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Posts Tagged ‘senior citizen’

I liked this story about a 91-year-old artist having his first solo show. John sent it to me. I hope the Arlington Advocate leaves it up for a while. (I know that all the profiles I wrote for the newspaper chain of which the Advocate is a part — and all my theater reviews — are long gone.)

A solo exhibition called ‘Umberto Centofante: A Life’s Work” was featured at the Arlington Center for the Arts (ACA) until last week and highlighted 40 years of still lifes, portraits and landscapes.

Heather Beasley Doyle writes, “When Umberto Centofante tells a story about his life or talks about his art, a distinct, almost palpable energy underscores his words. His eyes light up, his body springs lightly and a hearty laugh punctuates his paragraphs. …

“Centofante’s life began in Pontecorvo, Italy, where he grew up on his family’s farm. When he was eight years old, he says, his teacher gave him a sketchbook to take home with him.

“ ‘All of a sudden some ideas came into my head,’ Centofante recalled, and he filled the book with drawings of farm life. …

“The drawings earned him a prize and the opportunity to receive professional art instruction — a chance he had to pass up so he could help work the farm. Eventually, Centofante became a police officer and worked in Rome. After World War Two ended, he emigrated from Italy, bound for the Boston area and a job as a truck mechanic at Garwood Industries in Brighton he secured with help from an uncle who lived in Milton. Centofante had never been a mechanic, but he learned with the same intuition that had enabled him to fill the sketchbook.

“Centofante is ‘self-taught in everything,’ including painting, according to the oldest of his four children, Elaine Gleason. …

“In the Gibbs Gallery, Centofante’s paintings of boats ferrying passengers through white-capped brilliant blue seas share space with glowing, color-soaked portraits of children and exacting, nearly monochromatic nature scenes such as ‘High Moon.’ …

“Centofante says he never sketches out a project ahead of time — that he spends more time thinking and planning a painting than setting paint to canvas.

“ ‘I don’t design; I just start. I find the resolution very quickly,’ he explained. …

“Asked why he paints, he replied simply: ‘It makes me feel good.’ ”

Read more of the story at the Arlington Advocate.

Photo: Arlington.Wicked.Local.com

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The New York Times had a story not long ago about friendships between young people and old people in Cleveland. How does it happen? They live in the same retirement home.

John Hanc describes a home’s musical evening: “Janet Hall grimaces as she hits an off note on her violin, one of the few heard here at Judson Manor’s Friday afternoon recital, held in the chandeliered ballroom settings of the first-floor lounge of this residence for older people.

“As an audience of 56 mostly older adults watches expectantly, Ms. Hall, 78, quickly recovers from the miscue. She slides her bow across the strings of her violin, drawing out the sweet and sonorous notes of a Gabriel Fauré suite.

“Looking on and smiling is her accompanist on piano, Daniel Parvin, a 25-year-old doctoral candidate student at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

“Over a half-century apart in age, Ms. Hall and Mr. Parvin share some things in common besides this duet. A home, for one: Both are residents at Judson Manor, formerly a luxury hotel, built in 1923, in Cleveland’s University Circle section. A love of music, for another …

“Here at Judson, young and old play nicely together, part of an intergenerational program that has led to harmonious relationships beyond the concerts. … The artist-in-residence program provides furnished one-bedroom apartments to three graduate students from the Cleveland Institute of Music at no charge, for the duration of their studies. In exchange, the students perform regular concerts at Judson Manor. …

“The students were required to submit a résumé and an essay. ‘Basically, “Why I wouldn’t mind living in a senior residence,” ‘ says [Richard K.] Gardner, a committee member.  …

“Experts say there is much to be learned from an intergenerational living program based around the arts like the Judson program. ‘We’ve heard people talking about doing something like this, but I’ve never seen it at this level, sustained and consistent,’ says Gay Hanna, executive director for the National Center for Creative Aging in Washington, a nonprofit organization designed to promote creative arts programs for older adults. ‘It’s a bellwether for the future.’ ”

More here.

