September 19, 2014
Interview at Sunken Meadow Beach with Mr. William Schulman
Mr. Schulman wouldn’t tell me right away what his secret to being happy and successful was; however, it was worth the wait as his words are profound!
He made me wait to learn just like it took him 97 blessed years to figure it out for himself – he so graciously passes it on to all of us. Read the whole interview and feel his spirit as you connect with his “Pearls of Wisdom” for us. Read through to his last statement. Powerful and profound!
Ann: Is it okay if I use the tape recorder, because it is easier for me than to write, is that okay?
Mr. Schulman: No problem.
Ann: So, now, what I am doing is that I have a soft spot for seniors such as yourself and I see that a lot of the time seniors are not voicing their messages and I feel that you all have so much wisdom to share with youngins/young people like us and I would like to ask you a couple of questions about what you would like to pass on to younger people.
I’d like to know about things that you have learned, things that are important, maybe somehow if you would like to change anything about aging and I’d like to know a little bit about your history. Were you were married? Where did you grow up and just anything that YOU would like to leave as a message to somebody else that would help them further in life.
Mr. Schulman: Well, then we would have to have at least a half a dozen meetings.
Ann: I’m looking forward to seeing you more than just for today. Today is just to kind of get to know each other.
Mr. Schulman: I’ve got to figure out if I like you (he says with a grin).
Ann: You have to figure out if you like me?
Mr. Schulman: So far I like you. I’m partial to women.
Ann: I’m glad that you like me. Well, you said that you were partial to women, right?
Mr. Schulman: Well, I was blessed with a family. I had one wife and we were married for well over sixty years.
Ann: Over sixty years? Wow! What’s the secret to a happy marriage?
Mr. Schulman: Yeah, the secret to a happy marriage is that naturally you have to have strong feelings for the person that you are married to and I was fortunate to have those feelings.
Ann: So, you were blessed to have that?
Mr. Schulman: Yes, blessed, and I had a woman who put herself together nicely.
Ann: Now, let me ask you something. There’s a lot of divorce today, and if you were to tell the people my age from this generation what is the reason there is so much divorce, what can we do differently not to have so much divorce?
Mr. Schulman: There’s a whole book you’d have to write about that.
Ann: Oh! There’s a whole book on that subject? Well, give me just a little bit. Let’s put it this way, what is one of the most important things?
Mr. Schulman: Well, the most important thing is that the woman or man you are married to is not somebody well, it’s nice to be married to, you understand? There has to be an emotional feeling both physical and cultural.
Ann: Cultural, that’s interesting. When you say cultural, do you mean they have to come from the same background or have the same values?
Mr. Schulman: Not necessarily the same background. (Mr. Schulman veers onto a different subject for a bit.)
Do you see this – do you see this here?
Ann: What do you have?
Mr. Schulman: See this here? (He is pointing to his cap).
Ann: World War II veteran, I love it!
Mr. Schulman: I was a draftee. I was a private and I came out as a bronze star captain. I was drafted – do you know what a draft is?
Ann: Yes, when they call, you’ve got to go. God bless you. Can I take a picture of you later with that hat on? Would that be okay?
Mr. Schulman: You got to pay a few dollars, (with a teasing laugh and a smile).
Ann: I have to pay??? (with a feigned shocked expression).
Mr. Schulman: No, God bless you. What’s your name again?
Ann: My name is Ann.
Mr. Schulman: Ann, that’s a nice name.
Ann: Thank you.
Mr. Schulman: I was blessed with a sense of humor, (grinning like the Cheshire cat).
Ann: I see that and I love it.
Mr. Schulman: (Coming in closer as if it were a secret), I have to tell you something. I had 110 men under my control.
Mr. Schulman: One bad move..(he drifted off for a moment).
Ann: What was the bad move?
Mr. Schulman: Go right instead of left.
Ann: Oh! Got it! If you ordered your men to go right instead of left…
Mr. Schulman: (Getting enthusiastic now), Yeah, and instead of having a road that led you someplace, it led you into the German area.
Ann: Oh my goodness.
Mr. Schulman: And, of course you see, I’m Jewish. Are you Jewish?
Ann: No, I’m not Jewish.
Mr. Schulman: I’m Jewish and, needless to say, as a Jewish person I had a greater reason to destroy Germany because of all the Nazis wanted to do was to eradicate any semblance of the Jewish people.
Ann: So, how many years were you in the war?
Mr. Schulman: (Seemingly and rightfully proud), four years.
Ann: Did you meet your wife then? Im dying to know when you met your wife and how you met her. Would you tell me? I’d like to hear that story.
