Adding up the Pluses
Ever since I have been doing these columns about interesting people in their 70s, 80s, and 90s, friends have been saying, “You have to meet Natalie Myerson.” A mutual friend finally set us up for a lunch at Louie’s at the Upham Hotel in Santa Barbara, and Natalie was there waiting for us when we arrived, beautifully “put together” as they say. She could just as easily have been sitting at the Plaza in New York City as in Santa Barbara. She wore a stunning purple dress with a lovely shawl and – most importantly – black high heels (not too high, but high nevertheless).
Natalie was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and grew up there until she attended Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland, from where she graduated with a B.A. in English in 1941. She has been in love with the English language ever since; you can tell by the way she speaks. Her mother kindled her love of speaking with elocution lessons early on, and she went on to win many awards in high school.
One of her hints for feeling good about herself is by dressing first thing in the morning, just like her mother always did. Natalie says that her mother, who she adored, was all “laced up” when she came out of the bedroom. She says she never saw her mother in a housecoat. She relates that her mother attended a junior college in Boston in her 50s just so she could speak the same language as her four college-educated children. Both her mother and her “mother-in-love” (Natalie’s expression) were great inspirations to her.
She met her husband, Raymond King Myerson, at a cocktail party in Boston, where he was training for service in World War II as a naval officer at Harvard. She was 22; he was 25. She said to her mother, “He’s the one,” and indeed he was. “He was a gentleman and a gem,” she says. They enjoyed a bountiful marriage for 63-plus years, before Raymond’s death in 2006.
They had two children, a daughter and a son, two grandchildren, and now a one-and-a-half-year-old great-grandson. She says their lives were filled with children, laughter, and philanthropy and suggests that her life has been all about “luck and gratitude.” Articulate and energetic at age 98, Natalie is pleased to say she still has “many things to look forward to.”
Philanthropy is in her genes, she laughingly notes. Both her mother and mother-in-law gave freely, and that generosity is a genetic factor Natalie fully encompasses. She became president of Junior Hadassah at a young age and later started another organization called the Juliets (Just Unusual Ladies Interestingly Eating Together) before she was married. She hasn’t stopped since. She was, for example, one of the founders of the Santa Barbara Literary Society, and is now involved in more than 12 non-profit charities.
The Myersons moved to Santa Barbara in 1973 and because Natalie has been involved in so many charities for so long, the sons and daughters she “adopted” along the way are more than happy to take her wherever she wants to go.
As for what she does to keep her brain active, Natalie does a crossword puzzle every day and plays bridge frequently.
“Life is like a balance sheet,” she concludes, “made up of pluses and minuses. If you have one more plus than a minus, you are ahead of the game.”
Seems like an excellent way of looking at life to me!