Silver Threads  May 1997

Silver Threads is the publication of an informal group of
netizens interested in how the net serves the three score plus
internet user and vice-versa.

The newsletter is mailed to subscribers via e-mail and posted at

The current  WWW edition is at http://www.freenet.mb.ca/sthreads

There is no charge. To subscribe e-mail olsonjam@uwec.edu

 e-mail edition:   Jim Olson, olsonjam@uwec.edu
 Web page edition: Tom Kyle, tom_kyle@mbnet.mb.ca

Boulder Community Net Archivist: Art Rifkin, 
Net Surfing: Pat Scott, jpscott@golden.net
TaleSpinner:  Jean Sansum, Jean_Sansum@mindlink.bc.ca



   Editorial Bits and Bytes

   Features and Gleanings from the Net


   Notices and Reviews

   The Cup of Memory

   Senior Smiles



This edition is a little late but then so was spring this year so
I guess Threads is keeping up with the times.

We'll try for mid-June for June edition.

Maggie and I have returned from driving to the Pacific Northwest
and back. We attended an elderhostel in Victoria BC and visited
daughter and the "twins" in Tacoma.

I took the Mac powerbook along and was able to plug in to the net
in motel rooms along the way. It takes some of the strangeness
out of being far from home to be able to connect every day with
family and with net friends. Some of the essays I wrote along the
way are in the Travel section of Seniornet Roundtables (go to
http://www.seniornet.org  then Roundtables- then travel- then On
the Road.)

Maggie appreciated hearing from grandkids as me moved along, but
noted that I had my hobby with me and aside from the crossword
puzzles and me she didn't. I expect on our next trip there will
be a sewing machine in the car as well as powerbook as Maggie
bought a fancy new machine she found demonstrated in Tacoma.

You know you are in the west when the Crows turn into Magpies and
we looked for that transformation out and back:

               Magpie, stylish crow,
        wears formal black trimmed with white,
               fancy western garb



        "Kathrynne Holden, MS,RD" 

         "Spotlight on Food--nutrition news for people 60-plus"

Guys--do you take your bones for granted? Most of us do. They've
always been there for us, supporting our muscles, protecting our
inner organs, forming a flexible sheath around our spinal cord.
And yet, silent forces are at work, removing calcium from our
bones each day. Those silent forces result in the crippling
disease we know as osteoporosis. BUT ONLY WOMEN GET OSTEOPOROSIS,
RIGHT? Have you always thought that only women were at risk?
Figured bones don't need your help to stay strong? Think again.
In the first years after menopause, women lose bone faster than
men. But around age 65, men and women lose bone at the same rate.
one out of every eight men over age 50 will break a bone due to

In a health survey, about 15% of men ages 55-79 reported  falling
in the previous 12 months. In men age 80 and over, that figure
jumped to 28%; one-third of all hip fractures are suffered by
men, and a third of these men will not survive more than a year.

1. Age. Bone loss increases with age.
2. Height. No one yet knows why, but taller men have more hip
fractures than shorter men.
3. Heredity. Although men in all ethnic groups may develop
osteoporosis, white men are at greatest risk.
4. Weight loss. Older men who lose too much weight also lose
calcium from their bones. It's best to stay at a healthy weight,
not too much over- or underweight.
5. Long-term use of some medications, such as the steroids used
to treat asthma and arthritis; cholestyramine; some cancer
treatments; anticonvulsants; and antacids that contain aluminum,
such as Maalox.
6. Diseases that affect the hormone levels, such as diabetes,
kidney disease, and  hyperthyroidism.
7. Low levels of testosterone.
8. Smoking.
9. Too much alcohol use
10. Low calcium intake
11. Too little physical activity.

So--what can men do to prevent osteoporosis?  Age, height, and
heredity are risk factors that we can't do anything about. But we
can control some others.

Staying at a healthy weight is important. It's true that being
overweight brings risk for heart disease, high blood pressure,
diabetes, and other diseases. Yet losing too much weight raises
the risk for bone fractures. Discuss with your doctor or
registered dietitian the best weight for you, and maintain that

Talk to your doctor if: you regularly use MEDICATIONS that raise
the risk for osteoporosis; you believe you have LOW LEVELS OF
TESTOSTERONE--a hormone replacement therapy may help; you have
discuss with you the possibility of bone loss, and possible

CHANGE ANY UNHEALTHY HABITS that cause bone thinning, like
smoking, excessive alcohol use, and inactivity. GET ENOUGH
CALCIUM. If you are under age 65, get at least 1000 mg of calcium
daily. After age 65, you need 1500 mg of calcium each day. GET
ENOUGH VITAMIN D.  It's needed for calcium absorption. You can
get enough D by spending about ten minutes outdoors each day. But
if this isn't possible, you need supplements of 200 IUs of
vitamin D daily. Fortified milk, fortified cereals, and vitamin
supplements are different ways to get enough vitamin D.

