Living the good life … at an advanced age


Al Benharris offers advice about enjoying one’s senior years

Al Benharris, today /AL BENHARRISBRISTOL – People ask how I stay vibrant and active, even at an advanced age? That’s an easy question to answer.

I start with the grace of God. I love life. I am always involved. Even at age 90, I bubble with enthusiasm. I am, above all, lucky, very lucky.

How lucky? I am a survivor of a burst appendix – at age 8 – and cancer at age 68.

I served aboard a submarine chaser with the U.S. Navy for more than two years during World War II. During that time, I spent time in the tropics and also in Alaska. My boat was turned over to the Russian government .

As a college student after the war, I lived in a Jewish fraternity at Boston University with a most wonderful group of veterans. I loved those fraternity brothers and still do, two of whom are still living. I worked every job in my uncle’s restaurant, The Red Robin. I had a family, though most of my relatives are gone now.

I currently reside at the Rhode Island Veterans Home in Bristol, which I renamed the “Miracle on Metacom Avenue.” Thanks to the Rhode Island General Assembly, the Veterans Home will have a new, state-of-the-art building in a few years!

As I have not been able to walk for six years, I use a wheelchair.

The people of Bristol, officially the most patriotic town in the United States, are so good and considerate. At the Veterans Home, I am sometimes asked to make speeches at official functions or to talk with incoming veterans to let them know about the Veterans Home.

The kitchen here serves almost 1,000 meals every day and, while nobody asked me to do so, I frequently suggest ideas for food preparation, many of which have been accepted.

The Veterans Home even has its own small newspaper, which now comes out once a month.

As the resident advisor to the newspaper, I am labeled as “exuberant.”

I stay busy and enjoy what I am doing. The God-given gift of a positive attitude and “With a Little Bit of Luck,” as Alfred Doolittle sings in “My Fair Lady,” I believe that every moment of life is precious!

Harris Ullian, 88, is a resident here, as well. Together, we have produced a song for the Veterans Home. Harris, who played years ago with Benny Goodman’s band, had declined an opportunity to work with the renowned Richard Rodgers (of the famous Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein musical partnership)!

Our song is not a Rodgers and Hammerstein production, but it is a Benharris and Ullian production.

Al Benharris, who continues to live life to the fullest in Bristol, keeps in touch with his friends and wel-comes visitors.