My friend, Trisha, says I’m a news junkie. But she hasn’t met my Aunt Elaine, who at 83, has a zest for politics like you wouldn’t believe. And trust me, even I can’t believe it.
Yet, when I want to get my true, 100% all-in political fix, all I have to do is pick up the phone and call Aunt Elaine. She’s my favorite news junkie and the best go-to news source around. Guaranteed.
“Bubala,” she says. “I feel like a celebrity, you interviewing me.” (This is the second time I’ve called to write about her. You can read my first post here.)
“Aunt Elaine, I just have to know. What’s your take on the debates?”
“What are you talking about?” she explains in a New York accent so thick it can slice a bagel. “Where do I begin??”
Aunt Elaine, grew up in Bronx, but has been living in New Jersey for as long as I’ve known her. So the New York accent is genuine. The bomb. Like Bernie Sanders times ten. I ask her where her infatuation with the world of politics began.
“When I was growing up,” she recalls, “I woke up to the news on the radio every single morning. I would hear Walter Winchell and Gabriel Heatter. From 7:30 in the morning until I got home at night, I heard the news. You could go to the movies every week and watch the newsreels. I belonged to the Sedgewick Democratic Club in the Bronx. I had a brother in the service and that made my father a strong follower of politics. I became interested because of him.”
Today, politics still courses through Aunt Elaine’s veins.
“I watch news all the time,” she says. “Bloomberg News, CNN and C-span. Sometimes Fox News. I never agree with them but I listen. My favorite is MSNBC, and I adore Rachel Maddow—whom I think is brilliant—Lawrence O’Donnell and Chris Matthews, too.”
“I do not like Joe Scarborough,” she adds. “Joe doesn’t know his history, like Chris Matthews does and Bill O Reilly, who I don’t like, does. I like the young people they have on MSNBC. I think their views are great. They’re very tolerant of different opinions. I like Chuck Todd. I watch his show, ‘Meet the Press,’ and also ‘Face the Nation.’”
Whew. That’s a lot of news!
The first time Aunt Elaine voted in a presidential election, Dwight D. Eisenhower was running against Adlai Stevenson. She’s voted in every election since, and firmly stands by one belief:
“No matter who’s in office, whether I voted for them or not,” she says, “I respect the President of the United States of America. I feel proud to be a citizen of this country and stand by the President.”
Like many, Aunt Elaine feels the news has become more about entertainment than substance, pointing to one candidate in particular.
“Trump is a bluff,” she observes. “He exaggerates, he brags. He’s a self-promoting entertainer, and I resent that. If you want to run for president, let’s hear policy. Let’s hear what you’re going to do. Don’t tell me what you don’t like. You want to get rid of ISIS? So do I. That doesn’t mean I’m going to go out and kill everybody. And who are you to say you don’t like immigration? Well the Native Americans are Americans and everyone else is an immigrant, so that’s where I feel Trump lacks his history. I want to know how he’s going to run the country.”
As far as the other candidates, Aunt Elaine has this to say: “They can say what they want but I wish they would do so without belittling the president. Out of respect, no one should belittle the president, no matter who it is.”
When Aunt Elaine disagrees or has an opinion about something she heard on the news, she’s not afraid to voice her opinion.
“I’m not on email or Facebook,” she explains. “So I constantly call and leave my comments on the MSNBC comment line. I never get to speak to anyone, though, and they never call back.”
Politics isn’t Aunt Elaine’s only interest. She also has a penchant for the Yankees and Frank Sinatra.
She remembers playing hooky from school with friends, to see Sinatra perform at the Paramount.
“My mother wrote a note to excuse me from school,” she recalls. “She also made lunch for us. I wore my bobby socks and saddle shoes. There were long lines to get in and we were screaming our heads off. We didn’t know why we were screaming but we were excited because it was all new. My brother taught me the Lindy Hop and the Suzie Q and I’d dance to the Big Band and Frank Sinatra on the radio. After the war, Frank was popular because people were looking for more loving songs like, ‘Be Careful, it’s My Heart.’ I just fell in love with Sinatra.”
She pauses for a moment. Then adds,
“Of course, he lost his chance. If it wasn’t for Ava (Gardner, whom he married), he could’ve had me, but there you go.” She laughs.
As for the Yankees, Aunt Elaine has always been a die-hard fan, going back to the Joe DiMaggio days.
“Living in the Bronx, I could walk to Yankee stadium,” she recalls. “Sometimes we’d go to to a game. Other times I could see the games from the elevated train platform. Since I’m retired now, I’m able to watch more. If I’m out to dinner, I check the score. Sometimes I record it.”
Aunt Elaine’s home is filled with Yankee memorabilia—tee shirts, baseball caps, a pen and ink portrait of Babe Ruth; posters and plaques from when they won the World Series, a nightstand, throw pillows, a wall clock and a book signed by Yogi Berra.
“I have a lot of paraphernalia,” she says matter-of-factly.
Of course, her most prized possession are the lyrics she wrote for her team with love, and with the hope that someday someone will put them to music.
“We are the New York Yankees you’ve heard so much about,
Everyone stops and stares at us whenever we go out,
We are decent, kind and charitable in everything we do,
Everybody loves us,
We know that you will too,
So come all to a game and cheer us when we play,
In the Bronx or on the road you’ll have a terrific day
You’ll be thrilled to watch us win,
We really can’t be beat cause we’re the New York Yankees
The best you’ll ever meet.”
Any takers for setting this to music? You just may make my Aunt Elaine’s day.
