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This is Ed

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I received an email from a  communications worker at JASA (Jewish Association Serving the Aging)asking me if I would come to Club 76, a JASA sponsored community center to meet and interview a few of their members.  Club 76 is located on 76th and Columbus Ave.  We arranged for me to meet some of the clients in the community room.  When I arrived, it was lunch time and about 15 or 20 people were sitting at tables eating what looked like a  healthy meal.  All were actively engaged with one another and the staff.  I learned that Club 76 provides 62 kosher meals a day provided by the Department For the Aged (DTFA.) A donation of $2.50 is requested, but no one is turned away if unable to pay.

 

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When lunch was over, I was introduced to Ed.  Ed is 87 years old, divorced and lives alone nearby. He has a daughter, son-in-law and a granddaughter who live in New York City and he sees them often.  He was born in New York City and his first job in 1961 was in the mailroom of a talent agency earning $55 a week.  He worked his way up the ladder and eventually was assigned to represent a client.  Because of his interest in comedy, he was assigned comedians, including a man named Jack Roy.  The comedian needed a new stage name, so Ed came up with the name Rodney Dangerfield.  He also told me that David Geffen, who has a building at Lincoln Center named for him, was once Ed's secretary.

Ed grew up in Manhattan, on West 78th Street.  He loved living in the city, but in 1958 after his divorce, he moved to California to work in the entertainment business.  He enjoyed living in California, however, he wanted to be near his daughter and granddaughter, so he returned to live in New York.

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Ed has been coming to JASA for 12 years.  It is an important part of his life now.  He previously attended four and five times a week but now, because of kidney problems, he is unable to come as often.  He likes and needs contact with his peers and referred to the program as "almost therapy."  Because he lives alone, the JASA program has become his way to meet people, socialize and fight off his loneliness.  Ed is getting old and getting out to JASA, his lifeline, as often as he can.