Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Some Interesting People

One of the people we met on our recent trip was Sandy Balla, a history major and Hudson River buff. Sandy, who lives in the area, was hired by the cruise line to give us information about the sights we were seeing, and she is very good at the job. Whether it was West Point, Catskill or any other location along the route from NYC to Troy, Sandy was up to date with her knowledge.
She knew not only the history of the locations we visited; she also told us about the current local economy, as well as prior to the settlement by the Dutch and English;  the relations of the current and ancient populations with each other, and the names and works of local painters and artisans who did so much to popularize the region. She also told us stories and legends, e.g. Rip Van Winkle, during times when some of us had idle time aboard ship. Her knowledge and enthusiasm, and the professionalism with which she imparted it, did much to make the trip more meaningful and pleasant.
She also told an amusing story about herself. It seems she emailed the mayor of her town about some local event, and having sent it, she realized she had ended her name with an “s” instead of an “a.”  Embarrassed, she sent him a corrected email, and he told her afterwards it was the best laugh he had all week.
We also met a very interesting couple. Jack and Esther (not their real names) were a 95-year-old widower and an 82-year-old widow who were traveling together. Although he does not drive after dark, Jack recently had his license renewed; he is good to go until he is 102 years old.
The two have traveled together extensively, including a trip to Russia. When asked how they met , Esther, a retired school teacher, replied, “Four years ago we met at a program we attended, and on the way out he hit on me.” They exchanged addresses, and have been friends ever since.
When asked if marriage was in their plans, Esther said, “Oh no, there is no romance involved – we are just friends.”
Although they live 25 miles apart, each week they go out for a steak dinner. Since they often finish after dark, Esther drives Jack home. After sharing a bottle of beer, she drives to her home. Asked if she thinks it’s OK to drive after drinking, she replied, “It takes more than half a bottle of beer to give me a buzz.”
They danced together during the cruise, and Esther even danced alone as a penalty for calling a false “Bingo!”
They were a most interesting and entertaining couple, and a wonderful reminder that age is just a number.

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