Category Archives: 1998-2008






To my mother and father who left me no legacy except for longevity, an even disposition, the energy and the stamina to meet all life’s problems honestly, forthrightly. I wrote these words down on an envelope as I was finishing up my “tour of duty.”

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Figure #13.40 “No Legacy” left by my Mother and Father   Figure #13.41 Jotted down on an envelope.

Yes, my folks didn’t leave me a Legacy, they left me so much more.  What they left me with was the basic building blocks which were more much vital to being successful “in-life,” contributing to the health, welfare and the arts and paying back in some small way what it meant to be a citizen of this great country.

One of the themes that was running rampant in the early part of this chapter was a preoccupation with related health issues.  I kept the articles in folders hoping they would be of some value in bettering our understanding.  This would come in handy in the future as we dealt with all the medical twists and turns.  Case in point, Thelma had developed an acute case of insomnia.  Don’t know if it was a result of all these years of her having to deal with my snoring.  I guess it sounded like a truck going to our bedroom at night.  But whatever the case, we had to confront with the other possibility of sleep apnea and on three occasions she went to the Mease Hospital in nearby Dunedin, Florida for this condition.  She stayed overnight and they monitored her sleep patterns with both neurological, physiological as well as video equipment.  We read up on all the different approaches but nothing really worked.  In the following article written by Rick Weiss, “When Sleep Won’t Come,” many of these sleep problems were discussed such as more than half of people 65 or older complain of chronic sleep problems, such as trouble falling asleep or difficulty with excessive sleepiness during the day, according to the National Institute on Aging.  About one-third if seniors have chronic insomnia.  Happily, most problems are treatable often and very simple ways with such as a nighttime breathing device.  This wasn’t the case with Thelma and as I mentioned sleep apnea which can be recognized by snoring loudly at night and sometimes associated with stop breathing and causing her to awaken with a start.

The end of the article finally acknowledged that “there is often an overlooked perfectly sensible option for some older people to find themselves slaves to their advancing internal clock: Go with the biological flow.  Get to sleep as early as possible, wake up naturally at three or four in the morning, and take advantage of the quiet, predawn hours to get some things done.”  Which is what I am doing exactly now; predawn inspiration.

Here are some of the suggestions; we couldn’t follow all of them but some that made very good sense were:

  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule.
  • Bedroom for sleeping; don’t read, watch TV or eat in bed.
  • Limit daytime naps. Take a 20 to 30-minute warm bath before bed, drink a glass of milk just before bed (warm or cold); milk contains tryptophan, a naturally sleep–inducing amino acid.
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages and chocolate (which contains caffeine) in the afternoon or evening.
  • Don’t drink alcohol before bed; it can cause rebound wakefulness in the night and exacerbates snoring and apnea.
  • Exercise during the day may promote better sleep at night, but don’t exercise in the three of four hours before going to bed. From “All I want is a good night sleep” by Sonia Ancoli – Israel (Mosby 1996).

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Figure #13.42 Article by Rick Weiss “When Sleep Won’t Come.”

Next two articles deal with “Stroke Symptoms” and “Help with nursing home issues.”  The first article appeared in a local publication which I’m not able to find the exact citation as well as the author.  It was found under the heading “REACHING YOUR BEST.”  It describes certain risk factors which increase with age and sometimes might not be easily picked up when the symptoms occur whether it’s a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA is a temporary interruption of the blood’s life to an area of the brain.  TIAs can appear hours, days, weeks, or months before full stroke).  The article discusses seven “Uncontrollable Stroke–Risk Factors:” as you can imagine high blood pressure; high cholesterol; atrial fibrillation and other heart diseases; personal history of stroke or TIA; smoking; alcohol consumption and excess weight.  I was one of the fortunate ones that my risk factors did not reach the critical levels and subsequently the minor stroke that I experienced could be treated and I could resume a normal life.

Another common health issue more prevalent among seniors and attributable only to men is prostate cancer. And yes, I have articles about the different approaches and treatment.  But I will spare my viewers this touchy subject and refrain from posting any articles; except on demand.  It is a very serious subject and it is important from my perspective that routine tests are part of your annual health exam.  My brother Al, was diagnosed in the early stages of a possible malignancy and it was successfully treated.  So I know firsthand why men should have regular visits to the doctor to make sure they are not affected.

