Silver Threads  October-November  1997

Silver Threads is a production of The Senior Group, an
informal group of older netizens who produce three e-mail

Silver Threads - general senior interest-
Silver Feathers - birding and nature related items
Elderhostel Notebook - elderhosteling

To subscribe to any of these, e-mail to Jim Olson, at



   Editorial Bits and Bytes


   The Cup of Memory

         Editorial Bits and Bytes

Silver Threads is now four years old as the SeniorGroup that
formed back in August of 1994 published the first monthly e-mail
newsletter the following October. We started out as a general
interest newsletter with a variety of news and feature stories.
At that time we were one of the few such internet wide  based
newsletters serving the older adult.

The late John Dolson of Chicago had a parallel type publication
that he changed to a general literary format before his death
last year. Jean Sansum of  Vancouver had her weekly newsletter,
"Sansumite" which continues now with the title "Talespinner." The
Elders Listserv produced and still does the quarterly,
"CyberSenior Review."

That was pretty much it in terms of generally available  internet
material, although some of the larger servers such as AOL,
Prodigy, Compuserv  etc, and several FreeNets and Community nets
such as the Boulder net that now archives Silver Threads had
senior sections.

Now there are many places on the net devoted to meeting the needs
of the older adult. The Senior Canadian Information Program which
was in the planning stage when we started has developed an
extensive web site as has the AARP and its Canadian counterpart
CARP. SeniorNet, the non-profit dedicated to teaching computer
skills to older adults had restricted its net presence to America
on Line and later the Microsoft network, but now has a rapidly
developing net-wide presence. Meanwhile the founder of seniorNet
has opened a well-funded and extensive news- feature-chat-forum
net site called ThirdAge.

We are going ahead with Silver Threads, but as you may note from
this month's issue will concentrate on the personal essay, and
the type of story we developed early this year that uses a great
deal of reader input focused on a single topic.



                by  Gunter Vogel 

For years they had lived side-by-side as neighbors on Avenida
Posadas in San Isidro, a fashionable suburb of Buenos Aires. Even
the official declarations of war by their respective governments
in September 1939 failed to make a dent in the friendship of the
German family with their English neighbors. Nor was there any
rejoicing in the latters house when the German cruiser Graf Spee
was chased by destroyers of the British Royal Navy into
Montevideo Harbor, across the wide river, to be scuttled by its
crew within that first month of WWII.

After the bombing of Coventry by the Luftwaffe and the reciprocal
raids by the RAF on Berlin, a certain understandable coolness
developed between these good friends. Soon their children, three
in each family, stopped playing together, painfully aware of a
developing animosity between their parents.

Both families owned private islands in the Paran Delta where
they used to romp and hold weekend barbecues together. Here they
would try to outdo each other by diving off the narrow,
connecting bridge into the coffee-colored waters of the river.
The growing mutual distrust and misunderstanding brought an end
to these outings.

The second war to end all wars was long over but not the
estrangement which had built an invisible wall between the two
villas, separated physically only by a citrus orchard whose
fragrant orange and lemon trees bloomed and bore fruit
perpetually throughout the year.

One morning, as one of the German boys was playing in this
no-man's land, he stumbled upon an ant hill. Thousands of the
inhabitants boiled forth, terrifying the boy. One of the English
kids ventured over to see what the shouts were about. Soon the
other four youngsters, drawn by the commotion, had joined them.

With noisy enthusiasm they began to track the voracious insects
in hopes of ferreting out their destinations, the animosity
imposed by their parents having quickly evaporated. Forgotten was
the once respected property line. The English ant colony
disgorged its working regiments in the direction of the
neighbors place while their German counterpart sent its
representatives onto the English property.

That evening, some curious conversations took place between the
children and their recalcitrant parents. The dilemma centered on
how to fight the common, crawling enemy without entering into an
insect-induced truce among humans.

The next day, a Saturday, both husbands were home. Ordinarily
their jobs in the capital forced them to take the same train
every weekday morning. For years they had carried on the
undeclared war, making extraordinary efforts never to find
themselves in the same railroad car.

