Alternative Lodging Options for Retirees | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 16 July 2014 15:39

071714senBy Jim Miller • Special to the Times

If you’re willing to do a little research and preplanning, there are a number of ways you can lower (or eliminate) your travel-lodging costs and live more like a local when you travel.

Here are some different options to consider and some resources that can help you locate them.

Apartment/House Rentals: There are literally hundreds of thousands of privately owned properties in the United States and abroad that are offered as short-term vacation rentals. This has become a very popular alternative to hotels, for retirees.

Renting a fully furnished apartment or house is usually significantly cheaper than hotel rooms of comparable quality, and they almost always offer more space, a homier feel and a kitchen, which can save you the expense of eating out for every meal.

Short-term rentals are offered through the individual property owners or property-management companies. Some of the best sites for finding them include,,, and

Most sites are free to use for travelers. You can also look for rentals at any online search engine by typing in your destination city plus short-term apartment/house rentals (for example “New York short-term apartments for rent”).

B&B Clubs: If you like staying in bed-and-breakfasts and have a spare bedroom yourself, you should consider the Evergreen Club ( or the Affordable Travel Club ( These are B&B clubs for travelers over ages 50 or 40 that offer inexpensive lodging in the spare bedroom of other club members, or they may stay with you when they’re on the road. You pay a modest gratuity of between $15 and $25 per night, with breakfast. And the clubs charge membership fees of $65 to $80 per year.

House Sitting: If you have a flexible schedule and you don’t mind doing a few household chores when you travel, house sitting is another option that offers lodging for free.

How it works is you live in someone else’s home while they’re away for a long weekend or even a few months. And, in exchange for the free accommodations, you take care of certain responsibilities such as their pets, lawn, garden, mail, etc. To find these opportunities, try sites like,, and — they all charge a small membership fee.

Home Swapping: Another way to get free accommodations when you travel is by swapping homes with someone who’s interested in visiting the area where you live.

To make a swap, you’ll need to join an online home exchange service where you can list your home, and get access to thousands of other listings. Then, you simply email the owners of houses or apartments you’re interested in — or they email you — and you make arrangements.

Most home-exchange sites like, and charge membership fees ranging from $39 to $120.


‘Should I Become a Representative Payee?’ | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 16 July 2014 15:37

By Gene L. Osofsky, Esq. • Special to the Times

Q: Mom recently moved in with us so we can help care for her. When we notified Social Security of this, they asked if I wished to become mom’s representative payee. Is that something I should do?

A: It all depends. In the Social Security system, a representative payee is appointed to receive funds for someone, such as your mom, who is unable to manage her own money or pay her own bills.

If you become her representative payee, you would have the power and the responsibility to manage that money for her benefit. If you assume that responsibility, you will essentially be a fiduciary with four very important duties:

(1) You must act only in your mother’s best interest. You cannot pay yourself for managing her money, and you cannot borrow it or lend it to anyone else;

(2) You must manage her monthly benefit carefully, making sure that her daily needs are met, bills are paid on time and all taxes, if any, are paid when due;

(3) You must keep her money separate from your own, which means that you must keep it in a separate account which clearly identifies your mother as the owner of the funds and you as her representative payee.

For example: If your mother’s name is Mary Jones and you are John Jones, the account should be set up to read: “Mary Jones, by John Jones, Representative Payee;”

(4) You must keep good records of everything you do with her money, keep all receipts and — very important — make an annual report to Social Security showing how you spent or conserved her money. You must also keep Social Security informed about your mother, notifying them of any change in circumstances which might change her benefit amount.

I find that the biggest drawback to serving as a representative payee for a loved one is the requirement that you must keep careful records and submit an annual written account to Social Security showing how you handled the beneficiary’s money.

This requirement often comes as a big surprise at the end of the year and many are unprepared to complete that report. Further, if Social Security feels that you have mishandled the beneficiary’s funds, you might be obliged to make restitution with your own money.

I generally recommend an easier approach: If you can, arrange for your mother’s social security benefit to be electronically deposited into her checking account on which you have signing power as her agent. Then, just pay her bills from that account using your authority as her agent.

This informal arrangement eliminates the need for an annual accounting to Social Security and the corresponding scrutiny.

Assuming that you will be just as diligent in handling her funds in this manner as you would be if you were required to submit an annual report to Social Security, your job will be less burdensome and your mother will be just as well served.