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Figure #13.43 Symptoms of a Stroke Figure    #13.44 Suzanne Palmer, Article about “Help with nursing home issues.”

It is one thing to plan and is another thing to have plans work out. We did manage to have excellent care with excellent caregivers during this timeframe and Thelma was doing very well with CNA’s that would be scheduled for twice a week, a few hours each.  The “Nursing Home Issue” as discussed in the article by Suzanne Palmer was not required at this time.  And Billy was close by, within earshot range for the most part.

I guess while we are dealing with life-threatening issues, might as well throw in another zinger. “Life-ending” issues that we needed to address.  I made the necessary arrangements for a place for Thelma and I to spend the here-after.  It was a plot that would be close-by where we live; for family to visit.  But not dwelling on this too much we did take into account other even more important impending issues.  This related to our estate and an equal distribution of whatever earthly wealth that we accumulated.  As usual I found an article that appeared in USA Today in their Managing Your Money Section written by Sandra Block, “No Will?  There’s a way online.”  It looked into the new fledgling advantages of the Internet.  Included were some of the websites that were available at this time.  Provided as well were tips about downloading free technical and legal advice; at least it gave us an idea of the guidelines and parameters from which we would base our final decisions.  Realizing that this was something that appeared at the time, it is certainly recommended to do your own “homework”.  We know so much has since evolved and is now current.

We did have a lawyer friend of the family, Greg Fox who Bill was very close with for over 20 years and we knew his family.  So, we sat down and came up with a “Living Will” and “Trust”, all families and individuals need to come to grips with this.


Figure #13.45 Sandra Block Article, “No Will? There’s a way online,” USA Today


In taking editorial liberties, I will digress and revert back to another place and time; my beginnings, “My Eyes Were Young And Gay” as part of my earliest recollections.  These notes and letters would become the hallmark for putting together my memoirs and artifacts almost like the Big Bang theory that exploded and started the wheels churning.  The other letter about this time was sent to my granddaughter Beth Landau in response to her question, “Where were you born?,” It jogged my memory which a few years later in 1997, I would undertake with the help of my son to type these remembrances and occurrences from handwritten notes and letters that numbered in the hundreds.


Figure #13.46  “My Eyes Were Young And Gay.”1             Figure #13.47 Letter to my granddaughter Beth Landau

1 Author’s note, at the time that I wrote this, the word gay was taken in the context of almost 100 years ago as in the “Gay Nineties.” A time when gaiety was identified with jolly cheerfulness.


As was mentioned in the last chapter, it was a most memorable evening listening to Prof. Elie Wiesel the Nobel Peace Laureate.  I even had the distinct honor to have Mr. Elie Wiesel sign the program.  What makes this even more of an amazing encounter is that a few years later at the opening of the Florida Holocaust Museum and Education Center in St. Petersburg Florida, Elie Wiesel was the main speaker at this major event for the city.  It just so happened that Bill as part of his duties as producer of the Public Access TV Show. “B’nai B’rith Presents; Jewish life in Tampa Bay,” was there to film this.  Also on the program was a Cantor William Hauben who at that time was Cantor at Congregation Rodeph Shalom in Tampa.  Cantor Hauben also a friend of Prof Wiesel performed the Priestly benediction to open up the program.  As fate, would have it, 10 years later in 2008 my son would begin a three-year writing project that resulted in co-authoring a book with Cantor Hauben; himself a Holocaust survivor entitled, “Light: Courage and Hope.”  I took these pictures from that historic night.  Little did I know that in 2010 when the book was published I’d be at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. for a reception with the Ambassadors from these 10 righteous nations that helped save Jews and others during the Holocaust.

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Figure #13.48 Professor Elie Wiesel Main Speaker at the Opening of the Florida Holocaust Museum, St. Petersburg, FL, February 1998

Figure #13.49 On Stage standing next to the Podium, Cantor William Hauben who would author his second book “Light: Courage and Hope,” with Bill Sefekar.


Figure #13.50 Opening Dedication Ceremony of Florida Holocaust Museum, Cantor William Hauben is sitting at the right.

