ORPHAN TRAINS – 1854-1929

I had never heard of “Orphan Trains” until a few years ago when I came across a notice in the Tucson Weekly, a weekly free alternative newspaper. (Wherever you go, pick up a copy of the free alternative papers for the most comprehensive, and unique, happenings in the town you are visiting.) 

Orphan Trains operated between 1854 and 1929 and transported over 200,000 homeless children in New York, NY to every state in the continental United States. The children were often street children, but many were turned over by parents and orphanages. Remember that this was initially a few years after the Irish potato famine and many children hit New York without parents.

The children were loaded onto trains, frequently in the last car, with a woman who supervised them and arranged for their disbursement along the way. Their ages ranged from infancy to about 14; no girls over 12 for fear of sexual exploitation. They had no documentation, not birth certificates and virtually no chance of adoption.

When the trains stopped, locals appeared, either by pre-arrangement or by chance, and selected the child they wanted. They often broke up families.They were necessary to the development of the West and the railroads carried them for free or at a reduced fare.

Alison Moore has documented this in her book Riders On the Orphan Train. She and her husband appeared on February 16, 2014 at the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum in a multi-media show. Something none of us knew about.

Moore puts on shows all across the country. To find out when and where go to: http://www.ridersontheorphantrain.org/

It is worth it, free and will open your eyes to something you had no idea existed. You can also visit the Orphan Train Depot in Concordia, Kansas.

Keep looking for things that might interest you and that are out of your comfort zone.

An article on “Orphan Trains” that might interest you is found in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.



The New York Times has a book review entitled Seeing, and Thinking, Like Sherlock Holmes by Katherine Bouton in which she reviews   Maria Konnikova’s, “Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes.” I was struck by the following:

“Another thing we can learn from Holmes is the importance of continuous self-education. When Watson asks why he persists in pursuing a case that seems solved, Holmes replies: “It is art for art’s sake. I suppose when you doctored you found yourself studying cases without a thought of a fee?” Watson answers, “For my education, Holmes.” Just so, Holmes replies. “Education never ends.”

Twenty-first-century technology reinforces these values. Sequential scans of older adults who learn to juggle or to speak a new language show an increase in gray matter in the relevant areas of the brain. Further, Ms. Konnikova tells us, with application and practice “even the elderly can reverse signs of cognitive decline that has already occurred.” (The emphasis is hers — “out of pure excitement,” she explains.)” Bold is added.

The Complete Sherlock Holmes is available on Amazon.com for your Kindle for $2.99. The Kindle has an advantage over books in that you can increase the size of the print, which is important if you are 72 and have questionable eyesight.

To paraphrase: When Watson asks why he persists in pursuing a life that seems finished, he replies…”Education never ends.”

I plan to reread Holmes for more insight; if not education.



Businessman in a capsule hotel

Baby Boom has his own room.

Storage room

Baby Boom’s room is in a complex with others.

Meals delivered weekly in styrofoam boxes.

Meals Like Your Mother Used to Make!

robot nurse holding the syringe 3d illustration

A nurse is on duty 24/7.

Given the number of baby boomers, the economic climate, and the scarcity of children willing or able to take care of Baby Boom, the Geezer thinks that long-term care in 2026, if it exists, will be different; and, probably not to Baby Boom’s liking.

Geezer has profiled Baby Boom, even though profiling is not politically correct. Here is the Geezer’s profile of  Baby Boom and what she/he can look forward to in 2016. The geezer will be 85! He is five years ahead of the tsunami of baby boomers.


  1. Overweight and loves processed and fast food
  2. No long-term care insurance
  3. Little if any savings
  4. Children who live in another town; or, no children
  5. Worried about Social Security, which has been frozen, reduced, eliminated or privatized
  6. Does not have a pension; or, if so, it is a small defined  contribution plan and invested in the stock market by Baby Boom’s brother-in-law
  7. Conservative, but thinks that the government owes him/her and should take care of him/her
  8. Ready to invest in a get rich quick scheme with savings/pension
  9. Lover of prescription drugs
  10. Doesn’t exercise
  11. Worried about employment until he/she can retire;  and, if  Baby Boom has to work beyond 65, about who will hire him/her.
  12. Saving up his/her illness and health problems until he/she can qualify for Medicare, which may not exist or with high co-pays.
  13. Thinks the value of real estate (his/her home) will keep going up; after all, they are not making any more real estate.

I don’t want to scare you! Most Geezers are ok. Geezers got old while the getting was good; Baby Boom may have missed the boat. Not to worry; Baby Boom will probably not read this.

I like the nurse; maybe she could start work before 2026.

Hopefully, I have offended you; and, encouraged you to stick your head even further into the sand!



