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.
Old People need something to do. Hobbies and crafts are the lifeblood of old people. Think of all the crafts classes at the senior centers and on cruise ships. Some of us even take up blogging. Look at the classes listed in magazines for seniors.
Try a test drive. I have picked out wood carving, but any hobby that interests you will do.
I went with my son to a store selling hardwoods in North Carolina, and while there he purchased a small $6 block of wood and a starter set of carving knives. He announced that he was going to start carving at the young age of 50. It got me to thinking about how one would start a hobby.
The first thing is to decide which hobby. Blogging required several on-line courses, a couple of community college courses, a meet-up group, and a lot of time. Wood carving seems much simpler; but, I am not about to try it. Will just use it as an example.
Wood carving starts with the block of wood and the knives. Then you need to know what to do! At my age, if I was going to be a wood carver, I would go back 65 years to a time when I could learn anything. I would then read the Boy Scout Merit Badge Pamphlet on Wood Carving; or, buy it on Amazon.
Having mastered wood carving with the Boy Scouts, I would then look around for more help and would of course resort to Google.
Google the following if you are interested in learning wood carving in Albuquerque at a senior center: Albuquerque + Senior center + wood carving
Try the following in your area for wood carving lessons and/or information:
Local community college.
The bottom line is that there are unlimited hobby resources available; you just have to look for them and try them out.
And, of course, if you want to spend a week learning to carve, try Arrowmont, a first class art school in Tennessee. “Birds, Bugs and Beasts: Carving the Natural” will teach you the basics of carving for $595 and $415 for a shared double room with three meals a day.
You should consider carving old people!
Last year I attended the Matanza in Belen, NM where I ate my fill of roasted whole hog, beans, chile, and tortillas. This year it is scheduled for January 27, 2018 from 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM at Eagle Park in Belen, NM, about 30 miles South of Albuquerque, NM.
Matanzas involve roasting a whole pig overnight in a pit dug in the ground. It is a celebration for all your family and friends. It involves a lot of home-made food and too much drinking. The first one I attended was when I came to Albuquerque over 50 years ago and was held on Thanksgiving Day. Lou had obtained a 300 pound hog and the night before it was placed in a pit in his backyard, wrapped in wet burlap, and laid on top of a huge bed of coals. The hog was then covered with coals and dirt and left to roast for twelve hours.
It was hoisted out of the pit, unwrapped, and the meat fell off the bones. More beer, pinto beans, tortillas, salad and pork made the Thanksgiving Dinner one that I remember to this day.
The one in Belen is more organized, raising money for charity. It costs $15 and is preceded by judges determining who made the best red chile, pork, tortillas and chicharrones. There are long lines and no shortage of beer. It is best to come early.
You can read about the “World’s Largest Matanza” in the January 2018 issue of New Mexico Magazine. The article, “Whole Hog” by Gwyneth Doland is worth reading. The article also contains recipes if you want to create your own Matanza, and tells you where to buy a whole hog. Go for it.
The 2017 Belen Matanza was the first I attended:
For instructions see the Weekly Alibi
When we travel, we try to seek out non-chain places to eat; and, our recent trip to see our son in Waynesville, NC, led us to MOE’s Barbecue in Asheville, NC, for the third time. It is in an old building, near the Biltmore Mansion, with a large gravel parking lot and is always crowded. There are only about 20 tables inside, you order from the counter, and they call out your name when the food is ready. It has always been good, simple and tasty. You bus your own tables.
This time we shared a brisket sandwich with two sides and a drink. Our son had the rib plate with two sides and a drink. We had to wait for a table and borrowed two chairs for our table. It was out of our comfort zone, but we were with our son who knew of the place and he had taken me there before when I visited.
As usual, I took a few pictures, enjoyed the food and the crowd and thought it would be a good subject for a brief blog post. After lunch, I googled Moe’s Barbecue and much to my surprise discovered that even though Asheville is apparently the original Moe’s, it has expanded. The three boys from the University of Alabama, have expanded this Moe’s to 60 Moe’s around the country, including one in Albuquerque that I was not aware of. So, next week, I will start off the new year by eating at Moe’s in Albuquerque, aware that it is a big business that came out of North Carolina.
You can become a franchisee; the franchise office is in Vail, Colorado; or, you can just order a t-shirt and a hat from the retail site.
I will continue seeking out places out of my comfort zone, but will also check them out.
Trust but verify!
Just because it is a chain, does not mean that it is not good. And, of course, I satisfied myself at the meals there, thinking I was out of my comfort zone, not realizing that there was a Moe’s just a few blocks from me in Albuquerque.