Elie Wiesel, the Nazi death camp survivor who won the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize, spoke to a standing room only crowd at Eckerd College warning of the dangers of religious nationalism and fanaticism.  The article below appeared a few years before in the Jewish Press of Pinellas County November 1991.  He said “I’m afraid the trend towards extremist movements – political, religious, and social bear close scrutiny.  Increasingly, he said more people are clamoring for answers, and fanatics of all types are eager to fill the void.”

“I’m afraid of this. It’s easy, it’s so tempting to be a fanatic.  The fanatic has no problem.  He knows it all, wants it all, has it all, the fanatic never doubts.  He believes only he knows what G-d wants. Ultimately, in the end, he thinks G-d is guilty and he replaces G-d, puts Him in a prison.  It is when the fanatic feels he moves within the framework of history that we are all in trouble.  We must fight against fanaticism by learning the lessons of history and become more sensitive to other peoples’ plights.  The student of history and ‘messenger to mankind’ called upon his audience to help promote understanding and tolerance of others.  You have a sense of responsibility – the only human response – to defeat the fanatics of the world who put us all in danger.  Remember, not a single human being is identical.  That means plurals pluralism, variety, differences and tolerance.  I must say I respect your belief of faith, and I’d like you to respect mine.  It is not easy.  We come from all different backgrounds and with all kinds of baggage.  But we must learn, we must start again.  If we use our beliefs as a weapon instead of as in friendship, we poison our world.  We people live in fear, we are afraid of strangers.  Well, society can be measured by the humanity it demonstrates towards stranger.”  I would like to thank the Jewish Press of Pinellas County for their following and reporting on human interaction and tolerance for over 35 years in the Tampa Bay area.

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Figures #13.51 and #13.52 Elie Wiesel: ‘We must fight against fanaticism.’


Continuing to always wanting to “leave them with a smile,” the other side of the local newspaper article above that discusses “symptoms of strokes,” deals with a little more levity as was located in its “BIT OF HUMOR,” section.  I don’t know if I would’ve known about these classes when I first started out whether it would’ve helped me along the way.  But I did manage to come up with the right things to say and do, most of the time.  In that passage in Chapter 12 about making it to the magic age, one of the things that was mentioned in being successful and accommodating with women; the three special words: “Compromise and give in.”  But in this day and age it seems people take liberties above and beyond what was considered in my time as “rules of engagement.”

“So here is a two-year degree: being offered at universities many of you should be interested: ‘Become A Real Man/Husband.’ That’s right, in just six trimesters, you, too, can be a real man – as well as earn an AA degree (AA Real Men).  Please take a moment to look over the program outline.” Be prepared to smile!


Figure #13.53  Bit of Humor


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Figure #13.54 Perpetual Calendar,


One of my nephews happened to loan me copy of an old memorable songbook and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I kept it for quite a few months musing over all the songs that were so much a part of me as well as my wife’s world.  One of the songs that I remembered fondly was this song that seemed to capture my starting out with Thelma, when I was wet behind the ears.  “Making Whoopee,” was just that kind of song.


Figure #13.55  Lyrics from one of my favorite songs, “Makin” Whoopee


Copyright © 2016      William Sefekar

** Material will appear in book.

We are always interested in hearing comments and suggestions about how the blog could be better. Sound off below with your ideas






I never thought that when I’d be getting to the end of the trail that I would still have to be making the hard decisions. In retrospect things weren’t that tough. In the here and now, things are tougher when I start philosophizing to my wife. Somewhat complaining, she retorts, “Why don’t you be happy thinking about everything you have.” But the things that bother you aren’t the good things – it’s the bad things that you mull over in your brain that you wouldn’t want to discuss. Sometimes you have a tendency to think negative things even if you’re mostly a positive kind of person but it is human nature to let your mind drift to things that you worry about such as impending health issues, loss of income, loss of loved ones when you get to this point there’s a lot of loss, the objective as what my wife said, think about the have’s, all the blessings that you have received; that is also part of the have’s.

So I guess I fell back on one of my pillars, to be persistent. Being persistent about not worrying and that’s how I applied my basic mantra to my present mind-set.

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press on,’ has solved and always will solve the problem of the human race.” – Calvin Coolidge. –Ed.

So I channeled my energies in getting into a more favorable frame of mind. And as usual I sent out more letters, this time to President Clinton announcing that my wife’s birthday was upon us and maybe he would do a Presidential kind of Announcement as he did for my wife’s 76th, our 50th Anniversary and hopefully he won’t forget her eightieth birthday on January 16, 2000.


