Saturday, January 15, 2011

Goodbye Oldest Blogger on Earth

It is with great sadness that we announce that our mother Elvira S. Oliver passed away on December 29, 2010 under the care of Hospice after an illness of 5 months. She was severely aenemic and could only survive longer if she had frequent blood transfusions. She choose, rather than to go on further, to ignore her need for hemoglobin and to die what she hoped would be a peaceful death. Learning about Hospice Care she wished to die at home with nursing care and so choose Hospice which is paid for under Medicare and provided Beth, Helen and Linda to her as her devoted and loving nurses. In addition, at the end she was cared for by Johana Afume her 24 hour live-in aid from Visiting Nurse Association, an angel with great patience and tolerance, Elvira was livid about her loss of independence. Johana was paid for under Medicaid.

More than anything she wished to continue blogging until she could do it no longer. Unfortunately that was sooner than she would have liked because she develped a blood clot in her eye and eventually became totally blind. She wanted to type her own blog as she had always done, and we argued with her that she should allow someone to take her dictation and type it in for her. She would not agree, but right before she became totally incapacitated she wanted to try, but she could not see the buttons on the taperecorder and so could not continue blogging.

Elvira entered a nursing home briefly (5 days) but left because she was the only alert patient in a subacute section. Her needs were ignored. They didn't come to take her to the commode. (She could still walk with assistance) They left her to go in her pants because that is what all the others would do. They didn't give her her eye medication which was to prevent infection and keep the pressure low in her eye and the relieve the irritable scratchiness she felt, even though she had become totally blind only two weeks before. They didn't help feed her every meal, although she could barely eat on her own. And they ignored her need to remain as self-directing as possible.

Hospice ( in which the Federal Government is planning sadistic cuts, along with all other homecare) provided for her need to maintaiin her dignity and remain self-directing. They provided medication (morphine) to ease her pain from a terrible bedsore which became an awfully deep wound (from staying in her waste in the nursing home.) It also relieved the pain from the difficulty breathing of congestive heart failure. They provided assistance in getting to the commode as long as she could walk, and diapers with frequent changes after that. They provided moral support, humor, compassion and love and kept her spirits up until the end.

She wanted everybody to know how she enjoyed blogging and how it gave her a purpose as she rounded the corner into a new century of life. She especially enjoyed the comments she received and waited anxiously for new ones. Mom wanted to die in her own home and refused to be cared for outside her home as she realized that nursing homes are not equipped to provide a high level of care to those who are dying. Hospice was able to make her wish come true.

She died peacfully with one of her dear nurses, Beth, at her side.

To all her friends and followers. Thank you providing enjoyment and meaning to her at the end of her long life. We know she watching from up there to see who is the next Oldest Blogger.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Continuing with my 100th year birthday celebration, I would like to tell you what Laurie Magnant-Oliver, my Vermont grandaughter, presented to me. A lovely book containing a volume 0f all my postings from August 24, 2009 to June 28, 2010 with autographed comments from family members, in addition to the comments from my cyberspace friends. What a treasure!

I was so enthused and happy to be embraced by this beautiful garden of human love -flowers that I could not imagine even in my wildest dream, that I would be able to embrace any more. But I did! I wish to end this chapter sharing with you an essay written by one of these flowers, also a real Angel, one who guards me night and day, my own daughter Angela. Here it is:

Elvira S. Oliver
The Oldest Blogger on Earth

Everybody in Carmel, N.Y. who takes the Paratransit bus knows her as Elvira, the oldest blogger on earth. Her chariot picks her up outside the front door of Hughson Commons in Carmel, N.Y. a haven for senior citizens. With silky white hair blowing in the wind, she leans lightly on the polished branch 0f a mahogany tree and, softly smiling, greets the bus driver and his aging crew. In spite of her years, she moves gracefully reminding one of an elegant but feminine Yoda, as she steps into the bus. At 99, she imparts a tough wisdom and is the epitome of independence and a good natured feistiness.

