All posts by swurster

JULY WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND? LEGACIES

WHAT WILL I LEAVE MY CHILDREN?

by Eleanor Jaffe

As we age, we consider what we will leave behind for our children and grandchildren that has lasting significance and meaning. Undoubtedly, we have all thought about finances and what estate will be left for our children to share. Perhaps you have thought of treasured antiques–your mother-in-law’s fine china or sterling silver,  your father’s World War II medals, perhaps.  Maybe you will leave your children property.  Maybe you have thought of leaving some writings that you have put together, your memoirs of successes and failures, family joys and sorrows.  All of these have significance to you and me and to our children.  But, lately, a new legacy, one I have heretofore taken for granted, seems of utmost importance: the legacy of a functioning democracy.

We belong to the same “cohort.”  That is, we grew up at the same time, lived through the same U.S. history (give or take twenty years). I can recall the end of World War II.  I can recall the formation of the United Nations, the promise of Israel, and NATO.   We were filled with the idealism of our age.  We would help to build a better, wiser world following the cataclysm of World War II with its millions of victims and its death camps. “Never again!” We believed in these ideals, and, as a cohort, we profited from the expansive, booming economic times that ensued. The U.S. was a benevolent victor and helped to rebuild conquered territories—for the good of us all.  Here in the U.S., laws were passed equalizing opportunities for minorities and women.  Incrementally, the U.S. expanded the rights of all citizens.

Now, we are experiencing the loss of our idealism, the loss of the sense of U.S. “rightness,” the faith in our democracy that we once shared.  We believed that our democracy could be shared among the nations of the world.  The U.S. could be open-hearted and open-handed. Yes, there were military clashes along the way: Korea and Vietnam (where we almost lost our way). But nothing in our memory, not even the McCarthy era, has decimated the American Dream like the current Trump Administration.  It is this American Dream and its almost 250 year old reality that is the most significant legacy we could possibly leave our children and grandchildren.

Many of our grandparents suffered in steerage and then in poverty so long ago when they emigrated to the United States. The United States was a dream, hard fought for, but worth the struggle for our parents and then for us. We now have an obligation, a sacred trust, to struggle to maintain these democratic principles of fairness, the rule of law, equal opportunities, a place where people–even would-be immigrants and asylum seekers–are treated with respect and fairness.

Nothing has so tarnished the reputation of the United States in the eyes of the world—and in our own eyes—as the systematic, deliberate cruelty of this Administration in separating children from their parents, in keeping children in cages, even of losing track of where the children have been sent!  What has happened to our American Dream? And how can we salvage the tattered remnants of our honor as a country? (And this is just the latest – but surely not the last – of Trump’s outrageous attacks on our democratic, hard fought for ideals and laws.)

The legacy of a proud, just, and fair United States is one I desperately hope to leave to my children and grandchildren. I will work to help these helpless immigrants most of whom are seeking asylum.  Were we not all once “strangers in a strange land?”—no matter when our family members emigrated to the U.S.?  I will work to overturn this Administration so that we can once again have a fair and just system of government, a government that responds to the loud cries of protests from its citizenry.  I strongly encourage all of you to do the same.  This remains the bedrock and foundational legacy for all our children.

BOLLI Matters feature writer Eleanor Jaffe

One of BOLLI Matters’  “Senior Moments” feature writers, Eleanor has become increasingly focused on “Making a Difference” in our current climate.  She and Elaine Dohan, in fact, have founded a new BOLLI Special Interest Group to explore how we might all be “Making a Difference” today.

 

JULY SENIOR MOMENT WITH DENNIS GREENE: MIND LAPSES

MIND LAPSES

by Dennis Greene

When I call on my fragile mind to multi-task, things often end badly.

For instance, in 1967, I attended Stu Lasky’s wedding in Scarsdale with my college roommate Kenny Fox and his parents, my “second family.”