In the early part of this chapter I fired off a letter to my Congressman Mike Bilirakis on the potential Social Security reform. Things started to get even more intense as President Bush kept his proposal to reform Social Security with private investment accounts in the forefront. So, I set my sights higher and fired off another salvo this time to Florida, Senator Bill Nelson. He seemed to be in complete agreement, not to tamper with having retirees taking money out of Social Security to pay for a private account, in order to play the stock market. A copy of his response is cited below.


Figure #13.20 Response from U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, Florida

Naturally I kept my pen well-armed in fighting the wars on the home front for keeping Social Security intact, Health Care Reform and casino gambling from becoming the likes of another Atlantic City. It would eventually become a household word as part of the Hard-Rock Casinos establishments. But I did manage to keep the home fires burning with salutary  letters coming in from the Head-honcho himself. This was always a pleasant surprise receiving Birthday or Anniversary wishes from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And “greasing the track,” doesn’t hurt to get the desired response.


Figure #13.21  and Figure #13.22 An encapsulated account of correspondence between President Bill Clinton and First Lady on Thelma and my Special Dates.


My darling Thelma has some health issues that kept rearing its ugly head. When you’re first put in this precarious situation you are at the mercy of health care experts. Our family physician was someone we knew and trusted. However, once you get out of the realm of their expertise; you’re like a babe lost in the woods so to speak. You go from one specialist to another; one prescription to another.  Boy, were we loaded, with medicines that is. As it is a dutiful husbandry’s duty I managed to try keep track of all the “meds”.

This was just a sampling of the level of monitoring and administering, a whole company of these required pills at regular intervals. We developed a system whereby  we kept track of the times the medicine was given; the blood pressure systolic and diastolic; pulse and reaction such as nausea; time of the meal and other incidentals like TV before bedtime. I guess this is part of growing old and can be part of the vicious health care conundrum. Complaining doesn’t help and we have been blessed with wonderfully good health throughout most of our entire lives.  The way I rationalized it was that between the both of us if you divided all the pills and the meds. It came out manageable, only she had most of them and I had only some blood pressure and one relatively mild heart pill. As you can see it was a full-time job but as usual working together for a life-time means like I said before, ” You don’t give in and You don’t give up.”

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Figure #13.23, Figure #13.24 and Figure #13.25 A sampling of the regimen for Thelma’s medicine

Even as this process worked, we didn’t want to be a burden on our children. But inevitably we would have to come up with a plan that all families must face. Thelma needed some extra care in addition to what I could provide. We also had the blessing of Billy and his job with Hillsborough County government having a provision in place that is available in all public and private sector employment. It allows immediate family members to sign up for and upon approval be available for assisting in medical care and appointments. But it was the supplementing this with home care visits by a reputable CNA’s (Certified Nurses Assistant) that became essential. It seemed to fill the bill and life went on relatively smoothly for the time being.

This is why I’d like to share with you this article by Ms. Lynn Brenner, “A Conversation You Can’t Put Off.” It was very timely in dealing with possible medical crises and being organized and addressing financial and legal issues. And to do it while everyone is in a clear state of mind. Each family situation is different so you need to act accordingly to handle changes in individual health, level of healthcare and possible long-term arrangements.

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Figure #13.26 Dealing with Family Health Issues

As the years dwindled on, issues that I wouldn’t have given a second thought before are cropping up and naturally as I was predisposed to, I kept track of with “A Dossier” on and file them away to look them over when it was pertinent to bring them back out. Topics such as eating healthier, worrying about losing your memory and keeping your immune system in check. You cannot lose any ground when all this was creeping up beside you.

In an article written by John Mitchell; “Food substitutions mean healthier hearts,” There were some good things being suggested and we decided to include foods in our diets that would be translated into a healthier lifestyle. Reducing the chances of medical problems; this is what we hoped. Included in the article were recommendations and substitution hints on the American Heart Association and local chefs:

Although we know how important these recommendations sound, it is another thing to follow them. We did cut down on red meats which I was having a tough time digesting anyway and eating more fish and poultry. Sonny boy would go out shopping and we would get the low-fat processed, low-sodium sandwich meats. Dairy was a big concern and we used the more healthful butter substitutes that are available, yogurt and non-fat milk. We skimped on the salad dressing, croutons, cheese and meat.