Photo: Michael F. McElroy for The New York Times  
Tiffany Tieu, a violinist and student at the Cleveland Institute, talks with Peggy Kennell. “When I tell people I’m living in a retirement home, they think I’m joking,” Ms. Tieu says.

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Having heard one too many panel discussions and lectures lately about the downsides of the “ageing population,” I was delighted that a few upsides were mentioned at today’s Harvard conference on “Ageing + Place” — a refreshing and intriguing event presenting the latest research and design ideas related to ageing.

Meanwhile, John was on my wavelength again, sending me a link to a story about someone who seems to be ageing remarkably well and making a contribution to society while she’s at it.

Katie Honan of DNAInfo.com writes at BusinessInsider about a 100-year-old woman who is still teaching children in a Brooklyn elementary school.

“Three days a week, Madeline Scotto walks across the street from her home to St. Ephrem’s elementary school, where she was part of the first graduating class.

“She climbs the stairs to her classroom, where she works to prepare students for the math bee. She pores over photocopied worksheets with complicated problems, coaching kids on how to stay calm on stage while multiplying and dividing in their head.

“She’s just like any other teacher at the school — except for one thing: She’s 100 years old.

” ‘I think it just happens, you know. You don’t even realize it,’ said Scotto, who marked her birthday on Thursday.

” ‘Last year I thought, “This can’t be, that I’m going to be 100.” I sat down and did the math actually. I thought, I could not trust my mind. This I had to put paper to pencil — I couldn’t believe it myself. It just kind of happened. I guess I’m very lucky.’ ” More here.

Is there a person of any age who isn’t astonished when they think of how old they are? I think if you are 21 or 40 or 65, you are still going to say to yourself, “How did that happen?”

Photo: DNAInfo
Madeline Scotto is 100-years-old and still teaches students in Dyker Heights.

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My husband heard that the Kiev subway is a popular place for older Russians and Ukrainians to go dancing. So I Googled around a bit and found stories at Odd Stuff Magazine, here, and the Daily Mail, here. And a video at YouTube. In today’s world, you can’t keep a good story down.

At the Daily Mail (which seems to favor bullet points) Helen Lawson writes, “Saturday night fever: The subway where Kiev’s pensioners dance and find love.

  •     The dancers cannot afford to pay for a venue so they use a metro subway
  •     The group meets every Saturday at 7 pm to socialise and dance
  •     About 20 couples are known to have met thanks to the meet-ups
  •     Reuters photographer Gleb Garanich documented the weekly gatherings

At Odd Stuff, photographer Garanichev Hleb (is that the same Reuters guy?) asks the subjects of his photos about the dance scene. “Milevsky Nicholas was born in 1938 and Natalia Stolyarchuk born in 1955 met at these dances and has since moved in together. This is one of the 20 couples who met at these clubs. ..

“Despite his age, both retired and still work together earn about 4,000 hryvnia per month. …

“These people do not communicate in social networks, but still remember all the holidays of childhood and youth, when put on the table, to visit friends and neighbors come, everywhere sounded cheerful sounds of accordion.” More.

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There was a nice article in the NY Times last week about people aging in place and inadvertently creating a retirement community. My husband sent me the link.

“When the co-op conversion wave began in New York City in the 1960s,” writes Constance Rosenblum, “singles and young married couples flocked to the Upper West Side hoping to get a piece of the action. Some of those people, now in their 70s, are still there, cemented in place by apartments bought for a song or equally treasured rent-stabilized units.

“As the neighborhood’s population has grayed, some apartment houses have morphed into what social scientists call NORCs — naturally occurring retirement communities. The most recent census estimates indicate that 22 percent of Upper West Siders, or 46,000 people, are 60 or older, compared with the citywide average of 17 percent. Attracted by convenient shopping, abundant mass transit and a wealth of cultural activities, many older residents hope to remain in their apartments the rest of their lives.”

