VISIT THE “OLD MAIN” NEW MEXICO PRISON – Scene of 1980 Prison Riot

As an update from the original October 11, 2017 posting,  you can read all about the prison riot of 40 years ago in the Albuquerque Journal. The report in the January 26, 2020 edition is the first in a 3 part series on the riot. As of today, no tours are being offered. Second part published on January 27, 2020. Third part published on January 28, 2020.
In 1980 there was a prison riot in Santa Fe, New Mexico that resulted in the deaths of 33 inmates and the destruction of the New Mexico State Penitentiary. Since then a new prison has been built next to the remains of “Old Main.”
The New Mexico Department of Corrections conducts tours of Old Main at the New Mexico Prison in Santa Fe. I took the tour in 2012. The tour took about two hours.
“Old Main” was virtually destroyed and 33 inmates were murdered.
Tours are conducted for part of the year. The goal is to raise money for a museum; however, nothing seems to have happened in the last five years.
If you want tickets for the  Tour, click here; however, as of the date of posting this post, no tours are being offered. They may be offered again in 2019.
August 23, 2019 – I just checked and it seems a few tours are available this summer, but may be sold out. Click here.
If you still want to visit a prison, try Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia; or read about it in the New York Times.
If you want to read about the 1980 prison riot in New Mexico, click here.
This is out of my comfort zone; but something we should be aware of.

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A library is an old person’s salvation on a vacation, at home or when visiting younger family members who work. It provides books to buy, a cafe for coffee and sandwiches, magazines, free internet access, classes and all sorts of free information. It is frequently open on Sunday and always during the week.

The Largo Public Library is the designated center for genealogical research  for Pinellas, County Florida. This is where  the Pinellas Genealogy Society meets. There is usually something going on.

Like many genealogical libraries. Largo is a wealth of information.There are free computers, free wi-fi and thousands of books that can be used for genealogical research.

The Pinellas County Genealogical Society meets here and sponsors lectures and help with research. There are always a few members hanging around who are happy to help you.

At the main desk you can buy genealogical forms including a 15 generation form for $2. You can make copies and there is a librarian ready to help you with any problem.

You can buy a USB flash drive for $5 and by paying $1 for a day pass you can access with its infinite source of genealogical information.

The library also subscribes to about a dozen genealogy related magazines that you didn’t even know existed.

Largo is only one example. Many libraries  have a genealogy section; usually run by the city or state genealogical society. In Albuquerque it covers the whole second floor of the main library and includes, copiers, thousands of books from every state, newspaper files, computer access and helpful members of the staff and the Albuquerque Genealogical Society.

In other places, Google: library+name of city+genealogy,

So, Google:    library+Largo, FL+genealogy  and you get:

      City of Largo, Florida | Genealogy › City Departments › Largo Public Library
      The Largo Public Library has been designated as the center for genealogical research for the Pinellas Public Library   

In Albuquerque, New Mexico,

Google: library+Albuquerque, NM and you would get:
       The Genealogy Center in the Albuquerque Main Library at 501 Copper, NW is … PO Box 25512, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

You can discover the secrets of your family’s past. You hopefully will discover a number of scandalous stories to tell your friends and grandchildren. You will be more interesting than if you just talk about the last TV show you saw or about how terrible it is to grow old. You will also meet some interesting new (“old”)  people.

With your genealogy as a base, you have a focus for new trips, your own living museums where you and your ancestors are the stars. You can visit the asylum where your great-great grandmother spent most of her life. Most old people aren’t really too interesting, and don’t seem to have much purpose. Don’t be one of those. Explore your  past.

You can also check out old death certificates and find out what your ancestors died from; hopefully, few of them were shot by jealous spouses.








If you visit Santa Fe, New Mexico, a visit to Tesuque Glass Works will provide an interesting experience; perhaps even better than the tours of the Corning Glass Museum in Corning, New York, since at Tesuque, you are closer to the action.

You can watch expert glass blowers turning out works of art, which are for sale.

If you arrange for it in advance, you can also take classes and blow your own creation. For classes contact:​
Corning also has classes in glass making.
Tesuque is located six miles North of Santa Fe on Bishops Lodge Road.



HOBBIES FOR OLD PEOPLE! Getting Started? – Try Wood Carving!

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.

Senior Center

Lumber center.


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!



