Life@50+ Vendor Spotlight: Ancestry.com

Life@50+ Vendor Spotlight: Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com at Lifeat50
Here at the Spring AARP Life@50+ Convention in Boston, I am one of nearly 20,000 seniors and baby boomers from all walks of life, come together for learning, sharing, shopping, and some good, old-fashioned fun. This is not, as our children and grandchildren may think, an “old person convention.” It is a gathering of individuals with an amazingly diverse set of experiences, backgrounds, interests, and persuasions, looking – more than anything – for ideas, opportunities, services, and products that will make the next few decades at least as exciting and fulfilling as the first five.

Contribute to Posterity with a Family History

After spending most of their adult lives working diligently for financial gain and material comfort, a growing number of retirees have become interested in ways to contribute something to posterity – such as providing a legacy of knowledge and understanding for following generations. One way to do this is genealogical research – and the tools available today for discovering one’s roots are more accessible, easier to navigate, and less expensive than ever before.

Creating a Buzz: Ancestry.com

Ancestry siteOne of the most visited vendor booths here in the convention center is that of the world’s leading online genealogy and family history resource site, Ancestry.com. My wife Mary Ann is here with me and is finding this most interesting since she is working on a family history with her brother Mike who has is a member of ancestry.com. IMG_20140508_132727_334-1As an AARP Discount Partner, Ancestry.com offers a substantially discounted rate for AARP members to access its extensive worldwide database of billions of genealogical records. The Ancestry.com vendor booth is drawing crowds consisting of both avid genealogists – who have already begun the challenge of untangling the roots of their family trees – and newcomers who have never before considered researching family histories. The eminently knowledgeable and helpful Ancestry.com team is here to meet with AARP members, have conversations about the site, and infect Boomers with the “genealogy bug.” People who have almost no previous knowledge of genealogy leave the booth inspired and intrigued by how much historical information is available to them. Ancestry.com has set up shop here with numerous computers and on-site research assistants. Those who want a demonstration fill out a simple worksheet with basic background information from both parents’ families, then sit down with one of the Ancestry.com researchers to see what can be accessed in the database. Even visitors who don’t have much historical information about their families beyond the names of their grandparents are amazed at how much information can be accessed with just some basic info: draft cards, census records, naturalization papers, and more. The ease and rapidity with which Ancestry.com’s researchers are able to pull up records, documents, and genealogical details is creating a buzz here among the Life@50+ attendees. Many, after experiencing that first exciting discovery, are eager to activate a membership at the site so they can begin digging deeper into their families’ histories.

Special Ancestry.com Discount Available to AARP Members

Contributing to the excitement surrounding the genealogy site is the great deal being offered to AARP members: Ancestry.com gives a 30% discount on a year’s worth of their World Explorer package subscription (those who are already members on the site can also access the discount by calling 1-800-514-4654). The World Explorer package gives members access to all of the Ancestry.com databases and other sources within the US and worldwide. This includes about 13 billion different documents, photographs, official records, and other information sources – and the available records are added to constantly, to the tune of about two million new pieces of information each day. An Ancestry.com membership can help you and the younger generations in your family understand where you came from. It can aid in verifying connections with historical societies such as the Sons or Daughters of the American Revolution. It may even help to improve your family’s healthcare, as documents such as death certificates are unearthed, shedding light on family medical history. You can organize and share your family tree, locate immigrant ancestors, connect with other members for help and ideas, and ultimately, bring your family history alive with historical documentation, leaving a legacy of information for your children and grandchildren. If you want to join the many AARP Life@50+ visitors who are taking advantage of the Ancestry.com World Explorer package discount, visit aarpdiscounts.com.

Boomer Childhood Memories

As I awaken from a short nap today and sat enjoying a cup of cappuccino, my mind went back in time to my childhood.  I thought of the big city of St. Louis, Missouri where I was born.  It was a city not suburbs as some of us call city today.  I remember the two and four family flats around the neighborhood.  Most families rented.  The flats were not air conditioned.  Instead, a fan was placed in the window for cooling.  Neighbors sat on the front porch steps to cool in the evening.  Those buildings were very hot in the summer time.  Children played on the sidewalks such games as hop scotch and jacks.  Some kids were lucky enough to own a bicycle.  Our treat consisted of getting a nice cold snow cone from the snow cone man when we heard the musical sound of his truck coming. Our parents were blue collar workers. They were proud to have jobs in factories near by.  After a hard day of work some listened to the Cardinal baseball game on the AM station of their radio.  You could smell the aroma of home cooking coming the apartments. Dinner time was called super time and lunch was dinner.  A hearty lunch consisted of half a bologna sandwich and a can of Campbell’s chicken and noodle soup.  Super usually included some form of potatoes, a meat and gravy, peas or beans.  Children did not complain about their meals and Mom’s enjoyed cooking them.

Week ends came and some Dads might have a beer or two.  Mothers did the weekly grocery shopping at an outside fruit and vegetable market.  Meat was purchased from a butcher at the meat store.  The butcher was a friendly sort of chap with meat blood stains on his apron.  He always cut and wrapped a generous good portion in white freezer paper. The butcher knew all his customers by a first name basis.