Gene L. Osofsky is an elder law and estate planning attorney in Hayward. Visit his website at

Our Readers Remember | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 10 July 2014 16:09

071014rr8The Mandolin Club of San Leandro played at a fundraiser for the Cerebral Palsy Foundation in Oakland sometime in the 1960s. The club formed in 1963 and played at many fundraisers, churches and rest homes. This photo from Al Prioetti shows his mother Vi at left, who was a singer with the band, and his father, Ernie, in front of her. Sitting next to Ernie is the band president, Ben Giuliano. Read more stories and see more historical photos in “Our Readers Remember” section below.


Midway Bowlers | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 10 July 2014 16:08


Karl Mallard sent in this photo of Bob Scott, Lanch Cannizzaro, Karl Mallard, Mike Gorman, Dennis Rice and Butch Nesti as they went bowling one day in 1959 at the Midway Bowl at East 14th Street and 160th Avenue in San Leandro.


Ernie’s Seafood Opens Shop on East 14th Street in 1953 | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 10 July 2014 16:05

071014rr4Ernie and Vi Proietti opened Ernie’s Seafood Restaurant in 1953 at the corner of East 14th Street and 136th Avenue.

The Proiettis built the landmark restaurant on East 14th by adding onto an old house and they lived on the property, too.

Their son, Al Proietti, remembers growing up at the restaurant, along with his brother Jerry. At the time, San Leandro Boulevard was a big hay field and San Leandro Hospital was an apricot orchard where the boys used to play.

Ernie’s Seafood is still in business today. The restaurant is now run by another family, but the Proietti family still owns the property.

CAPTION: Vi and Ernie Proietti opened their seafood restaurant in 1953, converting an old house into a business.  Their two sons, Al and Jerry, grew up at the restaurant.


Childhood Memories Of Memorial Park | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 10 July 2014 15:38

071014rr6By Katherine Murray • Special to the Times

This is a photo of me in 1958 at Memorial Park on Callan Ave.  At the time, my grandparents, Bill and Ruby Gilmore lived at 940 Arbor Drive.

They bought the house in the 1930s, raised two sons, Bill and Bob, and lived there until 1965 when they moved to Castlewood in Pleasanton.

I grew up in San Jose, but we visited my grandparents often and took many walks to Memorial Park.

Memory Brings Couple Back to San Leandro

In 1980 when my husband and I were looking for cities in the East Bay to settle in, my dad reminded me of my grandparents’ neighborhood and because of my early childhood memories, we thought San Leandro might be the right town for us.

We’ve been here ever since.

CAPTION: Katherine Murray plays at Memorial Park in 1958 while visiting her grandparents, Bill and Ruby Gilmore, who lived on Arbor Drive.


Historian Had it Pegged | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 10 July 2014 15:37

By Jim Knowles • San Leandro Times

A look at the history of San Leandro will give you déjà vu.

In his history of San Leandro, “A Garden Grows in Eden,” Harry E. Shaffer looks ahead in 1972, the year of the city’s centennial. Shaffer noted that the land was filling up. “Therefore, the chief expansion of residential facilities would seem to be by development of multi-unit properties, either the apartment or the condominium type.”

That sounds familiar. What did Harry say about tranist oriented development back in ’72?

“Development of the BART services will encourage the zoning of an area parallel to the electric line near the stations to accommodate this type of residential housing.”

What about the industrial area, Harry?

“Much of the present industry located in San Leandro is of the specialty type with less emphasis on heavy manufacture. Furthermore, the ready access to transportation services makes the area very favorable for service-related industry – warehousing, delivery and similar firms. In areas where space is inadequate for such activities, many related businesses of the planning or engineering type will be able to locate in the industrial complex.”

But what about downtown, Harry?

Plans for the future may well include cluster-type specialty shops as well as larger, more general stores...The growth of office facilities in close proximity to BART service, retail business, and industrial development will undoubtedly be inviting to many firms and their representatives.”

Honestly, I just don’t know where they come up with these ideas.


Happy Days on Cherry Street before World War II | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 10 July 2014 15:31


The gang from Cherry Street had a reunion after the war at the old San Leandro High campus where they posed for this photograph. Pictured, front row: John Costa, Tony Vigallon, Tony Sanchez, Bill Castro, George Castro, Joe Moreno and Frank Galvan. Back row: Frank Alga, Raymond Enos, John Jurado, Clarence Enos, Albert Andrade, Mike Luciano, Anthony Costa and Alex Canada. Those who could not make the reunion were Chris Galvan, Ray Luciano, Joe Roach, Frank Roach and Sal Castro.

By Margaret Castro Dambley • Special to the Times

Before World War II when San Leandro was still a small town, there was a neighborhood around Cherry Street, Orchard Avenue and First Avenue (now called Marina Boulevard). A group of kids grew up together in this neighborhood and attended grammar school at McKinley, Lincoln and St. Mary’s and all went to San Leandro High. Some of those kids were my uncles.

