Are abandoned prisons, hospitals, schools, and foreclosed homes in my future at age 76?!

My blog on Christiania got me to thinking. Could old people, who need a place to live, social contacts and help, follow the example of the squatters in Copenhagen and take over (or, buy cheaply) abandoned prisons, hospitals, schools and homes to use in their declining years.

Could they take an abandoned prison used only for tours and convert it into living space for seniors using grants obtained under the Older Americans’ Act?

Now that I think about it, maybe the answer is closer than I thought. New Mexico has “Old Main” which has been abandoned and  is being used for tours.

Solitary cell at “Old Main,” Santa Fe, New Mexco.


Or perhaps, old people could become ex-pats and get an abandoned United States facility in the Panama Canal Zone, even though title is now in Panama:

Abandoned US Building in the Panama Canal Zone turned over to Panama in March 2017.

I think that most people my age (76) remember the 60’s and whether or not they participated, were influenced by the 60’s. Now that we are old, maybe it is time we applied a few hippie tricks; such as living in abandoned properties. Old people are heading toward homelessness in a big way; but, some of us still have a few tricks up our sleeves.

In Buffalo, New York and Detroit, Michigan, there are whole blocks of abandoned houses, owned by FHA, et al. Across the country you can find prisons, schools,  military facilities, and government buildings, sitting empty because they have outlived their usefulness.  To me they are an opportunity. If Detroit or Buffalo doesn’t appeal, try abandoned prisons, hospitals, schools and government buildings  in any state. Take a look at: Abandoned Schools for Sale.

I am not advocating squatting, although it may come to that. I am advocating approaching the government and   offering to take over these facilities for the benefit of old people. A block of empty homes in Detroit might be taken over for a $1 a house; redone with grants pursuant to the Older Americans’ Act, helped along by AmeriCorps – Vista, and funded by seniors’  Social Security Payments.

A block of abandoned houses could have a police satellite station on  one corner, a Senior Clinic, meals-on- wheels, and a senior center on the other corners. In addition, there could be  a central courtyard; safe, and social. Since old people are naturally snoopy they would watch the street all the time.

Be sure that some of the old people are young enough and competent enough to organize this.

Maybe we need the Gray Panthers!




PANAMA CANAL TRAIN – COLON TO PANAMA CITY – a trip along the canal.

On March 15, 2017, while on a Road Scholar trip, thirty of us traveled by train along the  Panama Canal from Colon, Panama  to Panama City, Panama.

We had traversed the  Panama Canal by small ship, spent the night in Colon and toured the city the next morning.

Panama Canal Train boarding at Colon Station.

At 5:15 PM the train left  from an old loading platform in Colon. We had seats in the dome car and rode along the canal for an hour and fifteen minutes to Panama City. The train runs once a day in each direction.

Our tour director lined us up to  board  at 5:00 and he had staked out the dome car for our group; sharing the dome with another  tour.

Seniors get a break in the fare if they are Panama Citizens or Permanent Residents. Other wise it is full fare: $25. But the extra $7.50 is probably worth it; and, I am sure that our Road Scholar had worked some sort of deal.

The history of the Panama Canal Railway  is fascinating as it predates the canal, was used during the California Gold Rush, and, in 1852, when it opened,  was the only transcontinental railway. It was also immensely profitable, as the Panama Canal is today.

Don’t plan on taking a boat trip through the canal and catching the train the same day. It won’t work. There are too many variables in getting through the locks and to the train station. You don’t want to be stuck in Colon without a hotel reservation.

If you need transportation and are not on a tour, remember that Uber works in Panama and is reasonable.


Panama Canal Railway – Wikipedia

Fares and schedules

Road Scholar: Grit and Glory: Exposing the Panama Canal