REGULAR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY is important to maintain bone health.
If you have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis, your doctor
should advise you on a safe exercise program. Otherwise, walking,
jogging, lifting weights, and other exercises will help
strengthen bones. STRENGTHENING THE MUSCLES in the front of the
thighs is important, too. These muscles help prevent falls that
can lead to fractures.

The best bet is to prevent bone thinning before it strikes, so
this month we'll focus on getting plenty of vitamin D and calcium
in the daily menu. It's not easy to get enough calcium every day,
and experts recommend calcium supplements for older adults. There
is some new research that suggests older adults may need twice
their RDA for vitamin D, too--that's 400 IUs a day. The feature
recipe is a good way to get calcium in dessert. Custards, bread
puddings, and tapioca are all calcium-rich, too!

Tip:	Our recipe can be made with any kind of rice. One- fourth
cup raw regular white or brown rice will make 3/4 cup cooked
rice. If you're using instant rice, 3/8 cup (6 TB) uncooked
instant rice will make 3/4 cup cooked rice. I recommend brown
rice--you get heart-protective fiber and extra vitamins and

1 large egg or 2 egg whites, slightly beaten
1 cup skim or 1% milk, scalded
1/4 cup sugar or honey
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup cooked rice
1/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all ingredients in 1- quart
ovenproof casserole; mix well. Place casserole in a baking pan
and fill pan with about 1 inch hot water. Place pan  in preheated
oven, bake for 45-60 minutes till knife inserted near center
comes out clean.  Pudding will bake with a custard layer on
bottom. Serve warm or cool. Makes two portions.


NONESSENTIALS: Will Rogers, an American humorist, was born in
1879. Here are some of his views on the subject of government.
"No party is as bad as its leaders." "I don't make jokes; I just
watch the government and report the facts." "With Congress, every
time they make a joke it's a law; and every time they make a law
it's a joke."


A Perspective on World Population
       Waltdean@aol.com (Walt Craig)

If we could shrink the world's population to a tiny village of
exactly 100 people, and if we kept existing population rations
the same, our village would look like this:

* There would be 57 from Asia, 21 from Europe, 14 from North &
  South America and 8 from Africa.
* 51 would be female and 49 would be male.
* 70 would be non-white and 30 would be white.
* 70 would be non-Christian and 30 would be Christian.
* Half of the entire wealth would be in the hands of only six
  people and all six would be from the United States.
* 80 would live in substandard housing.
* 70 would be unable to read.
* 50 would suffer from malnutrition.
* One would be near death and one would be near birth.
* One would have a college education.
* No one would own a computer.

When one considers our world from such an incredibly compressed
perspective, the need for both tolerance and understanding
becomes glaringly apparent.

          Notices and Reviews


This month, we're going to go fishing, learn how to do many
things, sew, sing some good old fashioned hymns, start our
gardening, download some shareware programs, attract butterflies
and hummingbirds, train our dogs and cats, and even more
gardening!!  Please have a great time.  Don't forget to check out
MY home page!  Make some Irish bread the authentic
way  http://www.why.net/home/exuian/irishcook/index.html

1.  Learn to floss your teeth, cope with hemorhoids, toss a
basketball, treat a hangover and many more things at this very
useful site! http://www.learn2.com/index.html

2.  Do you know how many days there are until summer?  What kinds
of plants do you plant to attract butterflies and hummingbirds?
Find out here. http://www.almanac.com/

3.  Obtain all kinds of shareware programs such as games, screen
savers, etc. http://www.hotfiles.com/

4.  Welcome to the Pet Channel!  Learn how to train your dog or
cat.  Find out about cages and how dogs just love them!  Lots of
good information here. http://www.hotfiles.com/