Mr. Schulman: I met my wife when I got back. I was a pretty nice-looking young man.
Ann: And, you’re still as handsome as ever, (smiling and laughing with him).
Mr. Schulman: (Chuckling and grinning), You know flattery will get you everywhere.
Ann: I know that. But, do you know what makes you handsome – your personality makes you handsome – that’s what it is.
Mr. Schulman: I have a sense of humor, (grinning again).
Ann: I see that.
Mr. Schulman: Do you see from here down the end of the boardwalk, from 100 yards away, German machine guns were firing at us, and I had to keep my boys laughing.
Ann: And, you were making jokes just to keep them going? So, let me ask you something is that the secret to a happy marriage? Having a good sense of humor?
Mr. Schulman: That’s one of them.
Ann: So, you have to answer my question, you have to tell me–what is the secret to having a happy marriage? If you had to tell the generation today—what is the most important thing?
Mr. Schulman: RESPECT.
Ann: RESPECT! I LOVE that — mutual respect.
Mr. Schulman: When I got out of the army, I was slim…
Ann: So, you were handsome, slim, and had a sense of humor….and respect. You had it all going on!
Mr. Schulman: So, I had this friend of mine who had already become a dentist! He brought me pictures of two girls and here I just came back, just discharged and he said you have your pick and they are 2 cousins. One of them was a girl whose father was a CPA and I was a CPA do you understand???
Ann: Oh, so there was a little connection there?
Mr. Schulman: Yes, but I liked the other face better.
Ann: Oh, so you had to make a choice.
Mr. Schulman: I had to make a choice. I went through their background, what they did, what schools they went to…
Ann: Oh so you did a little analyzing and a little investigation before you made your choice.
Mr. Schulman: Even as of today, I still make choices by analyzing.
Ann: Well, that’s a good way of making a decision right? So, let me ask you something. Was it hard for you to choose which one you liked better?
Mr. Schulman: It wasn’t hard, I just looked at it and said I’d pick this one.
Ann: So, which one did you pick the CPA dad or the other one?
Mr. Schulman: Nope, the other one!
Ann: OH! Look at that!
Mr. Schulman: I just liked her better somehow whatever it was.
Ann: You were married for how long based on that? 60 years?
Mr. Schulman: Yes.
Ann: Wait a minute, I forgot to ask you, how old are you now?
Mr. Schulman: 97
Ann: 97! And you live here in Long Island, and you lived here all your life or did you come from Brooklyn or…?
Mr. Schulman: No I’m here for about 30 years. I have the most beautiful location. See what you are looking at, this is our patio and the beach is narrower and this is our view.
Ann: Nice, what a blessing.
Mr. Schulman: You see the water, you see the ducks, you see the birds, in your life you couldn’t see anything more beautiful. And in the front between myself and the water is flowers.
Ann: Do you like being near the water, does that give you a sense of calm and make you feel connected?
Mr. Schulman: I love it (with a sigh of gratitude).
Ann: Now do you feel connected to a higher source? Do you have a higher belief, do you believe in God?
Mr. Schulman: Oh yeah. I don’t know if you know the meaning of the word Cohaine. There are 3 different types of Jews. One comes from the high rabbis and their families, these were Moses and Aaron – he was a brother of Moses. My lineage and my background – I am a descendant of Aaron, Moses’ brother and I am strict believer in my religion. I am a strict believer in God and I abide by that.
Ann: Beautiful So, you believe in a higher power and you believe in God. Now what is it that your belief gets you through the day. Do you talk with God, do you pray to God? Do you invite God into your life? How does God show up for you, in particular?
Mr. Schulman: God is with me every day. I’m the Cohaine and the Cohaine is the rabbi, but I don’t practice as a rabbi but I have the feeling and my listing is as such and the unfortunate thing is that it is only passed on from a man who hands it down to a son and I have three beautiful wonderful daughters and this is the end of the line.
Ann: Well, let me ask you something. If there was a way that you could say that instead of it being an ending, at your age of 97 years old, would there be any kind of beginning. How would you share your spirituality with other people if you could?
Mr. Schulman: How would I share?
Ann: How would you share your belief in God – what would you tell people about God? What is a message that you might want to give to people about God and how He shows up in your life?
Mr. Schulman: Oh…we would have to be together for 36 hours, (with a grin).
Ann: 36 hours? Well, I will be back,
Mr. Schulman: Oh, you didn’t’ say it right – you have to say it like this “I shall return.”
Ann: Oh, “I shall return” – there you go. I like that – thank you for the correction. I appreciate it. Seriously, though if you wanted to tell me something – I’m fifty years old –
Mr. Schulman: How old are you???
