A Santa Monica resident since 1963, Jerry Rosenblum makes the absolute most of each day. And he’s been doing so for 93 years. (Jerry will be 94 in January!) He takes three classes at Emeritus College and attends lectures at the Main Library twice a week. Jerry is also finishing his memoir, “What Goes Around, Comes Around.” It’s a charming collection of vignettes from his career in the men’s clothing business and his remarkable interactions with celebrities in and out of work.
Jerry also has taken numerous cruise ships around the world. As an amateur singer, he invariably enters passenger talent contests and often wins. (Google “93-year-old man.”) With his energy and zest for life, Jerry ought to be selling vitamins on a late night infomercial.
Tomorrow night, Sept. 12, at the Edgemar Center for the Arts on Main Street, Jerry and six elders from our community will participate in a special evening of storytelling in an inspiring program entitled, “Defining Moments.”
Ages 74 to 96, Jerry and his pals will sing, tap dance and share their personal histories via the lost art of story telling. (As the proverb goes, “The stranger who tells our stories not only awakens our spirits and hearts, but also shows our humanity.”)¬† Afterward, the group will participate in a question and answer session followed by a reception in Edgemar Center’s beautiful gallery space.
Most cultures revere the wisdom of elders. But in the U.S., once you qualify for AARP everyone thinks you eat dinner at 4 and are in bed by 8. Thankfully, Edgemar reveres elders. And if you haven’t visited the Edgemar Center, this is an ideal opportunity as admission to Defining Moments is free. (Donations are encouraged to keep terrific programs like this alive.)
The Edgemar complex was designed by famed architect Frank Geary. Under the tutelage of creative director, Michelle Danner, Edgemar Center has been a tremendous asset to our community, offering award-winning plays and musicals in its two theaters, along with acting classes for children and adults, for amateurs and working actors and first-class art shows.
Of course, I’m biased toward Edgemar. My father, as a teenager, had a part-time job there as an egg candler, the person who holds eggs up to the light to make sure they weren’t fertilized.¬† (As told in my column, “Which Came First, the Theater or the Egg?”)¬† Also, as a UCLA alum, I was delighted to discover that the late legendary Bruin basketball coach, John Wooden, worked at Edgemar for a few years in the off-season.¬†
Edgemar Farms founder, Herman Michel, came to Santa Monica from Switzerland in the 1880’s and wound up becoming our city’s first mayor. His great granddaughter, Maire owns the highly popular Thyme restaurant on Ocean Park Boulevard. But back to the Edgemar of today and “Defining Moments.”
Jerry will open the show as he sings “Chattanooga Choo Choo” while Anna Torpy, 90, tap dances. Her partner will be 13-year-old Santa Monica resident, Anthony Bvlgari. At age 11, Anthony sang with Andrea Bocelli, the internationally famous blind opera singer, in front of 24,000 people at the Staples Center.
Len Magnus, 84, who had a career in radio and on the stage, will provide humor with a song about a hat.¬† With Rosh Hashanah on Monday, Dora Krakower, 96, will sing in Yiddish honoring the Jewish holiday. Marcello Olavaria, who was born in Chile and worked in the airline industry, will sing “I’ve Got the World on a String.”
Inga Neilsen will also sing as she does her rendition of¬† “Here’s to Life.” Inga, once a professional dancer and singer in Las Vegas, appeared in movies such as “Hello Dolly,” “Funny Girl” and “Funny Lady.”¬† Elizabeth Cocca, 84, was a nun but left the nunnery at age 40 to marry, whereupon she and her husband adopted a child. Elizabeth will sing a song from her one-woman show.
The event will be unforgettable as the elders share the defining moments in their lives. Plus, the show’s finale will feature Jerry’s stirring rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” (By the way, Jerry tells me he does take vitamins: B, C, D, E and potassium, which means I’ve got to end this and go buy some, pronto!)
Edgemar is at 2437 Main Street. “Defining Moments” starts at 7:30 p.m, but an RSVP is required. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (310) 392-7327 to reserve your place.
Jack is at facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth and email@example.com.