We ate more fresh herbs and followed the advice of throwing away the salt shaker, specially watching out for the salt content in canned goods. The tough part was the desserts, we did try the fruits, sorbet and sherbets but ice cream containers seem to flow freely in and out of the freezer.


Figure #13.27 Changing health habits for healthier living article by Mr. John Mitchell

The other thing that constantly kept creeping into our psyche was how to maintain our memory, concentration and for all intents and purposes how to think clearly. As I mentioned earlier in this chapter trying to keep your mental acumen in gear through daily activities is not enough. Conversation, constant interaction with friends, neighbors and of course family all help to maintain a sharp mind as we get older. I was fortunate enough in keeping my writing skills intact and continued doing my crossword puzzles with Thelma standing by to offer assistance. The title of the following article by Dr. Ronald M. Lawrence, “Are You Worried About Losing Your Memory As You Age?” (** full article to appear in Book), is certainly a resounding yes, of course!!  We all know there is no easy panacea for basically bringing up particular items of concern that must be addressed. I found that mental and physical health usually goes hand in. And as the old adage recounts, love and marriage, “you cannot have one without the other.” Which also falls back to the concept that the brain is a muscle and you need to exercise it. As most of these articles profess, these are problems we all face.  They provide red flags that can spur us on to avoiding more severe pitfalls if we take the proper measures. We worried about our memory and how to maintain it.

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Figure #13.28  Dr. Ronald M. Lawrence’s, “Article on Worrying About Losing Your Memory As You Age.”

As is always the case, our ability to fight off colds, flu bugs and an assortment of other physical ailments tends to leave us very vulnerable with so many communicable diseases running rampant today. We started to take this immune system seriously. There’s not much can do about your genetic makeup so we followed a little bit of the advice spelled out in the article by Lawrence Roy Stains and worked on changing our lifestyle.(**The condensed version will appear in the book) .A healthier diet of more fish, fruits and vegetables, we took vitamin supplements such as Vitamin C and B12. Some of the advice that was part of the article such as “Eight Ways To Turn Back The Clock,” was considered. This isn’t expected to perform miracles immediately though we felt every bit helps and we even tried to get the best results out of joining a wellness center for seniors.

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Figure #13.29 Laurence Roy Stains Article, “Super Immunity.”

So in keeping with these options from the article above at hand and in addition to dealing with the “issues of our times,” I still managed to keep my letter writing level to at least two letters coming and going each week during this period.


Figure #13.30 Letter from Daughter Bonnie

Figure #13.31 Letter to our next door neighbor Emily Levine in Syosset


Figure #13.32 Letter to Actor, Movie Star, Mickey Rooney  Figure #13.33  Letter to our “New friend,” John


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Figure #13.34 “We are Survivors,” by Irv Greenfield Figure #13.35 Color Commentary


January 3, 2007 marked Thelma’s and my 65th Wedding Anniversary. People came from far and wide and near to be with us, celebrate with us, and share with us; a lifetime of memories. The Grand Affair was held at the Countryside Country Club in Clearwater, Florida. Over 100 people attended and Thelma mustered up all her energies and we commandeered her from the rehab stint where she was receiving some heart treatment. Thelma played the role to the hilt; The Lady of Honor. She looked lovely and it was the best medicine for her to be there with all the many people who loved her. We have a DVD to prove, it if anyone is interested. Speeches, a guitar rendition of Thelma’s favorite, Annie’s Song, by John Denver, good Luck Wishes from family and friends, children and grandchildren. We even were serenaded by our very dear friend’s 3 1/2 year old son, playing a song on his violin. My “War bride” did so well that we had a return engagement the following morning at a brunch in our honor. Bonnie took the lead, preparing memory boards complete with pictures, mementos, even a jeopardy skit that challenged family and friends to revisit highlights of our lives. Billy presented us with a framed rendering of our life together. We can’t forget the CD that was digitally mastered by Lee Landau, our Son-in-law. It included many of our special songs that preceded us throughout the years; starting with Tony Bennett, “Because of You,” from our Wedding Day.