At sunrise, the two brave males ventured into the orchard,
suitably garbed for insecticidal warfare, unfazed by the fact
that they were outnumbered easily a million to two. Each
carefully followed the trail of the beasties from his own
foundation walls into enemy territory in hopes that they would
not be discovered.

As misfortune (or luck) would have it, they met up just as each
skulked on his way through low-growing shrubbery towards the
neighboring house. History does not record which of the two broke
into laughter first at the sight of the other, grotesquely done
up, carrying all manner of garden tools and spray equipment.

Spanish being their common language, they stood in the
semi-darkness of the citrus orchard, dripping with early morning
dew, and broke, at last, their six-year silence.

As an unexpectly novel day wore on, both families busily tracked
the thin trails, spraying and shaking powder heedless of where
they led. A festive Argentine "asado" was held next day, with all
the trimmings and plenty of beer and vino tinto.

I heard about it years later after moving into my own home a few
blocks away. We needed a baby-sitter for our two-year old adopted
daughter Patricia. Someone recommended a bi-lingual young lady
who lived nearby. The girl was engaged to be married to a German
boy - you guessed it - the one who had discovered the
peace-bringing ant colony.

I can only hope that the meaning of this story has been passed on
to their grandchildren as an example of human frailty never to be
repeated wherever they live....



         Eloise Blanpied    gdb4@postoffice4.mail.cornell.edu

I try to tell myself that it was the wrong time and the wrong
place.  But maybe down deep I really know what happened.

It was the early-winter cross-country ski club dish-to-pass
dinner:  very informal; an older group; old friends/new
friends/mere acquaintances; mostly conversations about snow
conditions and planned trips.  And someone asked, "Are you
looking forward to lots of skiing this winter?"

"Actually, no.  Can't do it anymore.  Parts are wearing out, but
at 65 you have to expect some of that."

A chorused reply, "Oh no!  That's not true.'   And the
conversation rolled on, oblivious to the fact that they had just
told one person that she was an aberration for not fitting into
the popular social ideal of ever-youthful old age.

I should have pursued their denial of the ageing process.  I
should have asked them if they really thought they could do the
same things at 60 that they could do at 30 and, if not, why not.

I should have asked why there were separate age groups set up for
competitive ski races.  And why most of the group no longer did
the longer, more grueling races.

Most of all, I should have asked why, in the face of all the
adjustments they are already making because of their age, they
still deny their own personal ageing.  Maybe I didn't because
down deep I'm doing the same thing; maybe in that instant I still
believed society's messages about ever-youthful old age and, as
an aberration, I kept silent.


        Exercising with Jay

          Jay D Mann  
          Christchurch, New Zealand

Thought perhaps my experience at a commercial gym might interest
some people.  Although I'm retired now, this happened about 7
years ago.  I'd injured my knee (torn ligament) and knew that
maintaining muscle power in my legs was essential to avoid
further dislocations.  So I joined a local gym.

The only thing I'd known about this gym previously was having
walked past it during a fire alarm, when ladies in leotards were
pouring out the door, and the motorcycle officer directing
traffic had a grin on his face from ear to ear.

There wasn't any point in trial classes, since my need for
continued exercise was obvious, so I joined up for a year.  At
the start, I went to the low-impact aerobic classes on Sat and
Sunday, and these were reasonably hard.  In a month or so, I
decided to increase my effort, since the books all say you need
at least three exercise periods a week.

I showed up on Monday night at the same room, same time.  To my
delight and amazement the women present were significantly more
shapely than those who attended the Saturday and Sunday classes.
(Aerobics tends to be a mainly female activity.)  As a
professional biologist, I was so absorbed in contemplating this
socio-biological phenomenon and in formulating hypotheses to
explain it, that I paid no attention at all to the exercises we
were performing.  My heartbeat was much higher than ever before,
but I ascribed this to the aforementioned socio-biological

About halfway through the class, we were doing leaps and skips
instead of the "power-walking" I was used to.  By now I was quite
weak from excitement/fatigue.  As my life passed before my eyes,
I saw the class schedule for this gym: the Monday night
low-impact class was held in the floor below.  I was in the
general-fitness class!

