The 70-Something Blog is now The 80-Something Blog. Stay tuned in ten years for The 90-Something Blog!

Camp Wingfoot Forever

When I was nine, my parents sent me to Camp Wingfoot for Girls in Madison, Ohio for two-months. I loved it.  Most campers cried when their parents dropped them off.  I cried when mine came to take me home.

My favorite activity was horseback riding, and I can still remember Ginger, Blacky and Ghost, three of my favorites. But I loved everything about camp for the five summers I spent there.  

Recently, after dinner with friends, we started singing camp songs we remembered from whatever camp we attended.  The next day, I Googled Camp Wingfoot to see if it still exists. No, it closed in 1985, but its brother camp (Roosevelt) is still operating. 

And there is a Facebook group of Wingfoot alumnae!  To join, one has to answer some questions about the camp, like the name of the building where the owners lived.  I didn’t know that, but I wrote a couple things I did remember and said my brother had gone to Roosevelt, and they accepted me!  The group has 366 members, counting me and a not-too-bad website.  I’m probably the oldest member because the Facebook page is only fourteen years old. However, because it is a Facebook group, it tells you if anybody is a friend of a friend of yours and sure enough, a good, younger friend of mine, is friends with a Wingfoot alumna.

Of course, the website has a few pages devoted to Camp songs. Fortunately, I was alone in my apartment because…I sang them all.


Whatever Happened to Allen K?

Long, long, ago in a far-away-land (Beacon Hill, Boston), I had a lovely roommate named Patty.  In 1961, I attended her day-before-marriage-to-Allen-events in Kansas City, Kansas, but flew to Omaha, Nebraska that night to be in the wedding party of another roommate the next day.

Patty and Allen settled in Providence, Rhode Island and Peter and I saw them (and their children) often as they were only 45 minutes away.

Thirty years later, Patty, a non-smoker, died of lung cancer.  And although we saw Allen for a while, we lost touch with him after a few years. 

Last week, I was wondering whatever happened to Allen. Google informed me that he passed away four years ago.   I learned from his memorial page about their grown-up kids and that Allen had a long and happy relationship after Patty died.

It was a happy/sad walk down memory lane.


Bathroom Report

When Peter and I moved from our rental apartment to a condo down the hall last August, one of its two bathrooms needed work, e.g., you could only get hot or cold water from the sink and the teeny tiles on the floor and walls were so chipped that even bleach didn’t make them appear clean.

Ten months later, I almost have a new bathroom.  My contractor, Chuck, is creative and terrific when he shows up, which is not very often. 

The walls around the tub could not “handle the tile being removed” said our building superintendent, so Chuck suggested using a “tub surround” to cover the existing tiles.

Well, the tub surround is beautiful.  It looks like marble which it is not.  I was trying to explain it to neighbors and the next couple of times I saw them, they would ask—what was that stuff called?  It seems that it’s hard to remember “tub surround”.

So on Thursday, as I put up a new shower curtain, I decided to invite them to a bathroom open house to begin momentarily, dress is casual, etc.  They appeared minutes later, and I gave them the five-minute tour.  They were quite taken by the tub surround, but they also loved the towel racks, the toilet paper holder, the shape of the sink and the white with a hint of gray painted walls.

And, with so little notice of this event, I was shocked that they came with the perfect bathroom-warming gift…

A bar of Dove soap.


Five Women, Three Hours, No Politics

My BFF* was having a big birthday.  She did NOT want a party.  She was very CLEAR about that.  Instead, two of her friends organized a luncheon, telling her to save the date and offering no further information.

So, on a perfect day last week, five women gathered at the home of the hostess in a beautiful-wooded-setting where the only competition for our attention was the continuous chatter of birds at the feeder on the deck.

We all didn’t know each other well, but we all had known the birthday girl for years.  Somehow, we got into talking about the past—how we met our spouses and how we knew the birthday girl.  We talked about our parents and their parents and parenting.

Before we reluctantly parted, we realized that we hadn’t spoken of politics, the Ukraine war, Covid-19 or any number of challenges facing us.

It was a great pleasure.

*Best Friend Forever


Father's Day

My father died fifty years ago.  He was a heavy smoker, and died of lung cancer.  I remember him putting quarters in cigarette machines to buy his Lucky Strikes when I was little.  There would be three pennies (change) inside the cellophane wrapper that he would give to me.

