How to Stay Beautiful At Any Age

Photos by Stefan Radtke

– Betsy Berry, 66 –

What’s a typical day like for you?
I wake up in a very positive mood. I embrace the day. I get up and I organize my day and set a direction, and my key is to get everything I have to get done before noon. Then, in the afternoon, I can go for a walk on the beach or take a hike with a friend or go explore the farms upstate.

What does aging mean to you?
It sounds like a cliché, but age is pretty much a number. I think the key to maintaining your happiness and the calmness within you is to be happy with yourself. Step away from the mirror; stop critiquing yourself. I was in the limelight, as a model, for almost 50 years; I lived all over the world, so I know what it’s like to be scrutinized.

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After I had a brain aneurysm two years ago, my life changed completely. The way I look at life now is not the way I looked at life then. [I thought:] I need to change my life. What’s important is what’s inside of me.

What do you do to stay active?
I’m at the Wainwright House in Rye four mornings a week, doing yoga. I can ride my bike there. People look at me like I’m crazy, but I love swimming in the Sound. I’m an avid gardener and farmer. I’m a private chef; my business is called Hamptons Get It Done.

Having been a model for so long, do you have a special beauty routine?
I attribute [my looks] to my genes. As far as taking care of myself, I like to feel clean. My rule of thumb when I was a model was: If I can’t eat it, I’m not going to put it on my body. I’ve started to exfoliate every day with Goop. I don’t wear makeup. I’ve worn Lancôme Bienfait Teinté for years.

I’ll put on lip gloss and maybe a little bit of mascara, but that’s really it. I think once you start trying to hide stuff, it becomes more apparent. Being balanced is the biggest beauty routine. It’s nothing that you put on your skin. It’s how you are as a human being.

What are your thoughts on plastic surgery, fillers, Botox?
People say I’ve had plastic surgery, and I say I never have. I will admit I get poked between the eyes every once in a while [with Botox], but that’s it. Your whole body has to work together.

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When you put your hands to your face, your hands need to match your face, otherwise it looks weird.

You modeled for Clairol hair color years ago. What are your thoughts on going gray?
I like being natural. I’ve been natural for probably the last 20 years.

As you’re a private chef, what’s your diet like?
Everything in moderation. I love vegetables. I always try to keep a crudité in the refrigerator. I don’t eat things that are bad for me. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about my weight, I think that’s because I have a very high metabolism and I’m active.

Three tips for younger people?
Find your passion. Fall in love with you. Give as much as you can.

– Andy Feinstein, 72 –
White Plains

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What is a typical day like for you?
I’ll wake up and read some newspapers, which says that I’m older because most people would do that on their computers, phones, or laptops. Then, I’ll go to the gym. On a lucky day, I’ll get to play with my three grandkids. When it’s warmer out, I’ll play golf three or four times a week.

How do you stay youthful?
I’m in the gym at least three to four times a week. I do a lot of stretching; I swim, play with my grandkids, and play golf. Usually, during the spring, summer, and well into the fall, I get to walk 18 holes, and I have a great time. So the key is to stay healthy and active.

Have you been active your whole life?
Yes, I have been. I played ball a lot when I was younger: softball, tennis, some basketball. Then, once [my wife and I] had kids, I played with them; I coached them. I found way to fit in [staying active] while I was working.

What is your professional background?
I am retired. I was in broadcast journalism most of my life — sales management. I was the marketing director for the 1984 Winter Olympic Games — that was a lot of fun.

What is your diet like?
I watch what I eat. I don’t eat a lot of beef. I eat chicken and seafood, fruits and vegetables.

Do you think social activity is important to health?
Yes, absolutely. That’s part of being active, whether it’s going out or engaging with other people. We belong to a country club, which is where I play a lot of golf.  We see a lot of people there and socialize through that, and that’s helpful, as well.

Do you have any tips for the younger set?
I was very fortunate to find a woman, my wife of 47 years, and together we make a great team. We stay active; we watch what we eat; we get rest; have a glass of wine now and then. I guess we’re somewhat lucky, but maybe we’ve made some of our luck, too.

