TribLIVE

| Business


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Retired? Dance to maintain health

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

On the Grid

From the shale fields to the cooling towers, Trib Total Media covers the energy industry in Western Pennsylvania and beyond. For the latest news and views on gas, coal, electricity and more, check out On the Grid today.

Daily Photo Galleries

Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
 

Martin J.J. Pack has some retirement advice you won't find on Wall Street:

Go dancing — for the health dividends.

Pack, 67, is a retired steelworker. Also a retired magician. And decades ago he quit as a hairdresser.

Right now he's selling off the tools of his most colorful career — a library of magic books and tricks.

The main thing people should do before quitting the daily commute, he says, is save more. And in retirement, keep busy.

He says he's met many active oldsters enjoying the time of their lives. “I don't know how I had time to go to work, they say.”

But when the paychecks stop, he cautions in a phone conversation from his home in Butler, “you have to watch your money.”

In the era when Pack grew up, it was assumed each generation would have more than their parents. He thinks this caused too many to spend too freely in their earning years.

His own retirement is brightened by a part-time job he loves — and which explains his praise for dancing.

As “Marty” Pack he's a disc jockey, spinning records mixed with a line of genial gab at reunions, club events and community dances. No fan of disco, he plays “oldies and goodies” of the 1950s, 60s and 70s. And people come from miles around, he says — that is, around Butler, where he lives and works — to swing and sway.

The magic collection he's now selling began building decades ago. He got hooked on the hand-is-quicker-than-the-eye art in boyhood. Pittsburgh was “a big place in magic,” he recalls. He eventually worked up shows for parties, then kept improving during the 33 years that Butler's AK Steel Corp, (originally Armco) was his day job.

He'd appear on stage in a tuxedo but also in clown get-up as “Rainbow.” His first wife and two daughters assisted as “Sunshine” and “Gumdrops.” It paid a modest $80 to $200 a gig in those days, but did take him to national conventions, exhibits and sittings of magician “rings” from Pittsburgh to New York and Las Vegas. He kept a little zoo of co-stars: rabbits, mice, a duck and an African pygmy goat. A favorite trick was to shroud a cage of white doves, then whip off the cover and – no more birds! Just a well-fed cat.

Pack remembers going to Pittsburgh alone by bus for hairdressing classes at a downtown school — at age 13; his aunts ran beauty salons. Later, after his army discharge, the beauty business looked crowded and he went into the mill.

Today, his no-longer-employed magic ear — 150-plus card tricks and boxes, florals, silks and whatnot — “takes up a lot of space.” he said.

He loves to laud the health awareness of seniors who come out to the dances he hosts — the third Saturday of every month, for example, at Butler's Meridian Veterans Club, with his wife Kathy assisting. “It's true,” he says, with absolutely nothing up his sleeve. “It keeps you young.”

Jack Markowitz is a columnist for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jmarkowitz@tribweb.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Starkey: Burnett writing incredible final chapter
  2. Alvarez’s walk-off single lifts Pirates over Padres
  3. Sign ordinance on the horizon in West Kittanning
  4. Pirates notebook: Four players selected for All-Star Game
  5. West Mifflin Area’s reinstated music program proves to be sound success
  6. Electric problem sparks McKeesport house fire
  7. Glassport grocery closes for renovations
  8. Torn thumb ligament puts Pirates’ Harrison on 15-day disabled list
  9. Chicora man charged after entering East Franklin home
  10. East Allegheny school consolidations affect preschool programs
  11. Crazy Mocha owner likes comfort, says shrewd decisions foster growth