Delivered by a neighborhood midwife of Italian immigrants, Arcangela and Salvatore Sperduto of Brooklyn, N.Y. on July 18, 1910, Elvira Oliver grew up so Italian she didn't realize she was American until she was well into her teens.

Elvira gave up her car at 98, because she lost the vision in one eye as the result of a mini-stroke. She prefers to take the bus so she isn't a burden, but her daughter will drive her anywhere. "I want to do things myself and remain as independent as possible" is her mantra. If you visit her apartment, you may smell fried onions and meatballs simmering in sauce. Complete pasta dinners are still served at her house for her family. Still cleaning and shopping for herself. Elvira loves to go out on the Paratransit meeting new people and relaying her stories.

From the time she was 8 years old until she started high school she worked as a clerk in her mother's Italian grocery store on the ground floor of the three-story brick apartment building her parents owned. While waiting to serve customers you could find Elvira roller skating over the wooden floor getting in some treasured moments of playtime. Papa crafted a small wooden stool on which she sat at other times, st0ically, in the shadows behind the counter doing homework and keeping a list 0f all the transactions. Until starting school she spoke only Italian, and shyly blushed for a long time while speaking English. These feelings of embarrassment and the desire to overcome them led her to become a good writer with an extensive vocabulary. Now, looking up every word that is not familiar continues a childhood habit. Yet, today she is articulate, animated, self-confident, outgoing, and she tells a good story.

Elvira worked her entire life until 80 years old. Laboring as an executive secretary for the top staff of large companies, a speed queen of dictation, she could clock in at 125 wpm and type at 100 wpm. When she made changes in letters and reports making them more spirited, her bosses soon realized she was an excellent writer. Eventually, she composed sales and other correspondence with her bosses just dictating the gist of what they'd like.

Elvira married a man of English descent whose father was a mining engineer and the head of an upper middle-class family in Oxford, New Jersey. They met at a friend's wedding. She was very sensitive about her immigrant roots and sometimes suffered from the family's unfortunate but rather typical attitudes towards "Eyetalians".

Martin, her husband, who workeed as a salesman for Merck Corporation traveled extensively in the South, keeping him away from home for weeks at a time. With her husband away, she made all the decisions facing the family.

After twelve years, Elvira separated from her difficult and painful marriage. By standing up to her husband, she delivered herself into a state of liberation. Taking on the responsibility of a family by herself, she became a pioneer in this endeavor. Elvira continued to live in the apartment she had shared with Martin, for divorce was still scandalous during the late 40's. She became a modern woman as she plowed her way through difficult work situations and raisd her three young children without support from Martin. She faced the world of work where many bosses tried to take advantage of her excellent skills and her marital status by giving her too much work and too little pay. If she didn.t get a raise she deserved, she would quit. She was so talented, she could easily find another job. She has lots of stories.

Because she is a fighter, Elvira does not allow anybody to take advantage of her. When a product doesn't live up to its advertisements, when promises are made and not kept, when someone tries to exploit or opportunize, she starts to write. She writes to CEO's, managers, town officials, congressmen. whoever can act as an arbiter of injustice. She usually wins. So many times she has been right, and through extensive organization and record keeping has been able to prove it.

Elvira once worked for Congresswoman Edna Kelly of Brooklyn, one of the first women in Congress. Forced to put her children in a boarding school for children from broken homes near Verbank, New York because she could not afford or find the day care she needed, she worked two jobs providing for her children's needs. Many years later, the good congresswoman introduced what became legislation, for a tax exemption for the cost of licenced childcare, on behalf of Elvira and other working mothers in similar situations. Today, Elvira is very proud of her three children Tom, Floyd and Angela who are all retired now. Tom became an Air Force Major, Floyd the Station Manager in Wqashington, D.C. for American Eagle Airlines, and Angela a Child Welfare Administrator. She has three grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

In her Blog, she takes you back to the early years of the twentieth century and how it felt to be an Italian-American through her story "The Joy of Growing-up Italian"which has spread world-wide over the Internet, unfortunately without giving her even a byline other than "Anonymous".

