Bernie Katz lives in a peaceful fourth-floor apartment at Sterling Court. His home can only be described as an academic’s haven, with books and newspapers decorating his couch, each brimming with stories told from varying points of view. Next to them, an array of different colored hats.
Sitting on the recliner in his living room, Bernie points to the beige hat atop his head, smiling. “This one is my favorite.” Hats make him feel more comfortable, he says, so he always wears one. And hats aren’t Bernie’s only notable feature.
At 91 years of age, Bernie knows exactly how those closest to him would describe him.
“Jovial.” He doesn’t miss a beat. And from our first few exchanges, it’s obvious the word is fitting.
A New York native, Bernie laughs when asked about how he liked his hometown. “Well, I didn’t have a choice,” he chuckles, with no trace of bitterness. As Bernie shares with me the harsh realities of his youth, it becomes both more apparent and impressive why jovial is the perfect adjective to describe Bernie’s personality. As he puts it, “Attitude is very important.”
With a childhood steeped in poverty, Bernie began working at the age of 8, doing various odd jobs in the streets of Manhattan–from shining shoes to selling magazines. But despite his early introduction to the workforce, Bernie chose not to retire until he was 80 years of age, just a little over a decade ago.
“Curious”—Bernie’s second choice of adjective. “I’m a big reader,” he explains. “I quit high school, but I never stopped learning.”
At 18, Bernie joined the United States Army Medical Corps, an achievement that he rightfully remembers with pride. He learned a lot as an army man and continued learning long after his military career. When he left the army, Sergeant Bernie Katz entered the world of sales—insurance and securities, but he never became boxed in.
Bernie journeyed as a student of the world, amassing about a million miles in travel, attending workshops and reading books at every opportunity—his preferred subject-matter ranging from biographies to selling, a true testament to his determination to learn. And from his stories, it becomes clear that Bernie relished his visits to the big, bustling cities, citing Nashville, Los Angeles, and Seattle as some of his favorites.
As well as traveling and being a voracious reader, Bernie loves to play golf. He plays twice a week with friends outside of Sterling Court. True to his nature, Bernie’s joviality never wanes when talking about his sport, jokingly revealing that “My putting sucks!”
Talking about his life at Sterling Court, Bernie explains that while he doesn’t attend many of the community’s social events, he still loves being a resident. He finds great comfort in the tight-knit community and admires the kindness of the staff and his fellow residents.
“I walk down the hall, and people always say, ‘Hello, Bernie!’” It’s an easy image to conjure—Bernie, walking down the halls of Sterling Court, donning one of his many, different colored hats.
My Stars and Stripes symbolize “American the Beautiful.” They are man’s remaining hope for a lasting humanity. They are the haven for the oppressed and persecuted. They signify the right to worship God in one’s own way, the right to free speech and to peaceful assembly. They proudly fly over 200 million living souls and the ghost of those who died for them. Yes, I know you Americans cherish my “Stars and Stripes.” They have given you heart, hope, and strength ever since this nation was born. They have flown in times of trouble and in times of triumph, as a symbol of America’s unquenchable ideals, ever since those ideals were first proclaimed. They fly today as a sign that Americans proud of their country’s stirring heritage are determined to carry the American Dream Forward. Millions of you fly me or display replicas of me on your persons, homes, offices, and motor vehicles, but so should many, many more millions. Display my “Stars and Stripes” proudly. If we all show “My Colors,” we shall also show what a privilege it is “to be an American.” Remember, when you fly my colors, you salute our brave servicemen and the blessings you enjoy in this “The Greatest Sovereign Nation” in the world. With your strength, unity, spirit, my “Stars and Stripes” shall fly forever and remain the symbol of a free and mighty nation. Built on faith, trust, and the love of God, dedicated to the principles of “Freedom and Decency” for all.
One of the many perks of stepping out of the workforce and into retirement is an increased access to discounts from restaurants and retailers. Some establishments begin offering so-called “senior” discounts to patrons as young as 50, but 65 is generally the magic number to score some savings. Here’s a quick list of some possible savings to consider the next time you dine, shop, or travel.
From quick bites to sit-down meals, restaurants are well-known for offering discounts to seniors. Some eateries that have become quite reliable for their discounts include Arby’s, A&W, Wendy’s, Subway, and Burger King. Others can be hit or miss, but Applebee’s, Outback Steakhouse, or Sweet Tomatoes may also be game to relay a discount or free beverage if you ask. Many of these restaurants are franchises, which means the final call on whether a discount is offered is up to the individual owners, so be sure to ask before you order your meal.
