Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · Beyond the Centennial
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Beyond the Centennial

Erin Crowell - January 16th, 2012  

Traverse City resident turns 108 years old on Friday

To say Doris Brackett is a Red Wings fan is a huge understatement. She has kissed the Stanley Cup, ridden the Zamboni at Joe Louis Arena, owns a jersey signed by her favorite player, Dan Cleary, along with a custom jersey with “Brackett 100” stitched on the back – a gift for her 100th birthday.

On Friday, Jan. 20, the Traverse City resident will turn 108 years old. And although her 83-year-old daughter sometimes has to remind her the Wings are playing, Brackett will ceremoniously sit in the armed chair placed inches from the television so she can see and hear every play by her favorite team.


Just two years before Brackett’s birth, the average life expectancy was 49.2 years – meaning she outlived her life expectancy at time of birth by 217%.

According to the most recent statistics by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average life expectancy for someone in the U.S. is 77.9 years, which means that would be like someone who is born today living to the year 2180.

Think of the technology and societal changes a newborn of today will experience tomorrow – or in this case, the day after tomorrow.

Brackett has been around during waves of change and historical moments such as the sinking of the Titanic when she was eight, the first transmission of human voice on radio when she was three, and Prohibition. She was old enough to set down a wine glass when it was enacted, picking it back up after its repeal at the age of 29. She has been around since the invention of teabags and is older than Kellogg’s Cornflakes cereal.

“I probably remember the invention of the automobile best,” said Brackett.

Before this invention, she and her husband, Arthur, would take a horse and buggy out on Old Mission Peninsula to go dancing.

At age 83, Genilee Oberpeul — Brackett’s only child — remembers their first television, while Peggy Ellibee, one of Brackett’s four grandchildren, remembers television’s transition from black & white to color.


Today, the three women do their best to recall hundreds of memories as they sit in Brackett’s apartment, an assisted living facility in Traverse City. It’s difficult for Brackett, and the frustration is evident on her face as her daughter and granddaughter try to help her recall stories, both small and monumental.

“Every day is up and down for her,” said Ellibee, “but then again, don’t we all have those?” All three generations of women share the same sense of humor; and despite that particular day being cloudy — both in memory and outside her window — Brackett’s smile appears when she talks about one of her earliest memories: the family farm, located near Ann Arbor. When she was about 10 years old (the year 1914), Brackett had the job of rounding up the ducks and geese that would run away come nighttime.


She remembers the simple stories with her husband, Arthur, despite losing him over 43 years ago, such as making him go on scavenger hunts for his Christmas presents.

“I once hid a carburetor behind the guest bed,” she laughs.

It’s also hard to forget the big stories, like the time Arthur was laid off from the auto industry during the Great Depression and Brackett was the sole bread winner of the family – a situation practically unheard of during that time.

“I got work when he couldn’t,” she said. “I drove 25 miles everyday to the Wayne County Training School where I was a secretary.”

When the couple moved to Traverse City in the late ’30s, Brackett worked as a bookkeeper for an auto supply business while Arthur found work at the Traverse City State Hospital, where he worked as a carpenter up until his death in 1969.

Some of those stories are being told for the first time. When asked how the couple met, Brackett surprises both her daughter and granddaughter.

“We both lived in the same apartment,” she said.

“Hmm, I never heard that story,” Oberpeul says, raising her eyebrows.

“That ones is new to me, too,” Ellibee confirms.

With over a hundred years of memories, some of Brackett’s stories have yet to be told – making them her own forever.

“I really wish I would have set (my grandmother) down in the earlier years and have her record a message for my children about all her life experiences,” Ellibee says, taking note of her grandmother’s dwindling memory.


Aside from her difficulty hearing and occassional foggy moments, Brackett is surprisingly fit for her age. She takes quick, balanced steps, using only a rolling walker to help her down the hall to the cafeteria for all her meals.

She lived alone on the third level of her Fair Street apartment (sans elevator) up until the age of 100 when a hip replacement forced her to live at her current home (an apartment in its own right, complete with a kitchenette).

A broken elbow and gall bladder surgery are among the few major health issues Brackett has faced over the years. The most dangerous —and perhaps, most remarkable — was surviving breast cancer.

“In the 1960s she went for a routine checkup, and the next day she was having invasive surgery,” said Ellibee. “It actually just dawned on me how serious that type of procedure was back in the ’60s and how she survived even that.”


You can use the digits on your hands to count the years that Brackett is behind the world’s oldest known living person: Besse Cooper, from Monroe, Georgia, who is 115 years old (Fox News reported a woman from Cuba claiming to be 126 years old, but that information has yet to be verified). When asked the secret to her longevity, Cooper said, “I mind my own business. And I don’t eat junk food.”

For Brackett, it’s oatmeal and grapefruit – that, and crossword puzzles with her physical therapist, Jim Harvey, who brings her a long stem rose for each year of her birth. Friday, 108 of them will be delivered.

Scientists and doctors have tried to pinpoint the factors involved, or find the ultimate recipe for longevity. Healthy diet, exercise, good genes, socioeconomic status … these are all factors that may contribute to a long lifespan.

But what allows folks like Doris Brackett and Besse Cooper to live into the stratosphere of old age?

In 2010, a group of scientists from Boston University said they identified a group of genetic variants that can predict exceptional longevity in humans with 77 percent accuracy; however, the report was withdrawn a year later due to “technical errors” in their gene-finding strategy. The study’s leading researchers, Paola Sebstiani and Thomas Perls, say they are anxious to correct those errors and get the findings published soon.

Another predictor of longevity includes walking speed in senior citizens. A study published in the Journal of American Medical Association in January 2011 said faster walking speeds, for ages 65 or older, are associated with living longer. Telomere-measuring (structures on the tips of chromosomes that shorten as people age) is being marketed and sold by companies like Life Length in Brazil as a way to predict life expectancy.

Along with avoiding smoking and drinking, Brackett has lived a very active lifestyle.

She and her husband spent a lot of time fishing, and up until recently, she would garden.

“The fact that she isn’t able to do those things drives her bonkers,” said Ellibee.


Although Brackett has outlived her husband and four siblings, she isn’t alone by any means.

Up until two years ago, she would send a birthday card to everyone in the family, which includes four grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and 12 great-great-grandchildren (the eldest being 15 years old).

For her birthday at the Elks Club, family will gather to celebrate Brackett’s latest post- 100 year with a luncheon. And because of her love of big band music, there just may be some dancing.

“We know how much she loved to dance and when we suggested having music, (my grandmother) said to Chuck, my husband, ‘Do you want to trip the light fantastic with me at my party?’” said Ellibee. “We just looked at each other and laughed. It was just so candid and cute.

“He said, ‘Of course!’” “Trip the light fantastic” is a phrase that essentially means ‘to dance nimbly or lightly’ – and so Doris Brackett continues to do just that through life…skirting around debilitation, limitation and the stigma of numbers until she’s ready to gracefully curtsy.

But until then, the music continues to play on.

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