“What’s this ‘Senior Power’ business?” & Fun in Spanish: Columna de alimentación de Senior

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Saturday June 19, 2010 - 06:03:00 PM

“Seriously,” I’m asked, “what’s this ‘Senior Power’ business? You don’t really believe it, do you?Basically, the real senior thing is like uh senior bowl and senior class in senior high school, and senior chief petty officer and such. Actually. Duh.” 

And I must acknowledge that senior center, citizen, discount, housing, moment, rally, etc. each in some way reflects less power and the powerlessness of many people as they age. I’m with Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC-43BC), who declared that “Old age will only be respected if it fights for itself, maintains its rights, avoids dependence on anyone and asserts control over its own to its last breath.” 


Senior Power, Inc. is a nonprofit corporation in Vancouver, Washington. Its website declares “Seniors can control the direction of America if we unite.”Some of the things “we” need to change sound great, some impractical. It opposes national healthcare. 

And I quote: Require Congress to pay back the 2.3 trillion borrowed from the Social Security Fund. Stop taxing Social Security payments for all seniors. Give seniors a flat tax, no tax on the first 50K (single), a maximum 10%. Make identity theft against a senior punishable at 1 day in prison for every dollar taken. Have the Congress have term limitation of 2 terms, same as President. Stop all pay and pension benefits for Congress they should become public servants convert their pension to Social Security benefits like the rest of us. Require each state to have one senator that is a senior and 50% of their representatives to be seniors. Make lobbyists illegal and punishable for 20 years in prison for all parties involved, including the politician. Require the federal government and every state government to have a balanced budget. Limit of 15 years to serve on the Supreme Court or age 80 whichever comes first. 


Several centuries after Cicero, Marguerite de Valois (1553-1615), declared “A woman of honor should not expect of others things she would not do herself.” Estelle VanRiper Johnson was a woman of honor who made it through widowhood despite insolvency, perfunctory treatment by the power structure, and loss of friends.  

Stella and Judge Johnson resided in a large home, almost a mansion. She was fat and foolish, well reputed as a nice lady who played the church organ and who loved to shop. He was a lush who left sixtyish, childless, pampered and naïve Stella penniless when he died “early” in the midst of the Depression. The mortgaged house was her bequest. It had been taken over by the Home Owners Loan Corporation –- a government agency that attempted to recoup defaulted properties. The local H O L C office was run by a well-to-do local gent who permitted her to live and give piano lessons in what had been the front parlor and to share the first floor bathroom. Running water and a hot plate had been installed in each of the other rooms, which were being rented out. Stella dressed in black and transitioned into rooming house manager. 

School principals referred new teachers to Stella. Miss C -- the junior-senior high school, multi-purpose faculty member/dean of girls/trigonometry teacher/junior high school principal -- and her friend rented two of the second floor rooms. Former missionaries to India, where the friend contracted an incurable eye disease, they had been returned to the United States. 

Over the years, gullible Stella enthused about screw-ball projects she saw advertised as guaranteed at-home income producers: growing mushrooms in the basement, holding embroideries sales, selling Christmas cards to her students’ parents. As the judge's wife, Stella had been a society matron, but her life had changed radically.  

Arthritis was compounded by her weight and lack of exercise. She latched on to an orthopedist. Ever optimistic, she was certain he was going to make everything right, but knee surgery accomplished just the opposite. Destitute, immobile, with no family and unable to care for herself, she was incarcerated in Pilgrim State Hospital. A huge facility out in the pine barrens of Long Island, it was generally regarded as an insane asylum and dumping ground for old people and eccentric adults without families.Stella wrote that she was able to return to the community and implored someone to be her sponsor.Much later I wrote the Hospital administration inquiring about Stella: she had, of course, never succeeded in getting out of Pilgrim State. But she tried.  


--Columna de alimentación de Senior--

Este grupo diverso de sobre todo California la gente representa muchos campos y realizaciones, a menudo hecho mientras que eran considerados ¡viejos!  

1. Este autor de “Las alegrías del envejecimiento y cómo evitarlos” es un concierte al pianista y a residente de Los Ángeles que hizo muchos viajes a Vietnam para entretener a las tropas. 

2. “Soy 77 años –residente de Berkeley nombrado Rosita Dolores Alverio, aunque usted puede conocerme como Anita, Maria Callas, o, más recientemente, Amanda Wingfield. ¡Era el primer agente y ¡el primer hispanico para ganar un premio Emmy, un Grammy, un Oscar, y un Tony! En 2000 me presentaron con una concesión de la fundación nacional del Osteoporosis para mi trabajo que levantaba conocimiento.” 

3.Aunque es mirado por alguno como oficinista, ella comenzó a sonar las campanas UC, de Berkeley Sather de la torre en 1923 y continuó hasta el retiro 50 años más adelante. 

4.“Nací en Praga.Era 60 años de viejo cuando hice la primera hembra U. S. Secretaria del estado.” 

5.El libro, “ Silencios ,” era un análisis de los períodos silenciosos del autores, incluyendo los problemas clase obrera los escritores tienen en encontrar hora de concentrarse en su arte. Fue investigado y escrito en Biblioteca pública de San Francisco . Varios críticos señalaron al pasado comunista de los autores, pero una vez que los libros fueran publicados, se convirtieron un profesor y una escritor-en-residencia en las universidades numerosas, incluyendo la Universidad de Stanford mientras que residía en Oakland. 

[Llave 1. Phyllis Diller (1917-) / 2. Rita Moreno (1931-) / 3. Margaret Murdock (1894-1985) / 4. Madeleine Korbel Albright ( 1937 - ) / 5. Tillie Lerner Olsen (1912-2007)] 


Helen Rippier Wheeler can be reached at No email attachments; use “Senior Power” for subject.