Old people need to learn new things. And, at your age, all your mentors are dead. The problem is finding someone to teach you and having the guts to go and learn something. It is an uphill battle to admit at 78 that you are ignorant and don’t know everything. Old people are afraid of being wrong, stupid or foolish.

I suggest that if you want to learn something new that you start with a “Dummies” book. There are hundred of them and they cover everything from Dating after Age 50 to Beekeeping. Some of them are 20 years old, but most basic knowledge is also old and you can use a Dummies book as a starting point.

At least you won’t feel quite as foolish after you have looked through a “Dummies” book.

Note that there are a number of Dummies Books directed at Seniors, or of topics of interest to seniors; even  topics that you might not want anyone to know you are interested in, such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia for Dummies, which you  can order on Get the Kindle edition, as you don’t want to leave it laying around, and it is cheaper.

When you are ready to buy, go to Amazon, which sells hundreds of “Dummies” books. Just search “Dummies + topic” and see what you get; or do the same thing at your local library.

Amazon should be your starting point. It is better than a card catalog, or the electronic equivalent. Then check your library; or if on vacation, the library in the town you are visiting. They usually have a  good supply and it is free. Besides, going to the library is interesting anyway as they have numerous magazines, programs, cafes, etc. They also are frequently the location for the local genealogy society, and other interest groups.

For example, we go to Indian Rocks Beach, Florida each year. Except for White Sands, New Mexico has a shortage of beaches. We like the Largo Public Library in Largo, Florida which provides us with a book store, a cafe, genealogy courses, genealogy library and dozens of magazines in addition to a huge number of books for “Dummies.”

Some of the Dummies Books I found at the Largo Public Library of interest to old people, deal with laptops, tablets and smart phones, Facebook, fit over 40, social security, estate planning, genealogy, personal finance, dating after 50, and dementia.

Of special interest to those of you who are downsizing, maybe in anticipation of a move to “The Home” is: e-Bay for DummiesOr, you might just want to buy a copy for your kids. Time to sell off all that junk, which no one in your family really wants.

You might be interested in:

And, of course, if you are an old blogger, there is always:

At my age, nothing could be more interesting than the 4th Edition of Beekeeping for Dummies.


AARP SMART DRIVER COURSE FOR SENIORS – I got my license 63 years ago and no one is going to tell me how to drive!

The AARP Smart Driver Course, is worth the time and money. You can’t not afford to take it, and you aren’t doing anything but watching TV any way.



The course is available on-line and at various centers around the country. GOOGLE: “AARP SMART DRIVER COURSE.”

I just took it on-line. It took me four hours and I had two months to complete it; however, I did it in one afternoon. The reasons I took it are:

  1. Cheap – I got a deal and only paid $19.95 for the course.
  2. Update – It is 63 years since I got my license and a few things have changed; especially the way they mark the streets.
  3. Reminders – After 63 years (and 3 years since I took the classroom course) I need to have my mind refreshed; especially where my life and the lives of others are at stake.
  4. Insurance discount –  this varies by state and insurance company, but I expect at least 5%.
  5. Not taking the course may work against you. The insurance company knows how old I am, and as much data as they collect, I am sure that they note whether or not I have taken the course. I have nothing to base this on, but then I may be paranoid about companies collecting information on me.
  6. Makes you aware that you are not alone in the way you drive at 77; and gives you some techniques to use. I especially liked turning left by going around the block in right-hand turns. The parcel delivery companies have discovered that they save a lot on gas and accidents by programming right turns for their drivers whenever they can.
  7. What insurance companies consider. It is always good to know. In New Mexico   one insurance company considers a number of things, that as an old person you should at least be aware of.
  8. Medicine and booze. The course talks about the effect of liquor, as little as one drink, and its effect when taken with medicines, both prescription and over-the-counter. Remember, you are old, you probably take a number of pills and your body may not react to them in the same way as it did 50 years ago.
  9. Physical and mental problems. The course reminds you of them, as if you weren’t aware already. You don’t want to be picked up for drunk driving when you can’t  walk a straight line when sober at age 77. You don’t want your picture in the Albuquerque Journal at the end of the month as a convicted drunk driver.
  10. I tell people I took the course. It may head off attempts to  take your license and your car. I received positive feedback and questions from other old people that I told about the course; so, I am telling you about it.

The course is designed so you have to watch everything and give feed-back before moving to the next segment. You can’t just click through it in a few minutes and get your certificate.



