HALLANDALE’S ELDERLY DEFEND STRIP OF PARADISE (March 8, 1987)

Miami Herald, The (FL)
March 8, 1987
Section: BRWD N
Edition: BRWRD
Page: 1BR

HALLANDALE’S ELDERLY DEFEND STRIP OF PARADISE
PETER VILBIG Herald Staff Writer

Along the boulevard, the mood is angry.

“I could put him in my pocket,” says Tibor Kaufman, 77, nearly shouting,
as he stands outside the Publix Supermarket on East Hallandale Beach
Boulevard. “I play much better tennis than him. Tell him that. Tell him
he doesn’t know anything.”

The object of Kaufman’s wrath is Neil Rogers, a middle-aged radio
talk show host who in recent weeks has turned his radio satires on the
elderly residents of Hallandale into a South Florida cause celebre.

His verbal bombs have fallen most directly on a small target: not
Hallandale as a whole, but a 1 1/2-mile strip of land along East
Hallandale Beach Boulevard from U.S. 1 to the ocean.

The boulevard, with its row upon row of condominiums to each side, is
the most densely populated neighborhood in Broward County in the city
with the county’s oldest population (average age: 64.9). It is a city
within a city, and a city of the old.

For Rogers of WINZ (940-AM) the boulevard is inhabited by “wrinkled
miserable cheapskates,” “old bags,” and senile pedestrians who leap into
the path of oncoming cars in their zeal to make the early bird special,
steal condiments from restaurants, or maul the vegetables at grocery stores.

For Hallandale residents, the boulevard is something like paradise. It
is a place where retirees can gather outside the Dis-Com Securities
office at the Diplomat Mall to watch the stock prices and socialize. Or
go to Pumpernik’s or the Sage Bagel Shop for breakfast. Or sit on a
bench in front of Publix and meet with friends.

“What we find is this is a central place to go shopping,” said Vice
Mayor Arthur “Sonny” Rosenberg. “If we want to go to a show we can. We
have the good restaurants, doctors close by, the banks and brokerage
houses.”

But for Rogers, what is paradise to the elderly is purgatory for the
young. By questioning the manners and habits of the old, he says he is
attacking rudeness and striking a blow for civility in South Florida.

“It’s not part of any culture to be rude,” he said. “And anybody who
says it is prejudiced.”

But Rogers’ detractors say he is stirring up prejudice against the
old, a tactic no different than a racist or anti- Semitic attack.

“He’s doing some of the same things he says are so terrible,” said Edith
Lederberg, executive director of Broward’s Area Agency on Aging. “He’s
persecuting a segment of the population.”

At any given time on Hallandale Beach Boulevard, many of the actions
that infuriate Rogers can be observed: Jaywalkers constantly cut from
one side of the street to the other, moving between the stores that line
the street. Diners do line up for the early bird specials at
restaurants. And shop owners acknowledge that the elderly are involved
in some theft from restaurants and grocery stores.

But psychologists and social service workers who help take care of the
elderly say that the stereotypes are based on misconceptions. They paint
a picture of the old as a group that is more frail, more frightened,
more prone to illness and emotional distress than the rest of the
population.

Among Rogers’ pet peeves:

Jaywalking: Two elderly jaywalkers have been killed on the boulevard
this year. Rogers says the jaywalkers defy the law because they believe age has given them carte blanche to do what they want.

Advocates for the elderly say otherwise: “The young jaywalk too,” said
Dr. Howard Israel, a Hollywood psychologist who treats the elderly.
“It’s just the elderly who get hit.”

Early Bird mania: Rogers says the old are cheapskates who go to
early bird specials because they don’t want to pay full prices for meals.

Not so, says Lederberg of the Area Agency on Aging. “A lot of them have
problems being out at night. They get up early. They eat all their meals
earlier.”

Shoplifting and petty theft: Store owners say the elderly do shoplift,
but the rate of theft is no higher on Hallandale Beach Boulevard than
anywhere else.

“We catch people shoplifting here, any description you want to put on
them,” said Don Manus, manager of the boulevard Publix. “It’s a
variety.” But, he added: “The shoplifting in any store is going to be
done mostly by the predominant group who shop at the store.”

Israel said he has treated elderly repeat shoplifters. Many of the
patients he treated suffered from mental impairment and were not able to
control their actions.

“In almost every case, it’s some advancing form of neurological
impairment,” he said. “They were usually very upset, very humiliated.”

The Hallandale mania that Rogers has whipped up gives signs of peaking.

Rogers says that after his appearance at the Diplomat Mall Saturday,
he plans to drastically cut back the talk about Hallandale.

That will be fine with the folks over at the Hallandale Theater, where a
Yiddish musical, A Mitzvah a Day, is playing. Their view on Rogers is
philosophical.

“Some people laugh, some are offended,” said owner Steve Weinstock. “As
people get older, they deteriorate a certain amount. They don’t see as
well, they don’t hear as well. They become impatient. They don’t have a
choice. The only choice of not getting older is dying.”

Illustration:photo: diners at Rappaport’s (b), Tybor and Magda
Kaufman (b), pedestraian at Hallandale Beach Blvd (b), sign (b),
retirees (b)
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Copyright (c) 1987 The Miami Herald
Copyright Miami Herald Media Co. All rights reserved

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