Tag Archives: 60

Train Collecting

November 13, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The Omaha area owes much to the railroad industry. The city’s history, and indeed, the entire history of the railroad are spiked with significant links throughout.

It comes as no surprise then that the Omaha area has a thriving culture of railroad enthusiasts. They collect model trains, meet regularly to share stories, memories, and swap items.

Some even enjoy what is called “rail fanning,” which is going out on location to see actual train operations in action or going to a train museum. “Rail fanning is watching trains,” says John Moore of Omaha. Moore adds, “The Omaha-Council Bluffs area is just as good as Kansas City for rail fanning.”

Says Moore: “…the UP Main Line by the Durham [the old Union and Burlington Stations] is always a great place. There are so many great places to rail fan throughout the metro. Millard along Industrial and Bob Boozer is one of my favorites, good chance to see loaned power from Norfolk Southern, CSX, and even the Kansas City Southern. Fremont, Blair, Ashland, Missouri Valley, and Gretna each have much going on or through. Don’t forget about all the great museums and train stores! BNSF’s Havelock Shops and Dobson Yard are a short drive down to Lincoln and never disappoint.”

Nebraska-Iowa Railroaders

Moore goes rail fanning with fellow members of The Nebraska-Iowa Railroaders. They are one of the area’s most active clubs for railroad enthusiasts. It has about 110 members of all ages and backgrounds. A member-at-large, Moore says, “Our members range in age from 7 to 80. The membership is mostly older, although some are in their forties, and we have some teenage guys, too. Some members bring their grandkids to the meetings.”

The Nebraska-Iowa Railroaders have a 5,500-square-foot train room inside Mall of the Bluffs. It features 10 large, model railroad layouts of various scales. The train room is open to the public on Saturdays from 11-4 p.m. On Saturdays, members are on site to operate the model trains, help visitors with questions about trains, or just socialize. In addition to other activities, they hold monthly meetings and an annual train show in June.

Omaha’s Train Hobby Shops

Rod Lilley started Train Time Hobby in 2005. Located on South 84th Street in LaVista, Train Time Hobby caters to modelers of all ages, with its selection of trains from wooden Thomas the Train sets (young children enjoy these) to realistic scale 
electric models.

Lilley says the train collecting culture is “strong in Omaha with Union Pacific and Burlington Northern. A lot of guys are still active or retired employees.”

Lilley says, “Many collectors started when they were younger. As you get older, you have more time on your hands, and you’re looking for a new hobby. I get a lot of guys who come in here who need a hobby. They’re ready to do something they remember from 
their childhood.”

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John Moore, member of Nebraska-Iowa Railroaders

Across town at 81st and Maple streets in Omaha, David Mrsny owns and operates House of Trains. Mrsny along with his brother Richard, bought the business from his father Leonard, who founded it in 1938 as Kenwood Model Railroad Supply.

“Omaha is one of the bigger markets anywhere,” Mrsny says, and goes on to list about a half-dozen clubs devoted to the hobby, not to mention about the same number of annual train shows in the area.

In the late 1990s, Burt Reynolds walked into the House of Trains. Says Mrsny, “A Lincoln Town Car pulled up, and he got out wearing sunglasses, cowboy boots, and a cowboy hat.” Mrsny cites several other model train hobbyist celebrities, including James Joseph “Jim” Parsons, who plays Sheldon Cooper on the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory. Frank Sinatra and Rod Stewart are also known to have collected train models.

Mrsny started collecting trains as a youngster. “When I was little you had a 4’x8’ layout. If you were really in to it, you had two.” Mrsny says nowadays, collectors are not satisfied with having a small railroad collection—they want more trains!

Collection of a Lifetime

One of these zealous collectors, Ron Bond of Bellevue, has an entire train layout room in his home’s finished lower level. A hallway leading to the 1,100-square-foot room is flanked by custom-built display cases holding some of Bond’s showpiece models.

Bond’s wife Suzanne shows patience and understanding for his hobby, as she herself is a collector (although she enjoys vintage glassware instead of model trains).

Bond’s massive layout comes to life with realistic backgrounds and scenery modeled after his hometown of Downingtown, Pa. “It took 13 years to build the layout,” says Bond. “Most of it was done three years ago. Two guys in the [Nebraska-Iowa Railroaders] club helped out, Francis McGovern and Larry Galkowski. Danny Botos did the wiring.”

As Bond operates the trains, reaching across an array of controls, he has the timing of a modern DJ. He hopes at some point to upgrade his system “before his Social Security runs out,” he says with a laugh.

A framed picture hangs on the wall of Bond’s home; a child’s drawing of a locomotive pulling several cars. “I drew that picture in second grade, 1943-1944,” he says with a proud smile. A rail fan for a lifetime.