I am a huge fan of walkable communities for people of any age, and I have often wondered why retirement communities are built in the middle of nowhere. Cost of land, I suppose. But if I couldn’t walk (or wheel myself) to shops, public transportation, the library, and so on, I would be very unhappy.

Perhaps it is the generation now nearing retirement that will make so-called Smart Growth a reality at last — simply because they don’t want to be out in the middle of nowhere.

More from the Times.

Photograph: Marcus Yam for The New York Times
The walking group of Bloomingdale Aging in Place doesn’t let snow interfere with a constitutional in Central Park.

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John recently alerted me to a PBS News Hour interview that my brother’s friend Paul Solman conducted with Rosa Finnegan, an enthusiastic 100-year-old worker. That reminded me that I had purchased the September 3 issue of the Christian Science Monitor Weekly largely because that lovely lady was on the cover.

The lead article had an intriguing title and blurb: “The silver-collar economy — More companies are hiring people 65 and older because they believe they are reliable and productive, while the seniors themselves need and want to work. But is the trend squeezing out young people?”

It interested me because I’m an older worker who is not tired of working. I don’t know if all young people feel squeezed out, but just yesterday, a young employee asked a friend of mine, “Are you thinking of retirement? You’ve been here a long time.” My friend made a polite rejoinder about loving the work and the people and not making any plans to leave.

She has many productive years ahead of her.

Mark Trumbull writes of Rosa Finnegan that she “has plenty of similarities with other wage-earning Americans. She hitches rides in with a co-worker, likes to joke around with colleagues, and feels very grateful to have her job. At the end of the day, she’s ready to sink into a cushy chair at home.

“But Mrs. Finnegan is also a trailblazer. She offers striking proof that employment and productive activity need not end when the so-called retirement years arrive. Let’s put it this way: Where many people now nearing retirement can recall Sputnik, civil rights protests, or the pitching wizardry of Sandy Koufax, she mentions memories of gas-lit streets, the spread of telephones, and working at a rubber plant during World War II.

“Having passed her 100th birthday this year, Finnegan is still working at a needle factory in [Needham, Mass.], helping to make and package the stainless-steel products in custom batches. Yes, she walks a bit more slowly now than many of her co-workers. But Rosa, as they all call her, still has willing hands and a nimble mind. And she has no desire to leave her job.

” ‘I’d rather be here than almost anywhere,’ she says. ‘You feel like you’re still a worthwhile person, even though you’re old – [you’re] not sitting in a rocking chair.’ ”

Read the whole delightful story here. And check out the Solman interview and his video clip, here.

And to all who say U.S. manufacturing is dead, I will just point out that there is a needle factory in Needham.

Photograph: Melanie Stetson Freeman / The Christian Science Monitor
Rosa Finnegan works on a needle at Vita Needle in Needham, Mass.

 

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In a Yes! magazine op-ed, reprinted in the Christian Science Monitor, Marc Freedman of Civic Ventures writes about his favorite topic: the potential of older Americans to contribute beyond retirement.

“With big thinking,” he writes, “there is a chance to tap the talents and experience of the ‘baby boom’ generation to solve longstanding social problems, from health care to homelessness, education to the environment. There is a chance to turn an older population into a new workforce for social change.

“Some people, like Gary Maxworthy, are leading the way … [Around age 60] he thought a lot about his old Peace Corps dream and the prospect of returning to it. In the end, he chose a more manageable domestic option, VISTA, part of the AmeriCorps national service program. VISTA placed Maxworthy at the San Francisco Food Bank, where he discovered that—like food banks throughout the state of California—it was primarily giving out canned and processed food. It was all they could reliably deliver without food spoiling.

“Maxworthy knew that California farmers were discarding tons of blemished but wholesome fruits and vegetables that were not up to supermarket standards. He launched Farm to Family, a program that in 2010 distributed more than 100 million pounds of fresh food to needy families in California.” Read more.

For those who are interested in “encore careers,” check out Encore.org, by Civic Ventures, “a nonprofit think tank on boomers, work and social purpose.”

 

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