Do you have any tips for your younger self?
I believed in it early on: Being healthy and staying active would be the right thing to do. I would suggest making sure you always find time for yourself and do stretching and different things in the gym to stay strong. Keep your mind and body active.

– Alfred Abbatiello, 84 –

What’s a typical day like for you?
I usually get up around 6, 6:30 a.m. I feel that I’m at my best in the morning. Three days a week, weather permitting, I bike with friends. In the summer, we play regular tennis. I play platform tennis in the winter. I do that with a group of people relatively my age. They range from about 60 on up to maybe late 70s. There’s just a handful in their 80s, like I am.

What is your professional background?
I retired from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel. I had 28 good, commissioned years. After I completed active duty, I joined the Reserve. I also worked for the NYC Department of Personnel. I retired from that department when I was 60.

I didn’t want to stop working, but I didn’t want to do the work I was doing, which was five days a week, putting in a lot of hours. I wanted something I would enjoy more and didn’t have to work so many hours. I took a job at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and worked in the Cadet Library. I thought I was going to work for maybe five years, until I was 65; instead, I stayed until I was past 70 and then I finally said maybe it was time for me to stop working altogether.

What’s most important to you as you grow older?
My wife — no doubt about that. I wouldn’t have had the life I’ve had without her by my side, supporting me and helping me along the way. I feel very, very blessed about that.

Any secrets to living well?
You have to keep going. I was fortunate that I enjoyed sports since I was a child. As I got older, I changed the sports that I play. I no longer belong to a baseball team [laughs]; I’m not playing any football, but I switched to tennis, biking, hiking, walking.

I noticed that some friends became more or less sedentary — many of them much younger than I am. Now, they’re less flexible. I think they’re not as strong as I am, and they don’t get around as well. I think that’s because I continued to do the things that I like doing, physical exercise.

I exercise at home almost every morning… stretching, pushups; I use light weights; sometimes I’ll go to the gym. I don’t have any secret potions or eat any special food. I eat good food. My wife is an excellent cook.

Any advice for younger people?
Take really good care of your health when you’re young. Because if you’re not healthy or strong, you will not be able to do all the things you may want to do. As you grow older, your mind still thinks of yourself as young. We think we can still go out there and play ball and run.

I pride myself on the fact that I am still able to run and chase the ball. I’m one of the few of the group I play with who is as mobile as I am. If you’re not healthy; if you don’t feel good, you can’t do those things, and if you can’t do them, you become sad. Fortunately, God gave me good genes, I guess.

Do you attribute your faith to living well?
I couldn’t live without faith. There are too many frailties in life. You know you’re going to have hardships and bad times. But my wife and I are basically happy; we live through it, and we have each other. It’s not fun growing older; it’s inevitable. We always have to be thankful for what we have.

What are three tips on staying youthful?
Marry the right person. If you can find the right one, you have a gold mine there. Take good care of yourself to the best of your ability regardless of what your physical attributes are — whatever they are, they are. Don’t stop doing the things you like to do, especially if they involve physical prowess.

– Ida Petro, 95 –
New Rochelle

What’s a typical day for you?
I get up in the morning and make my breakfast. Usually, I make an omelet and some toast and a cup of tea, or oatmeal, cold cereal, and fruit. Sometimes, I have a board of directors meeting for the Pelham Women’s Club.

Then, I straighten up my apartment; I might go out shopping. I used to do volunteer work at the Pelham library, and then I would help out with the church, but I’ve given that up. I still drive. I learned to drive at 72! [Laughs.]

What’s your background?
I’m from Brooklyn and I moved to Pelham when I was 19 years old. I used to work at a trade-association management firm in New York, on 5th Avenue and 42nd. I was there for about 25 years. I did financial work. Occasionally, I would travel. Then we opened up an office in New Rochelle, on Huguenot Street. It was the only skyscraper there, before Trump [Plaza].