Pioneers in Media

October 28, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Eileen Wirth entered the Omaha World-Herald newsroom in 1969 and wondered, “Where are the women?” Unknowingly, she had become one of the newspaper’s first female city reporters.

Dr. Wirth broke through gender barriers again as the first female chair of the journalism department at Creighton University, where she has been a professor since 1991. Her story as a pioneer is mirrored in media throughout Omaha.

Rose Ann Shannon walked into the KMTV newsroom 40 years ago as an intern, looked around for other female reporters, and found none. Today more than half of the journalists at KETV—where she is the station’s first female TV news director—are women. Shannon was a KMTV reporter, photographer, anchor, and assignment editor before joining KETV in 1986.

In 1974, Ann Pedersen became the first full-time female reporter at WOW-TV (now WOWT). One year later, she was named the station’s first female anchor for a daily newscast. She became WOWT assignment editor and later assistant news director before leaving in 1988 for a 13-year career at WCCO-TV in Minneapolis as director of news operations.

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Ann Pedersen

Carol Schrader proved herself as an intern at KMTV before moving on to a full-time job as a reporter at KLNG Radio and, in 1979, at KETV. She became one of the first women to anchor a KETV evening newscast, the first female news director at KFAB Radio, and the first host of the NET program Consider This.

The time was ripe 40 years ago for women to enter what had been a mostly male environment, says Wirth. She wrote about pioneer women journalists across Nebraska in her book From Society Page to Front Page.

“Young men were being drafted into the Vietnam War, so there was a shortage of journalism graduates,” says Wirth, who had three job offers upon graduation. “It was a combination of a good economy and a massive group of young women coming of age in the civil rights environment.”

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Eileen Wirth

The landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 mandated that employers hire without regard to gender or race. “Representative Martha Griffiths of Michigan added the clause banning sex discrimination,” says Wirth. “It was seen as a joke.” Opponents in Congress allowed the clause to go through because they mistakenly thought it would kill the entire civil rights bill. Instead, for the first time in American history, working women had a legal tool.

“The public wanted to see more individuals on air who represented them,” adds Pedersen. “Blacks and women brought new ideas. That’s the great advantage of having a well-integrated newsroom. You get different points of view.”

“I knew I got my job because I was a woman, but I didn’t want to do my job as a woman,” she says. “I wanted to be a journalist.”

“We didn’t mind rattling a few cages,” says Wirth.

Rose Ann Shannon

Rose Ann Shannon

Schrader rattled her first cage as a KMTV intern one night in 1973 by insisting on covering the shooting of a police officer. “I asked them to send me, but they just laughed. I told them, ‘I’m off in 20 minutes, and I’m going to drive there anyway.’” They sent her to the hospital with a camera. “I got a check for $10. I’ve never cashed it.”

She challenged the status quo again when she got into a verbal battle with Mayor Bob Cunningham in 1977 at a news conference she covered for KLNG Radio. She held her own. Two days later, KETV called to ask if she wanted to be the station’s “weather girl” and a reporter.

“I think we rattled cages just by being there,” says Pedersen, who remembers insisting on receiving the same camera the male reporters got. “You did have to stand up 
for yourself.”

When Pedersen arrived at WCCO-TV, she learned that the general manager would not pay her more than he paid his executive assistant. “But in the end, I was paid on par with other news managers,” she says.

Discrimination came more from the audience than from her supportive male co-workers, says Shannon. “Viewers didn’t like our voices. They said, ‘You’re taking a man’s job.’ There were times when I felt I had to work harder, longer, smarter because I had something to prove.”

Women brought story ideas into the newsroom that the male reporters had ignored, Schrader notes. “[We] were raising issues that were newsworthy but were not on the radar for men.”

Pedersen is now a public relations director in Omaha. Schrader is a real estate agent. Wirth is creating a new generation of journalists at Creighton University. Still at KETV, Shannon has seen big changes during her career. “I tell people I’m as excited about doing news today as when I walked in the door 40 years ago.”

Author Judy Horan began her career at WOWT at about the same time as the women profiled here, becoming the first woman in management in Omaha television.

Dating Over 60

August 28, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Jim Hanson peruses a sea of online profiles, hoping to find his match. What sets this self-professed Renaissance man apart from thousands of other men doing the same exact thing? His age: 65. At a time in life when most people his age are thinking of retirement and mutual funds, he is looking for love.

After being happily married for 33 years, Hanson, a widower, found himself in a position understood by many of his generation: He was alone. Never one to give up, he has tirelessly searched for the right person for the last seven years. “I have met a lot of neat people in that time,” he says. “The main thing I noticed that’s different dating now than then [in his 20s] is people have twice the baggage.” He explains that there are two groups of people he has encountered on his quest: widows and divorcees. “The thing about baggage is you gotta find someone to help you unpack it.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, people 65 and over make up 13.9 percent of Nebraska’s population. Many local seniors are experiencing being single again after the death or divorce of a spouse. Plenty are turning to online dating sites to meet other people.