As we sat in the synagogue waiting for the ceremony to begin, I noticed a beautiful Asian girl sitting alone a few rows away.  It looked like she knew no one. This was during that wonderful interim between the disappearance of my acne and the appearance of my receding hairline, so I was flushed with a modicum of confidence.  I forced myself into action and found myself inviting her to come and join us.  She told me her name was Noella Luke, happily accepted the invitation, and smiled.  I was enchanted.  As we walked back to join the Foxes, my brain was churning. I was listening to Noella tell me how she knew the bride; I was imagining what our children might look like; and I was complimenting myself on this very mature, thoughtful, and cool move.  Before I had time to prepare myself, we arrived at our seats, and I began to introduce Noella to the Foxes, but after “Noella, I’d like you to meet Mr. and Mrs….” I drew a blank. I could not recall their name.  I became speechless and froze, the temperature went up to about 110 degrees, sweat began to pour down my brow, and there was about thirty seconds of awkward silence before the Foxes introduced themselves. I knew that my overloaded brain’s failure to come up with the name “Fox” had managed to turn a major victory into a humiliating defeat. I have to learn to focus more on what I am doing.

This past weekend, I bought a $20 sheet of coupons from a kid raising money for the Wellesley High baseball team, and I decided to use one of the coupons as an excuse to get a forbidden pizza. I drove to Wellesley Center and found a parking place not far from the Upper Crust. As I was unbuckling my seatbelt, I remembered that I had a parking meter app on my phone.  I activated my iPhone, got out of the car, and paid the fee.  Then, I went into a nearby bookstore.  After a half hour chat with the owner, I strolled over to the Upper Crust, ordered a small pepperoni and mushroom pizza, and ate it while reading Ringworld. Forty-five minutes later, I emerged from the restaurant and headed back to my car, patting my pockets quickly, looking for my keys.  I didn’t find them.  I repeated the search, more slowly.  I didn’t have them.   I considered whether I might have left them in the Upper Crust or in the bookstore.  Then it occurred to me that they might be in the ignition.  After a brief moment of panic, I spotted my car, so I knew it hadn’t been stolen, and I was soon close enough to see that the keys actually were in the ignition.  No harm done, luckily.   And with a sigh of relief, I slid into the driver’s seat, buckled my seatbelt, and reached to turn on the ignition.   It was already on!  The car engine had been running for the past hour and a half.  Another brain malfunction.  These have recently been occurring  more frequently.

How does one tell the difference between normal “aging brain” malfunctions and the onset of more serious dementia?  Is my undependable old brain even capable of distinguishing the difference?  I worry about myself, and all of us.

It is clear that the magnitude of the distraction required to trigger a brain lapse has been reduced significantly for me over the years. In 1967 the smile and attention of the young woman of my fantasies, while I was taking an unprecedented social risk, reduced me to a catatonic state.  That is easily understandable. It was an important moment for me.

But, last week, my brain short-circuited because I got excited about using a new parking fee app.  That’s just sad.

BOLLI Matters feature writer Dennis Greene

Dennis spent five years as an engineer and then forty as a lawyer–and sixty as a pop culture geek and junkie.  He’s been writing blog articles for BOLLI Matters in quite a variety of genres:  science fiction, movie and video picks, creative nonfiction, and memoir.  This month, he provides us with this “Senior Moment” as feature writer Eleanor Jaffe addresses a concern “On Her Mind.”

 

 

 

JULY TECH TALK: WHAT’S IN YOUR WALLET?

WHAT’S IN YOUR WALLET?

by John Rudy

Summer tends to be peak travel time, so here’s a tip about safeguarding your wallet–at home or abroad.

I suspect that few of you know exactly what is in your wallet, so if it is stolen or lost, you might have a problem.  But even if you know what cards you have there, do you know the card numbers and you how to contact the organizations so that they can be frozen?

The solution is a small spreadsheet:

Card Description Card Number Contact email Contact Phone
       
       

Then, put it in a place so that, if the wallet is stolen (even in Europe), you can get to the data.  I will leave that part up to you!

BOLLI Matters “Tech Talk” feature writer John Rudy

A long-time technology expert and guide, John provides his helpful hints in this monthly BOLLI Matters feature.  In the comment box below, provide John with questions, comments, or suggestions for future items on any computer/tech topic .

How I Learned to be a Racist by Lois Biener

HOW I LEARNED TO BE A RACIST

By Lois Biener

I parked my car with my dog inside in the small lot behind Peet’s Coffee to run in for some beans.  Leaving the car, I noticed three black men hanging out, probably on a smoke break from their work in the attached building.  I double-checked to make sure my car was locked.  As I walked around to the front door, I chastised myself for my automatic response.  I rarely lock my car.  Why did I do that?