About twenty-five years ago, I learned that Dad had a whole family before he married my mother.  I guess a parent's divorce wasn’t revealed to children back then.  Now, I am good friends with my half-sister’s daughter who is only a few years younger than I am.

My sons lost their father last fall.  I wonder what they will be remembering about him when they are my age. 

My guess is they will say he was funny and smart and loving.*

*You can watch Seth’s new interview with me on how to age successfully at https://bit.ly/3b6FWtW  (It’s in English with Portuguese subtitles.)


Pomp and Circumstance

Sir Edward Elgar’s elegant “Pomp and Circumstance March #1” always brings tears to my eyes. Last Friday, the tears slipped down my face as it accompanied my grandson Leo and 399 of his high school classmates filing into The Daughters of the American Revolution auditorium in Washington, DC.

It was a typical high school graduation ceremony.  The band played and the glee club sang.  U.S.Representative Jamie Raskin was an eloquent guest speaker.

Leo had a wonderful four years at Einstein High School.  He was editor of the school newspaper.  He was a member of the Honors Society. He was captain of his soccer, lacrosse and basketball teams.  (Like all of us he is imperfect, e.g., he got kicked out of a soccer game once after swearing when the umpire made “an outrageous call.”) 

The graduation was a joyous occasion.  Peter would have loved it.


Poetry and Me

A love of poetry has always eluded me.  That is to say that my bookshelves do not contain a lot of books of poems.  I consider this a shortcoming.

However, I was blown away by Amanda Gordon’s inaugural poem, and I do appreciate some of the old masters.  But I am a fan of Donald Hall (1928-2018), perhaps best known for being U.S. Poet Laureate (2006). He published fifty books, including 22 volumes of poetry.

Toward the end of his life, he wrote about aging, a subject of increasing interest to me. Essays after 80 in 2014 and in 2018, A Carnival of Losses—Notes Nearing Ninety. Two examples of his wisdom:

  1. “In your eighties you are invisible. Nearing ninety you hope nobody sees you.”
  1. “At nineteen you were six foot two.  At ninety-one, you will be two foot six.”

Morning Aches

I have accepted my every-morning-getting-out-of-bed aches. Typically, they don’t last long.  "I ache all over" was my father’s morning greeting late in life.  I was sure I inherited the a.m. aching from him.

However, I have learned that there is a reason for waking pain. When you have been lying down for a long time, according to physical therapist Maryclaire Capetta, waking up with a tight body is “almost a universal human experience.”  It seems that the lubrication of your joints and fascia becomes thicker and “glides” with more difficulty. (See https://nyti.ms/3vqmMHL). Your body temperature dropping when you sleep can make this happen.

Possible solutions include a before-you-get-out-of-bed cat stretch, marching in place for a bit when you stand up or as a friend of mine recommends, keep a bottle of Tylenol and some water on your night table. Take one pill upon opening your eyes.

Have a nice day.


MFA

Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts is a world-class museum.  Although I have been a member for years, I had not been in the building since Covid began.  But I could not resist the museum’s “blockbuster” exhibit of J.W.M. Turner’s masterpieces. Well-masked, I and three friends, arrived as the doors opened on a sunny Friday morning.

There was also another, less-heralded, exhibit of the works of Philip Guston, a Canadian American artist who died in 1980.  His works became known for their social commentary, frequently depicting “racism, antisemitism, and the banality of evil”.

The museum had postponed the Guston exhibit because of the controversial subject matter in this time of great divide in our country, and there were warnings at the start that some difficult issues are depicted.  There were few visitors when we were there, probably because of the attraction of the Turner exhibit downstairs.

I found the Guston exhibit fascinating and ended up spending so much time there that I didn’t have a lot of energy left for Turner.  Plus, the rooms in the Turner exhibit had people shoulder to shoulder, some unmasked.  I sped through the exhibit, of course not spending enough time with any one of Turner’s masterpieces.

Will I go back for a more relaxed Turner tour?  Well, I escaped Covid on that visit.  I’m not sure I want to push my luck.


Reunion

Seth came to town for his 25th Kennedy School reunion last week. Since I knew many of his classmates and I live a short walk from the School, I gave a pre-event cocktail party for his friends. 

I was thrilled to see ten former bright-eyed-twenty-somethings, most now with families and well-advanced careers.

Seth stayed in Cambridge Sunday evening so we could celebrate his May birthday at a special restaurant.  When he left early Monday morning, he asked me (as he always does) if I was sad that he was leaving.

“No,” I replied.  “I’m just so happy that you were here.”