If I’m going to the North Pole, why the hell do I need a senior center?

Tolstoy’s Bicyclists

…Barbara Hillary is seventy-five, and a resident of Arverne, Queens. On April 20th, she will disembark from the Borneo ice camp, towing a fifty-pound sled and the wish to become the first African-American woman on record to set foot on the top of the world.

Hillary was a nurse for fifty-five years. “I always had dreams of travel,” she said. “But much of travel, as I saw it, was so sheeplike, so John Doe.” In 1992, she decided to take her first trip abroad, alone. (Hillary has never married, and, along with “one, Mind your own business; two, Maintain a sense of humor; and three, Tell an individual to go to hell when it’s needed,” she credits her air of youthfulness to remaining single.)

Hillary’s preparedness does not extend to the financial demands (equally rigorous) of her expedition…. Mayor Bloomberg referred me to the Department for the Aging, which sent a form letter of things I could do in the senior center,” she said. “Mister, don’t you get it? If I’m going to the North Pole, why the hell do I need a senior center?”

True North by Lauren Collins, March 26, 2007, New Yorker Magazine

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2 Responses to “If I’m going to the North Pole, why the hell do I need a senior center?”


  1. 1 rae 2007 April 27 at 9:26 am

    Good for you, Barbara!!! When I took off for my first trip in a Blazer alone, for Alaska, I was only 47 and my husband & five kids thought I was crazy. It was just the beginning of my adventures. Due to lack of finances I haven’t traveled in several years. I am now 68 and “itching” to get back on the road. Keep in touch with “True North”, Lauren Collins & the New Yorker Magazine. Let the rest of the world know what’s happening on your trip. Take care & my God bless & keep you safe.


  1. 1 75-year-old cancer survivor skis to North Pole « O’Folks Trackback on 2007 May 7 at 7:22 am
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