Hi,Monica, this Elaine’s daughter Cheryl. I am Len’s oldest daughter and I know we have never met. You have captured a warm, yet sassy & smart woman to a tee. Even though we often disagree politically, she always listens to my side and we never argue. Thank you for this beautiful written portrait of Elaine, even though she is not my biological mom, she will always be mom to me.
Hi Cheryl. Thanks for writing! Are you sure we never met? I remember meeting Uncle Len’s daughters way back when (I was in my 20’s, which I find so hard to believe). But Aunt Elaine is a gem. The fact that I’m no longer married to her nephew means nothing. To her, I’ll always be family and her heart overflows with love. I am so, so very grateful that she is and always will be to me, my Aunt Elaine. I love her to the moon and back!
Aunt Elaine sounds like quite a wonderful woman. She gets a bonus fist-pump for being from the Bronx (where I grew up from 1984 through just before I left for college), and for her remarkable penchant for keeping up with politics so long as it is contextualized in history. I’m with her on Trump!
Thanks, Avril. Aunt Elaine is one very cool lady. She calls them like she sees them and is very concerned about everyone being treated fairly. Of course, her heart will always be with the Yankees–and Sinatra, the Chairman of the Board. 😉
Your auntie is an inspiration! She has a lot of knowledge about politics, and she’s also very clued in about personalities and characters that tend to try to run the lives of people in their countries, just like Trump. I personally don’t believe he has what it takes to be an excellent president. He is too dogmatic in his views and isn’t able to lift America and to help its people achieve a better living standard. I too think that he is a showman more than you could ever be a president. He is all about being under the spotlight and he demonstrates very little vision for the future of America. I personally hope that he does not win a presidency.
***A showman more than he could ever be a president.
You are a kick & funny & SO INTERESTING!
I have a question: If Trump gets in ( O M GGGG ) will you respect him? Do you think Sarah Palin will be his Vice Pres. ( OOOO NOOO )?
Love from MN.
Aunt Elaine doesn’t get on the internet much, so I read her all the comments. She was truly tickled pink, and in response to your question, the answer is yes. She respects the office of the President no matter who’s in it, albeit, if it was Trump, she’d probably do so begrudgingly. But, who can blame her? 😉
I don’t know aunt Elaine Monica, but I sure want to meet her. There is so much I would want to ask her. I love that she has so much respect for the President, no matter who it is. That is rare. I wish MSNBC would get it together and call her. They would learn something. She reminds me of my friend Trudy.
I met Trudy while on my run one day and I adore her. Needless to say she is a real New Yorker too. Her entire house is filled with Yankee memorabilia. She is the kind that likes to say ‘bite me.’ I love her spunk, her attitude to life – she suffers from MS and walks 4 miles everyday – and I love that she’s a news junkie too. She doesn’t like anyone for President right now except Bernie Sanders, and she’ll tell you Trump is a disgrace to New York. I await her notes on the democratic debate.
Your Trudy sounds delightful and seems to have quite a bit in common with Aunt Elaine. Let’s have a get together, the four of us soon. What do you say? Who’s in?? 🙂
I’m definitely in. Wouldn’t that be something?
Monica, I applaud you for capturing a bit of history with your interview of Aunt Elaine. That’s something we all should do, talk to our seniors and preserve their memories of days past. She sounds a LOT like my own dear mom, who’s just as much a news junkie. Why, the TV is on nearly all day, tuned to a news channel of some sort, and she, too, has strong opinions on current events! Don’t get her started if you don’t want to hear them, ha!
Oh wow, your mother, too? The political discussions at your dinner table must be fun and engaging. Personally, I’ll be glad when the elections are over. Sigh.
You and me both. ‘Fraid it’s going to get even uglier before then though.
She sounds like quite the character! Nice to have a news junkie in the family though.
Yes, she gives me a whole new perspective and makes sure I’m informed. That’s my Aunt Elaine!
Indeed that’s a lot of news. I’m a reformed news junkie. I had to quit.
Paul, I wish I knew how to quit cold turkey. But like Trisha said, My name is Monica and I am a news junkie. It stresses me and makes me want to slam my head against the wall at times, but I can’t stop watching the news and reading the paper (online, that is).
She sounds like a spit fire. I think I would like to know her. She could teach me a thing or two!…Or three. Sometimes it is embarrassing to be American when the word watches the crazy campaigning going on here… I agree with Aunt Elaine!
So true. Spitfire, indeed. Love that word.
For a perspective on what the world thinks of us, read Robert’s comment below. I always have found it crazy that no sooner do we elect a president we start speculating about the next presidential cycle and who’s going to run. It’s like we want to rush our lives away! Sheesh.
I like Elaine, she is what we call over here a character!
Now I must admit I have never been a great follower of politics, Looking at what we have over here I always think I am voting for the least worst rather than voting for the best.
Elaine’s comment about not just saying what you don’t like but saying what you would do to fix it is very true. It’s easy to condemn but harder to do better quite often.
I find your politics over there confusing, as soon as you elect a president, you all start looking for their replacement, and to an outsider the impression is given that the more money a contender can raise then the more chance they have of winning.
In these days of instant world wide communication, news from almost anywhere is at our fingertips, and we hear of things that forty years ago would not have made the papers because by the time they did the event would be long gone.
Now Elaine is somebody I would love to sit and talk to, and the fact I most likely never will is certainly my loss, what a super woman.
Goodness, she really is an amazing woman and a bit of a hoot. Calling her up on the phone to talk about the latest polls makes me feel like we’re sitting in rocking chairs on the front porch, watching passers by, and just shooting the breeze. I could talk like that forever. 🙂