As teenagers, some of them were in the Remar Baseball League. There was Anthony Costa, Joe Moreno and Mike Luciano, who was also a star athlete on the San Leandro High football team.

071014rr7When they weren’t in school, they would all hang around on Cherry Street where they played baseball, football and sometimes tried a little boxing. Cherry Street was their playground and they called themselves “The Cherry Street Gang.” All of us younger kids would sit on the steps of my grandmother’s porch and watch them play.

As they got older, they switched playing in the streets to going to dances. Their favorite dance spot was Sweets Ballroom in Oakland where they danced to big bands like Harry James and Benny Goodman.

Everything changed in 1941 when World War II started. Within a couple of years they were all in the service. Some enlisted in the navy and others were drafted. Before the war ended, two of their friends, Tony Blanco and Manuel Nunes, lost their lives for their country.

A few years after the war, when all the boys had come home, it was suggested that they have a reunion. They met on the grounds of the old San Leandro High School (now the site of Bancroft Middle School) where this picture was taken. Most of them still lived in Alameda County – in San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Castro Valley and Hayward.

Sadly, most of them have now passed away but they will always be part of the memories of days gone by in San Leandro.

CAPTION: Margaret Dambley dressed up in her sailor outfit for a picture at the family’s house in San Leandro when she was about 5 years old. Those were fun days hanging around with The Cherry Street Gang, playing baseball and going to dances, but then World War II came along and changed everything.


Cava Sings a Song on a Special Occasion | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 10 July 2014 15:28

071014rr3By Earl Cava • Special to the Times

I still remember the day I sang at the Blue Dolphin for a wedding party on Oct. 5, 1991. Barry Manilow’s mother was in the wedding party, having made the trip from England to attend.

At that time, Barry had a big hit record, “I Write the Songs.”

Blue Dolphin owner Bill Peluso knew this was a special occasion and that Barry’s mother would be present. So Bill asked me if I would sing the song for her. Of course, I said yes.

After singing the song, Barry’s mother said she was very thankful and couldn’t wait to tell Barry of this event the next time she talked to him.

Through the years, I sang this song many times and each time it brings back memories.

CAPTION: Earl Cava sang with his band at a wedding reception at the Blue Dolphin in 1991. Since Barry Manilow’s mother was at the party, Cava sang her son’s hit tune, “I Write the Songs.”


Family Produces Queens, Policemen | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 10 July 2014 15:19



071014rr10Karl Mallard sent in this photo, at top right, of his mother, Maria (Rodriguez) Mallard, at the age of 15 running for Queen of the Club Iberico in San Leandro in 1931. Pictured above (left) is Mallard’s aunt, Laura (Rodriguez) Delgado, at age 16 as Queen of the Club Iberico in 1928.

Mallard’s photo of the Rodriquez family (right) of San Leandro in 1919 shows Maria (Espinosa) 1893-1979, Tony 1913-1943, Marie born 1916, Antonia Espinosa 1859-1939, Joe (on lap) 1918-2013, Manuel 1912-1985.

Manuel served as San Leandro’s fire chief for 20 years, retiring in 1973 after 31 years of service. Joe was a sergeant on the San Leandro Police Department for 18 years, retiring in 1976 after 28 years of service.


Ergonomic Tools Can Ease Gardening Pains | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 03 July 2014 16:22

070314senBy Jim Miller • Special to the Times

There’s no doubt that gardening can be tough on an aging body. Garden work often requires a lot of repetitive stooping, squatting, kneeling, gripping and lifting, which can lead to back and knee pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other injuries.

A slew of new and improved gardening gear that’s lightweight, comfortable to use, and ergonomically designed to help protect your body from the physical strains of gardening are now available. Here are several that can help.

Gloves: There are a number of specially designed gloves that can improve your grip and protect your hands while you work. Two of the best are the “Atlas Nitrile Touch Garden Gloves” (available at for under $6), which are coated with a flexible synthetic rubber, and the “ReliefGrip Gardening” gloves (, $35), that have extra padding in the palm and finger joints to improve grip, and cause fewer calluses and blisters.

Digging Tools: There are ergonomic tools that can reduce the bending and twisting wrist movements that often come with digging and weeding.

Some good options include: Radius Garden tools (, which make a variety of curved-handle hand tools and shovels that run between $10 and $50; and Corona tools (, which makes the ComfortGEL and eGrip tools.

Another excellent product is the “Cobrahead Weeder and Cultivator” (, an all-purpose digging and weeding tool that’s available in a short-handle version for close up work for $25; and a long handle for $60.

