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We took these comments by Jean Pond from the discussion on fashion in the forum:

I'd like to see some pressure for an improvement in the marketing to older women. There are lots of attractive older women but few advertisers use the real thing. With this central casting mentality, we have trouble finding anyone to relate to.

There is one fragile old lady who seems to have a corner on the elderly women's market. She is about to fall into her petunias and keeps saying that she "wants to live to be a hundred." Even other fragile possible consumers are turned off by her ever-presence.

Let's retire June Allyson, give her some Kegel exercises and that new non-prescription drug and release her. Surely there must be some other ordinary mortal who is believable, photogenic and wears "Depends."

The mailbox is filled with catalogs full of nymphs in sleeveless tops and dresses this time of year. They appear to be about thirty years from their first liver spot. Those dental floss panties may be fashionable, but they wouldn't be comfortable on my anatomy; Bikini waxing is not recommended for octogenarians.

Why should I have to shop the week before Mother's Day to find a sweater that doesn't stop north of my navel. My position about skirt lengths is pretty much like the Duchess of Windsor's: she said that regardless of fashion she wore her skirts the same length because her legs stayed the same. That means that many dresses off the rack are too short for me. Granted, this friendly critique is extreme.

With careful planning I can still look reasonably well groomed and a couple of years younger than my actual age, but it isn't easy. I'd like to see the fashion world admit our growing presence. The bargaining chips are our discretionary income and our vote. Let's use them both effectively.

Dear Editor:

I designed a website for our local widows and widowers social group. I get hits from all over the world. All with the same request: the name of a similar group in their area. Do you know if there is a central directory that serves the needs of widows and widowers? I'd be interested in your feedback on this subject. Thanks. Roz via E-Mail

Editor's Note: Her website is the Widows & Widowers Group

Dear Editor:

Are we never to come together as a nation and a united front against negatives in campaigns? Or are we forever to be seeking power for one group or another. We must make our minds.

I think lowering taxes is good for poor and middle class. They pay a great deal of the taxes, most, I would say. The super rich have foundations and such so that they don't care what the tax rate is. Granted a family may save $400 on a tax bill (example) but $400 while not being a fortune, is enough to pay for school clothes, shoes for the family, and a good part of a dental bill. I don't understand why lowering taxes should be such a problem.

I think education is extremely important. Teachers and politicians may all send their own children to private schools, but perish the thought of the general public being allowed to having vouchers and schools of choice. Afraid parents will desert the public schools? Well then get rid of the administrations and pay more for books, teachers, classrooms. Isn't that logical?

Abortion is legal. What is so political about that except to win votes of poorly educated women who want to have choice?

Another bit of nonsense is "Republicans are for the rich and Democrats are for the poor." What about the huge middle class? Reportedly, 75% of American wage earners possess stocks, bonds and savings. Instead of using slogans like choice and rich, we ought to be looking at what all of these "issues" mean to the American people.

Teddy Hills via E-mail

Dear Mary,

I enjoyed your article on politics (Take Five, Politics in the Family) very much. My views on politics are pretty much the same as yours, and my husband and yours agree, too. I never mention politics unless I want an explosion and to be told how stupid I am and that because my husband and I own property I 'must' be a Republican!! I must admit I do mention this just to needle him now and then! I always vote and we always cancel each other out. Drives him nuts! Of course, I'm the one who almost always loses my vote; only rarely does someone I've voted for get elected.

I, too, enjoy Hillary. I think she's great. All my "men" (husband and two grown sons) get absolutely violent when her name is brought up. Strange. Or maybe not so strange - here in the mid-west (Missouri) people - especially the men - are very conservative and make no allowances for differences. Strong, intelligent women are looked upon with suspicion and, actually, hatred. My men all think Rush Limbaugh (from right here in my home town!) with his "femi-nazi" (sp?) label for any woman who stands up for herself is right on.

Esther via e-mail from Mo.

Dear Margaret,

I enjoyed your piece tremendously - you and I share many of the same memories of the men who started flying in those early days, even before the Harlan airport was built. I went with my Dad to a little airport near Marne, IA. My Dad and two other men owned a Piper Cub - bright yellow with a big #5 painted on the side and NC27974, painted on the wings. What absolute joy it was to fly with my Dad!

Mom wouldn't fly with him because "one of the family needed to keep her feet on the ground, just in case!" I'm not sure she really wanted to fly anyway. I remember doing barrel rolls and spins, flying through wispy clouds and loving every minute. When the Harlan airport was being built my dad, a road engineer by profession, helped lay out the runways. Men pitched in to plant and harvest the corn crop that grew around the field and profits went to airport maintenance. Flight breakfasts were exciting, watching all the planes landing and listening to all of the plane talk.

I married a dashing young man who only wanted to fly and marked time at ISU until his induction into Cadet Flight Training came due. We were married after he graduated from training in l956 and he spent 10 years in the U.S. Air Force. Later he became a pilot for TWA until his retirement. Our son, David, received his private license at age 16 and during one of his cross-country flights took me on a nostalgic trip from Kansas City to the Harlan airport. I must admit I was a bit nervous, yet found myself feeling absolutely giddy when we landed at the Harlan airport. Mother was there to meet us, and she was so very proud of her grandson that day.