Ann: I’m fifty.
Mr. Schulman: You don’t look it.
Ann: I’m fifty-one actually.
Mr. Schulman: You look younger. You look wonderful.
Ann: Thank you. What would you like to tell me about God? Any message that comes to your heart or from your soul?
Mr. Schulman: The message is one word…what’s the word?
Ann: (Guessing). Believe?
Mr. Schulman: No, it’s a four-letter word.
Ann: I don’t know you tell me.
Mr. Schulman: LOVE!
Ann: LOVE!!!! You just made me smile.
Mr. Schulman: I have so much love, this lady here, how many years are you with me –10 years and I love her, but in addition to loving her, I respect her.
Ann: You respect her. Ahhhh. So God is love.
Mr. Schulman: God is love and respect. I had sisters and daughters.
Ann: So you get it!
Mr. Schulman: I GOT IT (proudly).
Ann: And you had a wife that you loved and respected. How much better than that does it get? It doesn’t get any better than that. You are an amazing man, do you know that?
Mr. Schulman: I don’t feel amazing I just feel that God has been very, very good to me.
Ann: You feel blessed?
Mr. Schulman: I feel blessed!
Ann: And, so you are grateful? You live your life in gratitude.
Mr. Schulman: OHHHH! I am grateful. I have to tell you that there was a time when I was a youngster and I was 7 or 8 years old, and the garment factory that my late father was working in closed down and we had nothing to eat.
Ann: The depression?
Mr. Schulman: Yep and my late mother had to wait for the butcher to close and get the bones on a Friday before the Sabbath and she would buy the cuts that were basically just bone not a lot of meat and she would make a nice meal out of it.
Ann: A nice little soup or stew out of it?
Mr. Schulman: Yeah a stew and stuff like that and I know I was with my family and we enjoyed a delicious meal from almost nothing.
Ann: And that is how you survived thanks to mamma? Well, you seem like you had a lot of experience in life, you were married, you had a family, you went through the depression, you went through the war and you seem so peaceful. SO, if you wanted to tell me what the secret to being happy is, what would that be?
Mr. Schulman: Are you married?
Ann: No, I am single.
Mr. Schulman: Oh, so you are available!
Ann: (Laughs all around), nice try.
Mr. Schulman: Sense of humor…What’s your name again?
Ann: My name is Ann
Mr. Schulman: Oh yes! The secret to being happy…..
Mr. Schulman: Come closer – the secret to being happy is……….BEING HAPPY!!!
Ann: The secret to being happy is BEING Happy? It’s that simple right?
Mr. Schulman: It IS simple
Ann: Because what happens, first you start being happy and then more good stuff happens right?
Mr. Schulman: I have this woman here who keeps me alive, and I’m happy.
Ann: She takes good care of you right?
Mr. Schulman: Very good care.
Ann: And you feel blessed to have somebody like Barbara in your life?
Mr. Schulman: Absolutely.
Ann: She’s an angel right?
Mr. Schulman: And I don’t take advantage of her kindness, do I take advantage of you (he turns to Barbara)?
Barbara Webster (Mr. Schulman’s caregiver). All the time (laughing).
Ann: She has a sense of humor too. She got ya!
Barbara: It’s rubbing off
Mr. Schulman: She didn’t have it before. (Grinning).
Ann: Ohhh, you see that, she’s been spending a lot of time with you and it rubbed off on her.
Mr. Schulman: We eat together, spend time together, watch some television together. She’s a reader.
The last book I read I never even finished it during the war – it was a big book. When the war was over and I left Marseilles as Capt. William Schulman with the bronze star.
Ann: Capt William Schulman, beautiful. I see that. Do you wear that hat every day, does it go everywhere with you?
Mr. Schulman: No, only when I come here.
Ann: It’s a beautiful cap and I like the medals on them and you deserve them for doing what you did.
Mr. Schulman: It’s the bronze star.
Ann: Do you think that there is anything that you feel that veterans need and that they don’t get? Did you find that when you were done with service, that you needed any services or you needed anything?
Mr. Schulman: I haven’t needed anything, but I may be joining and I’m not sure yet but they have in Northport, the senior center. I may but I’m not sure. But, I want to help veterans.
Ann: Oh how nice, what would you like to do for them or with them?
Mr. Schulman: Advise them.
Ann: Beautiful! I love that. You are a beautiful man – look at that.
Mr. Schulman: I have no problem with that.
Ann: What would you advise them on? Like have to live after the war or?
Mr. Schulman: I advise them to forget the war, you are now a civilian/do the best you can/try to get the job that will give you the most interest, but if you cannot, than the most important thing is that if you have a family you have to make a living.
