Our books are about being old, single, and independent professional women.
We grew up in North Carolina. Our father became America’s first elected, black Episcopal bishop. Together with our eight siblings, we were raised on the campus of St. Augustine's School (now College) in Raleigh. Sister and I moved to Harlem during the World War I era. After we received graduate degrees from Columbia University, I taught in New York City public schools, and she was a well known dentist. We were among the first women in New York City who were professional persons of African American descent.
Our 1993 oral history book, Having Our Say, was a best-seller. Whoopi Goldberg recorded it, and a hit play was made from it. It was on the 1997 Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s playbill. Diahann Carroll and Ruby Dee played us in the 1999 TV movie version.
We did another book together – our Book of Everyday Wisdom – in which we counseled with examples on such subjects as when a lady should confess her age, why life was slower when trains were faster, how young people can stay out of trouble, the difference between getting and earning, how to make money in hard times, why men are a heap of trouble and how women get into it with them, and preparing to die by having the faith to live.
We never married. We lived together until my sister’s death in 1995. I did a third book, reflections on life without her, about being On My Own at 107.
We are Sarah “Sadie” Louise Delany (1889-1999) and Dr. Annie “Bessie” Elizabeth Delany (1891-1995), "discovered" by New York Times writer Amy Hill Hearth, who visited us to write a feature story about these unusual sisters. We had both passed the 100-year mark and still lived together alone in our own home. Fascinated with our intelligence, wit and humor, and realizing the uniqueness of our view of 20th century American history, Hearth convinced us to tell our story, and she helped us write the book. It was instantly popular, a best-seller.
Hearth then worked with the sisters to publish The Delany Sisters' Book of Everyday Wisdom in 1994. Hearth’s interest in telling people's stories was the reason she tracked down the reclusive Delany sisters and asked for an interview. The Dallas Morning News, in its review of Having Our Say, wrote that Hearth "worked carefully to preserve the speech patterns and personalities of each sister in the text so the stories unfold as complementary harmonies of the same melody.”
Hearth writes in her preface, “Their story, as the Delany sisters like to say, is not meant as 'black' history or 'women's' history but American history."
Fifty-four year old Hearth is an American author who specializes in stories about women. With Hearth's contributions, credited as an advisor and production consultant, the Delaney books’ film adaptation featured Amy Madigan in the role of Hearth. For her work on the film, Hearth received the George Foster Peabody Award for Excellence in Broadcasting. Her first novel, Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society, is set in Florida circa 1962, to be published this fall.
August 26th is Women's Equality Day to commemorate passage of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Fifty years after American men were enabled to vote, it provided American women with full voting rights. In 1920, women got a piece of the action. Women's Equality Day was instituted by Congressional Representative Bella Abzug when she was 60 years old. (She died of breast cancer and heart disease in 1998.)
What’s this got to do with senior citizens and senior power? An amendment is defined as a change for the better; improvement. A correction. A revision or change. Most senior citizens are women. Most low-income seniors are women. Former National Institute on Aging director Robert N. Butler, M.D. (1927-2010) believed that “the problems of old age in America are largely the problems of women.”
Longer life expectancy, lower earnings, and failure to take advance of retirement benefits are significant retirement challenges faced by women. The biggest is having less money than men to fund their retirement years.
Women generally live longer than men, but they continue to have lower earnings and less retirement savings than men, which causes women to have lower retirement incomes and to be much more likely to spend their retirement years in poverty, especially if they become widows. (The Government Accountability Office found that in 2010, women working full time earned a median of $36,900 compared to $47,700 for men.) Over the last decade, the median income of women age 65+ was approximately 25% lower than among their male counterparts. Women also spend more time than men out of the workforce caring for family members. Women who retired at age 62 in 2000 were in the workforce an average of 12 years less than men. This makes it especially difficult for women to accumulate adequate retirement account balances that will last the rest of their lives.