Thanks again for reminding me of those wonderful days.

Joan Camery Prather via E-mail

Dear Editor

It has never been possible for the young to fathom what the old get out of life, because they are simply too young to appreciate it -- as I used to feel when I was very little that life had passed my parents by because they no longer enjoyed sitting on the floor reading the funny papers.

Madison Avenue tends to disappear up its own navel. They select for similarity, and never encounter any diversity of viewpoint. This applied when no one who worked in advertising could be overweight, so all advertising to the plus sized community appeared on willow-thin models. It was a shock to them when advertisers who filled their catalog with women of the size that would actually wear the clothing got all the business.

Remember the "Ring Around the Collar" ads around the time women's liberation got off the ground? I knew a number of women totally infuriated by this concept of them as having the most vital issue in their life how clean the laundry was, and the attempt to shame them by making them responsible for their husband's appearance. As my more liberated friends and I remarked, "Why not nag the guy to wash his neck once in a while?"

The same myopic view of the elderly is a picture of people on low fixed incomes with no spending power, living on dog food. Since most of the wealth in this country is concentrated in the hands of older people, this is a very self defeating point of view.

Once upon a time teenagers and young people with generous parents had disposable income and spendthrift habits, but not today, with housing and food prices where they are -- parents simply cannot afford them, even with two incomes. However, if they want to waste their advertising dollars on teenagers, who are we to say them nay?

We have much better resources for finding the products and services we want than the kids, after a lifetime of practice, and we also tend to remember who our friends are, while teenagers are much more forgetful in this regard. Modern Maturity is going about it all wrong, though. (Editor's note: they're reducing their advertising rates.) They need to hike their ad prices above those of the magazines for the young, pointing out that their space is more valuable, since it targets the people who actually have money enough to buy things. No one values what comes too cheap.

Inki in California via e-mail

Dear Editor:

Still enjoying, especially the Letters Column -- reading it is like sharing thoughts and a camaraderie with my peers. The letter asking for a makeup and skincare column ) interested me because I'm a senior model who does skincare shows once a month on national TV, demonstrating many different products in a two hour period.

I've always dreamed of living the motorhome lifestyle, so after reading all the books on RVs I could find, I went out and purchased one. I've taken it on three shakedown cruises and I can say, unequivocally, that the reality is even better than the dream. Housework never held the joy for me that this "coach" does. I love cleaning it. I enjoy learning about the engine, the generator, how to keep the gray water and black water tanks balanced. I even like reading the manual about the electrical and propane aspects.

For those who are not familiar with this lifestyle, it's a growing phenomenon. In my opinion, the best book on the subject is "Over The Next Hill", an ethnography of RVing seniors in North America, by Dorothy & David Counts. I will sample the full-time RVers life when on the road finding places like campgrounds, libraries and truckstops to plug into when traveling. I took my 33 ft.-long motorhome in for an oil change today and asked the mechanic to put it up on the lift so I could take a picture of it. He thought it was pretty funny, but I saw it as documentation. I'll stay tuned to your site, and try to post something from the road.

Anita Shumway, Publisher, ROADSONG, Traveling with Anita.

Dear Editor,

I turned 60 and am retiring as an Administrative aide at the National Institutes of Health. I'm looking for something interesting to do until age 65; I have good computer and excellent interpersonal skills, a great deal of energy and splendid health. If you have received similar correspondence, to what resources did you direct these inquiries?

Thanks for your help. Helene Shapiro

Helene: We have gathered some resources for you and added these on our employment page.

Dear Senior Women Readers:

Readers who have enjoyed David Westheimer's wry humor in SeniorWomenWeb should do themselves a favor and check out their local libraries and out-of-print book sources for his novels. "Going Public", which is hard to find but worth the search, is uniquely clever and funny.

But David has a lot more than humor to offer. Von Ryan's Express, which many will remember as the movie starring Frank Sinatra years ago, is masterful; and his poignant "My Sweet Charlie" is very touching. "Sitting It Out", a memoir of his 869 days as a prisoner of war during World War II reads like a novel; it's hard to put down. He reminds me of Meryl Streep--no he doesn't look like her!--but like Meryl and her movies, all of David's works are completely different.

Rose Mula via e-mail

Dear Julia,

Your swimsuit article on the Senior Women web page was right on target and really hit me - I just spent last Saturday trying on swimsuits until I just couldn't stand it! Prior to that I had tried to order from a couple of catalogs; the suits were just awful. The size charts meant nothing. The fabrics were thin and the suits were just plain ugly!

I, too, am a serious swimmer. We have a pool at home and I love to swim. Yes, I use up swimsuits, too. Oddly enough I bought a very good suit from AVON - yep - my Avon lady and her little sales catalog. The suit is basically black with a little leopard trim. The tummy area is criss crossed and the fabric is heavy. I find one should wear a size smaller than they think (ahem - I take a 14 that way).

Thanks for the sympathy article. I'm 61 and still put in a full day in my printing and awards business but swimming helps to keep me in shape.

Pat Lehman, Lehman Graphics Center Beebe, AR

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