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Figure #13.36 Our 65th Wedding Anniversary Album    Figure #13.37 A Record CD Prepared by Bonnie & Lee


We sang, we danced, we laughed and cried that was our strength; our family bond. It included many dear and loyal friends who joined us in our “Simchas,” Yiddish for Happiness and Joy.

It was so special and I can only wish that all people everywhere can taste at least a sampling of what Thelma and I have had. As one of the beloved humorist and humanists of our times, Bob Hope would always leave us with, “Thanks for the Memories.” And that’s how I would like to leave one and all, Thanks!!


Fig. #13.38 “A Love Story: Thelma and Joe’s Story of Love



Figure #13.39  A picture worth at least 80,000 words;Thel and Joe you can feel the glow



Copyright © 2016      William Sefekar

** Material will appear in book.

We are always interested in hearing comments and suggestions about how the blog could be better. Sound off below with your ideas







St. Pete Times

The constant barrage of TV Re: candidates, what they did, what they’re doing and what are they going to do. I can not help my peer’s vis-à-vis the 13 constitutional amendments but maybe I can put in perspective the options available to them on other issues.

First, go out to vote! I noticed that there are a lot of candidates in contention, but somehow I’m missing the party affiliation. Possibly the individuals who are running, would rather not list their sponsor(s).

Use your belly instincts or your gut feeling in making your selection:

  • Are you looking for a hard-core partisan or a demo – Lib?
  • Do you care if your candidate has out-of-state contributions example: $1,319,581 or a paltry $171,805?
  • Do you want a man who will steer the legislature towards protecting our environment or would you want someone who will encourage developers and urban sprawl?
  • Are you for someone who believes in fairness instead of bias; progress instead of stalemate; inclusion instead of diverse of notes; sacrifice instead of selfishness; hope instead of fear?
  • Can you count on your candidate to espouse a logical plan to mold a successful education program? Will he expand construction, assign competent teachers, and improve instructional methods, rather than implement a voucher program that will siphon off needed funds which can be better used for solving known problems in the Education System.
  • Do you want someone to protect Social Security and veto legislation that would privatize social security and permit the investment of social security funds in a volatile stock market that can crash the year that you retire?
  • Elected governor that will support the successful completion of the case against big tobacco, rather than voting for a candidate that has ulterior motives for delaying final action for political use in advancing his agenda.


We were married 63 years – we don’t give up.

First you need a marriage made in heaven and then you live it.

We don’t give up on each other, we don’t create a situation of choices where one or the other has to consciously concede. The day we were married we made plans to honeymoon in Florida. I had seen a vacation display in a travel agency store front window $39.95 round-trip fare to Miami Florida on the Champion including 10 day hotel, lodgings.

My older sister Lucy claimed she had a due bills that could be used as a coupon at the Hotel McAlpin in Florida, at a cost of two dollars a night for 10 days that cost was $20.

She said we could buy the round-trip tickets directly from the Pennsylvania Railroad at a cost of $24 each I total would be train and hotel for the then magnificent amount of $68 versus $ 159.90.

That was a “great deal,” except it was the day before the wedding, and I hadn’t told my wife to be. On top of that, we had canceled the train reservation and were faced with securing new tickets. The hurdle that was there was no tickets available. When I told my wife she had said it was a crazy idea and this was the day before the wedding. But she was wise from day one – it wasn’t me, it was my sister who did it.

The day of the ceremony we still didn’t have the train tickets – I reviewed the situation in my mind. Since we had canceled the day before it was possible the reservation I turned in it would show up as “open”. Well, luckily for us that is what did happen when we came up with the trainmaster. One more hurdle – my wife had expressed a preference for the hotel New Yorker. I had canceled our reservation when I realized the Champion left from the Hotel Pennsylvania. And she didn’t know I had changed our honeymoon hotel from the New Yorker to the hotel Pennsylvania. This meant changing from the Hotel Pennsylvania to the Hotel New Yorker.





