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June 4, 2015

“Hold On To A Moment: A Journey to Jersey Centenarians: A Series. Meet Malcolm Murray (only 93) at ‘We Care Adult Care’ in Middletown. WWII Veteran with General Patton. bY Calvin Schwartz June 4th 2015.

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“Hold On To A Moment: A Journey to Jersey Centenarians: A Series. Meet Malcolm Murray (only 93) at ‘We Care Adult Care’ in Middletown. WWII Veteran with General Patton.   bY Calvin Schwartz  June 4th 2015.

with Army Veteran Malcolm Murray (93)

with Army Veteran Malcolm Murray (93)


As a newbie journalist, I go through certain exercises prior to writing an article. Reflection on how the story came about leads me to what I call the ‘excavation;’ all that I need to do to dig the article out of my intestinal lining. Some in the field might just call it the ‘digging deep’ phase. Looking back on the subject matter, I marvel at the different abounding forces that got me involved in writing and interviewing centenarians or those approaching it.

My mother always told me that one day she wouldn’t be here. I never paid attention because the concept was remote and not real. She was always there. Suddenly one day she wasn’t.  I realized there was so much I needed to ask her; so much to learn about our roots in Russia, my grandparent’s arrival in America, what she did in the war (WWII) and familial things. So now I’ll never know.  I never sat down with my father-in-law and talked about WWII.  When I thought about talking, I kept putting it off. Thing is, I never talked to any aging relative about roots and history so now I’m devoid and lost and sorry. There is a lesson here. Take advantage and make the time. There’s a wonderful invention called palm-size recorder. It holds maybe a thousand hours and promises.




A few years ago through synchronicity and the universe, I became a journalist and just after that, a dirt road, a parking spot and a newspaper publisher who told me about Emily Cook’s 101st Birthday Party at Regal Pointe which I attended. Emily and I became friends for the next two years. She invited me back to her room; her life was fascinating. I was on a mission to be aware and to learn as much as I could about aging and aged.

Early this year, Emily’s (who passed last year) residence home called me about Hattie, turning 100. I went to that party and talked with her. A few months later, unrelated, I got a message from an executive of the State Theater in New Brunswick. His father, William, was turning 100. William is most amazing just like his stories were. Here is the link to my “William” article. ( )  We talked for an hour. Thusly my journalistic series evolved; “Hold On To A Moment: A Journey to Jersey Centenarians.” I now have my chance to do what I should’ve been doing for decades.


The Star Spangled Banner

The Star Spangled Banner


A few weeks ago my friend Darci Voigt Kennedy called me about ‘We Care Adult Care, Inc.’ in Middletown. For me adult day care would be a new learning experience. They have several nonagenarians and a centenarian for me to absorb. Just as I arrived and was taken into the main day room, they were singing the Star Spangled Banner; some stood at attention, hands over heart.  As this is day care, everyone is bused from home. The facility focuses on Alzheimer’s and dementia but many are vital, sharp and charming. Next, I was given a tour and immediately felt an unusual esprit de corps amongst personnel and the senior adults; it was a spirited, caring, active environment aptly named ‘We Care.’  Since this was part of Older Persons Month, the Mayor of Middletown, Stephanie Murray, walked around the room, individually greeting the fifty seniors and engaging each. One of the seniors told the mayor she was in the movie ‘Godfather.’ I can’t believe I forgot her name and role. I’m such a huge Don Corleone groupie.



Malcom Murray  engaging the Mayor of Middletown, Stephanie Murray

Malcom Murray engaging the Mayor of Middletown, Stephanie Murray

My reason for being there was in the back lunch room a distance away from the singing and music.  Malcolm Murray, 93, meticulously dressed, smiling broadly, waited. Affability consumed his face. He jumped up to shake hands and a photo-op. Malcolm was born in North Carolina. “I didn’t have a father so my mother raised me and my three brothers, Otto, David and Willie. My mother had a laundromat. I helped put them through school.” He spoke proudly about that. It was easy to hear it in his voice. I forgot his age. “You have to respect family.” That resonated with me. It still does. He mentioned a brother in the Navy, a para-trooper and the last brother was an engineer.

He joined the Army in 1942 and was trained at Camp Robinson in Arkansas. In Mid-October, 1942, Malcolm was deployed to England. “In 1944, I went to France as part of D-Day. I didn’t know whether to be scared or not. I was in a tank battalion under General George Patton. We got to within three miles of Berlin. I loved General Patton. I met him. He called me ‘son.’ I loved being in a tank.” Then Malcolm said something profound.  “I think everyone should be in the Army to protect the country and learn discipline.”



The Mayor engaging each senior.

The Mayor engaging each senior.

After the war he came back to North Carolina and worked on a fishing boat. Again Malcolm moved me. “I wanted my kids, Maxine and Malcolm, to have an education so I worked hard. This is what my wife and I talked about.” Eventually Malcolm moved to New Jersey and joined a local labor union out of Matawan. When I asked him what the greatest change he observed in his life, he said, “labor unions.” His favorite President was Franklin Roosevelt.

I told him he was in such good shape and so sharp to talk to. “How come?” I asked. “I worked hard all the time.”  Malcolm likes sports but mostly football and baseball and is a Dodgers and Mets fan. I like to probe techniques to longevity. He rarely ever smoked. As far as his favorite food, “Whatever I can get.” We both laughed. He likes Army movies because “I lived it.” “And music?” “I like everything. I like the Blues and Louis Armstrong.”

In the distance from the day room, I heard the disc jockey playing ‘Pennsylvania Polka’ which reminded me of the movie ‘Groundhog Day’ with Bill Murray (coincidentally). I love that movie. I’d love to do a bit of reliving myself so I asked Malcolm if I could come back to talk some more. “I’d like that,” he said with authority. And then our handshake which lingered; it meant we liked each other and looked forward.  And I do.

Calvin Schwartz   BRAND NAME PIX - Copy


                                                  For more information:  ‘We Care Adult Care’ call 732-741-7363 or






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