Eric Shackle an Internet Investigative Reporter and Publisher well-known for his blog "Life Begins at 80" has reviewed all of the different versions she has written over the years and compared them to those on the Internet and believes she is the actual author. He also saw her driver's license and has verified her as the oldest blogger in the world, as known to date. He was a friend of the two previous bloggers wro died at 107 and 108.

It has been one of her remaining goals in life to receive credit for the story which she circulated to all of her friends and acquaintances of Italian descent by the hundreds across the years, and is now read aloud in Italian-American Clubs all across the country.

The oldest blogger on earth can take you back in great detail to World War I, the influenza epidemic of 1918, the Depression of 1929 (she was the sole support of her family of eight), World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. As a child, she lived jn a world without electricity or modern conveniences and tells stories about small apartment buildings in Brooklyn that had only one commode in the cellar for all the tenants. Across the years, Elvira has seen many mechanisms of living morph from one form into another....gas lights into incadescent electric bulbs, boiling laundry on the stove, scrubbing it on washboards and hanging it out on the line, to automatic washers and dryers. Elvira is Time's witness. Her blog relates the saga familiar to only a few of our oldest seniors. With her long and eventful life, Elvira can fascinate you and make you laugh and cry, and people of all ages will enjoy her blog.

By Angela D'Ambrosio

In my next chapter, I will tell you how my one hundreth birthday continued for several more days. Lucky for me that ladies' hats presently are not in vogue, otherwise I would not be able to find one that woul fit me.

Good Night......Elvira

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Centenarian - Chapter 1

Hi there!

I'm willing to wager that most of you who follow my blogs have been wondering the reason for my long silence or, perhaps, even believing that Elvira has gone on to her eternal resting place. Nope!

I am happy to say that I had a marvelous birthday on Sunday, July 18th, 2010, celebrating one hundred years of my miraculous life on Planet EARTH in the company of my precious family. Angela took on the responsibility of planning this lovely day and was rewarded when late that evening ALL retired with smiling faces.

The reception was held at The Olive Garden in Danbury, Connecticut, a very nice restaurant catering to a superb Italian menu. After dinner, Happy Birthday was sung by my guests and some of the waiters and was followed with a Gift Certificate and congratulations from the Manager for my 100 years and also for being THE OLDEST BLOGGER ON eARTH, at least for the time being.. Then, to continue the celebration, Angela had reserved the Club House at the apartment complex in which I reside. An hour later, we entered a Club House decorated with streamers and balloons by my niece and nephew, Gabriella and Sal; the room was festively beautiful to behold.

Tom, my son, announced he had a surprise.....and what a surprise it turned out to be! He had produced a DVD and labeled it "THE SPERDUTO/OLIVER SAGA"......and when viewing it (as if in a dream), some of the events travelled back in Time. The great applause at the viewing-end of the DVD prompted Tom to say that he would endeavor to produce another one encompassing in more detail a more complete Saga of the Sperduto/Oliver family. So, for the past several weeks, I have been rummaging through drawers and boxes, gathering and mailing photos and negatives to Tom for his enormous project. I'm glad to say that I am presently working on the last box and it contains photos of my Italian ancestry. On the back of each photo, it will be necessary to note who is the person; that is, if I can.

After viewing the DVD, a beautiful cake with glowing candles was placed on the table for us to whet our waning appetites. As conversations began to fade, Floyd (my San Diego son) rose and gave a tribute to the Mothers of the world, directing his words especially to me, as well as to my own long-departed Mother Arcangela, his beloved grandmother. Oh! how I wish that he had written it down, so that I could have presented it to you now. It was so beautiful!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Shipping and Handling Charges

Smells like a SCAM.

I believe that the Attorney Generals in all the States should make sure that this practice of collecting "shipping and handling charges" on items purchased via Television Ads, Internet, and other means, should be abolished or curtailed, especially when cancelling an order before it reaches the shipping department or when "it is not yet in the system.

