings. Individual communities get together for fun and games and also to volunteer in the outside the walls community, schools, libraries, hospitals and so on.
There are a group of people who actually have jobs, some full, but mostly part time. These are people who have not felt that the Sun City community has everything that they need. Some are working because they have to. It is true that there are, even here, some who were affected by the 2008 recession and have not yet recovered. They use their part time wages to augment pensions and investments. Some are just plain bored and need to do something to fill up the time.
As a newly minted resident of the community, I can view the place as an old age home with grass and alligators. That sounds worse than I meant. However, as someone pointed out to me, we are all not going to get better with age. Most are trying to do the kinds of things they could not do when they were working. Some have the means to do it by going on trips, visiting their children and grandchildren and some of them, without means, stay in the community and join clubs. These are still all professional retirees. For some, though, as one of my neighbors has done, withdraw into them.
I am just waiting to feel like this is my home. Because we have had problems selling our house in Harrisburg, PA that has extended. My hope is that once the house is sold, there will be an awakening to the idea that we really do live here and will live here for a long time. I can’t guarantee that, but I am hoping.

DON’T TAKE THOSE PILLS

I am sure that many of you have seen advertisements about medications on television. The ad normally begins with the advantages of taking Placenta, a miracle cure for stomach ailments. The sincere and sonorous voice tells you how this medication has been approved by the FDA. Further the trials of Placenta have been successful in 80% of the experimental group compared to 20% of the random group who were given a placebo. The random group exhibited symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome after taking the placebo and of the group 50% wound up in the emergency rooms of their local hospital. So much for the random group.
If you have/ had the following, please consult your physician before taking Placenta- Munchausen Syndrome, Jurgens Myasthenia (where you nose mysteriously slips from your face), night sweats, rotten crotch, lympho epithelial like carcinoma, Vega’s Disease ( found in people who have just come back from the moons of Jupiter), Pitirosforomovali, and stupidity.
Placenta has been found to effect those who are left handed are over 6 feet tall or are pigeon toed. If any of the following occur, please consult your doctor; bleeding gums, swelling of your anus, elongation of your fingers and toes, change in eye color, increased pigmentation, swollen ear lobes, intense desire for humus, and an enlarging of your breasts, or penis. These were found in 2 % of the cases while, others such as stuttering, language change and English Muffin breath were found in .001 of cases.
Please call for a free first dose of Placenta to 666-666-6667 and ask for the Count. A box of Placenta will be shipped to you immediately. Shipping and handling will be 25 dollars.
By the time this ad is finished, I have either fallen asleep, or have gone to the kitchen for a snack.

LET’S TALK ABOUT RACE

I had not realized it until last night’s basketball game that Carol and I were among 3 white people among a crowd of black people. Having grown up in New York City, spending time in black communities during the late sixties and early seventies, it did not seem so peculiar. What was peculiar was that it was the first time that I had realized it in the six games that I have attended.
No, I am not saying that my best friend when I was growing up was African American. Actually, that prize was shared by a Bulgarian Jew and a small Italian kid. What I mean is that until such time as it came to my mind, the differences did not seem to be at the forefront of my mind. The crowd was the same as it had been at all of the games that I have witnessed or coached. That is true for all of the white majority games in pro, college, high school and junior high that I attended. It was a singular action that both Carol and I looked around and noticed the difference.
There appears to be a singular effort on behalf of some to make everyone notice the difference between those whose skin color is darker, whether Spanish, African American, Arabic, Indian and others. I understand that there are differences. For instance, African Americans, in general, do not earn as much money as the national average, or more so in comparison to white people. Those are the kind of things you notice when they are pointed out to you by the media, or some research that you have done.
Harry Golden, in Two Cents Plain, once described how integration might work (it was before integration was in vogue). He said that people don’t seem to mind standing holding onto a strap in the New York City subways. Maybe people could do that while they ate, or went to the movies, or any other human activity. People would not then mind standing and doing these things.
It also confirms what I have thought about someone pointing out differences. The recent incidents in all parts of our country with shootings of African American males by police make this pointing out differences somewhat dangerous. The shootings that involve Islamic Jihadist terrorists make us look a bit differently at our neighbors, who might be Muslim, or other darker skinned people.
Interestingly enough, we all root for Americans with dark skins in sports, in the Olympics or in the movies. When it is pointed out that some of these athletes of darker skin may be doing negative things, we start thinking about differences. Somehow, the white perpetrators of these things do not seem to bother us as much. There is just something wrong with this picture.

