February 2001

Beatrice Haniford


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In my new book, “Razz Berries” or “How the World Looks When You’re Over 80”, I have a verse called, “The Battle of the Age.” In part it reads:
My body says
“You’re old and decrepit”
My mind says, “You’re not -
Don’t dare to accept it.”
Well, I’m not accepting it. I still feel vibrant and productive and have fun recalling the years that made me so. For almost two decades, I worked as a writer for Ellis Advertising Company. My duties included everything from creating radio copy to producing television commercials. I peppered my career with some volunteer writing for many community organizations. And while doing, raised a wonderful family, kept house and enjoyed a busy social life with an exciting mate.

I retired from my position when my husband became ill and it was necessary for us to spend our winters in a southern clime. During this period however I was still able to do advertising and public relations on a freelance basis. When my husband passed away in 1991, I was shocked to realize I was 77 years old. Life was definitely different. My family was grown; some of my friends were having problems with health and memory loss. I was determined to transform this rather depressing scenario into laughter and started writing verses poking fun at all that was happening to me and my contemporaries. Before too long, I had fifty verses completed and compiled in a little volume entitled, “Elder” Berries. Aware of the obstacles involved in trying to find a publisher, I decided to self-publish. I read several “HOW TO” books, found a most cooperative printer and ordered 300 copies. As a courtesy, the then-manager of Barnes & Noble on Niagara Falls Blvd., and the owners of Jenss bought a few copies, sold them quickly and kept reordering. In September of ‘97, my little book made Barnes & Noble’s “Ten Best Seller List.”

Then a heart attack interrupted my activity and I spent much of my recuperation rhyming the funny things that were happening to me in the hospital and after. Thus, volume number two, “It’s Great to be Old (And Other Lies)” and another sell-out.

Along with writing the verses, I had been asked to read them at various functions and that has been a real source of pleasure for me. I’ve had many interesting experiences and met many lovely people. Jerry Flaschner, publisher of Living Prime Time, heard me at a Coordinated Care luncheon and invited me to write a column in his magazine. At one affair, a woman approached me and said, “How do you know so much about ME?” I guess that’s why the books have been popular. People identify with the subject matter. In “Razz Berries” my verses deal more with the annoyances we encounter as we age, but the rhymes are still whimsical.

I’m going to keep on writing. After all, I’m only 86!

Bea Haniford is a freelance writer with a background in advertising and public relations.


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