My Turn: Living his dreams after retirement

Jim Connors of Syosset, who has been singing Jim Connors of Syosset, who has been singing with a choral group for the past 10 years, feels "very fortunate to have been offered a comfortable platform to fulfill my fantasies late in life."

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After the birth of our daughter, my wife and I moved to Syosset in 1980. We have lived here ever since.

I was born in Astoria in 1937. My wife was born in the Pelham section of the Bronx. Astoria, in the 1940s and '50s, was a hardworking blue-collar area inhabited by a preponderance of second-generation immigrants. As long as I can remember, there was always a variety of sporting games going on in the street -- stoop ball, punch ball, stick ball.

I lived within walking distance of William Cullen Bryant, a public high school that had a baseball field, a softball area, basketball courts and a handball wall. In a short time, I became a sports junkie. I played baseball and basketball in high school and was fortunate enough to be a recipient of a baseball scholarship to college.

After college and a stint in the military, I worked in insurance by day and took education classes at night. I taught social studies for 33 years at the high school and middle school level; the last 29 years in the Baldwin school district.

In retirement, I did some private tutoring and some soup kitchen volunteering. In addition, I began to pursue some lifelong fantasies. I wrote some articles and was trying to get published. I picked up a local Syosset newspaper and, as fate would have it, they were looking for someone to cover the monthly Board of Education meetings.

For the last 16 years, I have been freelance reporting and writing human interest articles. I've had more than 200 articles published.

I always enjoyed singing. In Astoria, there was an aspiring singer named Anthony Benedetto, who became known as Tony Bennett.

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Syosset is in the Town of Oyster Bay, which offers a host of activities for seniors and other groups. I discovered a senior choral group looking for singers. We practice one hour a week and put on shows for neighborhood nursing homes and two shows for the public at our clubhouse at the Syosset-Woodbury Community Park.

I have been with the group for 10 years and have been doing solos for the last six years. I have been very fortunate to have been offered a comfortable platform to fulfill my fantasies late in life. I will never be a Tony Bennett, but my pipe dreams have been realized.

Jim Connors,
Syosset

SHARING THE NEWS

I love the columns in Act 2 and send them to friends and family, and they send it on. We have lots of "Round Robin" letters. There are 73 of us still alive, and there's always a catch-up Christmas letter. They all contain both good and bad news -- and only what is real (no Nobel Prizes, so far!).

@Newsday

There used to be more than 73, but many have died. Of course, we all still make phone calls, too. Many of us don't have computers or can't text message. Thank goodness for Xerox! I have a big file cabinet of all the letters.

I am now 91 years old and have been doing it every year since after high school and college when many of us weren't close enough to see each other. I wrote to all the U.S. servicemen and married one of them.

I was born in Salem, Ore., and attended Willamette University there. When I graduated in 1945 at the end of World War II, I moved to Brooklyn to marry the serviceman who had been stationed in Salem before going overseas. He died in 2009, and I moved to Levittown where my only child, Mark Edwards, lives. He is a professor of physics at Hofstra University.

I've been a social worker and then a combined teacher/social worker at Rikers Island and in a school for severely emotionally disturbed teenagers. I retired at age 71 -- have done substitute teaching, volunteer work, etc. A terrific life!

Ilona Edwards,
Levittown

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