Sunday, January 31, 2016

Slice of Past Life

The movies are black-and-white  -- they start with an Old Lady sitting in a wing chair and telling us in a fake creaking voice that she  remembers -- and it appears she's going to look back over her life and share the memories with us.  She serves as bookends for the movie.
That's how I feel these days, because I'm reading through my old journals -- in bed, though. The wing chair (originally designed to hold the warmth in front of an open fire, btw) may have looked better in the movies, but your genuine old lady prefers to read in bed.
So -- in the 1944 Date Book, we take a look first at the address list.  Letter-writing was big in those days -- think today's fingers poking  smart phones -- and judging by these addresses, we're right in the middle of The War.  Most are c/o postmaster San Francisco or New York City.
Only one classmate there, Lola -- she later became a lawyer.  (I didn't even know how one became a lawyer back then.)  And the Mass state hospital -- that must have been my Aunt Pearl. One guy has a simple street address, but he soon went into the army also. 
 He later proposed marriage -- come to think of it, so did two other guys on these pages.  I was a great letter-writer.
 But anyhow, what I set out to tell you --
Looks like I was really busy -- house duties (co-op dorm), hours working on the next day's edition of the Daily Orange, band practice (first time girls were allowed in the Syracuse band .  They had to -- all the
boys were overseas.)  Then classes  to become a Red Cross Grey Lady, and -- even academics!  What do you suppose derivatives were, and why did I have to find them?  I evidently ended up scheduling time to eat and even to sleep.  But just when I'm really impressed -- what shows up but this frantic reminder, underlined SIX TIMES --

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Memory Book Memories

Looking through, throwing out --
Here's a Memory Book from summer camp on Seneca Lake, 1943.  I think maybe I mimeographed that one.  It  was right in the middle of The War and --
Flag raising by the mess hall -- that's a 48-star flag.
"Gone this summer were the visiting days"
   [gas rationing, parents couldn't drive down]
"...the pineapple salads"
   [canned goods scarce, pineapple completely unavailable]
 "...the bathing caps sold at canteen"
   [no rubber even for tires]
  "...We learned this summer that Don Natapow had joined Marvin Lee, both former campers and counselors, in giving his life..." 
     Further on in the Memory Book we learn that in years past we'd had camp in July for boys and August for girls -- but now, in 1943, we were co-ed all summer for the first time.  No explanation of why the change -- but it was because with ten million men overseas,  there was no way to find enough counselors for a whole boys' camp. 
     Nice to see that some things never change -- in a two-page spread on the Waterfront we learn that "Every camper a swimmer" was this summer's  motto of the Waterfront Department..."Aunt Lynn and Uncle Buddy are very proud of the improvement shown by every single camper.  All merited the ...glory of a card bearing a Swimming Award." 
You have to wonder if Bob Berman even remembers that at the Waterfront Carnival in 1943, he won an award for "breath holding."  You have to wonder, for that matter, if he's still breathing at all.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Talk about weird!

You may remember -- my first real estate column of 2016 included excerpts from some of the weirder letters received from readers over 40 years.  To refresh your memory, here's a bit of  that column:
                                  - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"Some questions never make it into print:
          “Would you please tell me what careers are going to be the best opportunity for women 50 years and older?”
      “Do you still have to make mortgage payments after you’ve listed your home for sale? "
    “If I own the air rights above my land, why can’t I charge for all electronic signals sent through my property?”  
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
but TALK ABOUT WEIRD! -- look at this snail mail just received.  You can see the date yourselves -- written just a week ago, and see how it starts!

Who IS this writing?  I'd say it's a young woman for three reasons -- it's printed, the "i"s are dotted with circles (altho I sort of thought that went out a couple of generations ago) and it's on notebook paper.  But the writer is supposedly 50 years or older...
is this in earnest?  have I lost the ability to write something that readers can understand?
Okay -- I answer all letters.  What do I say to this one.?  Suggestions welcomed...

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Health Insurance Rebate !!