On the second skip-leap circuit of the room, I skipped and leaped
out the door, crawled downstairs, holding onto the bannister
firmly, and finished up in the low-impact class.  The next
morning, having come so close to death, I went to the Public
Trust to make the changes in my will I'd been putting off.  (Not
exaggerating this timing either.)

The funny thing is that eventually, I graduated to
general-fitness when I was properly ready for it.  The
socio-biological phenomenon definitely applies, and is a strong
motivation for me to maintain fitness. Even now, at age 63, I
still do either general-fitness, step, or circuit classes 6 days
a week, with "tramping" (hiking to Yanks) on Thursday.  I'm still
having trouble losing those last two or three kg (5-7 lb), but
feel immensely pleased with myself at being able to keep up with
much younger people.  It's especially great when someone in their
fifties gets "burned off" by the pace.


The Skillet

-by Glenda Kay White  fawhite@ionet.net

I have this skillet in the sink, and I think there just may not
be enough soap in it to get out all the grease so as the water is
flowing I squirt the green Palmolive in and Wow! the air is
filled with these neat little green pea size bubbles.  So I
squirts it again cause I just love bubbles.    I guess my giggles
reached the living room as here came Leetah and Tylor to see what
was going on, but by the time they got to me the bubbles were
gone.  They looked at each other and one made the remark, "gee, I
never have that much fun loading the dish washer".

I moved on to washing the cast Iron skillet and I take pride in
keeping it fit and up and running.  So after I washed it good
with hot water and soap, rinsed it and dried it, I placed it over
the open fire to get it deep down dry so it won't rust.  Well
here comes young Tylor, "Grandma, what are you cooking, we just
had breakfast?"  "Nothing", I said.  Then he hollers in to his
sister, "Leetah, she's cooking nothing, but theres a fire under
the pan."  Leetah, "Grandma what are you doing?"  "I'm seasoning
my skillet." Tylor, "your making it from Summer to Winter?"

At this Leetah comes into the kitchen.  At that moment it is time
to turn off the flame and cool it down for the seasoning, so I
get out the lard and coarse salt and a small piece of cloth.  She
watches me very carefully.  As soon as the pan is cool enough to
work with, I dip the cloth in the lard, then in the salt and
start to rub the inside of the skillet with it.  "Oh! Tylor, not
that kind of seasoning, she's putting salt on it for seasoning
and some shortening. I think she's going to fry something like
hamburgers or some meat like that." says Leetah to her brother
who is by now back in front of the TV, "Oh!" comes his
uninterested by now reply.

Then I explain, "No, I'm not seasoning a food dear, I'm seasoning
my skillet so it won't rust and so that food won't stick to it
when I use it next time and burning off the oil build up from the
out side of it.  You have to treat the cast iron cook ware to
keep them useable."  "Hummm! My Mom uses Teflon for that, she
don't have to do all that work, she just washes it and dries it
and puts it away and next time it works just fine."  And with
that I am left standing in my Kitchen with my freshly seasoned
cast iron skillet, and my memories of how my Dear Grand Mother
taught me how to care for it long before I had reached Leetah's
tender age of 11.

I hope she listened and learned and that some day she will care
for this old skillet as I am doing, that is one thing I hope all
the modern gadgets don't replace in our family.  There is no
taste on earth like that of fresh pork tenderloin cooked in a
cast iron skillet and then the eggs fried up in the drippings.
Or that of a stake fried up in it with eggs to the side, or a
slab of country ham and then make red eye gravy out of the
drippings to sop up with fresh biscuits. Lord help us, I hope we
don't let Captain Crunch take over and completely wipe out good

           The Cup Of Memory


             Boulton B. Miller   bmiller@southwind.net

The summer after I had completed my sophomore year in high
school, a cousin of Mother's who lived in Greenfield wanted to
visit relatives in Colorado and South Dakota. She was an elderly
widow woman, 76 years old, but a spirited little person. I called
her "Janie." Her name was Lydia B. Jayne. She talked Mother into
letting me drive her in her big old Buick on this proposed trip.
I was 15 at the time in 1931, and would not turn 16 until that
November. Dad said I could go, but not until after the crop was
in on the Macoupin County place. This meant that we could not
leave until mid-June that year.

