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My Turn: A love affair with a '41 Plymouth

The My Turn letter entitled "A love affair with a first car" (Act 2, July 7) brought back many wonderful memories that I, an 80-year-old woman, had tucked away. My love affair with my first car also encompassed my first love.

I was about to enter my junior year at Freeport High School in 1947. My summer job at Jones Beach was in jeopardy because transportation was a real problem. My dad owned a collision and auto repair shop on Merrick Road -- and miraculously there appeared one of the last 1941 cars to be manufactured before World War II.

I came with a long history on Long Island. I was born in 1931 in South Nassau Communities Hospital. My mother was born 115 years ago in Farmingdale. Her father and mother owned a general store, which later became Kranzler's Department Store.

The car from my dad's shop had been an estate car on Long Island's North Shore. To me, it was the most beautiful car I have ever seen. That was then, in 1947, and it still is the most wonderful car I have ever owned.

It was a maroon, two-door Plymouth. I know that doesn't sound exciting, so I will elaborate. My car was a convertible, and it had a rumble seat. I was in heaven and packed the car with my friends and fellow workers, and off to Jones Beach we went.

Now, my best friend and possibly my "first love" was Ed White, aka Edwin Harold White Jr. Newsday had a contest that year named "The Blind Date Contest" for graduating students. Ed was captain of the football team. He was in the honor society and played the piano magnificently. I decided to enter him in the contest and went about collecting signatures for the required petition.

Ed was very popular, but I offered rumble seat rides for signatures. I was very successful, and Newsday accepted him as a candidate. All those who were accepted went through interviews by a group of judges. Ed won!

The night he went out on his date with a female from Mepham High School, I was at his home to see him off. A big limo arrived to pick him up. He looked very handsome in the tux, which Newsday had provided. I must admit I was a little jealous but also filled with pride.

Time took care of those carefree days. Ed went off to Alfred University. I stayed home with my great car -- finished high school, went to Hofstra College -- became engaged to a boy from Hempstead whose family owned the Hempstead All Fine Arts Theaters (long gone).

My dad took back my beautiful car when I married -- but he couldn't take away those great memories and those wonderful days of youth, when love was in the air and on the road in my Plymouth convertible with a rumble seat.

--Barbara Leff Grimpel, Floral Park



Trying to leave stress behind


Most people, in my experience, don't enjoy their jobs. I had no trouble downshifting from my very stressful job to semiretirement at age 55.

I am not lost without work as an "anchor" in my life. Retirement or semiretirement does not have to be unstructured, unless you make it so. My life is just as structured now as it was when I was working, without the stress of commuting or slaving away at a job where my efforts were never appreciated or rewarded by my superiors.

I developed a bacterial infection of the heart called endocarditis at age 51. My cardiologist told me that my immune system was most likely weakened by my stressful job, and it could not fight off the bacterial infection. I was fortunate to be eligible for a pension after 32 years of working with the Social Security Administration. So, I took my pension at age 55 and have never looked back.

I wanted to keep working as a legal assistant because I always had an interest in the law, but to quote a letter in My Turn, "once you give up your job, it's hard to land the next one," especially if you are age 55 or older.

Let's be honest, there is blatant age discrimination, especially in this economy with continued high unemployment. I am age 62. Between age 55 and 62, I have had 10 full- or part-time jobs and have been laid off from all of them. I have never been given the chance to work as a legal assistant, despite going to literally hundreds of interviews with law firms and earning a paralegal certificate.

Despite my abilities and experience, I am convinced no law firm will hire me because of my age. So, I have taken any job I could get in the past seven years. My last layoff was on Jan. 23, and I have continued to look since then, unsuccessfully, for my next job. If I am never hired again, I am not and will not be lost without work as an anchor in my life.

I am tired of financial media writers basically telling people they must keep working until they drop dead to make sure they don't outlive their money and have an anchor in their lives. There is another life to live after working your whole life, especially if you never enjoyed your job.

--Philip Martone, Williston Park

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