Retirement Talk for Boomers, Seniors and Retirees

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Episode 120 Road Trip Part 13: “Savannah and Strength Training”


The Hilton Hotel in the old district of Savannah was our choice for two night’s accommodations, but it cost too much. We dislike driving and wanted to be able to park our car and walk or bike to wherever we might want to go. We wanted a fitness room in which we could do some strength training. And we had to have a reliable Internet connection.

We decided to try to talk our way into a lower rate for the room. “That’s a bit more than we intended on spending,” we said. The desk clerk looked again at her computer and then wrote a lower number on a piece of paper. Once again, we looked at each other and said with a grimace, “Well, that’s closer, but it is still more than we budgeted for this stop.” She quickly returned to the computer for just a few seconds and then wrote down another number that was forty dollars less than where she started. We took the room – it was a suite – and very nice. You might try that tactic some day.

This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery.

Our drive to Savannah included a memorable lunch stop at a little road side restaurant in Darian, Georgia called “B&J’s”. We wanted a salad. They offered a real southern ‘buffet’ for eight dollars. “All you can eat including desert” she said. “Southern fried chicken, barbequed ribs, pulled pork, grits, mashed potatoes, biscuits’ and gravy, collard greens, zucchini and tomatoes, salad and a banana cream pudding to die for.” We settled for the buffet; an amazing meal; not the healthiest meal, but certainly one of the tastiest.

Savannah impressed us as a very relaxed and beautiful city. It has all of these parks laid out in a symmetrical pattern. I don’t think anyone in this downtown area is less than four blocks from a park or an open space square the size of a city block. Whoever laid out this city was thinking of people and the need for open space. It is very pedestrian friendly.

Brenda took a delightful two hour walking tour of some of the old southern mansions. We biked from one park to another and stopped to take innumerable pictures of beautiful old homes. Our hotel was located next to the “market place” - a few blocks with just walking streets; lots of shops, sidewalk restaurants, coffee stops, and buskers – we always pause for sidewalk musicians. There’s lots of history in Savannah. One of my favorite stops was at the home of writer Flannery O’Conner. She was such a master of telling a story. 

Gordon Scoles lives just south of the boarder between the two Carolinas.. He lifts weights. He’s about my age – last half of the sixties. He lifted weights while in college. He threw the shot-put and discuss on the track team. He went on to earn a PhD. in physical education.  He then held a myriad of jobs. He taught from high school through university level. He coached at all levels. He worked in college administration and wrote books. He was going to write some more books during retirement and then said to himself, “I can do that when I get old. Right now, what I would really like to do is lift weights.”

Gordon and his wife, Pat, settled in Bennettsville, South Carolina. “You’re in the rural south when you get here,” he told me. The town has about 7000 residence; same number as there are seats in their high school football stadium. The streets are clean, the houses are relatively inexpensive and the taxes are almost nonexistent. We marveled at how healthy the downtown core looked as we entered the town. Later we learned that it was all a show. Stores that looked like viable concerns were really just store fronts that had been updated and made to look like real businesses.  It’s sort of like a western movie set. The front looks good, but there is nothing behind the first 10 feet but empty building. Some of the businesses are for real, but most of them aren’t. I will say it looks a lot better than broken windows and plywood doors.

The Scoles like Bennettsville as a retirement community. “It has lots of churches”, Pat said, “maybe 20. Then it has probably that many for blacks.”  It has one tavern or bar. Drinking is akin to sinning. We tried to buy a bottle of wine to take to their house for dinner but the stores wouldn’t sell us one. “Not on Sunday”, the clerk said. The scanning machine wouldn’t even read the price. “Not on Sunday”.

We hadn’t seen the Scoles for 14 years. We started talking like we had just left off yesterday. Good friends seem to have this ability. It was Super Bowl Sunday and Pat, an avid fan, would jump out of the chair at any big play. We ate super bowl food and talked away all but the last few minutes. Then the close game demanded all of our attention.

The following morning Brenda and I went for a bike ride. Then Gordon took me out to the garage which serves as his weigh room. He lifts competitively and looks every inch a competitor. His weight is under control and he is rock solid – just as he was in his earlier college days. The demands of competitive weight lifting force him to watch his weight. He’s slimed down. The idea of having to jump up a class because of extra pounds provides real incentive to watch his diet. Perhaps that is what we all need; a good reason to watch what we eat; a reason or cause that we can believe in. It certainly works for him.

"We have a choice as we age: don't exercise and suffer the physical liabilities against your will, or exercise and consciously choose how you suffer. Conscious suffering, which is the result of choosing how you train, always results in growth." Frank Zane, Mr. Olympia

 Scoles quoted me this as we left his weight room. Then he  added,  "Either way, you are going to suffer".


This is Retirement Talk.