In the late 1940s and most of the 50s Americans watched a charming little ad-libbed puppet show on TV called Kukla, Fran and Ollie. Charted for children, it counted among its devoted audience their parents, and as the show grew in popularity, adults from all segments of society…people like Orson Welles, Adlai Stevenson, and John Steinbeck, and, perhaps, more who chose not to reveal their love of the kiddy program. When I had children of my own, there was Captain Kangaroo and then Sesame Street. Wonder-full programs that taught something new while entertaining both children and parents. From then on I was convinced that the best way to teach and to learn was to have fun in the process.
When I moved back to Jacksonville from New York City, I soon found myself wondering where I could find a place to explore new interests in a new place other than going back to school at 77. It didn't take me long to find it. A friend and neighbor invited me to a wine tasting, organized by a group that she said had begun in a program called OLLI. “What in the world is OLLI?” said I, remembering fondly the single toothed dragon.
I’m devoting this column to telling you what it is, because I am so grateful for what it offers us elders in terms of expanding our minds and broadening our intellectual horizons, and just plain having fun. I’m sure some of you already are aware of OLLI but I’m equally certain that there are some who have not heard of it and would benefit from what it has to offer.