Ann: So, support and take care of your family.
Mr. Schulman: There’s a lot of people that have these things like your tape recorder but I am probably the only person I’m sure that you know that does not have these things.
Ann: So, technology is not a big part of your life. Do you know how to use a computer?
Mr. Schulman: No computer. Cell phone? Barbara do I know how to use one?
Barbara: You know how to just to make calls.
Ann: Just to make calls if you had to. And, you watch a little bit of television and you read, that’s about it?
Mr. Schulman: I don’t read books – but I read the newspaper.
Ann: What branch of the service were you in
Mr. Schulman: Army field artillery. As a kid, I didn’t even have a toy tank and here I was and I had the responsibility of 110 men underneath me .
Ann: So, you are 97 years old but you speak very well, and you very sharp. Can you tell me if there was something that you may have done when you were my age that contributed to your being this healthy now? Did you not smoke, not drink, eat right?
Mr. Schulman: I gave up many, many, many years ago working with the stock market because I established that the stock market was a bunch of crooks and I went into buying property and I was very, very successful and made a lot of money.
Ann: So, is that what you are saying that contributed to being so healthy and well now is that your finances together with making good decisions is what made you so healthy and shape the way you are now.
Mr. Schulman: (In a whisper) tells me he ran away from the stock market because he recognized that there were crooks.
Ann: There was probably a lot of stress there too right?
Mr. Schulman: Yeah, every night you couldn’t wait for the numbers to come out.
Barbara: You ride your bicycle every day too.
Ann: Do you do that now? You ride a bicycle every day?
Mr. Schulman: Every single day.
Ann: Is that an outdoor or a stationary bicycle. How long do you ride it for?
Mr. Schulman: 30 minutes. Stationary.
Ann: Every day? Seven days a week, for real?
Mr. Schulman: Every day, seven days a week.
Ann: Oh my God.
Mr. Schulman: Barbara and I walk here just about every day and we take this walk.
Ann: So, you walk and you bicycle.
Mr. Schulman: We just planted 500 roses and put in a putting green with 4 holes. I used to be a golfer and I putt every day now too. We have a bird bath with feeders and hummingbirds. I’ll walk back and forth ten times in the winter.
Ann: In the winter?
Mr. Schulman: In the winter.
Ann: God bless you. I’m almost ashamed of myself now. Were you always active and healthy?
Mr. Schulman: Yeah, always active.
Ann: What kind of exercise did you do when you were younger.
Mr. Schulman: Basketball and I always exercised.
Ann: What kind of meals did you eat when you were somebody my age lets say fifties.
Mr. Schulman: I watch what I eat, not much fatty foods, but I do eat meat.
Ann: So, you have a balanced diet.
Mr. Schulman: I have a balanced diet and I know my limits.
Ann: So, you don’t overeat. So, you are 97 years old and not a lot of people get to say that, right. If there was something that you wanted to tell people even in their seventies, how to get to this healthy state of mind and this healthy place that you are in, what would you share with people as far as health and diet and nutrition?
Mr. Schulman: It’s a four letter word.
Ann: Uh oh – food!
Mr. Schulman: Close – Love again. It’s love again! You gotta love your food and love your self and your life. I have a family, I have 3 daughters, I have four grandchildren
Mr. Schulman: I have Barbara, and you understand that she may not be blood, but she is as good as blood she is like family. She is family.
Ann: That’s beautiful
Mr. Schulman: I am fortunate because of the relationship that I have, the feelings that I have and you cant replace that and importantly I have a drink every single day (he slowly shares this with me).
Ann: Oh, a little wine or…
Mr. Schulman: No, scotch!
Ann: No way
Mr. Schulman: Yup
Ann: On the rocks or straight up??
Mr. Schulman: On the rocks
Ann: Is that a little night cap before you go to bed or?
Mr. Schulman: No, just before dinner I have four pretzels and a glass of scotch
Ann: I love it, so you have a couple of pretzels and a little scotch and you’re good to go.
Mr. Schulman: I’m ready
Ann: What is most important to you now at 97
Mr. Schulman: Independence.
Mr. Schulman’s Final Thoughts: And you know what – I am the most successful person because I’ve loved and had love. The most important word in the English dictionary is love. And if you have it, find a way to recognize the use of and the energy of love and advocate it – advocate love. If you have a person you have love for and retain indefinitely and gives you a reason to look forward to getting up in the morning, then I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s not about what you do/where you go – its about being there.
What a POWERFUL Interview!
What is your definition of success? What do you think your 97-year-old self would tell your now self???
Please post on that! We’d love to hear!!!