5.  Do you know what an applique is in sewing?  Answer:  Patches
over stains! And what about Blindstitch?  The answer?   Sewing
without directions or a pattern. Or having them, but ignoring
them until something doesn't match up!  More fun Daffy Sewing
description at Sewing with Nancy plus lots of wonderful sewing
hints. http://www.nancysnotions.com/SewRoom.html

6.  Spring has arrived as has our zeal to go to our garden and
start digging in the earth.  I just love the spring time and here
in my part of the world, I can^Òt plant anything safety until
after the 24 of May.  Well, each year as this date approaches, I
really get Spring Fever in a bad way.  Here is a URL that is most
interesting to whet your appetite as you wait to dig in your
garden. http://www.gardenweb.com/

7.  I have really enjoyed this site that a friend sent me.  On
SeniorNet, we have a recipe folder called "Healthy Choices"
and all of the recipes are healthy ones that are suitable for
people who have had heart surgery.  This site will go right along
with those recipes.  Do explore this URL.

8.  Fishing?  If any of you are like my husband, this is the
season.  The only season so here are four different sites for you
to look at. http://absolute-sway.com/wishbone/

9.  And for our quiet time this month, let's all sing some of the
favorite hymns we grew up with.  Just pick out your favorite,
click on it and sing along.

Third Age Web Site Goes Online

Mary Furlong, the founder of Seniornet, has developed a new
organization for computer using seniors. Unlike her previous
organization  the new one is a commercial organization developed
to serve seniors (or Third Age people as she calls them) by
including access to selected commercial opportunities. I think
the site sees "third age" as active older people with money. Most
of the commercial features of the site are, however, vey much in
the "soft sell" category and there is a section dealing with free
services and information. This distinguishes it from from several
of the other commercial senior sites.

It is scheduled for official opening in June but is now open on a
preview basis. It is a comprehensive mix of forums, moderated and
open chat, news and features for all aspects of Third Age living.
Since it is still in the formative stage, it is too early to
comment of the present content, but the structure of the site
seems ideal to serve senior net needs once some technical bugs
are worked out- mainly in the chat area.

Like all web based sites the forums are html based and using
standard Lundeen forum software function only to full effect if
users register and login so that forum participation can be
individualized to each user. This may cause some technical
problems but there does seem to be considerable online help and an
e-mail newsletter is planned to assist and inform users through
that lower tech route.

A feature of interest is the choice users have of an online
profile, giving information about themselves and providing a spot
for a picture. These profiles should be of help to anyone looking
for potential e-mail pen pals.

Meanwhile SeniorNet, the non-profit organization Mary Furlong
founded, continues to supply excellent service to seniors with
its America On Line series of forums, chat, and text and graphics
libraries, and with its own web site  which continues to grow and
develop. For example, it currently has one the best of the Book
Club- reading related forums that appeals to a wide variety of
reading and literary discussion interests.

Of the three sites, the AOL site is by far the most user friendly
and easiest to use, but that is dependent on AOL finally
resolving all of its phone access problems.

None of these sites really serves well what might be called the
Fourth Age (was it Shakespeare that had seven?), the less active
older adult typically in the 75+ age group, although SeniorNet
appears to be working with this group more and more as it
develops new programs for seniors in residential care facilities
of various types and  other less active seniors at home. All of
the sites, for example, have sections devoted to "caregivers" but
none to "care receivers."

The Url for Third Age is   http://www.thirdage.com
The seniornet  url is      Http://www.seniornet.org
The Seniornet on AOL is  accessed by keyword "seniornet"

reviewed by Jim Olson


    - Daisy1433@aol.com

The "OSSO" (OnLine Single Seniors Outlet) Assoc. where single
seniors 55 years old and up meet other single seniors, to build
friendships and share good times.  The OSSO group was born in
February '97 and had grown in these few months from a handful of
people from 14 states to a membership of 165 from 30 states and
Canada.. The goal of the OSSO group is for single people to
network with other singles all over these United States,
communicating through the hobby that we all have in common, the
computer and online community.  We hope to bring you a
respectable place where we can meet, interact, find friends and
search for companions. The private chat room is open to all
members - where all sorts of activities are planned. There is no
cost to join and your only requirement is to be single. Give it a
try and you won't be sorry......

For further information and a registration form, E-mail your

Girl Scout Reunion Project Follow-Up
          "Lori Atwater" 

The Girl Scout Reunion Project follow-up is finally
on line!  Sorry for the delay.