The news was full of warnings, this month, that anyone who did not carry health insurance should act quickly.  I figured that didn't concern me, so I wasn't paying much attention, but one day last week the mail did give me pause -- there was an official-looking envelope from my insurance company. 
But hey !!  Look here -- it said that during recent analysis they discovered I had a credit, with a rebate due; see the attached check! 
And yes, there was a check!  I'll give you a closeup --

And in case you  can't read it, here are a couple of closer-ups:

Sunday, January 17, 2016

What My Mail is Like

Okay, so a couple of days ago I sent you some of the material I'd used in the first column for 2016 -- weird letters that came in from readers.  But this one just came in by email and I live alone and absolutely have to share it -- so here it is (minus, of course, the signature)

Dear Edith,
I just read your article in Jan. 3, 2016 KC Star, with the headline "Reflecting on House Calls" and it gave me a start: I thought, oh no, my favorite Sunday column is being dropped, or she has died! Thankfully, I see neither has happened..,[I deleted some nice words here.]  It seems the financial waters get worse as I age, at 57, I have retired, and there are more credit card notices, we have paid all of ours off, and paid everything off except a small amount of about $40,000 on a home we refinanced down to about 4% about 5 years ago, so ten years left and we pay extra principal. The credit card notices are financial breaches at various companies which require cancelling one card, sending new debit and credit cards with chips, banks I've been with for 20-30+ years changing policy, one adding a monthly $5 fee to checking account for the first time last month, now I have to go in and close account or change to a true free account, etc. It is hard enough for me to handle, and being online paying accounts online, etc. I don't see how older folks handle it, or even folks maybe of average intelligence, as I have a college degree and it stretches me to handle it all. It seems worse lately, and when you go in the bank or call, the young people don't really seem to care or know you have been a customer 30 years.  In addition, at one credit agency my spouse and I both have 850 credit rating, the top it says, of their chart, and my score at another is 888! I just got that one, guess their chart goes to 900. Thanks to hard work, sensible spending, and probably too, reading your column over the years, we have been able to save, pay off all debt except the house I mentioned, and have good credit scores. I don't see how people with credit card debt, late payments, car payments, no savings and low credit scores can handle things in today's world. It's hard enough for us. Thanks for including your address again for people to write.

Lol: My 75 year old mom has the house problem as you discussed: her father died over 10 years ago. Single sister, retired teacher had will made up so she stayed in house at his death with clause she had to pay taxes, insurance, and upkeep. All 4 adult children in their 60's and 70's left the house. Then divorced brother moved in. He is not on list to live there. Anyway, my mom and other sister get no "benefit" and house in ill repair. I am afraid at some point I may be involved in the mess somehow after my mom dies, and thankfully she is in good health now. It is a terrible, terrible mess to leave a house to all 4 like this because, I suppose, the parent did not want to make a decision. I don't need a column or advice on this, just "lol", FYI.

Sent from my iPad=

Monday, January 11, 2016

like a full professor at Harvard!

One summer day back in the 1970s? '80s? someone at Cornell called our house (long-distance! in the middle of the day!) with an important message for my son.  Dov was at that point out somewhere on the marshes of Finland chasing shorebirds --ruffs -- and I was frantic not knowing how to get in touch with him.  As I remember, a deadline was involved.   
       Then friend Mary, who taught at the University of Rochester, said "I'll just email the University at Oulu -- they'll get the message to him."
        I had no idea what she meant.  She came back the next day saying it was all taken care of, and all I could think to say was "How much do I owe you?"  
        Nothing?  It seemed like magic.  I did have a vague impression that the military and the colleges had some sort of complicated scientific communication...

But what I set out to tell you was that I just found my own pioneer email.  For that I have a specific date.  I've been reading old journals, and on December 14, 1993:
     "Conrad Bakker at school walked me thru getting on e-mail.  For teaching real estate nights as adjunct lecturer at a two-bit college -- I have an e-mail address just like a full professor at Harvard!   Esty and I tried email to Dov."

      And on the next day the journal says triumphantly:  "E-Mail back from Dov!  Through the Frog Pond."
(I have no idea what the Frog Pond was -- it could even be a restaurant we went to on the evening of December 15, 1993. Does someone know if it had any relevance to that exciting first e-mail?)

Dov and Ruff on CBC last year.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Forty Years On

      For the first column in 2016, I shared some of the more weird (just rejected the word "weirder") questions that have come from readers over the past 40 years.  You might enjoy them -- scroll down past all that black, on my flagship paper's web site:
      For the first few years of the column I used that modern marvel, the Selectric typewriter.  But by the '80s here was this suitcase-sized computer equipment!  That's a pretty big slot in the disk drive  -- were those floppies six or eight inches across?  And you can't even see the computer itself -- what did we call that component? -- at any rate it was a hefty affair under the desk.
     That was a great keyboard.  I'm still using an IBM, a heavy one one with loud clicks and -- the kids say when they visit -- everything in the wrong place.  It's not the original one, I confess -- had to upgrade the year they added F function keys. 
     When one of my grandsons spilled Orange Crush all over this keyboard,  I just took it to the kitchen sink and ran it under warm water.  And if it ever gives out, there are two more in the cupboard -- found them years ago a flea market.