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Founded in 1989 by Lynn Peters Adler, J.D. - Centenarian Expert and Older Adults Advocate


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Behind the Scene: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6        

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Behind the Scene ...
"Live to be 150...
Can You Do It?"
an ABC
Barbara Walters Special

Our story continues below here

Drew Hartzell's letter to his family continued...

       I need to stop here briefly to set the stage.  A few months ago, learning that author Lynn Adler, a strikingly lovely woman in her 40s [sic 50s] who has written a book on centenarians after having studied them in all sort of conditions for many years, was conducting a national search for five centenarians to come to New York to be interviewed by Barbara Walters, the legendary news anchor/reporter at ABC, Dad’s friend, Marybeth Lobdell told Dad about it, and at Dad’s request she submitted his name. Lynn came to Vicar’s to interview him and I have set the stage.
        Lynn was there with her husband, Jim,  whose law degree from Yale made it possible to have all of the centenarians and their escorts put up at the Club. Dad and I went to our room on the 14th floor and had a rest.  At 5:30 all of us met in the parlor of a suite just down the hall from our rooms. Including Dad there were four centenarians present: Elsa Hoffmann and her daughter, Joan Textor, from south Florida; Lillian Cox and her granddaughter Alyson from the Florida panhandle; and Leonard Ross (“Rosie”) and his niece RoseMary Perner from Prescott, Arizona.  On Thursday for the “shoot” we were joined by Dorothy Young and her boyfriend Stan from New Jersey. The fifth woman decided at the last minute she could not come so Dorothy was a last minute replacement.  Rosie is a trumpeter; he plays in a trio once a week in a club in Prescott.  Elsa and Lillian are active but in ways I do not remember.
        After the little reception at which we were joined by another of Elsa’s daughters, Pamela Hoffmann, the eleven of us adjourned to a dinner on the 22nd floor, the penthouse floor, the home of the Yale Club’s main dining room.  What a space. You’ll have to wait for the photographs!  Jim was at the head of a long table, which had five people opposite each other. To his right: Dad, me, Pam, Rosie, and RoseMary.  To his left: Elsa, Joan, Lynn, Lillian, and Alyson.  We had a great time. Lots of talk and laughing and interesting talk, too.  You would expect nothing less with a group like this.
        The next day, Thursday, we met in the lobby about 12:30, took three black Lincoln limousines to an independent studio on West 26th Street, right near the Hudson. When we pulled up, there were camera men everywhere.  Again we went to a 14th floor, to a rectangular room larger than any room of its kind I have been in. You could have fit our entire house in it.  And it was painted white; everything was white. One of the long sides was entirely windows. On the wall opposite the windows was a small area for sitting.  There was a sofa, an arm chair, and a large coffee table with a large vase on it containing two enormous leaves of the kind you see normally only in tropical palm houses. There were enough utility chairs for everyone to have a seat.  Dorothy Young met us there.    
        Eventually Barbara Walters came in, met everyone, and the shoot began around 2 p.m. in a studio exactly like the one we were in, further down the corridor.  It was filled with people and equipment but it was also entirely in white. RoseMary and I decided not to be in the same room with the shoot.  The conditions were sparse and no noise was allowed. If I sneezed, it would have been the end!  Besides, I will see the finished, edited result when it is scheduled to be shown.
       After the shoot everyone gathered back in the room where RoseMary and I had been talking, for some still photographs. Everyone was photographed with Barbara Walters.  And then we descended to the ground, back to earth, and into the waiting Lincoln limousines—this time there were four—and off we went to the Tavern on the Green: to horse and carriage rides, and to a luxurious banquet.  Barbara Walters had enjoyed the whole thing so much she paid for it!  And producer Rob Wallace called Lynn on her cell phone on the way back to the club after the banquet to say how great the whole day was!  That never happens! We said goodbyes in the lobby.
        Dad and I had breakfast in the dining room on the 22nd floor the next morning as we had had that day; everyone went their separate ways; and he and I returned to Albany on the train.
        I just talked to Dad. His flight was smooth and uneventful and he sounded happy and relieved.
       There are lots of tidbits to tell, too many to include here. What an incredible journey this was.

Daddy and Drew


Behind the Scene ... our story continues.

 It was already a cohesive group, and they were off to a good start, although a later dinner. Finally, the phone rang and the front desk manager, who had taken a personal interest in helping with the arrangements, called to say Lillian was in the lobby.  Lynn went down to greet them and to show them to their rooms.  Lillian wanted to change from her traveling clothes but graciously allowed herself to be persuaded otherwise – she looked lovely just as she was, and one would never guess that she had had a very full day of traveling from Tallahassee.  Introductions were made in the suite, and the group began to make its way down the long corridor to the elevators, chatting as they went.  The party had begun! It was a lovely evening, filled with animated conversation.

Karl and Elsa at the Yale Club

The centenarians at dinner at the Yale Club

Elsa being served dinner at Yale Club

Karl and Lynn's husband Jim chatting

Elsa's daughter Pam chats with Drew Hartzell

Lillian and granddaughter Alyson

Lynn, Rosie and Lillian

      Then, as dessert was served, Rosie proposed the second toast of the evening – and told his story of his experience purchasing the new trumpet that morning.
“We went to Rayburns, a store that was advertised as “trumpet city,” he began.  [Rosie is originally from Oklahoma, and speaks with a slow drawl.] It’s where the New York Philharmonic buys their horns, I was told. 
       "I walked up to a very young salesman and told him I wanted to buy a trumpet. The store was busy with lots of customers and people taking lessons in private rooms, with glass windows, all around the showroom. He looked skeptical, but he humored me, and let me see several horns. I could just imagine what he was thinking: 'What’s this little old guy from Arizona doing here!' 
       "I finally found one I liked, a Bach, so I decided to try it out, and I started playing 'Sugar Blues.' 

Rosie proposes a second toast, then told his
story of his experience purchasing a new
 trumpet that morning.

       "The kid looked astounded, so I kept on going – and within a minute, everyone in the store stopped talking and people were coming out of the private booths. So I played the entire song. When I finished, I said, 'I’ll take it,' and everyone started clapping – and then they came up to me and shook my hand and talked and talked.  It was great!”
        We all enjoyed our dinner — and Rosie's story! — and afterwards, the visiting continued. "Most of us relaxed with a glass of wine,” RoseMary confided.  Friendships were forged – Lynn was thrilled. But it had been a long day for everyone, and it was “showtime” tomorrow! 
       Lynn suggested that everyone order room service, to save time, if they preferred, and then to assemble in the hospitality suite. Once there, final decisions were made as to which earrings to wear, lipstick to match, etc. A discussion arose over Rosie’s tie. Lynn had bought a shirt and tie the previous day that she thought went well with the black leather jacket, but Rosie was partial to the tie he had worn for the Genworth commercial the year before. Elsa, the fashionista of the group, made the choice. (Rosie lost.) “We were all having a warm and wonderfully close time together,” RoseMary observed – “it was like an alumni group!”  And, indeed, in fact it was a collegial atmosphere.
        When the young ABC associate producer arrived, all energy and smiles, she greeted everyone of her new acquaintances, whom she had met over the phone, as old friends as well – it just couldn’t have been more congenial and put everyone at ease, because, as the time to leave grew near, a bit of nervousness set in for some of us – except for Rosie.  He declared later that he had taken it all in stride!

Behind the scene continues >>>
It's the day of the interviews!


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