You can read all about the project at:


Aware Press Newsletter Available
     - Libby Rosenauer

People look at me as though I were crazy or something to be
spending so much of my time on the web, but I enjoy it.  And most
of my friends are on the web too.  It's funny.  When we go
somewhere and we are talking, people think that we are talking a
different language.  There are four of us--all women who live
alone--who are real computer buddies.  When we get something from
one of our mailing lists that we think the others would enjoy, we
send it on to them.  When one of us discovers a site that might
interest the others, an e-mail is immediately sent.  When we know
that one of us is feeling a little blue, we send a greeting card.

I have a newsletter that comes out once a month.  To subscribe
send an e-mail to  me at awarpres@sure.net

           The Cup Of Memory



During the 1930's and 40's, I was a frequent visitor to 14th
Street and Union Square.  My father's family lived in the Bronx,
while my mother's family lived in Brooklyn.  We lived in
Brooklyn, then the Bronx and then in Brooklyn and finally, when I
attended the Bronx High School of Science and City College,
again, the Bronx.  We moved for various reasons.  Between 1935
and 1951, we lived at eight addresses.

Union Square was the subway station at which we changed trains to
or from the IRT trains from or to the Bronx and the BMT trains to
and from Brooklyn when we visited one or the other's family.  For
most of the era of those journeys of visitation, the subway fare
was five cents, and the change from IRT to BMT incurred a second
fare.  So, at 14th Street, we would emerge from the subway in
order to have lunch at the Automat opposite Luchow's famous old
German Restaurant, which I thought was a Chinese restaurant.  I
was not disabused of this until I was well into my twenties.

The images of 14th Street remain with me.  There were the models
endlessly parading in fur coats in the second story display
windows of a fur shop, immortalized in a painting by Reginald
Marsh.  There was the impressive tower of the Consolidated Edison
building, atop which the 75th anniversary of the introduction of
the incandescent light bulb was observed with a giant light bulb
and the cast iron IRT subway entrances covered with layers of
dark green paint.

On occasion, my mother would drag me on a shopping trip to the
two major stores on Union Square, Ohrbach's and S. Klein.

In more recent years, I have had little occasion to be in Union
Square.  Just a few days ago, I went there to meet a friend whose
office is in one of those ancient landmark buildings that border
the square.  As we passed a modern office building in the block
south of where we met, my friend asked, "Do you remember Klein's?
This is where it was."

I remember Klein's vividly, with its blue neon signs on both
sides of the building, "S. Klein on the Square" topped with a
carpenter's square set in an inverted 'V' over the lettering. But
I remember Klein's for another, more personal reason.

I firmly believe that my mother was instrumental in driving
Klein's out of business

From the time I was in kindergarten until the final demise of the
firm in the 1960's , my mother would retell the following tale at
the drop of the name or for any reason that seemed appropriate.

As she would tell it, she knew someone who knew someone that had
suffered a terrible tragedy directly attributal to S. Klein's
merchandising policies.  There was a lovely girl of 18 who bought
a gown at Klein's for her high school senior prom.  Resplendent
in her very first formal gown and the obligatory orchid presented
to her by her escort, she danced away the evening. The ballroom
was rather warm, and as the celebrants danced the Lindy hop, they
all perspired profusely.(0*0*0*Suddenly, the subject of the tale
collapsed.  She was rushed to a hospital, but, as my mother would
tell over and over again, she expired in the ambulance.  Her
distraught family demanded to know what had taken their daughter
from them.  At this point, my mother inserted a dramatic pause,
taking a sip of coffee or water to prolong the suspense.

"And do you know what it was?"  Another masterful pause to build
the tension.  "She had bought the dress at Klein's.  And, the
doctors said it was full of...(another pause for
effect)...embalming fluid!  That's what killed her?"

Then came the inevitable question from a horrified listener, "How
did it get into the gown?"

With the confidence of an authoritative source, my mother
replied, "Someone had bought the gown to dress a body for burial.
And when the funeral was over, removed it from the embalmed body
and returned it to Klein's for a refund.  After all, why bury a
body in an expensive gown?  It was the embalming fluid from the
body that got into the gown and that was what killed the poor
girl at the prom."   And then the reward came in the knowing nods
and the tongue clucking, and yon may be sure every other woman
around that coffee table told that story to five more and they to
five more each, until the story was told thousands, maybe
hundreds of thousands of times around New York coffee tables..