Because women generally live longer than men and tend to have older husbands, they often spend the final years of their lives as widows. The GAO found 70% of women age 85+ were widowed, compared to only 24% of men age 85+. Divorce or widowhood occurring late in life can be disproportionally devastating to women's retirement security. Women's income fell by 37% upon widowhood, while men's income fell 22% when they became widowed. [US News. Emily Brandon August 6, 2012]
HUD Housing Programs: Tenants’ Rights, 4th edition will be available in September 2012. (For information, 415-546.7000 x3108. ) Authored by National Housing Law Project attorneys, the Green Book, as it is known, was originally published in 1981. A copy of the current edition is in the UC,B Law Library. NHLP’s mission is advancement of housing justice for low-income people. (703 Market 2000, SanFrancisco, CA 94013)
An invitation. Candidates for election are welcome to share statements of their accomplishments and plans vis a vis senior citizens and elders. Please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR: August, September, October 2012. Be sure to confirm. You’re welcome to share by email news of future events and deadlines that may interest boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), seniors and elders (approximately two million people over age 90 in the United States.) Daytime, free, and Bay Area events preferred. email@example.com.
Saturdays, August 18, Sept. 15, and Oct. 20. 1 P.M. Oakland Public Library Rockridge Branch, 5366 College Ave. Free. Writers’ Support & Critique Group. 510-597-5017
Mondays, August 20, and 27. 6 P.M. Evening computer class. Central Berkeley Public Library. Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. Free. 510-981-6241.
Monday, August 20. 7 P.M. An evening with Pat Mullan and her jazz quartet. A concert of jazz arrangements and maybe a little classical music on the side that will be delivered in the unique trombone style. Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Avenue. Free. 510- 524-3043.
Wednesday, August 22. 1:30-2:30P.M. Great Books discussion group. Selections from The Bhagavad Gita. Rosalie Gonzales, group facilitator. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free. 510-526-3720.
Wednesday, August 22. 1:30 P.M. Gray Panthers meeting. North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst, corner MLK. 510-981-5190
Thursdays, August 23 and 30. 10 A.M. Computers for beginners. Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. Free. 510-981-6241
Monday, August 27. 7 P.M. Book Club. Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. August’s book is Wilkie Collins’ Moonstone. Free. 510-524-3043.
Tuesday, August 28. 7 P.M. Readers Anonymous. Book Club. Moshin Hamid’s Reluctant Fundamentalist. El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Avenue. Free. 510-526-7512.
Tuesday, Sept. 4. 6:30 P.M. “The Castoffs,” Kensington Library’s Knitting Club, at 61 Arlington Av. Enjoy an evening of knitting, show and tell and yarn exchange. All levels are welcome and some help will be provided. Free 510-524-3043
Wednesdays, Sept. 5, Oct. 3, Nov. 7 and Dec. 5. 6-8 P.M. Lawyer in the Library. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free 15 minute consultation with an attorney who will clarify your situation, advise you of your options, get you started with a solution, and make a referral when needed. Sign up in person at the Reference desk or call 510-526-3720 ext. 5 during library hours.
Thursdays, Sept. 6, 13, 20 and 27. 10 A.M. Computers for beginners. Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge Free. 510-981-6241.
Thursday, Sept. 6. 6:30-7:30 P.M. Argentine Tango. Berkeley Public Library north branch. 1170 The Alameda. Lecture and Live Performance by Jurek Mazur from the Academia de Tango Argentino. Free. 510-981-6250
Monday, Sept. 10. 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM Albany YMCA/Albany Library Brown Bag Lunch Speaker's Forum: Dr. Joel Parrott of the Oakland Zoo & President, CEO and Staff Veterinarian of the The Oakland Zoo: a presentation for adults -- with Animals. The forum is co-sponsored by the Albany YMCA and the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free. Contact: Ronnie Davis 510-526-3720 x16
Monday, Sept. 10. 7 P.M. Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Avenue. Searching for Democracy: California Reads in West County. As part of the California Reads program, Delphine Hirasuna, author of The Art of the Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942-1946 (Gaman is a Japanese word that has no exact equivalent in English-- endurance, patience, persistence, forbearance and dignity in the face of pain, frustration and adversity,) will speak about her book and the experience of Japanese-Americans during World War II, when they were forcibly removed from their homes and interned in remote locations. For more information, visit www.calhum.org. Free. 510-524-3043.