Knee and Back Aids: Kneepads and garden seats can also protect your knees and save your back when working close to the ground. Some popular products sold today through the Gardener’s Supply Company ( — a leading developer and manufacturer of innovative garden equipment — are: the “GardenEase Kneeler” ($70), which is a kneeling pad with support handles; the “Garden Kneeler,” ($35) a kneepad/garden bench combo; and the “Deluxe Tractor Scoot with Bucket Basket,” which is a height-adjustable, swivel garden seat on wheels ($90).

Pruning Tools: Fiskars ( makes some of the finest ergonomic pruning tools that have also earned the Arthritis Foundation’s “Ease of Use Commendation” because of their patented PowerGear mechanisms that increase leverage to make cutting three times easier than traditional pruners. The Fiskars PowerGear Hand Pruners, Loppers and Hedge Shears all run between $25-$48.

Bahco and Corona also make a nice line of ergonomic pruning tools and handsaws that you can see at or

Watering: To help make your watering chores a little easier, there are lightweight garden hoses; soaker or drip hoses that can be snaked throughout the garden; and hose chests that can automatically rewind themselves.

Some good companies that make these products include: Water Right Inc. (, which makes a variety of super lightweight garden and coil hoses; The DIG Corp. (, which makes convenient drip irrigation kits and micro sprinkler kits; and Suncast (, the leading maker of self-winding hose reels and hose carts.

Container Gardening: Raised garden beds, trellises and container gardening is also an easier way to grow plants and flowers because it brings the garden to you, eliminating most stooping, squatting and kneeling. The Gardener’s Supply Company ( offers a wide range of raised beds and garden containers at prices ranging anywhere between $10-$350.

CAPTION: Raised beds minimize stooping, squatting and kneeling.

Is My IRA Safe from Creditors? | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 03 July 2014 16:20

By Gene L. Osofsky, Esq. • Special to the Times

Q: My wife and I have a lot of credit card debt and we are having difficulty keeping it current. Most of our savings is in my IRA. Are these funds protected from our creditors?

A: In California, traditional IRA accounts enjoy only limited protection under state law, but expanded protection under federal bankruptcy law. Here is the way it works:

Traditional IRA: State law extends limited protection to funds held in Traditional IRA accounts, including ROTH IRAs. This is based upon the extent that you can demonstrate to a judge that you need the funds to provide support for yourself and your dependents.

If you were sued by a creditor, the matter would end up in court and a judge would decide the extent of any protection, typically based upon the following criteria: (1) do you need the IRA funds for support and, if so, how much? and (2) will you be able to replenish those retirement funds if they are awarded to the creditor.

Thus, if you rely upon the IRA for support, and if you are retired and not able to return to employment to earn back the funds, a judge might be inclined to allocate more of the IRA pie to you than to your judgment creditor. However, the extent of protection would be up to a judge, and so there is no assurance as to how much would be protected in the event of a lawsuit.

By contrast, if you filed bankruptcy, then you would have much broader protections under federal law. In bankruptcy, you would have an automatic exemption of $1 million, an exemption which is adjusted periodically for inflation ($1,245,475 as of 2013).

This exemption would be enough for most people, and so bankruptcy would be your fallback position in the event you needed maximum protection. Also, knowing that you have this option might increase your negotiating leverage with an unpaid creditor.

Inherited IRA: However, this automatic bankruptcy exemption would not apply in the event your IRA were an inherited IRA; for example if you inherited the IRA funds from your parent by reason of your parent’s death.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on this point just last month in a case called “Clark vs. Remeker,” finding that Inherited IRAs are not “retirement accounts” as they no longer serve the purpose of funding the original owner’s retirement. However, there still may be discretionary protection under state law based upon the “necessary for support” standard.

Rollover IRAs: Upon retirement, many employees roll over funds from their employer-sponsored or 401(k) plan into a Rollover IRA. If these funds came from an employer-sponsored plan, managed in compliance with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (an “ERISA” Plan), then the funds in your rollover IRA would enjoy unlimited protection, providing that you could trace the source of funds back to your employer’s ERISA plan.

For this reason, I advise clients who are contemplating rollovers from employer ERISA plans to roll over these funds into a separate Rollover IRA, and not to mix them with their own Traditional IRA. This strategy extends unlimited protection to the funds in the rollover IRA, no matter the amount.

Spousal Rollovers: In view of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, and if there were creditor concerns, I would advise the surviving spouse of a deceased IRA owner to roll over the decedent’s IRA into the survivor’s own IRA, rather than to treat the decedent’s IRA as an Inherited IRA.

Gene L. Osofsky is an elder law and estate planning attorney in Hayward.  Visit his website at



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