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Silver Threads Special Edition, January, 1999
Last Update: by the Senior Center Developer
 Silver  Threads Special Edition, January 1999

This is indeed, a very special edition of Silver Threads, for as Jim explains below, it is the last. I have been posting and archiving his newsletters at BCN ever since I first encountered Jim on email. I have been pleased to know him and exchange notes with him. We've never actually met, but I believe we're friends. I'm very sorry to see Silver Threads pass away.



Editorial Bits and Bytes


   Changing Attitudes about Aging
   The Northern Lights

The Cup of Memory

   At My Lake

Senior Smiles

   Freud Revisited
   Nashville Gal Duet

 Editorial Bits and Bytes

The e-mail edition of "Silver Threads: aka "Senior Group
Newsletter" is five years old now and in internet age equivalent
that is very old indeed.

It started just as the world wide web was forming and there were
about 2,000 web sites online (most of them with .edu or .org
domain names and very few of those sites devoted to senior
interests. The  standard e-mail (listserv, etc.) mailing lists
were still on a net called bitnet with academic credentials.

The  now almost defunct FreeNet movement providing free personal
communication and connecting communities of internet users was in
full swing and their Senior bulletin boards provided the base for
the formation of "the Senior Group."

Most of us on the net used a text browser called "Lynx" and the
most advanced of us had access to one called Mosaic, the
progenitor of the Netscapes and Explorers. We accessed these with
modems of 1200, 2400, and 5600 baud and often waited 20 minutes
for a graphic to form.

A couple of college kids from Stanford were indexing WWW sites in
a location called "Yahoo" and most of the sites and the stuff
they did was in the public domain. Now, of course, they have
become a major commercial internet corporation and almost
everything on the net has become commercial and protected in one
way or another.

Now two new kids from Stanford are combining the features of a
number of net technologies into a new concept of  multimedia net
communication called People Post ( that
may or may not signal a new direction for interpersonal
net communication.

All of this history is just to justify the proposition that the
e-mail edition of Threads is old enough now for me to retire from
the editor's post.

I have put together this special edition from past issues. Thanks
to all of the many contributors over the past years who have made
the project fun to do. Tom Kyle ( will continue
to maintain a "Silver Threads" web site and I am sure would
appreciate contributions to that site. I will continue my
Elderhostel Notebook newsletter and web site and will probably
set up a personal web site to post some of my essays and poetry
and will continue to write now and then for Jean Sansum's
(  e-mail "Talespinners."  Jean, I am
working on a hummingbird piece for you about a bird called "Lars"
but I need to travel to Arizona to get in the mood for it.


note- one of our first articles on the subject of aging continues
to be one of the best- filled with common sense and written in
plain English free from medical and social science jargon that
plagues so much of the writing in this area.

Changing Attitudes about Aging Donna P. Couper, Ph.D. - SeniorNet

The longer we live, the more expert we think we are.  In no other
time in history have attitudes about aging changed as much as in
our lifetime, from extreme negative stereotypes to now positive

When I was 15, like other teen-age baby-boomers, I was convinced
that being old was a desperate, miserable time of life.  My world
view was shaped by those weekly Scholastic Readers they gave us
in school and by the black & white television news programs.  We
mourned the assassination of the youngest United States
president.  We read about the new war on poverty which targeted
"the elderly" among other impoverished groups.  Older adults were
seen as a homogeneous group that were sick, helpless, poor,
frail, lonely and dependent.  It was our responsibility to make
"those people" as comfortable as possible in the few remaining
years they had.

Around the late 1970s, there occurred a swelling backlash against
negative stereotypes of aging.  An influential number of
middle-aged and older adults mimicked the civil rights and
feminists movements which battled prejudices of racism and
sexism.  Persons like Maggie Kuhn, founder of the Gray Panthers,
vigorously fought agism.  The American Association of Retired
Persons led an unrelenting campaign over the next two decades
which emphasized the vitality of older adults.

Considering from where we came, these are revolutionary changes
in attitudes.  While the negative images of the not-so-distant
past haunt us, the positive images have taken hold and are
finding their way into mainstream thinking.

The new agism allows families and society to say that older
people are capable financially, physically and emotionally to
support younger generations.  We can be grateful that so many
older people have more resources to give to others than they did
during the first half of this century.  However, many older
adults cannot manage the added responsibilities.  Unrealistic
demands are a detriment for both younger and older generations.

The shift to the positive extreme can hurt older people, by
placing undue pressure on them.

