Posts Tagged ‘retirement’

“Senior living.” “Retirement community.”

Some people find those words comforting — an opportunity to shed the hassles of home ownership and live comfortably with others their own age, often in a setting where some of life’s tasks are eased.

Other people find those words terrifying — loss of independence, possibly reduced contact with the outside world, and the sale of a home that’s seen decades of family memories.

(It’s fair to say that some people wrestle with both emotions, too.)

I don’t know for sure, but it’s possible that this week’s calendar entry finds my grandparents thinking about which side they fell on.

June 1975.

June 1975. The Mets and Yanks (sharing a stadium) spend the month in third and second place, respectively.

Google says there are a couple of Heritage Villages in the U.S., including one here in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania.

Most likely, the one being referred to on my grandparents’ calendar is a retirement community in Southbury, Connecticut. That’s between Danbury and Waterbury, near Woodbury and Middlebury (what is it with all these -burys?), roughly 50 miles from the family home in Stamford.

According to Wiki, Heritage Village in Southbury opened in 1967 and ranks as New England’s largest retirement community, with about 4,000 residents. It’s large enough to be a census-designated place of its own; and as of the 2000 census, the median age there was 75 years.

The question in regard to this week’s entry — written in my grandma’s writing, for what that’s worth — is:

Were my grandparents simply planning to go visit an old friend or acquaintance who had moved to Heritage Village?

Or — with my grandpa in so-so health, recently signed up for Social Security, and my great-grandma edging toward 90 — did they give thought to selling the old house on Hope Street and going the retirement-village route?

My dad believes they were only planning to visit a friend at Heritage Village. He doesn’t recall them bringing up senior communities back then.

For that matter, they didn’t bring it up when they left Stamford for Rochester in the mid-’80s, either. Not until 1998, when my grandfather was 88 years old, did my grandparents sell their home and move into an assisted living facility.

(My great-grandma, who died in 1994, moved separately into a senior care facility for the last few years of her life. It was no longer feasible for my grandparents to take care of her at home.)

To me, the placement of the Heritage Village item on the top of the calendar suggests that it might have been a visit to case the place out. If they had been visiting a friend, they probably would have made a note on the specific date of the visit, rather than up at the top.

On the other hand, maybe they had a standing invitation to go see a friend sometime, and it was written up at the top as a reminder.

Whichever one it was, they apparently didn’t get to it during June 1975, as it was never crossed off. It showed up again at the top of July’s calendar page, and was once again not crossed off.

I don’t know if they ever got there. But I know they never moved there, which is enough to tell me which side of the senior-living divide they were on.


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The summer of 1970 is waning into dust. Labor Day has passed; the kids are back at school; and three of the four pennant races are essentially over.

And in Norwalk, Connecticut, a work career that began in the Calvin Coolidge administration has reached its last day.

September 16, 1970.

September 16, 1970.

I’ve traced my grandpa’s employment history pretty thoroughly in this space. Heck, I’ve even posted the resume he prepared for himself in late 1970, when he still thought he was going to land another job.

(That resume only takes his work history back to 1931. But in this sound clip from another post, he reminiscences about being laid off in 1929 — when he was 19 — and not going back to work full-time until 1931. So he was in the workplace at some point in the late 1920s, before the Great Depression.)

Another, less severe economic slump ended his working days for good more than 40 years later.

As his resume details, he was let go by Time-Life early in 1970 when they cut back their Springdale, Conn., operations.

In April, he landed a  job with John McAdams and Sons in Norwalk, doing what he called “automatic graphic arts machinery design drafting.”

I went to Google to see what I could find out about my grandpa’s final employer. There wasn’t much. In fact, several of the top matches for John McAdams and Sons are previous Hope Street entries.

Apparently the company made printing equipment, and was still in business as recently as 1984. State business records describe the company as “forfeited,” leading me to believe it’s no longer around.

One of the family partners, George McAdams, left the company around the same time my grandpa did. He moved to Long Island in his retirement and lived to be almost 105.

But back to our regularly scheduled timeline:

In September 1970, when business slowed down, my grandpa was laid off again. He was unsuccessful in finding work throughout late 1970 and early 1971, despite turning to the local unemployment office for help. And a heart attack he suffered in May 1971 ended his job-searching — and working — days for good.

(My dad has told me he thought the McAdams job was never supposed to be permanent. That may be, but my grandpa’s resume suggests he expected it to last longer than it did.)

This calendar entry, then, marks the last day my grandpa would ever work.

I wonder if he did anything to celebrate, or if he was too on edge about being laid off to feel much of any happiness.

I wonder whether his final co-workers remembered him for very long, or whether he faded into obscurity after six months: That desk over there? That was where what’s-his-name sat. Bill something. The skinny old guy. He was only here for a couple months. Nice enough guy.

And I wonder when and where my last day of work will be. I wonder whether it will surprise me, or whether I’ll have the luxury of planning it in advance. Maybe I won’t be able to afford to retire, but will do something menial until I’m too blind or stooped to carry on.

Or perhaps my last day of work will coincide with my last day of life, as it does for some people.

Kurt something. Wrote about his family a lot. Nice enough guy.

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