I am not blaming the employees for this; they are only doing what they are told to do. The blame goes to the one who institutes this practice. I can't even blame the CEO; it is usually the upper-scale employee who best qualifies as the "Madoff" of the company, although the CEO is responsible for his employment and actions.

I am going to try at this writing not to mention names, but if the order I placed at 1:oo am this early morning of June 28, 2010 (by calling a number shown on the TV-ad) is not cancelled as per my request approximately ten hours later, and was informed "it is not yet in the system", then I shall come back and expose the name of the company. Who, in spite of my early cancellation and the fact that "it is not yet in the system" will ship the order, charge me for the product, plus shipping and handling charges. Then when the product arrives, I can refuse the product. After it is returned and again redeemed by them, they will issue a full refund for the product, less the shipping and handling charges.

Now you have no product, but they have gained a revenue of about Six Dollars by shipping a product which you cancelled before it was even in the system. In this particular case, the shipping and handling charges are $6.95. I am willing to bet that the actual mailing would be less than a dollar. A profit to them of about $6.00 on an order that was cancelled before 'it was in the system'.

If the cancellation is made before it is in the system, I just cannot understand why it could not be retrieved before it reached the shipping department. The response can only rightly be that the moment you place an order, you are charged immediately.

If I go to the supermarket, the store clerk does not follow me around with a calculator and ask me to pay for items I have not yet placed in the shopping cart. When I get to the shipping department (in the supermarket, it is known as the 'cashier's counter), each item is charged, wrapped and placed in the cart. It has been 'shipped' to me and charged properly.

Nothing is free. Be especially aware of those that offer a Free Gift with the purchase of a non-tangible offer, but charge 'shipping and handling charges' on the free gift which can only be used with the offer. Here's the catch: You are allowed to cancel the so-called offer and receive a refund. But what are you going to do with the Free Gift that you cannot use, on which you paid rather steep shipping and handling charges which are not refundable, and on which they paid a miniscule amount of money to mail to you.

You can believe all of the above or not. In several weeks, God willing, I will be 100 years old. I worked in the business world until I was eighty years old and saw the many changes that took place and reveled in them most of the time. I am a clipper and a saver and want to assure you that I can prove with actual documents, that the postings I have submitted are not fairy tales.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Putnam Hospital Center - Valet Parking

I don't know how many people would say that they enjoy a visit to a doctor's office. Well, here I am admitting that I look forward to my visits to my eye doctor's office. Dr. Allan Farquhar is renouned in our area as a young dedicated ophthalmologist surgeon and I have placed myself completely in his hands. It is with the knowledge that he will do all that he can within his power, to enable me to maintain what vision still remains, so that I may continue to blog for a little while longer. I always leave his office in a very happy mood, filled with exhilaration from all the attention showered upon me, not only from his staff, but from Dr. Farquhar himself who takes time from his exceedingly busy schedule to answer all my questions.

When I leave, I usually sit on a bench in front of 664 Stoneleigh Avenue building (which is part of the Putnam Hospital complex) and wait from zero minutes to an hour for a bus to take me home. I don't mind waiting; I'm happy.....and I watch the perpetual 'movie' enfolding before my eyes.

As people enter or exit the building, I try to decipher from their facial expressions and demeanor what brought them to the hospital today. Have they come to keep an appointment with a doctor in his office, for an x-ray, or have they come to visit a loved-one who is lying in a hospital bed?

Look over there to my right! The new Camarda Building. And my thoughts flow back to the day several weeks ago, when Angela and I had occasion to enter its lobby, and I said: "Wow! its beautiful. Just look at that grand piano! Is this a Music Hall or a Theatre? It certainly should be used for fund-raising events."

At this point, I wish to emphasize that unless I quote " " something, all the thoughts and observations are strictly mine and I'm solely responsible for them.