I was headed for North Carolina to visit my son for Christmas. At the Albuquerque Sunport, I went through the TSA Pre line since I had qualified for Global Entry. No problem with my carry-on, but I triggered the security devices several times with my belt, keys, hearing aid batteries, etc. resulting in placing the items in a small plastic bowl. I had not returned my driver’s license to my wallet and laid it on top of the other items in the bowl.
When I got to the hotel in Charlotte, NC, they wanted an ID. I discovered that I did not have my driver’s license; however, the hotel desk clerk, looked at me and waived that requirement, and allowed me to check in. But, I did not have a driver’s license and I had to pick up a rental car the next morning. The evening was spent awake and sorting though every item I travelled with.
The next morning, after searching my belongings in detail, I googled Albuquerque Sunport lost and found. One of the four choices was a phone number for TSA. I called; the license had been turned in late the prior night, The TSA rep. was great. She said that they could FedEx it to me; took my information, credit card number, and the address of the Waynesville Bed and Breakfast where we would be staying.
I wrote down the tracking number she gave me and we headed to the rental car counter. They accepted my wife’s driver’s license and we rented a car.
The next day about 3:00, after tracking my credit card through Memphis, Ashville and Waynesville, it arrived at our Bed and Breakfast. I carefully put it in my wallet; and checked my wallet every few hours.
The FedEx envelope with my driver’s license.
Things I learned from my experience and a bit of research:
- Watch your identification documents.
- Carry your Global Entry Card with you; it can be used for identification at the airport.
- Get a police report for lost driver’s licenses.
- In NM you can get a temporary license for a lost license on-line if you are under 75 and don’t have any other problems; with me the problem was the age. I missed the 75 cut-off at 77.
- Google: “name of airport” + “lost and found.”
- Have someone with you who has a valid driver’s license.
- Driving without a driver’s license in your possession is a crime, may lead to your arrest and may cause increase in insurance rates.
- Have as much documentation as possible to show that you have a license, ie police report, photocopy, insurance card, etc. Have info on your cell phone and you may be able to talk your way out of it.
The big problem will be the car rental company; so, be a member of their frequent renter group, have another driver with you, and talk to a manager.
Since you are old anyway, it is a good time to rethink alternative forms of transportation.
Public, Uber, friend, spouse, etc.
Several times a year we drive the 450 miles from Albuquerque, NM to Tucson, AZ to see our grandchildren. The trip takes about 7 1/2 hours, but since we are retired and have extra time, we explore along the way. In old age, you come to realize that the trip may be as important as the goal.
Between Albuquerque and Tucson, you can find a number of interesting things all in New Mexico and all just off I-25: the Very Large Array Telescopes near Socorro, NM, the Hatch Chile Festival and Sparky’s, SpacePort America, Elephant Butte Lake, and, usually an overnight stop at the Sierra Grande Lodge and Spa, owned by Ted Turner which in addition to providing an interesting Lodge, also provides tours of Ted Turner’s nearby ranches.
Since I originally wrote this, Spaceport America has restarted tours.
The lobby at Sierra Grande Lodge and Spa in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.
In our 70’s the Sierra Grande Lodge gets us out of our comfort zone, which is good, if at times unnerving. I haven’t had bison in 63 years, when I had it at Philmont Scout Ranch, at the end of a 37 day trek at age 14. The restaurant serves bison burgers, bison rib-eye, and if you just want to test the water, 4 ounces of bison steak in a great pasta dish. You can eat indoors or out; the patio is great:
The Lodge, like many other places in T or C has it’s own hot springs. There are indoor spas and an outdoor one. The naturally hot water has made T or C a destination for a thousand years. It used to be called Hot Springs, NM until it won a 1950 radio show contest hosted by Ralph Edwards, and changed its name.
We like the outdoor spa; private but open to the stars. In our 70’s we are out of our comfort zone for nude bathing; and it may even be pornographic, but a half-hour soak removes a lot of age-related soreness and is included in the price of your room.
Outdoor hot springs spa as Sierra Grande Lodge.
Next time you travel to see your grandkids, look around you, take your time, and try to get out of your “old” comfort zone. You may learn something new.
The point is; especially at your age, you should be interested in the journey, not the END of the journey.
I went to Panama on a Road Scholar trip. The trip includes tours of Panama City, a boat trip through the Panama Canal, and a train ride back, a chance to see how the new locks work and the chance to experience Panama. There are 10 things that made my trip easier. Fifty-five years ago, when hitchhiking through Europe, I had no money, few needs, and a lot of self-assurance. Today, at 77 I am a bit more careful, not looking for surprises, and aware of my age. So…
- No tips. Road Scholar is all-inclusive except for a few meals. I hate to worry about tipping.
