Been there, done that: Paul credits exercise, clean living for longevity

NAME: Bea Paul

AGE: 91


Bea Paul, center, plays canasta at the JCCNS with friends Beverly Nathan, left, and Arlene Padulsky. CURRENT PHOTO / LEIGH BLANDER

How long have you lived in Marblehead? I’ve lived here for over 50 years. I was teaching at the JCC in Lynn and became the director of the early childhood program. When the center moved to Marblehead it was a natural move for me. 

What is your fondest childhood memory? I grew up in Revere and I loved walking Revere Beach in the winter when the snow was piled up high on the sand. Revere Beach was always fun for me. 

What jobs have you had and what was your favorite? My favorite job was being the director of the early childhood program at the JCC. I loved the involvement with parents and seeing the children every day, seeing those little faces. I still like to see the little faces when I come to the center. 

I also developed the infant-toddler daycare program, which was very innovative, in 1978 with Ursula Block. It came at a time when mothers were going back to work. We also wanted to accommodate mothers who wanted a little time to themselves during the day, which can be very important.

I remember during the Blizzard of ‘78, Ursula and I met at Brown’s Restaurant, we both walked, and we talked about how we were going to present the infant-toddler program to the JCC. Some board members said they didn’t want diapers and cribs at the JCC. They were overridden. It started with one room and we filled up almost immediately. It’s been going strong ever since. It’s a very important program.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen the in the world? There are a lot of changes. I suppose technology is the biggest one. When we started (at the JCC) we were making lists for parents and it was all by hand. The technology really boosted our ability to have the programs that we have today. 

I know how to text, but I prefer not to. I do email for communication and safety. Over the pandemic, I Zoomed classes, concerts, courses … and it saved my life. I’m a widow and I was alone and it was very difficult, but that saved my life.

What is your most vivid memory from history? The JFK assassination hit me very deeply and when Robert Kennedy was assassinated it hit me again. They represented things I cared about. Today, I’m concerned about our democracy. I’m worried about America.

What is your biggest accomplishment? Developing the early childhood program at the JCC and adding extended care. I was also a docent at the Peabody Essex Museum for 10 years. After I retired, I taught at Salem State and that was very fulfilling. I also have two children, one grandson and two great-grandchildren.

What is your best piece of advice to the younger generation?  Have a goal and work towards it. Word hard. You just have to keep at it. It’s very satisfying.

What is your secret to aging well? Exercise is number one. I swam before work for many years. Now I take water aerobics classes at the JCC two or three times a week. Clean living, I guess!

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