This was the case for Linda Knapp. “It is really difficult to meet people,” she admits. Despite the fact that she owns her own business and interacts with countless people both socially and professionally, the 66-year-old has not dated much in the last year and a half. “I don’t like going to bars. It’s difficult to find a venue to meet people of my generation.” Like many, she turned to online dating. After a couple of bad experiences, she decided it wasn’t for her.

“The thing about baggage is you gotta find someone to help you unpack it.” – Jim Hanson

Karen Larson doesn’t look at seniors dating as any different from the younger generations. “No matter what age, it’s difficult to meet people.” Which is why the local 56-year-old started organizing meetup groups on Plenty of Fish, an online dating forum, to help people get out there and meet new people. “I like to host in small venues so people can actually get a chance to talk,” she says adding, “It’s a safe environment where people can meet.” According to her, a safe environment is what women want. “Many women from my generation have never walked into a bar by themselves.” She will meet up with people and help ease their anxiety, acting as a modern-day matchmaker.

“I have success stories,” she says. One woman who was nervous about attending a meet-and-greet that Karen organized found her special someone after attending the gatherings for a few months.

“Everyone has baggage,” Larson says, echoing Hanson. “I don’t even like to look at it as baggage. I think of it as experiences that shape who you are. It can be positive or negative. Just like your past experiences, dating can be the same way, depending on how you look at it. It’s a scary adventure. People don’t want to be taken. There are those who play games and want to play with your heart. You have to discern the difference. One sign? Can the person describe their past without extreme emotion? Without anger or sadness? If not, they aren’t ready to date again.”

“The way I see it, it’s a numbers game,” Hanson says with the zeal of a pep squad cheerleader. “You have to love without fear. It takes honesty, integrity, and a sense of humor. Yesterday is gone forever. Learn from it and move on. I lost my beautiful wife of 33 years in an instant. Nothing is a given. Embrace today. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.”

After many years of dating and many more being married, he will tell you the importance of communication and making compromises. At the end of the day, he says he is looking for the same thing everyone looks for: that person who is the last person you think of at night and the first thing you think of in the morning.

“It’s like that famous quote,” Hanson explains, “‘Love is like a butterfly.’ If you chase after it, it will fly away. But if you are patient and wait long enough, it will land in your hands.”

Dating Sites
plentyoffish.com
seniorpeoplemeet.com
eharmony.com/senior-dating
datingforseniors.com
dating.aarp.org
seniorpassions.com
ourtime.com

Meetup Sites
seniors.meetup.com
single-seniors.meetup.com
seniors-social.meetup.com
senior-singles-get-together.meetup.com

Big Names in Fashion Who Are Over 60

August 26, 2013 by
Photography by Jim Scholz

When we think of fashion, we think of designs for the young and beautiful.

However, when we hear the names of big designers, fashion editors, and stylists, we don’t think about how old they are! The reason for that is because they are, in a way, ageless. The word fashion means “of the times,” and people in fashion are of the times. Their hair may gray and their bodies might get sloppy, but fashion designers, directors, editors, stylists, and all of the creators involved tune into the times and project to the future. The older they get, the more they know, and the better they are. They work hard and very long hours. Travel for many may seem glamorous, but it’s often grueling.

Here are some of fashion’s biggest names, all still working and 60-plus years old:

  • Giorgio Armani brought his signature Italian style of menswear to America in the ’70s. Today he oversees the design of not only his menswear collections but also collections for women, the home, hotels, and more.
  • Christian Lacroix delighted fashionistas with his couture masterpieces in the ’80s and ’90s and just created a museum collection for Schiaparelli.
  • Vera Wang is busier than ever in a world of design far beyond bridal now.
  • Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue, is the woman every designer wants to impress. Also at Vogue is Grace Coddington, who went from a ’60s and ’70s top model to a visionary as creative director of the magazine today.
  • Vogue Italia editor Franca Sozzani is almost 64.
  • Suzy Menkes, the most famous fashion reporter and journalist in the world, is almost 70.
  • Photo journalist Bill Cunningham is 84.
  • Donna Karan and Calvin Klein, both designers, are still active today and have expanded their empires beyond their dreams, I am sure.
  • Tim Gunn, the guy from Project Runway and Parson’s School of Design, is “The Word” to young designers. What he says is respected and taken as the best critique.
  • The Latin lady and gentleman of sophisticated American style, both years beyond 60, are Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta.
  • Diane von Fürstenberg, famous for the wrap dress in the ’70s, has a fashion business today bigger than ever.
  • Ralph Lauren, a man with an eye for class and timeless elegance, is still at work after brain tumor surgery.
  • Tommy Hilfiger hasn’t let age stop him. His business expands every season.
  • Karl Lagerfeld, the designer at Chanel and Fendi and for his own collections, turned 80 this year.
  • Valentino Garavani claims to have made an exit from his world of couture, but all say that, at 81, he remains involved.
  • Max Azria is the man responsible for all the fun, young, and adorable BCBG collections, and he’s 64.
  • Betsey Johnson, 71, and Vivienne Westwood, 72, are still creating edgy, fun, and rock-star-wild designs.
  • Norma Kamali, who made high fashion of sweatpants and shirts in the ’80s, is still designing fabulous swimwear and sexy, signature dresses and sportswear.
  • Those beautiful Manolo Blahnik shoes we all love are designed by a man who is 71.
  • I adore the creative genius of Jean Paul Gaultier and Thierry Mugler’s understanding of structure and construction.
  • I just looked through 83-year-old Sonia Rykiel’s fall collection. It’s wonderful, ageless, timeless, and personal, with qualities that speak of a designer who understands women.

I welcome your feedback and invite you to send questions to sixtyplus@omahapublications.com.

Mary Anne Vaccaro is a designer and image consultant to businesses and individuals. She designed clothes and products in Omaha and New York and ran a fashion advertising business in five states. She writes and speaks about image, fashion, art, and style. maryannevaccaro.com, invisibleapron.com

Style at 60 Plus!

December 25, 2012 by
Photography by Jim Scholz

Sixty may be the new 40, but the reality is at 60, NOBODY looks like they did at 40! You can exercise for hours, spend a fortune on face creams, have this, that, and the other tucked or filled, but the reality is you end up looking great for 60 but not like you did at 40. Hair, makeup, and wardrobe all need to be addressed at 60 to make a new and fabulous you!

As a fashion designer for more than 30 years, I’ve spent thousands of hours in the fitting room with clients of all ages. I’ve seen and worked around the subtle changes that creep onto all of us over the years. I like working with women over 60. I love creating and styling for the woman who understands that it’s important at all ages to look fashionable, but that age and shape need to be considered when determining what fashion trends are right after turning 60.

Nothing looks worse than a 60+ woman in a dress that’s too short and too revealing, as she stomps around in shoes that are ridiculously high, rattling costume jewelry that’s “cute” rather than sophisticated. The opposite extreme that’s sad to see is a perfectly lovely 60+ woman hiding in boring, understated pieces that do not have a contemporary cut, and wearing belts, shoes, and jewelry from another time. Old clothes are especially taboo as we get older. They’re vintage and fun to 20-somethings. They just plain make a seasoned woman look even older.

We all need to embrace and glorify who we are at every age. That starts with an investment in Quality. A few classic, quality pieces speak a language of style that translates to fashion when accessorized for the times. Quality makes a difference in everything, especially clothes! It speaks volumes about you as a person and makes you feel better about yourself, too. Don’t let a cheap look bring you down, and remember, quality doesn’t necessarily mean expensive.

I believe in comfort, but clothes that are too comfortable make us lazy. Dressing up energizes us. I’ll admit it’s a job, and that’s why I keep busy styling people. Most of us accumulate and save too much. We become overwhelmed with decision-making as we dress for everyday and for special occasions. It takes someone with an eye for cut and proportion to determine what is flattering and right for the individual. That last comment brings me to relationships…so important in fashion, and I’ll write about them next time.

WARDROBE MUST- HAVES

  • Classic white shirts
  • Great-fitting Pants
  • Great-fitting blue jeans
  • Great-fitting black jeans
  • The right black jacket
  • Shell and cardigan sweater sets
  • Fashion eyewear
  • Statement belts
  • Oblong scarves
  • Fashion flats
  • Fashion heels (within reason)
  • Contemporary jewelry
  • A lightweight high fashion bag
  • Dresses, skirts, coats & boots are must-haves, too, but not the same for all!
  • QUALITY is a must for all!

I welcome your feedback and invite you to send questions to sixtyplus@omahapublications.com.

Mary Anne Vaccaro lives in Omaha. She designed and made couture clothing for an international clientele of professionals and socialites of all ages. She created ready-to-wear collections that were sold from her New York showroom, and she designed for the bridal industry. She designed for three Ak-Sar-Ben Coronation Balls and ran a fashion advertising business in five states for a number of years. Invisible Apron® is one of several products that she has designed and developed. She still designs for select clients and works as an image consultant, stylist, personal shopper, and speaker on the subjects of fashion, art, and style. For more information, visit maryannevaccaro.com or call 402-398-1234.