When I initially came to Carmel, I remember trips to Putnam Hospital required visitors to park their own car and then paying an hourly fee on exiting the grounds. However, on a visit to a doctor's office, you could obtain a validated coupon for free parking. But now, several years later, parking is completely free. To me, this is an Act of Kindness. After all, people do not go to hospitals or doctors' offices for enjoyment; why add insult to injury?

As my eyes roamed the area, I focused on a small shelter tucked-in between bushes just a few feet before the entrance to the building. I realized it was placed there for the use of the valets. I do not know when this valet service began, but I thought it was a nicer way to garner revenue rather than charge everyone for parking. And I wondered what the fee would be!

The shelter was occupied by two, three or four young boys or men wearing bright orange jackets. As a car approached and stopped, and after all passengers were discharged, one of the smiling valets would hand something (a ticket I assumed) to the driver/owner, and wisk the car away.

Then I noticed that some of those, that exited the building, would walk over to the shelter and hand a ticket to one of the valets, who would hustle out to the parking lot to retrieve the car. And here is when I noted two different scenarios work out:

1. When a car was retrieved and presented to the owner, I noticed the owner stretch out his arm and shake the hand of the valet, both smiling at each other. Then the valet still smiling raised his hand as if in an army-salute, but probably more as if waving goodbye.

2. When a car was retrieved and presented to the owner, I noticed the owner look away from the valet, get in the car and drive away.

I sat there saying to myself "I don't understand this; I must get to the bottom of it". I rose and slowly walked to the shelter. I approached the valets and said "I've been sitting on that bench and watching you boys work....and I'm puzzled. How much is the fee and how and when is it collected?" With a great big grin on all their faces, each eager to explain: "Lady, there is no charge; its free." Then I asked a question which I prefaced with 'I probably should not ask this and you don't have to answer' but "are you volunteers?" There was just a slight hesitancy, but then one young man spoke for all of them........and let me put it this way for my blog-readers: Its a great service the hospital offers and they gladly volunteer to serve as valets at a minimum wage. The tips, of course, make for a descent living, especially in this bad economy when lots of boys and young men can't find a job. They are rendering a service and enjoy doing it.

Kudos to Putnam Hospital for expending revenue by hiring caring young men to serve the visitors that make use of their facilities. Every hospital should follow their example.

However, I believe an Act of Kindness should, at least, be rewarded by an Act of Appreciation. So to those who just keep taking and not giving....Shame on you! The next time.....just look at the person and say 'Thank you"; it doesn't cost anything.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day

Today is Sunday, May 30, 2010 and it is Memorial Day.

At three o'clock this afternoon, I will suspend anything I am doing to concentrate and remember all those patriotic heroes of all wars who gave of themselves to serve our country. Among my heroes, I salute my sons Thomas and Floyd.

However, I want to pay tribute today to two men who became part of my extended family about sixteen years ago and who are a source of inspiration to many young people, and most of all to me. They are Raymond and John.

Raymond is Laurie's father, and Laurie became my granddaughter when she married my grandson Thomas Jr. Since then, Raymond has become a grandfather twice more and I have been blessed twice with the title of 'great grandmother' by handsome Evan and beautiful Maeghan.

Raymond has been involved, in the past nine years, in several missions in our conflicts overseas. His son John, also a father, is now serving his third or fourth mission there. I hope and pray that he will be returning soon safely to all his love-ones.

The other day, in a local newspaper (The Putnam County Courier), I came across an article which filled me with emotion. Perhaps it will inspire you to read and explain to our young folk the true meaning of Memorial Day.......that it is not the beginning of open-season for backyard barbeques or opening-day of beaches.


"Canadian poet John McCrae wrote the famed poem "In Flanders Fields," after his experience as a field surgeon at the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915.

The poem was inspired by the funeral of a friend who died in that battle, and the reference to poppies in the Flanders fields led to the tradition of wearing paper poppies in honor of those who have died in war.