Lessons in racism started early.  I grew up in a neighborhood that was not only racially segregated, it was 60 to 70% Jewish.  I could tell my mother was much happier when I played with the Jewish kids than with the few non-Jews.  No explicit reason was given, but the subtle message of invidious group distinctions was delivered.

The only black person I knew in my early years was Willie Mae who cleaned our house and took care of me after school.  I was very fond of her, as she was of me.  My parents referred to her as “the schvartze,” but not in her presence.  Her daughter, Gweny, was my age, and Willie Mae brought her to our house now and then.  Being invited to Gweny’s 5th birthday party caused my parents great consternation.  I really wanted to go, although I can’t remember if I actually did.  They told me that her home was in a dirty and dangerous neighborhood and that I wouldn’t be comfortable there.  I recall Willie Mae expressing resentment to me about the attitudes white people had toward her.  I felt torn in my loyalties to her and to my parents.

My father, a small-time criminal lawyer, dealt primarily with “colored” people who got in trouble for numbers running and other petty crimes.  Although he was proud to have their respect and appreciation, I had many opportunities to hear about their terrible living conditions and people referred to as “dumb shines,” but at least not “niggers.”

Until high school, I had few opportunities to see or relate to black people.  My high-school was about 50% black and 50% Jewish.  Most of the black kids were tracked into vocational courses, so I didn’t become friendly with many of them.  The one area where race seemed irrelevant was choir.  This was a 3-day a week commitment with frequent concerts in and out of school, often at churches during Christmas, much to my parents’ dismay.  I loved being in the choir, and I had the experience of participating with excellent African-American singers.  I remember anticipating with pleasure the place in the program where a wonderful soprano would perform a solo aria from Handel’s Messiah.

I can’t remember when I first started to actively reject the notion that black people were inherently “less than.”  The civil rights movement of the 60’s occurred when I was an undergraduate, and all the media attention to the injustice in the south was certainly an important factor.  Graduate school in the late 60’s and 70’s and all the political movements of that time led me to intellectually reject racism.   Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, and other writers of the black experience were important contributors to my growing understanding and empathy.  The more recent sickening repetition of the killing of black men by white policeman has been a tipping point in sparking my motivation to be more proactive.

Now I’m trying to deal with the unconscious reactions that led me to go back and lock my car door in the Peet’s parking lot or the avoidance of eye-contact when passing black men on the street.   Rooting out this behavior takes conscious effort.  It is important to bring into awareness the subtle perceptual biases that many of us white people have internalized over our lifetimes so that the source of those biases can be examined.

Riding the train from NYC last week, friends and I were looking for facing seats.  I found one six-seater occupied by a young black man.  I looked at him, smiled, and sat down.  I’m trying.  We all must do much more.

BOLLI Member Lois Biener

A social scientist by “trade,” Lois enjoys her time at BOLLI, sings with two different groups, throws pots,  spends quality time with her daughter and grandson, and  relishes planning the next trip with her husband.

JULY “BOOK NOOK” : A LITERARY MEMORY FROM ABBY PINARD

THE BOOK THAT MATTERED

Brooklyn Public Library

by Abby Pinard

When I turned 13, in the mid-1950s, having long since exhausted the children’s section of the Brooklyn Public Library, I was finally granted an adult card. Oh, the wonders that were now available to me! Not just the books but the soaring, sunlit space, the hush, and the certainty that important grown-up people were doing important grown-up reading there.

Early on, I read a book called (I thought) A Small Rain. I remember no other single book from that time, but that one stuck with me. There was a scene in which a young girl who plays the piano is asked if she plays well. “Yes,” she says. I was thrilled and appalled! Who could be so immodest? I played the piano, pretty well for 13, but I would never have said so! I was a gawky, nerdy, shy kid, and boasting — or even believing I had anything to boast about — just wasn’t in my repertoire.

