Retirement Stories

Here, you will find stories about retirement. Written by those living it.



My Work is My Hobby: An Interview with Elliot Aronson

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Elliot Aronson, Ph.D., is best known for his research on cognitive dissonance and the jigsaw classroom.  From his widely-used textbook, The Social Animal:  ”Elliot Aronson’s standing as one of the world’s most distinguished and versatile social psychologists is reflected in the wide variety of national and international awards he has received for his teaching, for his scientific research, for his writing, and for his contribution to society.”

Questions asked during the interview:

Tell me about your retirement/previous work.  Why did you retire?  Was the decision to retire made/planned by you?  Do you consider your retirement successful?  Happiness?  What’s better/gains?  Worse/losses?  How has retirement affected your relationships?  What is your relationship to OLLI?  What are your recommendations for others?

Elliot Aronson:

The notion of retirement is both interesting and elusive.  When I was about 50 years old, I did not even consider the possibility of retirement.  My fantasy was that, at age 93, while delivering a passionate lecture on cognitive dissonance to a roomful of students sitting on the edge of their chairs, I would collapse and die.  I figured that, if I was going to have to die, I would prefer to die with my boots on.  A charming and romantic notion.

Ellie & Desi

Ellie & Desi

There is an old saying:  “If you want to hear the sound of God’s laughter, just tell him your plans.”  In 1994, when I was still a youngish old man of 62, the University of California system was in terrible financial trouble and needed to slash its operating budget.  Because the retirement coffers were flush, they offered some of us older, more highly paid professors an extra financial incentive if we agreed to take early retirement.  (The plan was called VERIP). I was at the top of my game as a teacher, researcher, and writer. Although the financial incentive was tempting, I wasn’t going to take it.  My boots were still on, as it were.  Why quit now? Continue reading this story

FROM PhD IN SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS TO A DREAM CAREER AT AGE 66

Sandy Cohen

Hard to know where to start, so I’ll just start!  I really never got to choose a career, other than wife and then mother.  Married at 18.  First child was born at age 21. What I had were jobs.  As “job opportunities” presented themselves I usually took them. Through a series of serendipitous events, I found myself in school transportation–first as a bus driver in New Jersey, then as a Transportation Supervisor for Santa Cruz City Schools for 14 years.  While raising a family and working full-time, I went to Cabrillo to get my pre-reqs out of the way in preparation for the career that never really jelled.Sandra Cohen photo

All well and good until it wasn’t.  Having had to deal with my husband’s serious heart issues from age 33 on, I felt trapped in a job that no longer made sense to me, but provided health benefits and a stable income in case the other shoe dropped and I became a single mom.  In my mid-40s, with the two kids grown and launched, I went into a serious clinical depression.   Continue reading this story

My Video Memories

Doree Steinmann, BS, MA

After graduation from Syracuse as a Radio major in their School of Speech, College of Liberal Arts (because my parents didn’t want me to be an Actress and go “on the Wicked Stage”), I got married as so many of my friends did, and had four daughters.

Doree Steinmann

Doree Steinmann

My paid jobs in New York City during my summer vacations from college had been as a Page and then the first TV receptionist for CBS Television at their Grand Central Station Studios and another summer as a Radio Estimator at Young and Rubicam Advertising Agency. So working on Radio for free on the air as the Storybook Lady in Rochester, New York while i was pregnant was the real start of my career.  I rewrote fairy tales or wrote some original stories, sat at the piano for my musical backgrounds and sound effects, looked at my script as i took all the parts myself, changing my voice for each character.  This led to doing this for KVIE, the PBS TV outlet in Sacramento after my husband and all of us were transferred to California.  However for TV, now  children could see me with a castle, magic wand and storybook reading the stories and changing my voice.  Not as good as radio! Continue reading this story

HISTOIRE DE MA RETRAITE (My Retirement Story)

Maurice Ezran

(The English version follows)

1)  PRESENTATION

Je suis un ingénieur, de nationalité Française. J’ai fait toutes mes études universitaires à l’école d’Ingenieurs de Nancy en Lorraine. Apres avoir obtenu mon diplome d’ Ingenieur, j’ai preparé un Doctorat en Sciences, (l’equivalent du Phd americain) à la Sorbonne à Paris.