Learning something new is one of the most rewarding aspects of aging. (It may be the only one.) There are opportunities everywhere; near and far. You can learn anything and it can be much cheaper than learning as a kid. It is frequently free and usually you don’t  have to sweat grades, tests or degrees. You are learning for the sake of learning; to keep your  mind active, and to meet new people.

One of the most important things you need to learn is how to work your computer. (Remember, when I graduated from college, we all walked around with slide rules hanging off our belts.) Computer classes are available  close to home; in my case the computer room at the North Valley Senior Center in Albuquerque, NM.

Using your computer, search for a class on-line, close to you, or in a place that you are about to visit. Click on any highlighted words to see some of my learning experiences, then adapt the search for what you are interested in.

1. Cooking School. Any time you are on vacation, consider a cooking school. My granddaughter and I  learned to make Macarons in Paris. (The highlight of the trip.) I recently attended three cooking lessons on a Holland American cruise, and  have taken cooking classes in Paris, New Orleans and San Francisco.

2. Meetup. This is Tampa, but you can search most any city. I attend one in Albuquerque on WordPress.

3. Habitat for Humanity. We have volunteered, after age 60, in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Albuquerque and Macedonia. You learn about construction and about people. The people you are building for help on the job.

4.  College. Most colleges have discounts for seniors. Google one near you. The University of New Mexico lets you take a class for $5 per credit hour if you are over 65, taking fewer than 6 hours and register. Parking is a pain, so get a senior bus pass.

5. Genealogy. Most towns have genealogy societies with free advice, lectures and access to computers and on-line genealogy services. Try Largo, Florida and Albuquerque, New Mexico; or just google your town plus genealogy. Take a road trip to discover your ancestors.

6. Community Colleges are always a good learning source for senior citizens. The are cheap, have interesting classes and you are around young people with different ideas. Central New Mexico Community College offers $5 per credit hour tuition if you are over 62. Again, learn how to use your computer and Google. A number of years ago, my 90 year-old father and I took early morning computer classes at CNM and then had breakfast together.

7. Oasis. this is a national lifelong learning adventure for older adults.  A variety of classes that usually last for  2 or 3 hour. You can even teach one  if you have some expertise. You can also learn about things that you don’t want anyone to know you are learning about, such as: Advance Planning: Avoiding Guardianship, an Albuquerque classes.

8. Apple Store. Buy an Apple Computer and get access to classes and the Genus Bar.

9. Senior Centers are a gold mine. Art, wood-working, book clubs, photography, computer centers, cell phone training, legal help, investment advice ……… In Albuquerque you have the choice of a large number and they have trips; such as a bus trip to the Crown Point Rug Auction, where you can buy hand-woven rugs from Native Americans on the Reservation. (If you go, pass up the meal on the bus and wait until you get to Crown Point and eat the Navajo Fry Bread and the Navajo Tacos that they sell.) Senior centers also offer breakfast for about $1.25 and coffee for 25 cents. Plus, there are free books that people donate.

10. Road Scholar – You can travel and learn with your contemporaries. We did the Panama Canal this way; an eye opener.

THINK OLD! or at least think!

Habitat For Humanity in Macedonia!



MEETUP – social networking for seniors; and, everyone else-

Meetup is a social networking group based on common interests. You locate a site near you, or near where you will be, by going to and inserting your zip code or city. You can then find groups that have the same interest as you. You can sign up, go to the meetings and enjoy what they have to offer.

The Meetup in Albuquerque includes one on blogging using WordPress which I joined. It meets weekly and while it has over 800 members there are usually only 5 – 10 there. The meetings are either “work-a-longs where you can get expert help with your blog for free; or sessions with speakers on various blogging topics; including photography.

The work-a-longs are very good if you are trying to learn something new and need help. I can get quick, knowledgeable help on my blog problems from people who are expert in the field. The meetings last up to two hours and are always useful.

Meetups are not limited to blogging; they are for any thing people are interested in; including, dancing, languages, travel, art, cooking, or you can even start your own. They cost nothing for the participant, and about $10 a month for the sponsor. You could even start one on how to live as an old person.

When traveling, look for Meetups where you will be. Just plug-in the new zip code or name of town and see  what you get.


Google: +city, state

For example: Since I am going to Huntington, NY:

Google: +Huntington, NY

and the result is: a list of  Meetups around Huntington, NY, including, hiking, food, photography, sailing, widows and widowers, etc. There is no shortage of Meetups, including 25 on writing; none on blogging and one on WordPress, which costs $6.

