Retired? Dance to maintain health
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 email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers nose tackle McCullers finds performance, fitness go hand in hand
- Fatal accident near Clymer involves school van; 3 students reported injured
- Paddleboard classes focus on fitness
- Honda thinks outside box
- GDP data, consumer sentiment drop slash stocks
- Judge: UPMC must provide in-network access to Highmark Medicare members
- Pirates notebook: Burnett rediscovers vintage form
- Texas waters yield 4 bodies as death toll climbs; rainfall records fall across state
- Steelers’ defense unfazed by noise, believes in potential
- Daily News League roundup: Plum shuts out McKeesport
- Medical examiner: Dormont man found near incline died of multiple injuries