Mondays, Sept. 10, 17 and 24. Evening Computer Class. Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. Free. 510-981-6241.
Wednesdays, Sept. 12 and 26. 1:30 P.M. Union City Library, 34007 Alvarado-Niles Road. 510-745-1464. Fremont Main library, 2400 Stevenson Blvd. 510-745-1401. HEALTHY EATING FOR OLDER ADULTS: My Neighbor's Kitchen Table. Nutritionists Mary Collett, MPH and RD, Mary Louise Zernicke, MS, MPH, RD, CSG will discuss the special nutritional needs of seniors, including how our traditional foods can fit into a healthy eating plan, taking supplements and much more. Free. 510-795-2627. For information about other Alameda County libraries’ Older Adult Services, contact Patricia Ruscher at 510-745-1491.
Thursdays, Sept. 13, 20 and 27. 6 P.M. Lawyers in the Library. Central Berkeley Public Library , 2090 Kittredge. Free. 510-981-6241.
Saturday, Sept. 15. 1-3:30 P.M. Making Sense of the American Civil War. Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. Guest lecturer Professor Ari Kelman of UC Davis will speak on the legacy of the American Civil War and emancipation, and lead one of three simultaneous book discussions scheduled to start immediately after the lecture. Free. 510-981-6241.
Wednesday, Sept. 19. 6:30-7:30 P.M. Author Talk. North branch, Berkeley Public Library, 1170 The Alameda. Author Mani Feniger talks about her book The Woman in the Photograph: The Search for My Mother's Past. Free. 510-981-6250
Thursdays, Sept. 20 and 27. 12 Noon. Literacy Reading Club with Katherine Gee. Practice English conversation at the Literacy Reading Club. Meet other adults, build confidence in your speaking and discuss a good book! Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free. 510-745-1480.
Thursdays, Sept. 20 and 27. 12:15 PM - 2:15 PM Literacy Reading Club with Lisa Wenzel. Practice English conversation at the Literacy Reading Club. Meet other adults, build confidence in your speaking and discuss a good book! Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free. 510-745-1480.
Monday, Sept. 24. 7 P.M. Kensington Library Book Club: The Legend of the Fire Horse Woman by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston. Three generations of Japanese women are told through the eyes of Sayo, the family's matriarch. Her story takes place both in 1942, at the Manzanar camp, and back in 1902, when she came to America as a bride. Houston vividly re-creates the limitations and loneliness of life in the Manzanar camp. Each meeting starts with a poem selected and read by a member with a brief discussion following the reading. New members are always welcome. 61 Arlington Av. Free. 510-524-3043.
Tuesday, Sept. 25. 3-4 P.M. "Read & Share" Book Club (formerly "Tea and Cookies") Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. Free. 510-981-6100.
Wednesday, Sept. 26. 1:30-2:30P.M. Great Books discussion group. Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Rosalie Gonzales, group facilitator. Free. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-3720. Come to one meeting, or all meetings. Books are available at the Library.
Tuesday, Oct. 2. 5 P.M. 5366 College Ave. Oakland Public Library Rockridge Branch. Lawyers in the library. Free. 510-597-5017.
Wednesdays, Oct. 3, Nov. 7 and Dec. 5. 6-8 P.M. Lawyer in the Library. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free 15 minute consultation with an attorney who will clarify your situation, advise you of your options, get you started with a solution, and make a referral when needed. Sign up in person at the Reference desk or call 510-526-3720 ext. 5 during library hours.
Thursday, Oct. 11. 7-8:45 P.M. Cafe Literario Berkeley Public Library north branch, 1170 The Alameda. Facilitated book discussions in Spanish. October title: Carlos Fuentes’ La muerte de Artemio Cruz. 510-981-6250
Wednesday, October 24. 1:30-2:30P.M. Great Books discussion group. Troth, by Gregor von Rezzori. Rosalie Gonzales, group facilitator. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-3720.