Over the years, the book would periodically penetrate my consciousness, and I would think that I should re-read it to figure out why it had been important to me. Was it just that one scene? I had a vague sense that the girl was growing up in New York City but that her city was very unlike mine, and I didn’t remember anything else about her. I couldn’t remember the author’s name, but I clearly remembered that the physical space in which I’d found the book was in the section for authors from J-M. We were a long way from the Internet, and although any librarian could’ve helped me, life intervened; there were lots more books to read, and I never tried to identify the book.

Until twenty or so years ago when I read an article about Madeleine L’Engle that mentioned her first book. The title varied from my recollection only by the difference between “a” and “the,” and her name fit alphabetically. When I read a synopsis, I was certain I had found it, and I bought the book. I re-read it closely but had no clear insight as to why it was meaningful to the 13-year-old me. It’s a coming-of-age story, originally published in 1945, featuring the lonely daughter of mostly absent parents. Maybe I was as shocked by the sixteen-year-old’s relationships with grown men as I was by her immodesty, or perhaps I was fascinated by the glamorous bohemianism of her life in Greenwich Village and Paris. Or maybe it was just that one scene that was so startling that I never forgot it.

The Small Rain sits on a shelf where I can see it from where I now sit. I no longer think it has anything to tell me about who I was at 13, but I may read it once more just to be sure.

BOLLI Matters “Book Nook” Feature Writer, Abby Pinard

A lifelong book nut, Abby retired from a forty-year computer software career and ticked an item off her bucket list by going to work in a bookstore.  A native New Yorker, she moved to Boston to be among her people:  family and Red Sox fans.  A music lover, crossword puzzler, baseball fan, and political junkie, she flunked Halloween costumes but can debug her daughter’s wifi.

 

 

CREATIVE NONFICTION FROM ELAINE PITOCHELLI: HUMOR & PATHOS

HUMOR & PATHOS: ROBIN WILLIAMS REMEMBERED

By Elaine Pitochelli

The year was 1978. Jimmy Carter was President of the United States. The first test tube baby was born. Cult leader Jim Jones told nine hundred members of his church to commit suicide. Girls were playing with Barbie Dolls and Easy Bake Ovens. Boys were playing with the Simon game and hot wheels.

And in his comedic persona of Mork from Ork, Robin Williams exploded on the scene.

In our household, television viewing was reserved for a couple of evening family shows, during which we let Williams, that comic genius, into our home and our lives. He first appeared on the show, Happy Days, and then sequed into the memorable Mork and Mindy.

I enjoyed the show very much, but Williams’ persona puzzled me. This enigmatic soul of comedy poked at my inner places. I needed to look deeper at him.  I felt the need to study him. How could he keep up this crazy, oddball act? How could he keep up this raving wildness?  I worried about him, which seemed odd to me. For God’s sake. I didn’t know the man personally.

Yet, on some essential level, I did know him.  His depression, his mania, his genius was there for anyone to see—anyone, that is, who dared to, anyone who had lived with the same proclivities. I can’t let him go without a tribute to his gifts.

Mork is gone, and so is the planet Ork.  So are Peter Pan and Hook.
Gone are the Happy Feet that rocked and zoomed across the frozen tundra.
Gone is The Fisher King whose craziness bore pins into our eyes and icy shards thick from the frozen wasteland into our hearts.
Gone is Mrs. Doubtfire who absorbed a child’s tears in her vast bosom.                                                                                                                             Gone is the booming voice that awakened Vietnam and promised relief from travails.                                                                                                    Gone is Patch Adams restoring rosy cheeks to ashen children whose souls would soon be winging their way to heaven.
Gone is Jacob the Liar who gave solace, grace, and laughter to a tiny girl destined for the Nazi ovens.
Gone are those eyes of bottomless sadness, the depth of the deepest desert sands.

What’s left is a man whose own soul cried while he gave sustenance to millions with insane laughter and fathomless tears.
What’s left are our memories and yearnings to restore to his heart and soul that which he gave to ours.
What’s left is the knowledge that his pain couldn’t be healed.
What’s left is his profound imagination and creativity, someone who brought his emotions to soaring heights and allowed us unbridled laughter and play in Humor and Pathos.

BOLLI member and writer Elaine Pitochelli

 

Elaine considers reading her passion and inspiration. Writing is her muse, the creative influence in her Being.  Her family is her All.

