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Silver Threads: A resolution list for the city’s seniors

“How are you tonight?” asked our smiling young waiter as we were seated for a Revellion dinner at a restaurant along Esplanade Avenue.

Never ask an old person how she — or he — is. You may get treated to a litany of aches and pains, disappointments or forebodings. But in this case I simply told him — in a commendably brief summation — of how I had struggled, on a rainy night, through puddles and mud, across broken curbs and around small potholes, all without the assistance of a streetlight worthy of the name, to reach his place of employment.

“You did ask,” I told him in answer to his pained look.

But the dinner was delicious, and the experience of arriving at the restaurant served to get me to thinking about this column for the new year, which I pray will be more fortunate than its numerical designation suggests. (How did the inhabitants of 1913 feel about it?)

Herewith are some suggested resolutions — of benefit or interest especially to older citizens.

For the city fathers, inspired by my hazardous journey to dinner:

  • Please resolve to fill in those dangerous potholes in our streets. The trip from our West Bank neighborhood through parts of Mid-City rattled our bones, and had osteoporosis afflicted either my husband or me, might have broken some of them. While I’m familiar with most of the potholes near our home, many of those my car falls into when I’m further afield take me by surprise.
  • Get street lights fixed, and put some bulbs that mean business into them. Getting around our city at night is trying for everybody, and especially for seniors.

For the city fathers, because I‘m annually depressed by our town‘s appearance during December, January and February, when foliage and flowers aren‘t plentiful and sufficient to soothe the eye:

  • Please resolve to institute a periodic pickup of trash along neutral grounds and the sidewalk-side curbs of our main thoroughfares. It’s offensive to all but those who dumped it there, and particularly to seniors whose mamas taught them not to throw things on the floor or ground. (We’re a neat age group in more ways than one!) The average citizen can help by simply picking up that plastic bag that blows across the street he’s crossing
  • Grass cutters, who mostly seem to be on vacation at this time, should be instructed to pick up the litter before they mow, thus avoiding turning 10 pieces of paper into 100.

For Orleanians young and old, because we all can help:

  • Please resolve, when buying only, say, toothpaste (or denture cream) at the drugstore, to decline a plastic bag to carry it out in. Fewer bags, less trash.

And finally, just because we care:

  • Please resolve to wear some white clothing for dashing across the streets at night; bicycle riders should affix reflective strips to their vehicles. No motorist can see you well; to some older folk you’re almost invisible.

I’ve already begun to keep two of my own resolutions for the new year, having picked up a pair of plastic bags and a beer can from the sidewalk at a fast-food place near my neighborhood.

Another, I put into practice when our waitress at lunch today asked how I am.

“Just fine,” I said promptly. “And how about you?”

Bettye Anding is a former editor of the Living section of The Times Picayune, for which she wrote “Silver Threads” until her retirement. Email comments to her at



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