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AROUND TOWN / BEVERLY BEYETTE

No One Runs Rings Around This Rosie--Even at Age 100

April 22, 1993|BEVERLY BEYETTE

That Rosie Freedman--always lying about her age.

When she was 80, her boss thought she was 65. At 90, she took an art tour of France, letting on she was 80.

Well, the jig's up.

Rosie just turned 100. She did it in style, at a dinner-dance for 100. She was the one in the long pink gown with sparkles.

For weeks, Arthur Murray had been teaching her dancing in a hurry. Funny, she said, her instructor seemed to think she was fragile or something: "She swings me all around and then she's asking, 'Are you dizzy?' "

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday April 23, 1993 Home Edition View Part E Page 7 Column 2 View Desk 1 inches; 23 words Type of Material: Correction
Around Town--A quote was incorrectly attributed to Russell Hicks, an instructor at Arthur Murray Dance Studio, in a photo caption in Wednesday's View section.

Rosie hasn't time for silly questions. After all, she has her oil painting. (She took that up when she was 79). And her Spanish lessons. In September, she and daughter Arlene March will live with a family in Mexico while Rosie brushes up on the language (one of her five).

And she has her Lakers. Birthday party guests included Jerry West, who brought jersey number 100 with ROSIE on the back. (She wore it to last Sunday's game).

Arlene likes to tell about Mother's 90th birthday. The family had arranged brunch, a visit to Norton Simon Museum and dinner. After the museum, March recalls, "We went home to rest. She told us to drop her at Loehmann's."

Until two years ago, Rosie was bi-coastal, with an apartment in Manhattan. She'd pack four suitcases and off she'd go. When she developed a bit of leg trouble, the family said, 'That's it.' "

Rosie didn't argue. She's content in her Beverly Hills apartment, where she lives alone. Of course. Still, she says, "If I'd known my legs were going to get better, I wouldn't have given up that New York apartment."

It's not that life's always been a lark. Widowed at 59, Rosie thought she'd been left well off. But it seemed her husband had no Social Security and there were debtors out there--"I didn't know who owed us money." She sold the typewriter business and set out to get a job, even though she hadn't worked since her teens.

At this point in her story, Rosie digresses--back to Austria, where she was born. She tells of coming to America as a girl, working as a seamstress at the Triangle Shirtwaist Co. in Manhattan.

There, on March 25, 1911, 145 people died in the infamous fire. Rosie recalls: "The doors were locked so people ran out on the fire escape," which collapsed. She climbed to the roof, where firefighters hoisted her to safety. Company VIPs tried to bribe her to say the doors were open: "I said, 'nothing doing.' That was the beginning of the labor union."

Now, about going back to work all those years later. With new business school credentials, she landed one job, then another, and at 64 was hired at Manhattan Life Insurance. She smiles: "At that time it just said 25-plus" in the blank for checking age.

She stayed 15 years, until compulsory retirement started. "They had to lay me off because they thought I was 65," says Rosie, who is something of a late bloomer.

She married husband Harry when she was 32. (He thought she was 27.) Buddy was born when she was 35, Bobby when she was 39, Arlene when she was 44.

Perhaps, now, she'd like to share those obligatory secrets of longevity . . .

Well, she loves chili-- hot. And she doesn't take any pills. "The doctor himself said to me, 'That's why you live so long.' "

Just Say Nay to 'I'

Do people start to yawn when you start to talk? Do they head for the buffet table when they see you coming?

You may have what Carol Sapin Gold calls "I disease," an incurable inclination to chatter endlessly about "that wonderful object of your attention"--yourself.

Face it, says Gold: "Most people are only interested in themselves. The more interested we are in them, the more memorable we are."

As a case in point, Gold--by calling, a professional speaker--launches into a monologue guaranteed to kill any conversation:

". . . Would anybody like to hear about my dog? Also, I'd like to share with you what I had for dinner tonight and, oh, I'm not feeling so well . . ."

All of that's just dandy, she observes, "if you're at the Golden Retriever Society, chef's night or a health clinic."

On a recent evening, 22 people turned up at a Culver City hotel for Gold's class for the Learning Annex. They included an artist, a lawyer, an emergency-room nurse and an engineer.

The class, Gold says, tends to attract those "in professions where they don't mingle a lot."

She talks about three little words-- how, what and why-- sure-fire for drawing people out.

Among her tips for titillating talk:

Don't interrupt. Don't gossip. Discuss--don't argue.

And, finally, drop just from your vocabulary, as in, "I'm just a housewife . . ."

Rx: More Fun, Less FUD

Into a city where stress is practically a lifestyle comes Dr. Robert S. Eliot, a noted neurocardiologist, to ask: "Stress: Is It Worth Dying For?"

Eliot--who divides his time between Arizona and Wyoming--was at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center offering a tip or two on how to send that blood pressure zooming. And some ways to keep cool.

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