There is a "New Yorker" cartoon, probably from the 1980s, that
illustrates the conflict between extreme positive and negative
stereotypes.  The cartoon pictures two "older" women standing at
a bus stop.  One woman is dressed glamorously in a mini-skirt and
bouffant hairdo.  The other is dressed conservatively with a long
straight skirt and hair in a bun.  The mini-skirted women
condescendingly says, "I used to be old, too, but it wasn't my
cup of tea."

The new agism is reinforcing a competitive drive which has been
characteristic of aging baby boomers all their lives.  The peer
pressure characteristic of adolescence is perpetuated in this
hard driving, competitive, granola-eating, exercise-conscious

What can we do to make the most of these attitude changes? First,
avoid using chronological age as an explanation for why persons
behave the way they do. Try to be balanced in your attitude of
aging.  All ages - 6, 36, and 76 - 95 offer wonderful opportunities
for personal growth and development, and all ages have

Finally, encourage educators to present a balanced view of aging
- a lifelong process of growing up and growing old. Understanding
the range of needs and abilities of persons of all ages
emphasizes individual differences and commonalties, thus avoiding
prejudicial stereotypes.

Our grandparents and parents adjusted to changing attitudes and
new roles.  Our task as we approach the 21st century is to be
optimistic, yet balanced.  Our attitudes affect our own aging
paths.  They affect our children and grandchildren who are
forming their opinions about what it means to be old.  Old age is
neither better nor worse than other ages.  It is life.

note- seniors love kids and love to be around them and to hear
from them.

"The Northern Lights" by Eunice Mae Kunnan Qayaak Chandler (5th

I will tell about the things I've heard and read about the
Northern Lights. I heard some from Isaac, an elder in Kaktovik,
Alaska.  He said we need to keep our hoods on while we are out
doors.  He said, "If you whistle you can see the Northern Lights
get brighter colors and dance around lots."

People in the village do whistle when they see Northern Lights so
they will move faster.  I love to see the Northern Lights.  We
also read in science that the sun sends off electrons and they
get stuck in the earth's atmosphere. They go to the northern and
southern most places and create the Northern Lights.  It was fun
reading that kind of stuff.

I have heard about the Northern Lights from the elders and other
kids since I was a little girl.  My friends used to say, " they
can chop your heads off and play catch, football or basketball
with your head."   If I was outside or any other kid was outside
they would run to their house and stay home or ask somebody if
they could take them home. We were scared because the adults said
that stuff back in  those days and it made me scared when I was

At school when we studied about the Northern Lights I learned
that they can't chop your heads off and play basketball or catch.
They only can bounce around and go very low, but they can't chop
our heads off.  They can also change different colors and are so
beautiful.  Some little kids in this village are still scared of
the Northern Lights. I'm proud I learned more about the Northern

To tell you the truth, I really think the Northern Lights are
very, very, very pretty. I love to whistle at them and see them
change colors. They can dance too!   People love to gaze at the
Northern Lights and say, "WOW the colors are lovely  on those
Northern Lights!"   I love to see them get huge and start getting
low!   I really like  the Northern Lights. I'm glad I live near
Northern Lights!! Eunice Mae Kunnan Qayaak Chandler

     The Cup Of Memory

                  At My Lake

            my lake has its own music;
            songs of friends, family,
            locked in flow of gentle waves.

            notes of that watery choir
            carry the sounds of night,
            chords of misty mornings.

            in this place, the familiar
            sends its siren refrain
            singing over the waters.

            on the shore, the empty cottage
            and old boat house still stand,
            memories glowing in twilight.

            tonight, I will remember
            and every star will shine
            a face that I have loved.




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

     Senior Smiles

Freud Revisited
- Jim Olson

A  current controversy deals with Sigmund Freud's theories about
sexuality in women and his lack of appreciation for the more
liberated aspects of women's lives.

I mentioned this to Maggie and reminded her  that Freud's book on
interpreation of dreams was one of the pieces we read as college
students in a class we took together in 1947 (circa). She
explained that she had been pondering these ideas for these past
years and now had an entirely different interpretation of it than
the one presented in class at that time. She invited me to lie on
the couch (alone) and she would explain.

She explained that we have a subconscious mind that contains not
our sexual fantasies and repressed feelings but our civilized
feelings and desires (Freud had it wrong). Behind each dream is
this hidden inner desire to do the proper thing, but it is
repressed by our overt Hedonism (that was an earlier class). all
we had to do was to understand the hidden meaning, act on it and
our mental health would improve. She asked about some current
dreams of mine.

I told her I dreamed of the two peaks in the Grand Tetons we had
camped near earlier in our married life and had awakened with a
desire to climb the peaks. She explained that those peaks were
not female breasts as the early French explorers saw them but the
two stacks of dirty dishes in the kitchen sink and the dream
signified my subconscious desires to wash and dry them. So I got
up and did that, returned to the couch.