 

 

 

 

CREATIVE NONFICTION FROM JO KLEIN: Mattresses and Signposts

MATTRESSES AND SIGNPOSTS

By Jo Klein

 

Evidently, I have free mattress karma.

Years ago, I wanted a “heavenly bed” from the Westin hotels. I searched for a discount and finally found one at an online retailer.  I called customer service and spoke to Rita, an affable woman and a fellow opera lover.  We spoke several times as I verified the details of the mattress and discussed recent productions at the Metropolitan Opera.  I was easily sold.  Would a person with such good taste in music lead me wrong?  I don’t know what happened to the voice in my head that should have said, “Jo, she’s a saleswoman.”

The mattress came. It wasn’t heavenly. The retailer wouldn’t take it back. Out of frustration, I wrote to Westin.  An executive there acknowledged I was sent the wrong product, and eventually I received a free, very heavenly mattress.

My friends were still talking about my free mattress years later when my back started talking back to me.  It took eight tries to get the organic, foam, non-allergenic mattress I needed.  My next to last purchase came from Essentia.  As I walked into the store, I overheard the saleswoman talking about guruji, an affectionate term for one’s guru.  Of course, meeting a fellow spiritual seeker and yogini assured me I was in the right place so I plunked down enough money to make the heavenly bed seem cheap.

I’m going to skip what went wrong.  I returned the mattress, but I couldn’t get my money refunded.  Finally, I did what any teenager knows to do: I tweeted the CEO and received  an immediate call from the person in finance who hadn’t responded to my persistent emails and phone calls. She promised my money would be refunded the next day. But it didn’t happen for over two months.

Meanwhile, I had filed a complaint with my credit card company, and they ended up refunding me the money at about the same time Essentia did, so I had a double refund.  Then I started round after round of phone calls with Capital 1 trying to give back the extra money.  They asked Essentia to clarify the situation. When Essentia wouldn’t respond, Capital 1 closed the case and sent me a check for the full amount of my purchase. I argued with them on 3 different occasions because I felt the money wasn’t mine to keep, but they said it was. The money was about twice what I needed to buy my ideal mattress from Gardner Mattress.

I’d like to report that I learned a lesson about following signs, but, last Saturday,  I was listening to the opera Romeo and Juliet while surfing the internet for a new cabinet.  The one I liked best was called the Verona.  I don’t know if I should order it…

BOLLI Matters writer Jo Klein

Formerly known as Jo Ann the Phillies fan, Jo moved to the Boston area to be close to her grandchildren and a winning baseball team.  After satisfying careers as an elementary school principal and a marketing research analyst, she now practices alternative healing modalities and enjoys yoga, the Boston Symphony, and frequent trips to the Metropolitan Opera.

JUNE SCREENING ROOM WITH DENNIS GREENE: SOME OVERLOOKED GEMS

Later this month (June 23rd), the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge will be showing Philippe Broca’s charming King of Hearts to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its release in 1968.   Many may remember its historic four or five-year run at the Central Square Cinema where I enjoyed it several times during the early 70’s. Though It was not an initial box office success, over the decades, the film acquired an avid group of loyal fans.

As I made plans to see this revival, I thought about other films which are often overlooked in those “best ever” lists, but which I watch again and again, and include among my favorites. How many of you can identify Charles Plumpick, Peachey Carnahan, Lewis Tater, Celest Talbert, Hub and Garth McCann and Miles Kendig? Not many I’ll wager. But around these characters, all but one of which is portrayed by an Academy award winning actor, have been constructed brilliant screen gems which are each worth a couple of hours of your time when you need a shot of enjoyment. So, here is my list.

Charles Plumpick is the kilt wearing Scottish pigeon handler attached to an English battalion fighting against the Germans in World War I. He is ordered to disarm a bomb in a small French town. By the time he arrives at the town, the townspeople have fled, and the inmates of an unlocked asylum have taken over. Plumpick, played by Alan Bates, falls for a beautiful tightrope walker (Genevive Bujold) and is chosen the town’s leader, the “king of hearts”.  Bates is the one non-Academy Award winner in the group, though he was nominated for his role in The Fixer.  The film begs the question, “Who is more crazy, the residents of the asylum or the men killing one another outside the town with guns and tanks? This is a French film in which the inmates speak French,the British soldiers speak English, and the German soldiers speak German, but there are subtitles for all.