Figure #13.1 A Poem, A Reflection

It was during this time in 1993 that I did something that I thoroughly enjoy; working within the confines of the education system. As a volunteer at the East Lake High School just up the road apiece from our house, I was very much at home helping at the school. It also got me involved with a project that was also very much to my liking. It would be working on a new library for our area. Being that I spent a good deal of my youth at the New York Public Library and always surrounding myself in a learning environment, the opportunity presented itself to lend a hand on getting the proper facility in place that would serve this growing community. There were a few bumps in the road; one, we were ousted from our rent free one-room storefront as a paying tenant moved in. And although we did manage to find another storefront in the nearby shopping center it was totally inadequate for our needs. It became evident that county and state monies would be needed to obtain the right combination of location and an adequate facility to house the new library. In working with the group I offered and utilized some of my past experience in whatever assistance to get to hasten the construction and opening of the library. The articles and pictures below depict progress being made on this new addition as the East Lake Community Library. The Grand Opening of the library incurred on October 30, 1999. In the picture below of the article, “East Lake gets ‘little Jewel’ of the library,” shows the entrance to the library being completed and included a brick façade displaying individuals that help make this library possible. Naturally Thelma and I were very pleased and honored to have our names added with the other sponsors.

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Figures #13.2 and #13.3 Articles about the Opening of the East Lake Community Library October 30, 1999

Most people like to contribute and I definitely concur with the adage, “what goes around comes around” and throughout my life I’ve been most fortunate that I’ll come in contact with people who I think I treated them as equal or not over stepped my boundaries but I went out my way to help others and treat others as you would like to be treated yourself. A case in point happen to be in 1998. Thelma and I, her sister Renee and her family as she and her kids husband regularly attended services. My son was also there with us and we would to go to Friday night Shabbat service. Afterwards at this particular service there was the potential new members that attended and were invited to find out more about the Congregation, prayer services, community activities and other incidentals such as religious schools and daycare, etc. There was a gentleman at the table partaking of refreshments who seemed to be a little unfamiliar with the surroundings. So I went over to introduce myself and see if I could be of any help. I remember his name being Bob Mintz and his wife was Carolyn. He seemed like a very positive person with the temperament that would make for a good congregant. I explained how our family was very much a part of Temple B’nai Israel and shared that and told him about why this congregation was special and we chatted for a while and he seemed sincerely interested and I was glad that I had the opportunity make them feel comfortable here at the Temple.

I said you never know what a small feel-good gesture could result in. While this little act making someone feel comfortable came back tenfold so to speak. As it turned out Mr. Mintz and his wife Carolyn and their family joined the Temple. But he didn’t just join the Temple but got involved in the Temple and indeed involved and involved so much so that he served two terms as president which meant that he was involved with the activities prior to that and subsequently continued in many functions after finishing his terms of office as newsletter editor and the Internet and activities that have made a difference not only in the Temple but to the entire community which is a major objective for our Temple. So this is just another example of trying to do the right thing and it usually comes back many times over.

I did manage to keep abreast of the Social Security debates and felt that Seniors would be disenfranchised if there would be wholesale stock trading by people betting, gambling or whatever they are calling it and made my voice heard. Please don’t tinker with senior’s right to a safe and secure retirement.

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Figure #13.4 Response from Congr. Michael Bilirakis on concerns for changes to Social Security, Figure #13.5 Article from Charlie Reese, and Figure #13.6 Article from Frank Kaiser “Don’t gamble and roll the dice with our Social Security.”

In the last posting I shared with you part of the interview with my Cousin Haim Matalon who came to visit us in Florida from his home in Tel Aviv, Israel. It was during the Gulf War, when Israel was pitted against an array of Middle East nations. Haim and his wife, Yona fled the Scud missiles from the war in the Middle East, and sought refuge with my wife and I. They left their family in Tel Aviv – 3 daughters, and their husbands and 9 grand children. The final part of the story will appear in the book.

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Figures #13.7, #13.8, #13.9, #13.10, #13.11 2nd part excerpts from interview with my cousin Haim visiting from Israel during 1st Gulf War.

Figure #13.12 Picture of Thelma and me with Haim and his wife Yona at a family gathering in Toronto, Canada

Vignette on Patriotism

Patriotism is basic, but its reach is undefinable, its touch is symbolic and its meaning depends on personal conditions and extraneous situations. It’s strange that this subject is treated weakly in the weekend section of the Wall Street Journal “the new patriotism” June 28, 1998. At this time I’m in the midst of a self-styled bio of 82 years although the bio is in the embryo embryonic stage, there creeps through the hint of a certain kind of patriotism – proudly felt but seldom expressed. I have never been called upon to verbally express my relationship to my country. Looking backward I never committed myself to patriotism – it was imbued in me, and essentially by all of us. It was like taking a conscious turn after the depression, induction into the service just like with all the other people had to do and that’s how the service and my thoughts became to develop into a patriotic bond. You have to be lucky, if you’re not lucky, then you have to be able to rationalize everything that happens to you as normal and unavoidable and make it acceptable. And think positive.