I used to walk two miles to work, one way. There was a bus on the corner. Sometimes, the bus would be late, and one day I thought, This is ridiculous. So, I walked to work and I never stopped. For 20 years, I walked four miles a day, and that was the best thing for my health.

What’s your exercise routine now?
I don’t walk as much. I go out for short walks. I’m very active in my apartment. I refuse to have somebody come in and do my housework. I do it because it keeps me limber. I take my time. If get tired, I sit down and watch something, or I’ll read and then go back to cleaning.

But I enjoy it, and I do it the way I want my house to be: nice and clean. I’m very fussy. And I used to go bike-riding all the time. Early Sunday morning, I would go bike-riding around Glen Island. And I played tennis. I did all the sports… I used to ice skate, too.

What advice do you have for young people today?
I remember hiring younger people in the office. One young woman said her father, the chief of police, was always at her, being protective, but I remember telling her one time: “Don’t get annoyed with your father or your parents if they give you some advice. Remember, you can never estimate the love that a parent has for a child. Parents will take the food off their dish and put it in their child’s dish. That’s love.” Don’t hesitate to tell people in the family that you love them. It doesn’t cost you anything. Show them you love them, and they’ll do anything for you.

Tell me about your family life.
I have a nice family. All my nephews tell me I’m the fun aunt. I never married, no children. People used to say, “You’re so young looking and so happy,” so my friend said, “You know why? She never got married!”

What does age mean to you?
I never think about it. I take each day as it comes. I don’t feel old. I think: Ninety-five… holy cow! I still feel young. I love life, and I’m a happy person.

– Ed Malsberg, 100 –

What is your professional background?
I went to art school and graduated in 1940, and almost immediately I was eligible for the draft. I thought I was going to be a wartime artist, so I packed a lot of art supplies. I was sent to work in topography. We mapped the landing in Normandy. Eventually, as the war began to end, I got a transfer to Germany as an artist. I didn’t do much art there, but at least I got out of drawing maps, which I hated. Then, I called up three of my art-school buddies and said, “Let’s go to New York.”
*Editor’s note: Originally from Boston, Malsberg went on to become a celebrated artist, specializing in landscape painting in watercolors and pastels. He has lived in Ossining for the last 65 years.

How have you kept yourself active?
I swam a lot when I was in my 60s; I swam indoors about three times a week and did exercises. That probably accounts for my living to be 100. I love walking; I don’t swim anymore.

What do you do to stay young?
I ignore it. I just do what I feel like doing. I mean that. I can’t walk far, so that’s too bad. There is a lot of luck to aging. My brother almost made it to 100. Think young, and don’t forget the old stuff [like old music].

Do you have any tips for younger people on aging?
It’s a little hard for me to talk about how to grow old, because it’s a natural thing, but surround yourself with people who care about you and whom you care about. They are treasures. To have somebody who’s been a friend for 75 years, and you spend an hour talking about all the adventures you had together in the war, it makes your life interesting.

Don’t overvalue material success. My great wish is that everybody finds joy in the work they’re doing, because how wonderful is that — not to get up every morning, grumbling and getting on the train and having to do something that you think is worthless.
If you can’t take joy in your profession anymore, my advice is to take time off and see the world. See the stuff that means something.

What types of food do you like to eat?
Asian food, like Chinese and Japanese. I like good Italian and French food. I love Greek food, too. I don’t worry about diet much because, fortunately, I’m sort of skinny, which is a big help. I don’t drink much because I’m afraid of falling down; I have a little bit of wine every night. I really should get a costume to go with it [laughs], like a drinking jacket!

Tell me about your social life.
My social life is important; I’m fairly content. My son tried to persuade me to move in with him, but I didn’t want to. He lives in Port Jervis [NY]. Ossining is a wonderful town. We have a new library, which has a wonderful auditorium. We have concerts there, and we have an arts council, and we have gallery shows often. I’m very happy I live here. 

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