- Health care. Get insurance. The real problem will be if you have to be shipped home; dead or alive. The cost for transferring your sick body back to the US can be debilitating, and may bankrupt you. If you do decide to permanently leave while abroad, consider cremation. Consider the insurance offered by the program and also look to your credit card.
- Get the American Embassy contact information. Know if there are any problems and know where to go for help.
- Take a Kindle or better an i-pad with kindle books downloaded on it. You can also adjust the size of the type. Books are heavy and a thousand plus books, including guide books, can be uploaded on a Kindle and new books ordered from your library or from Amazon while abroad. You are too old to be lifting books.
- Check your debit and credit cards and notify the card companies before you leave. You don’t want them denying your charges.
- Take two money belts. One from Eagle Creek to hold your pants up and to hold your money; and one to hold your passports, information, money and credit cards.
- Think simple and minimal. Jeans are usually fine. Wear them and take a light weight pair of pants that you can wash and use if you have to dress up. See what Road Scholar suggests. Suitcase. Rick Steves’ Rolling Carry-on.
- Wear walking shoes. Take yoga shoes/slippers for the hotel, etc.
- Light weight underwear that can be washed, or dropped off at a cleaners for a few bucks.
- Know a few practical things about Panama. They use dollars, have ATMs, English spoken in addition to Spanish, no visa required, jeans are fine.
You can really reduce your needs by packing like the geezer does for the beach.
Every town has a library. When you travel, a library can be your best friend. You can find:
- Information about the town you are in.
- A bookstore that will sell books that the library no longer wants or which have been donated for as little as $1 for hardback and 25 cents for paperbacks, many of them recent best-sellers.
- Frequently they have cafes where you can get a coffee and food.
- They have computers that you can use.
- They have interesting programs and sometime trips for anyone who is interested.
- Local and national magazines; see what is going on in town and read the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal.
- And, finally there is a huge magazine rack with the latest magazines; most of which you don’t get, and which take you out of your comfort zone.
In the US there are 26,200 prisoners over 65 in state and federal prisons and 124,400 over the age of 55.
The geezer, who is 75, and an “opportunist” is thinking outside the box; or perhaps ‘inside the box.” If I have no money, little social security, no home, no assets, no family; and have to line up at the soup kitchen for meals and the free street clinic for medical care, maybe there is another way.
At 75, what do I need? My sex life is a thing of the past; there is no one to take care of me, I am frequently wet and cold; I am regularly exposed to every type of riffraff; and, can no longer fight off street predators. How can I live out my days in some comfort, be warm, eat regularly, and have adequate medical and dental care?
The answer is to rob a bank.
The sentence seems to be 10 years plus an extra 5 years if you have a gun. I need to check to see if the gun has to be loaded; wouldn’t want to hurt anyone. The 15 years takes me to 90 which is about my life expectancy on a good day and I don’t have to0 many of them. If I got in a fight or two, I can avoid good time.
The big problem is that I might get probation since I don’t have a record; so, I might have to rob the same bank twice; or, even three times.
Given the economic and social future of the elderly, prison doesn’t sound too bad; and, it can’t be worse than a nursing home; even if I qualified. If you can’t pay, Medicaid is the only answer. Assisted living is out of the question without money or long-term care insurance.
There is probably a downside, but I am having trouble seeing it.
The food can’t be worse than most senior institutions. If I have a room(cell)mate, he would probably be about my age. I would probably be in some sort of minimum security facility, but, given the gun I might be in a maximum security facility. The friends I would make would probably be better than the ones on the street.
Would I be safe? Probably. I am sure that most Federal Prisons take care of old people; albeit, reluctantly. There are work programs in most institutions and perhaps I could care for other old people if I couldn’t get assigned to the library. Win-win.
The New York Times has an article on California state prisons that have caregivers called ” gold coats.” These are inmates, usually murderers, who in exchange for a “gold coat,” and other privileges, look after the elderly; especially those with dementia. They protect them from the other prisoners, get them food, make sure they don’t fall; and, in general act as highly trained caregivers. They sound better than some in nursing homes I have visited.
Do I want to go this route? I suppose it depends on how cold and hungry I get; and, if I am competent to rob a bank when the time comes.
Or, maybe it would just be cheaper and better to move all of us old prisoners and “Gold Coats” to the “abandoned” military bases where they are keeping illegal immigrants.