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Sixty-Something: The Future Never Gets Old

T.J. Clemente

The author. (Courtesy Photo)

Being sixty-something means you have a long past, but as for the future, the future never gets old. It always starts right now. You never are really in the future because we live in the present, but the future is always just right in front of you.

I was talking to John Heisig, my 92-year-old mentor who lives in Sag Harbor. Over the years John has given me many leads to great stories. Leads such as an East End man whose dad was pals with Howard Hughes, or brothers who caddied for the Duke of Winsor at National Links Golf Course, and even a guest who attended Henry Ford II's wedding in Southampton - the wedding that had the original Henry Ford's personal railroad car parked at Southampton Train Station. Over the 15 years that I have known John, he is always planning for the future. I must note somehow John met my mom and dad 40 years ago. That's how we became friends.

Although we all have futures, as we age the extent of our futures becomes more limited. When my dad was 70 he bought a winter condo in Jensen Beach, Florida. He laughed as the developers insisted he take advantage of the low rate 30-year mortgage they were offering. Brain cancer did take his life just four years later but when my mom sold that condo they doubled their money in just four years. At the closing, of course, she paid off the 30 year mortgage. She couldn't live in the condo because my dad had planned on living out the rest of his life there.

When I was a teen, I dreamed big dreams. As a sixty-something, I would tell today's youth that some dreams came true, while others never happen. When I was 16-years-old I wanted to own the Pelham Sun, it was the local paper of my hometown. Ten years later when it actually became available my mom called me. With the building I believe the price was $200,000. I wish I had bought it, but it sold very quickly. I worked in our family business until it ended about the same time my dad died in 1999. Right after that my oldest daughter went to Smith College and eventually became the Editor-in-Chief of the Sophian (the Smith College paper.) In fact she had actually been Editor-in Chief of the Pel Mel the Pelham High School paper too. I remember taking her to visit Smith College and her saying she would be the Editor-in-Chief of the paper at Smith. So inspired by her ambitions I once again, at age 50, aimed at reporting, writing and becoming a "Journalist." I first had that dream at 11-years-old when I founded, wrote, printed and distributed the Siwanoy Scope, the paper at my Boy Scout Camp. The paper died when I left the camp.

For 25 years I worked the family business until it ended in 1999. After that I had six years of various jobs before I started to write articles for the Montauk Pioneer and Dan's Papers (thanks to David Rattiner and then his dad Dan Rattiner). I lived in Montauk and it was great. Then new management came in I was out in 2012. They wanted to go in a new direction. I never stopped writing.

In the last 15 years I have composed literally thousands of articles. This has been the most rewarding in many ways. I have helped people and hopefully entertained others. I love writing these columns along with enjoying doing play reviews and my other timely posts. When I met my wife and introduced myself she knew who I was, she had read many of my articles. So perhaps writing gave me the best future ever, a future with an amazing woman. There is a joy in writing this column; it is a future I look forward to every day. At sixty-something still finding joy is what makes life everything.

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