This turned out to be the trip of my life, getting away from the
hard work I did each summer. We would be gone six weeks! I could
not believe it. We crossed the Mississippi River at Alton, IL on
one of the Lewis & Clark bridges. Then we angled across the
bottom on the far side of the Mississippi River below where the
Missouri River flows into the Mississippi near Alton, IL. We
parted company with the concrete road just west of Kansas City,
KS the second day out, on our way to visit relatives in
Rossville, KS. I met Griswolds I had never seen. They were farm
folks and had a long way to go to recover from the Depression.
Putting us up for a night was a major drain on everything they
had. Fortunately for me, they had two daughters, one a year
older, and one a year younger, as I remember. That night Janie
let me use the car to take them to a movie. It seemed to be a
real treat for them as they saw few movies.

The trip north out of Denver through Fort Collins and into
Cheyenne was rough, what they called corduroy gravel. I thought
that Buick would shake itself to death. North of Cheyenne we ran
out of the corduroy, but hit lots of loose gravel and dust. Very
late in the day we finally hit Lusk, WY. I had known for many
miles that my judgment as to how far we could go in one day was
similar to the estimate I had made on the junk to haul with my
pony team. We finally found a place to stay.

Our trip in 1931 was made before the days of credit cards. I knew
Janie carried money to pay our expenses. Dad gave me some money
before I left, but my concern was to protect what money she had.
I knew that I did not have enough to get us back to Illinois if
someone ripped off her hand bag. She must have sensed this,
because she told me that she carried her "bank" (a small
pocketbook) as she called it in a pocket she had sewn into her
petticoats. She was very careful not to let me spend any of my
money. Whenever I paid anything for the car, she was quick to
reimburse me.

The trip east from Rapid City to Pierre, the state capitol, was
another experience. About 40 miles east of Rapid City, we found a
sign advertising free ice water at the Wall Drug Store in Wall,
SD. Janie and I took advantage of their offer, rested a bit, and
bought a few items. Little did we realize that the wife's ice
water idea would save the drug store in those depressed times.
Upon stopping there in 1981, fifty years later, we found the Wall
Drug Store to be one of the largest drug stores in the world. I
have been told that it is even advertised in Japan.

It had been hot and dry, so the gravel dust continued as we
traveled on to Pierre, SD. However, Janie and I had not
anticipated driving through a plague of grasshoppers. I had heard
of how numerous the grasshoppers could be, but it always seemed
like a bit of an exaggeration when they said that you could scoop
them up in a scoop shovel. It was no exaggeration. They were so
thick that I had to roll down the windshield to keep them from
raining in on our feet. In those days there was no air
conditioning. We rode with the windows down and the windshield
raised a few inches with a crank that let the air rush in, hit
the cowling of the dash board, and come down on our feet. I had
to stop and clean out the grasshoppers, and keep the windshield
closed. Janie really was perturbed over the incident. I felt for
the farmers because the grasshoppers had eaten the corn down to
the ground, leaving not a stalk standing. The corn must have been
knee-high when they hit.

The weather was too hot to allow much sight-seeing in Pierre,
except for the state capitol. The remainder of the trip with
Janie through Nebraska and Iowa was uneventful, for which I was
most thankful. I was not required to change a single tire on the
entire trip, an accomplishment back then.

-note Boulton's web page is at



 	So short a time ago
 	When we were very young
 	And safe in this small town,
 	All unaware of other worlds,
 We danced.

 	Graduation came and then the war
 	And innocence was lost;
 	We had to leave,
 	And terrified, no longer safe,
 We struggled.

 	It never was the same again;
 	Both tears and laughter came to us
 	Along the way.
 	Through all those months and years
 We toiled.

 Lost--our most precious gift--
 Our youth, and now with ghosts of old ambitions
 We come again, seeking shelter where
 We once believed
 No rain could fall on us.

 	Utterly changed and yet the same,
 	We have returned
 	To share again the memory
 	Of that brief time so long ago
 When we danced.

 Marian Leach