You should Google: +name of town

They are worth considering.




HERITAGE ARTS – a learning vacation at Southwestern Community College in the land of the Cherokee!

I recently attended the local Quarterly Chapter Meeting of the Trail of Tears Association, which was held at Swain Center Southwestern Community College, Almond, North Carolina. The speaker was Jeff Marley, a professor at Southwestern Community College, who will teach you how to print in Cherokee.

Jeff gave us a tour of the arts program which includes pottery making using three different kilns for firing: gas, electric and wood-fired. The clay is local and the techniques for making the pottery are both traditional and contemporary.

The school is located about 75 miles from Asheville, NC, on the edge of the Eastern Band Cherokee Indian Reservation. It has a  Casino and Museum in Cherokee.

The school has a summer art program that features ceramics, pottery, photography, drawing, printing and “Cherokee Language Printing.” The classes cost around $25; and $50 for a 5 week independent study course. Jeff will help you design your own course if you want. Beats a lot of things you could be doing and it is interesting.

Printing in the Cherokee language struck me. You use Cherokee fonts and print on an old-fashioned press.

Cherokee language fonts.

You set the type by hand in boxes, you place it in the press, you run the press by hand, make a proof and then do as many copies as you want.

A very old press.

If pottery is your thing, there is a large class room;

Pottery Classroom

resulting in as much pottery as you can make:



The Swain Center  offers hands on instruction in techniques that you would not get elsewhere. How many wood-fired kilns are there? Where else can you learn to set type in the Cherokee Language and then print posters, books and stationary in Cherokee. You may need a translator.

The Cherokee property, not a reservation, is the home of the Eastern Band of Cherokees; the ones who were left and who bought their property, after some of their ancestors were forced to move to Oklahoma where they became  the Western Band. There are museums to see; and of course Harrah’s Casino in Cherokee, NC.  and the art community of Waynesville, NC. Don’t forget the Biltmore Estate in Asheville.

You can fish, hunt, sail, hike, etc.

The real point of this blog is to encourage people to check out community colleges wherever they happen to be; or happen to be going. You can frequently gain access to college facilities and can learn something new.



VOTING BY OLD PEOPLE – Keep it simple – registration and the absentee ballot

Voting was simple when you were young. Now that you are old it can become more complex. It can even be stressful. You have to register; you have to remember election day; you have to get yourself to the polling place; you have to wait in line; and, you are aware of the people lined up behind you as you try to read a ballot with small print – and, you forgot your magnifying glass. In addition, you don’t really know who or what  to vote for. The language of issues on ballots make no sense.

People who  are over 65 seem to turn out to vote more than other age groups, but the percentage was still only about 45% in the last election.

For old people, voting is important. Politicians are constantly looking at Social Security, Medicare and the Older Americans Act. If you don’t vote, you have no one but yourself to blame for what happens. You are part of a major voting block. You need to make your wishes and the wishes of other old people known.

There are five  simple steps to voting when old. I will use New Mexico where I live. I will give you key words, so that you and your grand-kid can search out the rules in your state. There are no old age voting  requirements that I am aware of. If you have been adjudicated incompetent, you will have a problem. If you have been convicted of a crime you may have a problem.

The goal is to vote at home, take your time and not feel stressed.

  1. Register – by mail if you can. If not, find out how to do it in your state or call the party you support. They will help you. Make sure that you have the necessary identification.

    NM mail-in voter registration form.

    NM mail-in voter registration form.

  2. Identify  the candidates and issues. Check the newspapers for a list of candidates and issues. Or, go on-line.
  3. Find someone whom you trust to help you, if necessary. Just make sure that it is you that is voting, and not someone else.
  4. Order an absentee ballot – You can download the ballot in NM and then just send it in.
  5.  Vote at your leisure and mail in your ballot to the county clerk for your county.

Finally encourage all the old people you know to do the same. At the assisted living facility, get the ombudsman to help you if your kids or friends can’t.

The important thing is to vote. You are part of a vulnerable class of voters; and, your rights will be at stake.

Search in your state:

“voter registration +name of state”

i.e. voter registration  form + Arizona

“absentee voting +name of state”

i.e. absentee voting + Texas

Note that registration and absentee balloting differ by states, so check yours out. Check out the competency requirements and the deadlines.