Peachey Carnahan is one of the two principal characters in John Houston’s masterful film version of Rudyard Kipling’s The Man Who Would Be King.  This is the ultimate “buddy”movie which Houston sought to make for over twenty years.  During that time, he approached Clark Gable and Humphry Bogart, Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas, Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole, and Robert Redford and Paul Newman to play the pair. Newman felt it should be English actors and suggested Michael Caine and Sean Connery. I can’t imagine anyone else in the roles.

Lewis Tater is a aspiring young writer who heads west to write about the frontier.  Hearts of the West is an obscure little film about the origin of the film industry and the rise of Hollywood. Jeff Bridges is endearing as the young Tater, and a supporting cast including Blythe Danner, Andy Griffith and Alan Arkin, make this film shine.

Celeste Talbert, a role perfect for Sally Field, is the star of a long running TV soap opera. The twists and turns in Soapdish are serpentine and hilarious. The cast of this rollicking comedy says all you need to know. Kevin Kline, Robert Downey, Jr., Elisabeth Shue, Whoopie Goldberg, Teri Hatcher, Cathy Moriarty, Gary Marshall, Kathy Najimy and Carrie Fisher. Enough said.

Hub and Garth McCann , played perfectly by Robert Duval and Michael Caine, are two cantankerous old brothers with an unbelievable back story and a rumored vast fortune. They become responsible for their shy 14 year old grand-nephew when he is left with them by the boy’s irresponsible and daft mother. There the fun starts, including the purchase of an aging circus lion who roams loose on their little farm. Secondhand Lions is a charming and uplifting romp. I admit to an urge to shed a few tears at the end, and so will you.

 Miles Kendig, the final name on my list, is my favorite. Kendig, played by the incomparable Walter Matthau, is an aging CIA field agent approaching retirement. After he completes a successful operation, Kendig’s right wing idiotic boss takes him out of the spy game and assigns him to the file room to end his career. Here is where the fun starts. Kendig shreds his own personnel file, goes on the run and informs his boss, and every major embassy in the world, that he is writing a memoir about the CIA’s “dirty tricks” and will circulate each chapter as it is completed. The chase begins, but Kendig is the best at this game. Again, the supporting cast of Hopscotch, including Glenda Jackson, Ned Beatty, Sam Waterston, Herbert Lom, as well as Matthau’s son and daughter-in-law, are well cast and the chase around the world is pure fun. I watch it every time I am down, and I root for the old guy against the bureaucratic bully. Better than a shrink

These are my favorite overlooked gems. If you believe I omitted others that deserve mention, and I’m sure I have, I’d love to hear from you.

BOLLI Matters writer of memoir, movies, and monsters Dennis Greene

Dennis spent five years as an engineer and then forty as a lawyer–and sixty as a pop culture geek and junkie.  He saw “The Day the Earth Stood Still” in 1951 when he was seven and has been hooked on speculative fiction ever since.  (To say nothing of books and movies as well!)

 

LINES FROM LYDIA: BUENOS DIAS

BUENOS DIAS

My watch was still on Boston time.  Waiting in line for customs, I had decided not to change it to El Salvador time.  If I wanted a real getaway, then I needed to leave time and home behind, but that did not mean my loved ones.  I had already thought of my grandsons.  Brady, age 11, would love the van driver’s speed and his music;  Henry, age 6, would love the two cats and frantic little puppy that live in my friends’ home; and my daughter Diane, her Nana’s girl, would love the flowers and the warm breeze off the Pacific.  I am eager to walk on the black sand beaches of the Costa Del Sol.

My 1968 Spanish is weak; the CDs are still at home in the box. There has been no time to listen to them in the five weeks since I bought my ticket.  Today, I sit in my casa du amigos within a compound with armed guards at the gate and razor wire atop the 12 foot high wall. Escuela Americana.  It is 73 degrees at 8:00 a.m.   My grandsons are enjoying a snow day.

The coffee here is wonderful, as is the homemade Greek yogurt with local honey and oat bran. The taste is different from the diet that I follow at home. This is when I decide that I will eat to fill my belly, not my appetite.