Retailers also like to encourage senior shoppers by designating a special day of the week to off er discounts. Some department stores and Walgreens reserve the first Tuesday of each month to recognize shoppers aged 55+ with special discounts, and Kohl’s does so each Wednesday for shoppers 60+. Discounts may vary but you can expect a reduction in the range of 15%. For the super saver, Goodwill and Salvation Army have been known to off er additional savings to seniors on designated days of the week – please call them for details.
Save on services you would be paying for anyway, like oil changes and haircuts, just by asking for a senior discount. AT&T has a reduced-cost Senior Nation cellphone plan that offers low-cost nationwide calling. Both Great Clips and Supercuts have been reputed to off er 10% off haircuts for seniors, and Jiff y Lube and Midas each offer discounts on auto services.
Staying active is key to a healthy senior lifestyle, and there are many discounts on fun things to do. SilverSneakers is a free fitness program made available to those 62+ through Medicare that includes free access to 14,000 participating gyms. Visit silversneakers.com to check your eligibility. For a night out, most movie theater chains including AMC, Cinemark, and Regal off er senior discounts, and several have special midweek showings at a dramatically reduced rate.
When you’re ready for a change of scenery, Greyhound and Amtrak both off er reduced ticket prices, as do Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Carnival cruise lines. Marriott hotels can provide a discounted place to stay, and the National Park Service offers a $10 lifetime pass that you can use to see a host of beautiful sites across the nation.
Don’t forget that many discounts are available regardless of the date on your birth certificate. Websites like Groupon and bulk retailers like Costco off er a pathway to savings, or you can do some good old-fashioned shopping around to get the best deals.
William Smart was a Civil War Veteran who was widowed when his wife died in childbirth after delivering their sixth child. As an adult, Sonora Smart Dodd (one of Smart’s daughters) admired and appreciated her dad’s selfless love and strength in raising her and her siblings. After listening to a sermon on Mother’s Day in 1910 at her church in Spokane, WA, she wanted to find a way to honor her father. Dodd drew up a petition recommending adoption of a national Father’s Day. She chose the first Sunday of June that year (June 5) because it was her father’s birthday. Spokane Ministerial Association and the local YMCA supported it, but they pushed the date to June 19 so they had more time to prepare. Th rough Dodd’s efforts, Spokane celebrated the first Father’s Day on June 19, 1910. Over the next decade, places around the U.S. began celebrating this day. It wasn’t until 1966 though that President Lyndon Johnson signed a Presidential declaration announcing the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day. In 1972, President Richard Nixon established a permanent national observance of Father’s Day to be held on the third Sunday of June.
Dagne Krekorian’s Sterling Court home makes an immediate impression on its visitors. When I arrive to interview her, I am seated next to two remarkable collections – one of hats, displayed on shelves in her living room, and the second of vintage cigarette holders, pressed on velvet beneath the glass top of her coffee table.
I ask about her collections and learn just how representative of her life story they are. She begins, “I was born in beautiful downtown Eveleth, Minnesota. In 1939 we went to California for the World’s Fair, and in 1940 we moved to San Francisco because my older sisters, Viola and Aune, were both living there by then. They are 16 and 19 years older than me. I’m an afterthought,” she chuckles.
“In San Francisco, everything was bigger,” she tells me. “I was from a very small town in Minnesota, practically everyone there was a Finlander. It was very different, but I didn’t have any trouble mixing in.”
It was perhaps this dramatic shift that sparked Dagne’s love affair with seeing other cultures. “When I was 18 years old, I got on an airplane with my mother and we went to Hawaii. I was sitting there, and I thought, ‘There’s a job here I can do myself – the stewardess job.’ So, I lied about my age and got a job with United Airlines. You were supposed to be 21, and I was only 20 when I did that, but I got away with it!” she laughs.
“When I applied to United, I decided I would look ever so much older with a cigarette. So, I started with the cigarette holders. My friend and I went off to Asia and I bought my first one – this carved white one,” she points to one of the many intricately designed objects.
“United was also how I met my husband, Chuck,” she tells me. “He worked as a flight June 2018 engineer at the time and was on one of my flights. One day on a layover we went off and got married!”
The couple made their home in the Bay Area and raised two daughters, Lisa and Sarah. With young children, their travel remained within the U.S.
“The world traveling started up after the girls were grown,” she tells me. “When United merged with other airlines, we could travel globally. My idea of traveling wasn’t just to go to Europe. I wanted to see places where people didn’t do things the way we did them,” she muses. “Asia, the Middle East, everywhere. For some reason or other, I decided that I would get a hat from each place. They’re from all over – Tibet, and other farflung spots,” she gestures to the artfully arranged collection on the shelf above us.
This prompts me to ask Dagne about her favorite spot to visit.
“Oh, I couldn’t pick,” she says, earnestly. “I loved them all. They are each so different. We traveled a lot, saw a lot,” she recollects. “I had a wonderful time.”
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