STANLEY HAS LEFT THE BUILDING

On Friday morning, Stanley Sanders, my brother-in-law, my sister’s husband for over 65 years passed away. He was 86 years old. I had known Stanley since I was eleven years old. He even slept in a bed with me when he stayed over our apartment in Forest Hills. He has been part of my life since then. If you add up all of the years, I have known him for sixty six years. That’s a long time to know someone.
I don’t really remember how he met my sister, but they were married late in 1950. I believe that the reception was at our apartment. I still have those pictures wandering around in the copious photo albums here in my house. Once in a while, Carol and I take a look at all of the old pictures and remember where we were, even before we met, in the pictures. Our memories must be pretty good; we get it almost every single time.
Stanley burst into our lives as a poor boy with a great deal of ambition. At the beginning of their marriage, Stanley went to City College of New York to get his master’s degree. I can recall my sister typing and correcting a master’s thesis paper. I have no idea, to this day, what it was about. It really seemed to be impressive.
Stanley was a handsome guy with some great dancing skills. Not sure if he swept my sister off her feet, but he could have. Stan was a pretty good athlete. In later years, he would come down to the basketball courts at Forest Hills High School. He would bring his friends around. Some of them were even very good players. I can remember Alvin as a fair player with lots of energy. Stanley was a good bowler and took me to Brooklyn to be on a bowling team when one player was absent. Actually, I did pretty well myself.
Stanley was a very proud man. When he got his very first new car, a 1954 Ford, he encouraged me to go with him on its first outing. We went out to the Van Wyck Expressway in New York. As we made kind of an angle turn, he slammed into a railing and smashed the driver side fender. He was upset by the happening. I believe the car could actually drive. I was never told about what happened next. I guess he was a bit put out by what happened. I am not sure that we ever discussed it ever again.
I believe Stan began to work at Bache and Company. I had a hard time keeping up with what he was doing. He and my sister had three children- two doctors and social worker (getting jobs for handicapped people). The credo for their family was intelligence. That was most respected by Stanley and later his children.
Since Carol and I were educators, we had a different view of intelligence and also success. We spent many hours with my sister and Stan in disputation over that subject. At the end of the discussions we would be sitting in their kitchen and laughing hysterically over a joke or a tale by Stanley about some happening in his world.
Stanley succeeded in becoming the president of a securities firm. In his heart, he was always a customer’s man and carried that forward into his 80’s. His understanding of economics was way above the talking heads on television. He foresaw a number of severe economic problems and was not a fan of the Federal Reserve. He was a true blue conservative in the old sense of the word.
In many ways, I will miss Stanley. He had been a fixture in my life since I was eleven. I look forward to his memorial, when we all will sit around and tell our favorite Stanley stories. It will be the same kind of gathering as it was for my mother’s memorial. It will bring back fond memories.

GLUTEN FREE BEER

I have never really been a beer drinker. When I was in the service I learned to drink Gin and Tonics, at one mark a piece (25 cents then) and have never stopped. I actually have Tanqueray 10 and tonic in my freezer and refrigerator. I drink maybe two a month. That’s about the extent of my imbibing.
However, the other day, I was in Kroger’s Supermarket for our twice monthly trip to stock up on victuals. These supermarkets down here have all sorts of beers and wines in profusion. Although Pennsylvania is getting there, it still does not compare to South Carolina. They even have a person to take care of the wines and beers. He was very knowledgeable about both because he had been in the wine business for 39 years before he moved down south.
He directed me to a pretty good wine for some guests that we were having. On the oftchance that he might know, I asked him if there were any gluten free beers there. Would you believe that there were two? He also told me that one was superior to the other. For my first beer in South Carolina I was treated to an O-mission beer. It has kind of a Guinness look to it and the kind of bitter aftertaste that Guinness sometimes gives a person. I have 5 more bottles of the stuff, which should last me till August when the weather here is really hot.
Four years ago when my G.I. doctors (of which there were four) told me to go gluten free, I have been on a journey to find gluten free goods. I believe my wife has suffered more through this trip than I have. She has found gluten free spaghetti, cookies, breads, rolls, bagels (not so good), pizza (also not so good), gelato, ice cream, cold cereal, and many others.
We are always on the lookout for something new to ingest. Luckily, the market is growing. There is also a good deal of faddism going on. There are very few true celiac intolerant people in the population. Those are the people who might eat a gluten food and suffer severe consequences. It is a terrible allergy. For many others, with undiagnosed stomach problems, going gluten free enables you to avoid foods that really might just unsettle a stomach Then there are the people who have heard about gluten and are convinced that their corns, bad skin, belly bloat, and other imperfections are a direct result of eating white bread or malted milk shakes. I say, let them believe it and force down the prices of all the gluten free foods. Don’t you feel a need to go gluten free?