It took her more than thirty years to accomplish it, but, in the
end she prevailed when S. Klein closed its doors for good in the

 REMEMBER WHEN    by Julius F. Blum

When I was a teenager in Cleveland, I had a very fine best friend
by the name of Ed Kuehm.  We enlisted together, but Uncle Sam
soon separated us.  Ed served in the Pacific Theater of
Operations and I was shipped to Europe.  Eddie recently found
this poem among his World War II memorabilia:

REMEMBER WHEN the skies were blue
   And never anything was new ?
Those were the days when all we looked for
   Was girls ! girls ! girls !, and excitement at our door.

REMEMBER the good old days of '39
   When everybody was still feeling fine ?
And took a lot for granted that they shouldn't have
   'Cause now some people might be happy just to live.

REMEMBER good old Euclid Beach
   When we used to bitch
Because there were a dozen other men
   Looking for the girls who were mighty scarce then?

REMEMBER Collinwood HS in those days
   When we used to walk around in a daze?
That's when that girl would give us that certain look
   And you would say: "Oh, I can read her like a book".

REMEMBER the Roxy bald-headed row?
   We never sat there, oh no !
That's where some guys their teachers would meet
   And boy, did they make with their feet !

REMEMBER WHEN we walked downtown and back
   Just for the exercise, by heck?
When we walked past all those places
   Which you could smell at a thousand paces.

REMEMBER WHEN we went on our vacation
   And I ran into quite a situation?
There is not much I can remember
   But boy, was she nice and tender.

REMEMBER that lunch wagon on Euclid Avenue?
   That's where we had our biggest laugh when you said:
"Geeee, napkins!" That's when we were still able
   To sit at a civilian table.

REMEMBER the old neighborhood
   When those nightly walks we took?
There should be quite some vegetation
   In that school yard, which we thought needed irrigation.

REMEMBER the induction center
   When Uncle Sam said "Enter"?
That's when we found out that it all wasn't gravy
   And wished that we had joined the Navy.

REMEMBER the good times we had?
   Well, they'll be back, we'll see to that!

We sure had fun
   When days were young
But don't you worry,
   Those rats will soon be sorry
Because there's still some people left
   Who don't believe in murder, rape, and theft!

   (Original written at Camp Ritchie, Maryland dated January 19, 1945)
 -      jblum@CapAcess.org

            Senior Smiles

A Horse named Buddy

An out-of-towner drove his car into a ditch in a desolated area.
Luckily, a local farmer came to help with his big strong horse
named Buddy.

He hitched Buddy up to the car and yelled, "Pull, Nellie, pull!"
Buddy didn't move.

Then the farmer hollered, "Pull, Buster, pull!" Buddy didn't

Once more the farmer commanded, "Pull, Coco, pull!" Nothing.

Then the farmer nonchalantly said, "Pull, Buddy, pull!" And the
horse easily dragged the car out of the ditch.

The motorist was most appreciative and very curious. He asked the
farmer why he called his horse by the wrong name three times.

The farmer said, "Oh, Buddy is blind and if he thought he was the
only one pulling, he wouldn't even try!"


If it weren't for electricity we'd all be watching television by
          -George Gobel


Recently I was honored to be selected as an Outstanding Famous
Celebrity in my Senior Center to be a judge at a chili cook-off
because no one else wanted to do it.  Also the original person
called in sick at the last moment and I happened to be standing
there at the judge's table asking directions to the beer table
when the call came.  I was assured by the other two judges that
the chili wouldn't be all that spicy, and besides they told me I
could have free beer during the tasting, so I accepted this as
being one of those burdens you endure when you're a lovable old
curmudgeon and therefore known and adored by all.  Here are the
score cards from the event:


Chili # 1:  Mike's Maniac Mobster Monster Chili

JUDGE ONE: A little too heavy on tomato.  Amusing kick.

JUDGE TWO:. Nice, smooth tomato flavor  Very mild.

JimO:  Holy smokes, what is this stuff?  You could remove dried
paint from your driveway with it.  Took me two beers to put the
flames out.  Hope that's the worst one.  These people are crazy.

Chili # 2:  Arthur's Afterburner Chili

JUDGE ONE:  Smoky (barbecue?)  with a hint of pork.  Slight
Jalapeno tang.