Maurice Ezran, French Engineer and Author

Maurice Ezran, French Engineer and Author

Toute ma carriere d’Ingenieur a été consacrée à l’industrie pétrolière. J’ai travaillé dans une Société de Services (Service Compagny) aux grandes compagnies petrolières. Elle était spécialisée en Géophysique,  science indispensable pour la recherche et la découverte des gisements de pétrole sous terre. Continue reading this story

Was there life in retirement in 1983?

Jim E. Faris

When my life as a Hollywood film editor was becoming a greater than normal challenge, I decided it was time to think of other areas of life I wanted to explore. My wife Paula and I were living the suburban life near Los Angeles and thought the location offered little variety or options for learning or socialization. We were familiar with Santa Cruz, CA as our oldest son had graduated from UCSC and our daughter had attended the university in her freshman year and our son Brian was living in Santa Cruz. The town was situated at the Pacific Ocean so we knew the weather would be to our liking. The University was an attraction as it offered a variety of classes with a student body of around 15,000. The University offered a program called “Elders in Residence” which allowed anyone age 62 or older to take two classes  for credit and live in the student dorms with the other students. Continue reading this story

My Big Happy Jewish Retirement

Cindy Margolin

My goal in retirement was to be involved in and give back to my community.  I also knew that I wanted to be involved with kids, my original professional goal.  Main hobbies were photography and world travel, both of which I planned to expand.

I had moved to Santa Cruz in 1987.  I bought my house as an investment for future retirement, wanting to be close to the beach.  My kids were both away at college, so I left my empty nest in San Jose near the university and moved to the beach.  I built a darkroom and travelled the world.  But because I was still commuting over the hill to SJSU, I really didn’t get to know my community, except for the SJSU Vanpool colleagues and folks who walked their dogs on West Cliff Drive on the weekends. Continue reading this story

Lew and Judith – Our Retirement Works

Lew and Judith Feinman

We were married in New York in 1956 and moved to South Florida where Lew was a registered pharmacist, buying into a partnership that eventually owned four drug stores

Judith was a stay at home mom raising two children when Lew came home one day and suggested that they take real estate classes and try their hands at real estate sales.small Judith Feinman Photo

Lew Feinman PhotoLew:  The pharmacies were doing well but the insurance industry and their “third party pay” programs made it difficult for the drug stores to receive timely payments from them.  It was time for a change for me and a way to get out of being a partner in the drug stores.

Judith:  I had never sold anything in my life but I was ready to try. We got our licenses and proceeded to do well enough financially that Lew was able to sell his share of the drug stores and go full time into selling real estate with me.

Lew:    Judy and I hung our licenses in Coconut Grove Realty. We worked as a team listing and selling properties.

Judith:  I learned a great deal about myself and found sales challenging and exciting. Happily we caught a rising real estate market. Continue reading this story

The Road to Retirement

Leslie Tremaine

Where to start? I started thinking about retiring years ago– reading books on how people made the transition, talking to people who were already over that threshold, fantasizing about what new and creative things I’d do , and of course obsessing about money and how to make all the nitty gritty logistics work out. My early plans were to leave a pretty big job I had and get into one that was much simpler, as a way to ease my way into actual retirement. I can still remember the dinner I had with a number of colleagues who told me how smart I was and talking about their own fantasies of downshifting .
Continue reading this story

Segue to Retirement

Judie Block with dog photoJudie Block

Today is Jan. 10 and I am into retirement mode almost 6 1/2 months….it is quite a new beginning.

I feel like I am standing in front of a huge smorgasbord of activities, similar to the grand buffet at the Palace Hotel in SF in the 1950’s adorned with many fine delicacies of gourmet delights. I remember the dessert table so well with whipped cream in many colors and shapes added to mini cakes and pastries. so many choices..then it was food; now it is life…the rest of my life. Continue reading this story

Keys to the Kingdom

Donna Love 

Retirement? Old age? Advanced years?  A Senior? A Crone?DonnaLovePhoto

I have a sister-in-law who at age 85 took a round-the-world cruise. As she entered the boarding area, she saw long lines of passengers snaking around to the clerks. Over to one side a small group of people entered a different gate. She joined that one. When it was her turn, she stepped up, lay her umbrella on the counter and said, “I am traveling steerage, but now that I am nearer 90, I don’t stand in lines. Can you help me?”  It worked. She was escorted on board as though she were traveling first class. Continue reading this story