Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Think age is important? Spend time with Moselle “Mimi” Rosenthal and think again.
Her steps may be a bit slower than they were five years ago and her sight and hearing may be a bit less acute. She can’t add to the annual tattoos – two butterflies and a sunflower – that she gave herself for birthday 99, 100 and 101. “My skin is too thin,” she said.
But that doesn’t mean she’s ready to sit quietly in the Lakes at Litchfield home she moved into in March.
Far from it. She’s already organized a book club and is considering urging the assisted living facility to provide art lessons and maybe a show for her artist neighbors. “I always ask questions,” Rosenthal says. “Then I do what I think is right.”
Taking things slower is not on her agenda. She grabs what life sends her way and makes it her own – most of the time.
She had unexpected “guests” at her 105th birthday party on July 12, the day after her actual birthday.
Twice officers from the Horry County Police Department showed up with requests to turn down the music. Rosenthal just smiled.
She has always embraced life and innovation. She was among a handful of women who attended college with an eye toward a degree other than teaching.
She earned a journalism degree from the University of Nebraska and held the distinction of leading all 52 coeds academically in 1929.
That gained her a scholarship to NYU, where she earned a Master’s in retailing.
Like all journalists, she set her sights on working for the New York Times, but that didn’t happen until she replaced her husband as a stringer after he died.
“I covered the police beat,” she recalled.
Finding the opportunities for women journalists limited, she went to work at a travel agency, traveling the world.
And she passed on her love of learning to her granddaughter Meredith, who was the host for Rosenthal’s 105th birthday party.
“I remember getting a globe and spinning it,” Meredith recalled “I’d ask her if she had been there. She always said yes, and would tell me about the places she had been.”
It took a fire at the travel agency to get Rosenthal out of New York and into South Carolina – when she turned 85. But that didn’t mean she was ready to retire. “I tried arts and crafts, but I just wasn’t good at it,” she said.
So instead, she turned to genealogy, which incidentally connected her to a family member who grew up in Europe but lost his family in the Holocaust.
He emigrated to New York, living within a few miles of Rosenthal. “We never met then, but we talk every day,” Rosenthal said.
“We call him her boyfriend,” laughs Rosenthal’s daughter, Carol Herrmann, which draws a raised eyebrow from her mom.
The three women are close and try to keep in touch daily. For the most part, it’s easy.
Herrmann makes the trip to Pawleys Island daily. She’ll answer her mom’s phone, but hand the receiver to Rosenthal almost by rote.
“She’s planning something,” Herrmann said. “I can count on it.”