I was talking with my children about our lives on the Upper West Side in the 1970’s. Who remembers Uncle Wong’s and Hunan Balcony, tiny smoke shops, the Army Navy stores, small book shops? Also, Woolworth’s, Red Apple, Tip Toe Inn, Teachers, Teachers Too, and Marvin Gardens (the last four being restaurants with good American food).
My daughters went to public schools, and both attended The High School for Performing Arts near Lincoln Center. While parents always worry, helicopter parenting hadn’t yet been born, and my children, after a certain age, took buses and subways to school, and around the City. My neighborhood wasn’t upscale, (pretty down-scale actually), but now it has Michaels, Whole Foods and Ann Taylor Loft, plus a place called Bareburger. Oh, don’t get me started on Bareburger. According to Zagat (it’s a chain), they are “eco-conscious” and serve organic patties, exotic meats and super-customized toppings. Suffice it to say that the menu was indecipherable to me because of all the choices, the array of toppings and sides, and the way it was laid out. I think I’ll pass on the bison, wild boar, elk and ostrich burgers (isn’t an ostrich a bird)? “Build Your Own Meal” is what they say; too complicated, too many choices, too odd a layout to be comprehensible to my aging mind. I am going to stick with my neighborhood’s old-fashioned burgers where I can understand what is being served, the prices aren’t astronomical, and the meats are recognizable. Let the young people have Bareburger (which they do, judging from the population I saw there).
I have a pet peeve that has nagged at me for years. My blood boils when I read a newspaper article that refers to anyone over 55 or 60 as “an elderly person,” such as in the sentence, “an elderly man of 60 was robbed of his wallet on the Upper West Side.” Or, “An elderly grandma of 65 was run down by a bicycle near Columbia University.” The “run down by a bike” part is another story, but why mention that she is a grandmother at all? Or even worse, “Granny.” Even at 65, that makes her sound like a little old lady. Which she certainly isn’t, especially if she’s able to ride a bike. In fact, why do papers have to mention peoples’ ages at all? But since it seems to be a tradition, I send a plea to all the youngsters leading the world today that 55, 60, 65 isn’t elderly, and that in today’s world, even 80 or 85 doesn’t mean we’re crotchety and irrelevant oldsters. I suggest anyone who thinks otherwise come to the JCC political discussion group on Wednesday mornings and listen to the vibrant, vital octogenarians and nonagenarians discuss the current world situation.
One Stop at JASA is worth a mention. One Stop Senior Services was founded in 1981 and is now affiliated with JASA (Jewish Association of Services for the Aged). It provides legal, housing, elder abuse and general assistance services to older adults. One Stop has for many years assisted Upper West Side seniors with accessing benefits, resolving housing issues and providing legal help. There are no fees at One Stop. Just walk in and you’ll find professionals to lend a hand with many of the problems you are dealing with and to help you apply for all of your benefits and entitlements. One Stop at JASA receives support from the Department for the Aging and provides services in English, Spanish and French/Creole. One Stop is located at 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 1846. The telephone number is 212-864-7900.