Ok, so I am old, so my hearing and my eyesight is not what it once was. Yet every day, someone wants to sell me something, but they don’t know who I am. Businesses approach things from their point of view; even when trying to sell something to me. You would think that they would focus on me; not only their targeted customer, but for at least another 20 years, their customer who has the most money. In 20 years, old people will be broke; today many of us have money. Businesses catering to the old should realize this.

My wife bought a device for her mother that allows her mother to locate lost things; purse, glasses, keys, etc. It is a great idea; but, the only instructions are on the side of a 2 x 2 inch box in type so small that you can’t even read it with a magnifying glass. And, if your purse is lost, which it frequently is with old people; the device to locate the purse is usually in the purse. Go figure!

What is even worse; from an old person’s point-of-view, is that they have to ask someone for help thus admitting to old age.

Are there any geriatric tech writers? Look at the instructions that come with something you have bought. Were those instructions written with you in mind?

Don’t forget businesses that have receptionists who have such a low voice that you can’t hear them; or, more common, those that rattle off the information so fast, that you don’t get it.

How would you explain to your mirror how to put something together; or, how to operate something so that you could understand it? Even harder than explaining it to a mirror, is explaining it to a business. I especially like the low voice-tone and talking speed in audiologists’ offices. You would think an audiologist would realize that the only reason that you were there was because you were deaf. But they don’t seem to realize that when talking to you.

Restaurants forget, that while noise may increase turnover and profits, noisy places do not attract old people. Twice this week we have decided against restaurants because of their noise level. And, 50 % of restaurants fail in the first year and 75% in the first five years. Meanwhile, the number of old people is increasing. Restaurants that play music play it for the young help; they forget that two-thirds of their customers are over 65 and like to talk to each other, not listen to some loud off-putting music.

I could go on, and probably will, about services and products for old people being developed by people who are not old and who don’t understand old people.

Ten Things Every Old Person Should Be Able To Do!

After 70, there are 10 things that you should master. Don’t just say you can do it, practice it until you can teach it.

1. USE Google Maps, with voice commands, on your smart phone. If you drive you need to know where you are going without trying to follow the small print on a map, guessing, or trying to look at the GPS.

2. INVEST in index funds. I am not competent to determine which stocks are best, and probably never was. Index  funds are cheap and beat over 70% of mutual fund returns.

3. AUTOMATIC PAYMENTS. Your utilities, mortgage, insurance, etc. should be paid automatically out of your bank account or by credit card, if you are after FF miles. You can’t remember everything. Especially your long-term care insurance – you don’t want that to lapse. You don’t want to incur late fees. Check your bank account frequently to make sure the payments have been made.

4. USE E-MAIl. Everyone does it and you should too. My short-term memory is such, that it is good to have in writing. Make sure you remember your e-mail password; and, have it written down at home.

5. SMART PHONE. Get the simplest one possible and learn how to use it. If you get an apple, you can go to the Genius Bar where they will teach you anything; even, if you are so old you can’t learn. Keep apps at a minimum, know how to use them and know why you have them

6. QUICK MEDICAL CARE. You don’t need the emergency room just because you are old; unless you are dying, you will sit there for hours and end up feeling like a fool. Go to CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, urgent care, or maybe even Wal-Mart. They have triage nurses/caregivers who can either fix you up quickly and cheaply, or call an ambulance, at a fraction of the cost. These are quicker and cheaper than emergency rooms. Have them check your drug list and see if anything looks funny. Old people take too many meds. They are the worst form of addicts and they don’t even realize it.

7. KEEP LISTS. I carry a 3 x 5 Day-timer. Pasted inside the cover is a list of phone numbers, a list of the meds I take, including non-prescription ones, and a list of my kids names, addresses and telephone numbers. Pasted on the cover is a business card with my name, address, telephone number, cell phone number and e-mail address. It is quick and simple. You should also have lists of bank accounts, credit cards, payments, etc. in a fairly secure place so that your kids can find them. Show the list of drugs to you pharmacist every time you go in; and, to your doctor. Remember, as far  as meds are concerned, less is more.

8. GO SLOW. If you are old, it seems people want to rush you, especially if it involves a financial decision. There in no need to hurry. You have lived more that 70 years and can afford to slow down; especially if it will benefit you.

9. KNOW THAT YOU ARE OLD. Old age is about changes. Don’t fight them, consider them problems to be solved (or  opportunities). You solved other problems over the last 70+ years. Prepare. Have a buddy who watches out for you.

10. BASIC EXERCISE. This is the most important. Have a basic exercise plan, even if it is only  walking around the block every day. Walk, lift weights, stretch. You know you are going to die, but until then, you might as well feel as good as possible and exercise will help. If you see a physical therapist, ask him/her for a list of basic exercises and keep at it.

These are 10 things that you should know how to do, and do. Forget that you are old. Learn!

Sources of help:

1. Dummies books from Amazon.com

2. Senior centers

3. Schools

4. Grandkids

5. Other old people. Get together for coffee once a week and find out how other old people are dealing with problems