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.”
Pets offer companionship, a purpose, and have been shown to reduce stress and lower blood pressure. Furry friends also encourage exercise since they require walks or daily play and interaction to stay fit and active. They also contribute to boosting social interaction since they are natural ice breakers. Birds, cats, and small dogs are welcome at Sterling Court, so consider adding an animal companion to your home today.
Artistic ventures encompass a variety of hobbies that provide excellent health benefits. Knitting, scrapbooking, journaling, painting, and pottery are all activities that encourage mental focus and stimulation while also providing relaxation. The act of creating is also linked to self-esteem, especially as you see your artistic skills improve with each effort. Even better, making art with friends folds a social element into the hobby, keeping you connected to fellow hobbyists and creating an environment ideal for teaching, learning, and advancing your talents. Sterling Court offers a multitude of art classes that you can sign up for – take a look at our calendar on page 4 to see which classes suit you.
Volunteering is a hobby that pays returns twofold – to the recipient of your services and to you. Research has shown that the positive effects of volunteering include reduced rates of depression and isolation and increased emotional stability. The National Institute on Aging has reported that participating in purposeful engagements like volunteering can even lower the risk of chronic health issues and improve longevity.
Tutoring a younger generation, assisting neighbors with household tasks and errands, or volunteering with animals or at a cultural institution are just a few ways you can dedicate your time and effort to your surrounding community.
Whether an actual card game, like bridge, or another activity like Scrabble or bingo, playing games is a great hobby for socializing and keeping sharp. Research shows that seniors who regularly participate in mentally stimulating games have healthier brains and better recall than those who do not. Scientific studies have also shown that those who utilize their brains in this way can build up brainsaving reserves that help delay the effects of Alzheimer’s and allow for a longer, healthier life.
At Sterling Court, we offer a full calendar of activities that cover a variety of interests – from history lectures to floristry demonstrations to Rummikub. Schedule time to participate in your favorite activity or take time to explore something new that you may not have tried before. You’ll gain the positive benefits that accompany engaging in a hobby and may even uncover a hidden talent in the process!
Read this article and more in our May newsletter.
Cinco de Mayo, or the Fifth of May, is a celebration of the winning of the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. In 1862, a small army of approximately 2,000 men led by General Zaragoza overcame the French army of more than 6,000 soldiers. This battle wasn’t an end to the war, but it was an encouragement that rallied more support for the Mexican army.
The celebration of Cinco de Mayo is often confused as being Mexico’s Independence Day. The war for Mexican independence from Spain began in 1810. Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on September 18. In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated with military parades and reenactments of the Battle of Puebla. In the U.S., this day has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture. The celebration includes having parades, listening to mariachi music, dancing, and eating traditional Mexican foods.
Read this article and more in our May newsletter.
When I meet Ron Kenmotsu, I begin my interview the way I always do, by asking where he was born.
“I was born in Amache, Colorado. That was a Japanese internment camp,” he reports frankly. “I was born right at the beginning of the war. My brother was born two years after me, right toward the end of the war when my family was returning to San Francisco.”
I ask about growing up and what he remembers most about his childhood.
“I don’t remember any of the camp because I was just a baby,” he tells me. “I grew up in the City. My parents were lucky because when they were sent to camp, their neighbor looked after their home for them, and they were able to return to it. Later, they managed hotels in the City, and we lived at the various hotels, moving frequently.”
Ron attended school in San Francisco and after graduating he joined the Army.
“I was in the Army for 3 years, then I came back and worked for the Federal Reserve in San Francisco and then Wells Fargo,” he says. During that time, he met his wife, Grace, through mutual friends. Grace was in college and determined to finish her degree and teaching credentials before marrying, so the pair dated for 5 years before tying the knot.
Once married, Ron and Grace moved to Foster City, where they raised two sons, Curtis and Derek. Despite his own amazing story, Ron really lights up when speaking about his sons.
“My oldest son is Curtis. He double-majored at UC Irvine and he and his wife, Emi, have my new grandson, Ethan. Ethan’s middle name is Zee, so I call him ‘EZ,’ ” he laughs. “Curtis lives in San Bruno, it’s nice. I just saw the baby last Sunday.”
Through his younger son, Ron’s military service came full circle.
“Derek decided he wanted to go to West Point. He had to have a congressional recommendation, and the whole family got interviewed. He went, and after he graduated he was stationed in Korea. It was kind of weird because we figured out that where he was in Korea was only about 5 miles down the road from where I had served myself all those years before! I visited him there, and he took me to exactly where I was stationed. It was totally different,” he chuckles. “I think the only thing that was the same there was the movie theater!”
Derek went on to serve in Afghanistan, Japan, and Hawaii. He later returned to school for an MBA and eventually took a position at Apple.
I comment that he must be proud of his sons. “Oh yes,” he responds enthusiastically, “they’ve done a lot. They tell me, ‘You took care of us all those years, now it’s our turn to take care of you.’ I would be proud of them no matter what they did. They are good boys,” he smiles.
Read this article and more in our May newsletter.
There are many reasons why older adults volunteer. Volunteering is associated with positive human development through giving to the community. It provides a positive self-identity and sense of purpose that might otherwise be absent from an older adult’s life.
Volunteering is good for the mind, body, and spirit. It counteracts the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety.
Volunteering promotes happiness. By measuring hormones and brain activity, researchers have discovered that being helpful to others delivers immense pleasure.
Volunteering helps people stay physically healthy. Studies have found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not.
Volunteering also brings fun and fulfillment to life. It is an easy way to explore interests and passions. Seniors explore vocation, share their gifts and talents, and bring joy to others.
Read this article and more in our April newsletter.
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