Outside the small bathroom window, the skies are hazy. Pollution? Fog? I learn that it is a little of each. Tall concrete buildings tower over the tin roofs, palm and mango trees, and more cement.  So many different textures, foreign to me and fascinating.  Another difference is the bathroom itself.  The tub and shower is a large concrete box covered in white ceramic tile. The shower head is American, and there is a faint whiff of chlorine in the water, not unlike Miami.  From the window, through the haze, I see a mountain looming large over the neighborhood. Later, I am told it is a volcano and there may be an occasional, small earthquake.

My first day in El Salvador begins, and I am hungry for it all. As the daughter of an immigrant, I am very conscious of this first use of my American passport.  San Salvador is thousands of miles from my Worcester birthplace.  I travel with courage and focus to learn of a new culture and to embrace my religion where it is strongest, where clergy and missionaries were assassinated and, later, canonized. I ask God to keep me safe on this journey.

Today, I pray for the people of El Salvador.   Those who are victims of gang violence, and for Sergio, our former BOLLI custodian, whose family is in the capital city–as are my friends who teach at the Escuela Americana.

BOLLI Matters Co-Editor, Lydia Bogar

Our own “Renaissance Woman,” Lydia has done everything from teaching English to doing volunteer emergency service.  She says she “hails from Woosta–educated at BOLLI.”

 

 

BOLLI PRESENTS A NEW SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP: MAKE A DIFFERENCE

WHO SAYS WE’RE TOO OLD?

by Eleanor Jaffe

Eleanor and Husband Burt

Where political action is concerned, I’d say we are not too old.  I’d say we have strong ethics and opinions that are well informed by our personal lives and professional experiences,  and we have potentially strong voices.  BUT – we must use them!

We watch our beloved country overrun by scoundrels, those with no moral compass or sense of history.  Those who cannot (or will not) defend the rights of children separated from their parents at our borders.  Under this administration, we see  families that have trekked many hundreds of miles from their homes where they lived in danger from gangs and governments unable to protect them  to our borders seeking asylum.  (They are highly motivated;  wouldn’t they make ideal citizens?  Highly motivated, strong, ambitious people, sacrificing and striving for democracy and safety for themselves and their children.)  And we watch, dumbstruck by cruelties performed in our names by our government’s benighted policies:  these official asylum seekers, whose entry is not illegal,  are being separated from their traumatized children.

Thousands of children have been separated from their parents and are being “warehoused” in large detention centers, suffering the cruelties of fear and separation  that will shape their lives forever.  And our own government is the perpetrator of this policy!  And our tax dollars are supporting these arbitrary cruelties!

No matter what you think of our immigration policies…do you think they are inconsistent, have loopholes, need attention and correction?  Do you really believe this is the way to implement our current practices?  

Who says we are too old to do something about this heinous, cruel “immigration policy?”

Many of  us already make our voices heard by writing letters and making phone calls to our elected officials.   Others financially support organizations like the ACLU, the League of Women Voters, or other worthy organizations.  I hope that all of us might raise our  voices, write those postcards, support voter registration and candidates whose policies we admire so that our government represents the policies and programs that are synchronous with who we are as  moral persons   Ask yourself, does your government now reflect your ideals, experiences, and hopes?  If it does not, get active!  We are not too old!

One way to “get active” is to attend the meetings of our newly formed Make A Difference special interest group at BOLLI to see what we are doing.  We will be meeting on June 12 at 1 pm.  We will also meet once a month in July and August.  We will then set a regular meeting time come September.  You and your righteous anger and determination to “Make a Difference” will be heard.  We are not too old!

After serving as a delegate to Chicago’s 1968 Democratic Convention, Eleanor’s activism took a back seat to her other pursuits.  But today, she says, fear and loathing of the Trump administration has propelled her from “arm chair activism” (talking back to TV anchors) to small acts of resistance.  In the 2017 fall semester, she was sufficiently motivated to create a BOLLI course, “Resistance and Resilience in Politics and in Life.”  Now, she and Elaine Dohan are leading, “Make a Difference,” a new special interest group devoted to doing just that–through phoning, writing, and other acts of protest.  She invites others to join.