I explained my dream of entering a dark cave with a spear I
carried . She explained the spear was really a broom I
subconsciously wanted to use to sweep the kitchen floor and the
cave was the toilet bowl exposed and not covered by my putting
the toilet lid down. I swept the kitchen floor, closed the lid
and went back to the couch.

I told her that after watching "Grumpy Old Men" I had sometimes
had this dream of being in a darkend ice-fishing shack with Ann
Margaret, and just as a big fish hit the lure   I wakened and had
these urges for physical activity. She explained that the ice was
probably covered with debris and my desire was to clean it up by
a vigorous vacuuming of the apartment. I did that and returned to
the couch.

I told her of a dream where I walked out to teach my freshman
class only to discover that I was stark naked and the class was
pointing at me and laughing. I was picking up the unabridged
Websters  in the clssroom and covering myself with pages torn
from it. She explained that was my subconscious desire to take
off the snuggies I had been wearing around the house for a week,
throw them in the laundry basket, put on some clean ones,  and go
down the hall  and do the laundry. I did that and returned.

Maggie was lying on the couch fast asleep with a smile on her
face. She never told me her dreams.

Probably just as well.


Several years ago at a family reunion in Nashville we were around
the supper table talking about what a country western hit had to
have: a pick-up truck, a broken heart, cheating, and parting.

I tried my hand at lyrics that contained them using as a model a
Nashville lady newscaster who shook her hair provocatively when
giving the news.

I posted it on the internet and Rosaleen Dickson, a frequent
Threads contributer,  picked it up and made it into a duet
supplying the lyrics for the female singer.

               Nashville Gal Duet

 Nashville gal, beside my bed,
        This bed is mine; did you forget?
 Don't you toss your schemin' head.
        Schemes? You ain't seen nothin' yet.
 Jist settle down  that hair of gold.
        At least I'm no blonde or brunette.
 I've reckoned up all the lies you told.
        Your lies been worse, so just don't fret.

 Nashville gal, that peeky gown,
        What? This ol' last year's hunk o' net?
 Ain't gonna keep me in this town.
        Been sayin' that since we first met.
 Now hand me o'er  that travellin' vest
        Here, don't forget your shavin' set.
 My pickup's gassed and headed west.
        But all four tires are flat, I'll bet.

 Nashville gal, a temptin' me,
        Good, I've got you all upset.
 Your charms won't chain a man that's free.
        Such a phony epithet.
 I cain't love with a heart that's broke.
        Be Romeo; I'm Juliet.
 You kin watch my tail pipe smoke.
       I've watched your tail before, my pet
       But I ain't seen your pipe smoke yet!


Finally a health item that proved to be one of the most popular
bits of health advice the Threads had to offer:


This diet is designed to help you cope with the stress that
builds up during the day.

Breakfast: 1/2 grapefruit 1 slice whole wheat toast, dry 3 oz.
skim milk

Lunch: 4 oz. lean broiled chicken breast 1 cup steamed spinach 1
cup herb tea 1 Oreo cookie

Midafternoon Snack: Rest of Oreos in the package 2 pints Rocky
Road ice cream 1 jar hot fudge sauce Nuts, cherries, whipped

Dinner: 2 loaves garlic bread with cheese Large sausage,
mushroom, and cheese pizza 4 cans or 1 large pitcher of beer 3
Milky Way or Snickers candy bars

Rules for this Diet

 1.  If you eat something and no one sees you eat it, it has no

 2.  If you drink a diet soda with a candy bar, the calories in
    the candy bar are canceled out by the diet soda.

 3.  Food used for medicinal purposes never counts, such as hot
    chocolate, brandy, toast, or Sara Lee Cheesecake.

 4.  If you fatten up everyone else around you, then you look

 5.  Movie-related foods do not have additional calories because
     they are part of the entire entertainment package, and not part
     of one's personal fuel, such as Milk Duds, buttered popcorn,
     Junior Mints, Red Hots and Tootsie Rolls.

  6.  Cookie pieces contain no calories.  The process of breaking
     causes calorie leakage.

  7.  Things licked off knives and spoons have no calories if you
      are in the process of preparing something.  Examples, peanut
      butter on a knife making a sandwich and ice cream on a spoon
      making a sundae.

  8.  Foods that have the same color have the same number of
      calories. Examples are spinach and pistachio ice cream, mushrooms
      and white chocolate.

NOTE:  Chocolate is a universal color and may be substituted for
any other food color.



     The vines
     Must suffer some
     From mistrals, drought, and flood.
     Only then will ancient soils grow
     Fine wine.

Last Update: , by the Senior Center Developer
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