JUDGE TWO:  Exciting BBQ flavor, needs more peppers to be taken

JUDGE TWO:  Exciting BBQ flavor, needs more peppers to be taken

JimO:  Keep this out of reach of children!  I'm not sure what I
am supposed to taste besides pain.  I had to wave off two people
who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver.  Shoved my way to
the front of the beer line.

Chili # 3:  Fred's Famous Burn Down the Barn Chili

JUDGE ONE:  Excellent firehouse chili!  Great kick.  Needs more

JUDGE TWO:  A beanless chili, a bit salty, good use of red

JimO:  This has got to be a joke.  Call the EPA, I've located a
uranium spill.  My nose feels like I have been sneezing Drano.
Everyone knows the routine by now and got out of my way so I
could make it to the beer wagon.

Chili # 4:  Bubba's Black Magic

JUDGE ONE:  Black bean chili with almost no spice.

JUDGE TWO:  A hint of lime in the black beans.  Good side dish
for fish or other mild foods, not much of a chili.

JimO:  I felt something scraping across my tongue but was unable
to taste it.  Sally, the volunteer at the beer table was standing
behind me with fresh refills so I wouldn't have to dash over to
see her. When she winked at me her snake tattoo sort of coiled
and uncoiled--it's kinda cute.

Chili # 5:  Linda's Legal Lip Remover

JUDGE ONE:  Meaty, strong chili.  Cayenne peppers freshly ground
adding considerable kick.  Very impressive.

JUDGE TWO:  Chili using shredded beef; could use more tomato.
Must admit the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.

JimO:  My ears are ringing and I can no longer focus my eyes.  I
belched and four people in front of me needed paramedics.  The
contestant seemed hurt when I told her that her chili had given
me brain damage. Sally saved my tongue by pouring beer directly
on it from a pitcher.  Sort of irritates me that one of the other
judges asked me to stop screaming.

Chili # 6:  Vera's Very Vegetarian Variety

JUDGE ONE:  Thin yet bold vegetarian variety chili.  Good balance
of spice and peppers.

JUDGE TWO:  The best yet.  Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and
garlic. Superb.

JimO:  My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with
gaseous flames. No one seems inclined to stand behind me except

Chili # 7:  Susan's Screaming Sensation Chili

JUDGE ONE:  A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned

JUDGE TWO:  Ho Hum, tastes as if the chef threw in canned chili
peppers at the last moment.  I should note that I am worried
about Judge Number 3, he appears to be in a bit of distress.

JimO:  You could put a hand grenade in my mouth and pull the pin
and I wouldn't feel it.  I've lost the sight in one eye and the
world sounds like it is made of rushing water.  My clothes are
covered with chili which slid unnoticed out of my mouth at some
point.  Good, at autopsy they'll know what killed me.  Go Sally,
save yourself before it's too late.

Chili # 8:  Helen's Mount Saint Chili

JUDGE ONE:  This final entry is a good, balanced chili, neither
mild nor hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge
Number 3 fell and pulled the chili pot on top of himself.

JUDGE TWO:  A perfect ending, this is a nice blend chili, safe
for all, not too bold but spicy enough to declare its existence.

JimO:  Maggie?
Note- freely adapted from a post in Elders listserv by
Barbara Ann Stueart-Chomdhavat 

            Tale Spinners

Stories in this in this section are selected from Jean Sansum's
Tale Spinners, a weekly  e-zine from Vancouver, BC.


             -   Rhea Coleman (Rheac@zianet.com)

Years before I lived in Argentina, I had heard of gauchos.

In the books I had read, they were described as the most colorful
of the cowboy poets.

As an English Lit. student, I had listened as others recited
their poetry, and as a follower of folk music, I had heard their
sorrowful songs sung. Even then I knew I wanted to see a 'real'
gaucho poet.

Now I have.

I lived beside a retired (another description would be physically
handi- capped, or too old) gaucho husband and wife for five and a
half years. I truly doubt that either of them had ever thought of
themselves as colorful, especially when they were a struggling
young couple and the husband returned, dirty and hungry, from
weeks of guarding their sheep on the campos (unsettled lands). I
imagine the husband's thoughts were only of hunger and home as he
pigeon-toed (because of his boots) his way across the hard-packed
yard into their dirt-floor home and shared their watery bowls of
mutton soup and a crust of wonderful bread with their hungry

The gaucho homes, usually a small hovel, an out building or two
and a lot of corrals, supported many children, not only their
own, but often their brothers' and sisters' children. The
closeness of the gaucho families that I met was beautiful.