And having a family that I cherish helps keep this feeling of loving our country burn even brighter when I think of what it has offered me. As I have stated numerous times, it is not something easily returned. You live it everyday, and the debt doesn’t go away. I see it in my wife’s loving eyes, my devoted children and now the “next generation” – my adoring grand-daughters who are coming into a life of their own. They are going forth in this great “Land of Opportunity” that I once was able to do and have every chance of success. My oldest granddaughter, Diana happened to be selected to become a Page at the State Capital in Annapolis, Maryland. It just would happen during the orientation of the group the Governor at that time, Paris Glendening welcomed them. Coincidentally enough that in their being introduced Diana asked the Governor if he remembered her uncle, Bill Sefekar, he was Bill’s graduate advisor when Gov. Glendening was at the University of Maryland’s Graduate School for Government and Politics. It didn’t hurt that he also managed to do some campaign work in his free time, helping in the governor’s early campaigns for office. It was a nice kind of segue way when the governor acknowledged remembering her uncle and asked about what he has been doing. My granddaughter replied, he was a Senior Transportation Planner for Hillsborough County Government in Tampa, Florida.

My other granddaughter Beth has fared equally as well. She graduated from Sherwood High School, the same one that Diana graduated from 5 years earlier. The Commencement Exercise was also held at Constitution Hall in Washington DC.  There was a special sense of pride when as class president Beth was asked to give the Commencement Talk to the filled Hall that included many noted individuals including Tony Bennett, whose granddaughter was in the graduating class. She impressed not only her family but the entire Constitution Hall with her words: “Reflections on the Future by Beth Landau.” The opening of her speech refers to the lyrics of a popular song at the time, “I Hope You Dance,” by Lee Ann Womack. It’s a beautiful talk and gave us such a special feeling that Thelma and I produced such commendable children and their offspring. It gives me great pleasure to share this with you. Maybe the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree after all.


Figure #13.13 Our Granddaughter, Beth’s High School Graduation Commencement Address at Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C.

These are certainly words befitting any one, young and old alike.

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Figure #13.14 Crossword puzzle from August 1, 1998, Figure #13.15 The significance of this particular one

The next three commentaries put into perspective some of my dalliances with growing older. Sometimes making light of things, smooths over the rough edges, as I like to say. In the article by Jay Horning; “A life that’s more tasted than wasted,” he talks about the things he would’ve liked to have done, Like never having had a ride on a motorcycle, flown on the Concorde, etc. and then compiled the list of the things that he did do; the experiences that he had had. I am in that frame of mind, there are many wonderful, challenging, memorable things that are part of my spirit and soul. And what makes it more remarkable was that my life’s partner, Thelma was there with me at my side every step of the way. So there’s not much of a bucket list so to speak that I would change much, but share with you all – That life is too short and too sweet not to give it the “Best ride possible.”

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Figure #13.16 Thoughts on turning 80, Figure #13.17 on “A Life that’s more tasted than wasted


Figure #13.18 “What is a Senior Citizen”

Thelma and I still made every effort to keep busy and enjoy our fruitful years doing what we wanted. Takes the edge off of people asking you: “Why are you doing this, what made you do that for and shouldn’t you be doing something else.” Well we fooled them. We go to baseball games, we go on trips, Thelma plays mahjong, girl things and I keep busy keeping track of the market and imbuing my thoughts to my grandchildren, nieces and nephews. They also know they can expect a “new word of the day,” and that if they don’t know it, they will have to find out or pay the piper.


Figure #13.19 Taking in a Tampa Bay Rays ball game at Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, FL 1999 with Thelma, Bonnie and Billy

This concludes Part 1 of Chapter 13 Settling Back: It was a Great Ride!!

Next weeks Blog posting will be one of the last one’s with an Epilogue to follow as we prepare for publication of the book.


Copyright © 2016      William Sefekar

** Material will appear in book.

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