A Westchester Writer Reflects on Aging and Turning 70

On the 27th of this month at precisely 2 a.m., I will turn the ripe old age of 70, thereby officially joining Westchester’s growing army of septuagenarians.

On the 27th of this month at precisely 2 a.m., I will turn the ripe old age of 70, thereby officially joining Westchester’s growing army of septuagenarians.

I have some concerns about being 70.

Foremost is the issue of my pants — they are slowly but surely creeping above the normal beltline and moving closer and closer to the rarefied vicinity of my armpits. Clinically speaking, this condition is owed to a flattening of the posterior, which, for men, is a chronic symptom of aging. The diminishment of the gluteus maximus results in a constant heisting and re-heisting of the destabilized trousers. Before long, it becomes a challenge to keep one’s pants on at all.

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Incidentally, I am not the first to observe this peculiar geriatric condition. Credit must be given to Calvin Trillin, a writer of great wit who had not only studied the malady in detail but even gave it a name: Disappearing Tush Syndrome, or DTS.

Adobe Stock/ Motortion

There is no treatment for DTS. However, it helps to have a strong pair of suspenders.

At this point, I will dispense with useless advice and silly bromides along the lines of “10 reasons I’m tickled pink to be 70.” If you are this old, you don’t need me to tell you how to feel. But holy-mental-competency-test Batman, 1954 sure was a long time ago.

So long ago, in fact, that there were still people around who could remember the Civil War, including some who claimed they fought it in. My first dentist was a white-haired gentleman named Hartranft who as a young man had also worked on the ancient teeth of Buffalo Bill Cody when Cody visited New Rochelle at the age of — you guessed it — 70. My gums hurt just thinking about it.

Westchester was very different in 1954. There was no Cross-Westchester Expressway or Thomas E. Dewey Thruway. There was no Sprain Brook Parkway, no Indian Point nuclear power plant, no Mario Cuomo Bridge or its predecessor, the Tappan Zee Bridge. The landscape was void of solar panels, electric charging stations, and cell towers. There was HiFi but no WiFi. The Westchester County Airport consisted of two Quonset huts.

Phil Resiman
Photo by Stefan Radtke

The diminishment of the gluteus maximus results in a constant heisting and re-heisting of the destabilized trousers.

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There was no such thing as a corporate Platinum Mile in 1954; there was no Zoom, no Casual Fridays, or quiet resignations. The only Google that existed was Barney Google, a character in an unfunny cartoon strip.

On April 28, the day after I entered the world kicking and screaming, the Cross County Shopping Center — “the world’s largest shopping center” — opened on “20 beautiful acres” in Yonkers. The gala event featured a list of guest stars, among them Henny Youngman, Martha Raye, and Morey Amsterdam. To remember them you must be at least 70.

Seventy years ago, a White Plains man by the name of Richard F. Crandell wrote a book titled, This is Westchester, A Study of Suburban Living. The author thought 1954 was the perfect year for his project since it marked the 300th anniversary of the founding of the county’s first permanent English settlement, the Manor of Pelham.

Crandell was a local history buff, who gave talks on esoteric subjects such as “public entertainment in White Plains since 1683.” He vigorously lobbied for billboards to be placed along the Bronx River Parkway advertising the site of the Battle of White Plains, an idea that was rejected. He was also a Democratic party gadfly, having run unsuccessfully for White Plains mayor in 1949 when Republicans dominated Westchester politics.

A decent writer, his book on Westchester was what you would expect — a gushing tour de force of community pride and boosterism that was heartily endorsed by the stolid Babbitts of business and commerce. The county, he wrote, was “the master bedroom” of New York City, a place of wealth, ambition, and good taste. From his perspective, it was a suburban paradise, and a very white paradise at that. His book was packed with 500 photographs, none of which showed a single person of color.

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Still, Crandell decried the high cost of homes — the majority of which cost under $25,000.

“What we need in Westchester are more medium-priced homes,” he wrote, “and if we don’t get them, we are going to lose to other suburban areas of the metropolis a mighty fine lot of people.”

Some things never change.

On that note, I will stop here to observe the miraculous longevity of Keith Richards, a hard-living member of the Rolling Stones who nobody believed would live to see 40, let alone 70.

He is now going on 81.

Now if you will excuse me, I need to find a pair of suspenders.

The opinions and beliefs expressed by Phil Reisman are his alone and do not necessarily reflect those of Westchester Magazine’s editors and publishers. Tell us what you think at edit@westchestermagazine.com.

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