Some times families enjoyed the parks on Sunday.  I remember the bright colored plastic table clothes spread out on picnic benches.  Huge bowls of potato salad, slaw and all the fixings were there for a wonderful picnic meal.  Adults and children played softball, badminton and shared a lot of laughter and fun.  At the end of the day we were relaxed, a little tired, sometimes sun burned, but happy. That was life in the big city.

Later I remember the move to a small town.  It was a much slower pace.  The town has one grocery store not a butchers shop.  There was a town square that sat right in the middle of the town with the stores around it.  You could see the old cotton gin where farmers brought their cotton in wagons to be ginned and bailed.  Sometimes there was country music players in the square for the town folks entertainment.  It was very important to get to town at the right time on Saturday evening for the town drawing.  I remember waiting anxiously to hear who would win the prize for the week.

On Sunday most folks put on their go to meeting clothes and attended church.  Everyone’s shoes were shined and dressed in their best clothes.  You could see men’s faces freshly shaved.  Women looked as though they just walked out of a country fashion magazine.   Hats were properly taken off prior to entering the building except for the ladies.  Of course they displayed their hats proudly on their heads clipped on with hat pins.

Sunday dinner was a big thing in the small town.  Tables were prepared with the best dishes.  The windows of the houses were open.  Curtains were swinging back and forth in the windows.  You could smell chicken and okra frying.  Potatoes were being mashed with real butter.  The gravy was simmering in the skillet. Fresh pies were coming out of the ovens.  Beautiful red tomatoes were sliced from the garden.  The families gathered around at the table and enjoyed a feast.  After dinner some nodded off for a nap while others just relaxed as if there was not a care in the world.

If you are a boomer reading this I hope it took you to a place of importance in your life.  I hope you will share your story with others that will listen.  Most of all, I hope that it has instilled in you the memory of what is really important.  Simple can sometimes be the most priceless of things that we have!  Ask yourself, is it too late?  Maybe your family can still have some of this on a beautiful week end coming up soon.

Boomer Memory Of Strengthened Faith

It was late March, a beautiful early spring day, as my friend Lou and I set out for the Ozark Mountains for a much needed get a way. I had received one of those free offers to a resort for two nights and three days as guests to view a vacation community. Since funds were low this was an opportunity that we just could not pass up. The sun was shining bright, the sky was crystal clear as we pulled into the resort entrance where we were met by a Realtor who graciously showed us to our condo. It was much more than we had expected. The view from the balcony looked down on the quaint village nestled at the bottom of the mountain.  It was a dream come true; a place for rest and relaxation, no stress, no worries, no responsibility.  For two gals in their early 30’s it was an escape from reality; a little peace of heaven on earth placed there for our enjoyment.  Yes, 1984 was going to be a good year.

Lou and I were ready! After taking our cooler and bags from the car we jumped into our comfortable pajama pants and long sloppy tee shirts. We tuned into our favorite radio station and brought out our manicuring sets, facial masks, curling irons, chocolate candy bars, chips and soda pop. Of course, Lou had her favorite love story book while I had my mediation and inspirational book to read. Lou flopped down on one couch with her legs hanging over the end as I spread out on the floor with my feet and legs in a chair. After pampering ourselves for a few hours, we decided to go to bed early to get some much needed sleep before our sightseeing trip that we had planned for the next day.

After sleeping for about two hours I woke up to a pounding sound on the window by my bed.  I pulled back the curtains to see sleet, ice and snow falling all around. The driveway was covered in ice and of course we were at the very top of the mountain.  We were iced in a snow storm to be remembered! Old man winter had returned in full force. I awakened Lou.  Immediately she started to panic.  She was crying as fear over took her.  We both were due back to work within two days and could not afford to miss any pay.  I had a fear of driving in bad weather and always avoided it.  After listening to the weather news, we learned the snow was suppose to continue for two days and there was talk of shutting the highways down.  I felt scared, powerless and out of control.

Lou was not into meditation and prayer but I was. I asked if she would pray with me.  She agreed and we held each others hands while I prayed.  A since of peace came over me that words can not even describe. The answer came!

Some how we de-iced the car and I drove it down the steep mountain. We made it to the highway where there were no vehicles in sight. Along the way, we stopped at a gas station for a fill up.  A truck driver asked us if we were crazy for driving in the weather.  I smiled and replied, “ No Sir. There is something more powerful than me behind the wheel of this car.”  We then continued on our way.  It was a fourteen hour drive which in normal conditions would have only taken five hours.  I remained calm during the entire trip.  My fear of driving had been removed.  My faith had been strengthened. We arrived safely back in the big city.  Lou now prays and meditates.  As for me, I have a story.  I have a memory.  It may not have been the escape that we wanted but it was the Gift that we needed.  It was The Power Of Faith and Peace Within.  The Gift was priceless and now it is being shared with you!