The Coast News Group

Senior citizens have stories to tell — and they’re writing them

Seniors are writing, writing well, and writing profoundly whether it is an entertaining fiction piece, a novel or heartwarming life story. They have mastered the computer, found retail stores that still sell manual typewriters and ribbon, and for Marie Waterman, 91 and nearly blind, a magnified computer screen. “I took shorthand typewriting in high school,” she recalled, “and after Pearl Harbor I even did teletype.”
Marie lost her vision in 1998 but with the help of her magnified computer screen she has bucked the odds. She is a member of a creative writer’s group at Fairwinds Ivey Ranch Retirement Home in Oceanside. Although she is still an excellent typist, proofing for misspelled words, typewritten flubs or changing a word using a hand-held magnifying glass is not easy. “It’s the corrections that are hard to make, (but) coming to class has helped immensely,” she said. Nonetheless, her poor vision has not kept her from creative writing.
Marie has always liked to write but doubted her self until she was encouraged by a writing teacher at UCSB. “But I never did anything with it.” She first came to the Fairwinds’ class to work on stories and essays previously written and with the class’ help, wished to put them together in a collection. There was the article about her husband’s death, how she helped her children and they helped her through their loss, the annual blooms of a Chinese magnolia tree outside the residence dining room window that reminded her of him, a long ago Thanksgiving family dinner in a snow bound cabin, and “Airborne in a Basket” recounting a balloon ride over Del Mar.
Hearing her stories read aloud by other classmates has been an incentive. And when the magnolia story and the Thanksgiving piece, “Hiking in With the Turkey” were published in LIV Fun, a slick in-house publication, Marie was ready to expand her horizons. And not at all overlooked, included in the November/December issue of LIV Fun, was a thoughtful and meaningful poem “Time” by Rena Coburn, also a Fairwinds writer. Marie is currently working on two stories for the popular senior publication Good Old Days.
Good Old Days is a bimonthly publication and Looking Back tells true-life stories of people who lived and grew up in “the good old days” between 1935 and 1965. The magazine and book are beautifully produced color publications with a mailed circulation across America.
According to Ken Tate the editor, “We like stories to sound conversational … as long as they are true and fall within our targeted period of time. We look for real stories: happy, sad, the good, the bad and humor is a plus.” Preferred length is 500 to 1,500 words and old photos are a definite plus. There is a small remittance depending on the manuscript’s length, how much editing is required, if any, and photos. Tate stresses they do not accept inappropriate themes or vulgar language. For further information about Good Old Days or Looking Back, write to 306 E. Parr Rd., Berne, IN 46711.
Marie is busy with her Good Old Days stories but is reminded by her sister, “that time is running out” and she should be writing down more about their life. Marie merely smiles and quickly relates a new plot.
Recapturing and recording written memories is a rewarding and creative endeavor not only for seniors but an inspiration for the next generation.