The poppies reference was not accidental: the flower, a source of opium, is a symbol of sleep, and as the poet Sackville noted, its cousin, death.

The American poet R. W. Lillard wrote, "America's Answer," in reply to Flanders Fields in which he said: Fear not that ye have died for naught; The torch ye threw to us we caught, Ten million hands will hold it high, And freedom's light shall never die!

Here are the words of McCrae's poem:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie, In Flanders fields. Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from falling hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.""

Its a beautiful day here in Carmel; I hope yours is, too.


Friday, May 28, 2010

High School - Chapter 5

My last chapter referred to an event that took place in GCHS and came to a glorious conclusion after many years............

Many times over my long life, I have recounted the story of the swimming pool edict by the principal of GCHS, Mrs. Evelyn Allan. And whenever I completed the story, I realized that no one believed such a tale. But it was always real to me and since I acknowledge that I am a repeater of good stories, I continued to tell it.

One day, in my Life-bio class (year 2006), I chose this particular event as my home-work story. When I completed reading it to the class, I looked up to see a shifting of the eyes from one person to another. I was embarrassed but made no comment and neither did the others. It is an incredible story; why would someone be deprived of graduation for not learning to swim. I'm sure that even my blog friends and followers have been thinking the same thing.

Now, let me bring you to January 1, 2007. On this celebrated day, I was alone in the afternoon. I decided to practice my new-found skills of surfing the internet. (Remember, I started computer classes in 2006). Let me see: "I wonder if any of my high school friends are still living.' No luck! I tried to recall the names of some of the newspapers of 1928.....and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and the Brooklyn Standard Union came to mind and I scanned about 95 pages. I was about to give up when up popped a page "Brooklyn Standard Union - 1929 News- June. I really can't account for continuing, but I did.......and lo and behold, I came across this article, and I quote it word for word:

20 June 1929
Pupils Have Until Next Tuesday to Obey Edict
Mrs. Evelyn W. Allan, principal of the Girls Commercial High School, is enforcing the rule that all girls graduated from the school must be able to swim the length of the 75-foot pool in the gymnasium, The penalty is loss of the privilege of participating in the commencement exercises, which take place next Wednesday. Instead they will get their diplomas by mail.

"The only way to make the girls learn how to swim," said Mrs. Allan today, "is to pursue more or less drastic means. Barring a girl from her commencement will act as a tonic on her to learn to swim."

Mrs. ALLAN said that the pool will be open all day every day until next Tuesday, the last opportunity to satisfy the requirement, and those girls who have not yet traveled the 75-foot tank under their own power still have ample time in which to master enough of the art of swimming to cover this distance.

Mrs. ALLAN declared that the Girls Commercial High School has occupied its new building for five years now. All this time the girls have been aware of the swimming requirement and they have had four years in which to learn, the pool being available to them during their entire stay at the high school. A month ago, more than fifty seniors had still failed to swim the length of the pool. Yesterday this number had dwindled to twenty-nine. Mrs. ALLAN said that she expected the number to melt away considerably during the next few days.

Mrs. ALLAN said 249 seniors are to be graduated from the school next Wednesday and of this number, she expects to have only a handful barred from the commencement exercises because of failure to swim the length of the tank. "Barring this handful," she said, "will not only stimulate those barred to learn to swim, but will act as a lesson for the seniors to come, who have thus far been backward in availing themselves of the opportunity offered by the new, beautiful pool we have here."


You will note that Mrs. Allan became a bit more lenient in her threat a year and a half after I graduated. It was no longer 'loss of graduation'; it was 'the loss of participating in commencement exercises'.

I quickly made ten copies of this on my printer on January 1, 2007, and at my next bio-class handed each one a copy, and smilingly said: "He who laughs last, laughs best".

Yes, I was in my glory. After 79 years, I have been vindicated.

I've mentioned several times that I'm not computer literate. The easiest way for me to locate this EDICT quickly is to Google Search as follows: Mrs. Evelyn Allan - Brooklyn Standard Union - June 20, 1929.