When they were out on the campos, their sombreros (hats) shaded
their earth-toned skins. I secretly wondered  how tanned they
would have been if they had gone without their head covering.

The colorful scarves which were -  and still are - worn wrapped
around the gaucho's neck serves many purposes. As worn, it keeps
him cooler. Because he travels through brush and low trees, it
prevents things - creepy-crawly things - from falling down his
neck and inside his shirt, which he may not change for the entire
trip. It can cover his face if he wishes to hide it, and it can
prevent the sharp sand from cutting his skin.

He might have chosen the scarf because of the color, but I'm sure
he didn't think of it or himself as a picturesque or romantic
figure as he drove his stock before him toward a week of grazing
on the wild campos or as he pushed them back to his corral.

In my opinion, he would not be posing as a romantic figure when
he pulled some hollow-stem grass to chew to help moisten his dry
and dusty throat. I doubt he thought of his rugged handsomeness
as he kept the grass in his mouth sticking through a gap in his
rotted teeth.

His favorite drink-  matte - was pulled through one of his prized
possessions, a metal reusable straw held firmly through the same
ugly gap. The matte habit, with him since he was weaned, would
not seems colorful or distinctive to him - only necessary.

The huge blade he carried tucked behind a bright-colored sash was
also a necessity. He used it to whack his way through underbrush;
he used it to butcher his food; occasionally he used it to save
his life - and on even rarer occasions, he used it to take a

His pantalones (trousers) were folded and tucked in the top of
his beautiful and expensive boots - the best he and his family
could buy. He was proud that one of Argentina's finest products
was the beautiful boots they manufacture from the hides of
Argentine animals, perhaps even one of his beasts. These boots
were his pride and status symbol. He might wear patched
pantalones, his shirt might be torn, but his boots were always
shined (often with camp grease) and the ones I saw looked new.

When a person worked the campo, this was understandable. The
brush he rode through was mean and vengeful. It could have and
would have cut his legs to ribbons. The terrain he walked through
was rugged. Town shoes would be a disaster. I speak from
experience, because I didn't have boots for my first trip into
the campo.

I'm sure a young gaucho would have been more dashing than our
vecino (neighbor); however, his poems would not have been
written, nor would his songs have been sung. The young gaucho's
huge blade would have had a sharp edge; our vecino's blade was
knicked from use and dull from age. A young man would still have
his horse - probably at his doorstep; but one of the numerous
sons had our vecino's horse. The son assured us that even the old
horse was out to pasture, kept only to enliven his father's last

Because we lived next door, we heard the old gaucho's songs, as
he sang them in his own language and dialect. He sang with deep
feeling of his love for his country - his animals - his family;
but we could not record them. We asked, but we were told that
they were to be kept for the Argentines.

I regretted, but I understood.

We were not given the poems either - nor could we buy them.

We only asked once.

We were told that the songs and the poems were the soul of the
gaucho and the soul of our vecino (neighbor) was not for sale to
a Norteamericano.

We heard his reciting from memory some of his poems to his
grandchildren. They were not written, he could not write. My hope
was that his grand- children, who could write, would value and
record the rich love poems.

Love of life, love of land, and love of his wife were subjects of
his poems.

It was with regret that I accepted his refusal to sell his poems.
But, I understood.

My soul was not for sale either.

He sang his songs, developed during his lonely hours on the
campos from memory because he did not read nor could he write;
however, my little booklets on attributes such as truth and
beauty and friendship were read to him. He thanked me for my
explanations and said, "You are closer to a gaucho than any other
foreigner I've met." I'm sure he meant that we both taught by

I was humbled and grateful for the compliment.

His wife, whom he protected from all danger, was now allowed to
greet me with a good morning. I was allowed to answer. She no
longer had to peek out the window for a glimpse of the woman from

That was after three years of being vecinos; our houses were
actually attached to each other.

We called it slow progress.

We also felt some progress had been made in international oneness
because this gaucho patriarch said I was "closer to being a
gaucho than any other foreigner he had ever met." This was truly
amazing because I was (and still am) a woman.


       To My Granddaughter
                         - William Frost  wtfrost@ix.netcom.com


Innocent canvas punctuated
by the Artist's brush
flicking to create
a distinguished identity
a thumbprint
impressed hilus
to custom seal
her beauty