The Best Times – October 10, 2019


[gentle chiming music] – (male host)
Tonight on The Best Times, we examine the range
of services provided by the Community Legal Center. You’ll meet a famous Memphian, who was a contemporary
of Amelia Earheart. And we’ll help you
understand COPD. [gentle chiming music] Funding for The Best Times
is provided by: The Plough Foundation. Striving to do
the greatest good by helping the greatest
number of people since 1964. Additional funding
is provided by: The members of WKNO.
Thank you. [gentle chiming music] Hello, I’m Cris Hardaway, welcome to this
edition of The Best Times, a series that looks
at life after 50. For the past four years
on this show we’ve focused on the issue of elder abuse,
and the efforts of the Coordinated Response to
Elder Abuse team, in identifying cases
of abuse and finding solutions to the problems. One of the partners in CREA
is the Community Legal Center, a non-profit organization that
is in the forefront of fighting legal battles in cases
of elder abuse and more. To find out more about the
services provided by the Community Legal Center,
I spoke with the head of their Elder Law program. [gentle guitar music] Let’s begin by talking about the mission of the
Community Legal Center, what is your mission? – Our mission is to provide
general civil legal services to the under-served
populations of Memphis, whether that be
low-income people, immigrants, or the elderly. We try to serve
the under-served. – How great is the need
here in the Memphis area for organizations like yours? – The need in Memphis and
Shelby County is quite great, as most people do know
Memphis has somewhat of a problem with poverty,
and most people within their lifetime are going to have
at least one to four civil legal needs in their lifetime. And imagine if you had to
face that without an attorney. – That’s a surprising statistic. – I think it is
for a lot of people. People don’t think
about these things as ‘needing legal services’,
but if you have a problem with your landlord,
if you want a divorce. Each of these things are,
if you don’t have the money for it, that’s a barrier for you
to receive a legal benefit that you really need
when heading to court. – You offer several
different programs, so let’s just talk
about those programs. What programs do you have? – Well we have our
original program, which is general
civil legal services, and that can be
anything from landlord-tenant, divorce, contract issues,
things of that nature. We have expanded,
and it is almost half of what we offer now,
are immigration services, and then we also have
our elder law program, which focuses on elder abuse. – Let’s talk about a couple of
those, let’s talk about the immigration services
that you offer. Because as you indicated
over half of your work now is involving immigration issues. – Correct, almost half of it
focuses on immigration issues, which shows how much of a
burgeoning problem this is, it is only going to increase. We do focus on
things such as U-Visas, asylum, special
immigrant juvenile status, which are a lot of
different terms, but essentially it’s
people fleeing violence, people who have been the victims
of crime, and children. And we help navigate them
through the immigration system, which also overlaps
into civil legal, people to become documented
here in the United States must also cross several
civil legal hurdles as well as immigration legal hurdles. – Alright, let’s talk
about the elder law program. Specifically I know
that you’re involved with the Coordinated Response
to Elder Abuse team, which we’ve discussed many
times here on this show, the issue of elder abuse, what is your role in CREA? – I am one of the civil legal
services providers for seniors. Now what that
typically looks like, while sometimes we do
assist seniors with completing powers-of-attorney
and things to set themselves up in a position where they
would not be abused, unfortunately by the
time they get to us, they are in the
middle of a crisis. Very often what
that looks like is, someone with mild
to severe dementia who is being taken advantage of by,
very often and more likely, someone in their family,
someone that they know, someone in the neighborhood. – Are we talking here
primarily financial abuse? – Financial abuse does touch
on most of these situations. But it’s medical
neglect very often. It’s going in and acting like
you’re the person that’s going to be assisting this
senior with what they need, but what is really
happening is that they’re being taken advantage of. Unfortunately if that
senior citizen has dementia and has progressed
to a state where they are no longer able to make
decisions for themselves, it’s my job to go in and seek
a conservatorship of them, and put someone in place, or the courts put
someone in place who has the legal authority,
and is fit, willing, and able to make those
decisions for the senior. Sometimes that is a
trusted family member, we hope we can find somebody, but oftentimes that can be
the public district conservator with the Aging Commission,
who is another partner in the Coordinated Response
to Elder Abuse. – How serious is the problem
of elder abuse in this area? – It is quite serious. It’s estimated that
only 1 in 10 incidences of elder abuse is reported,
so we know that it’s an under-reported crime. And it is a crime. I think people often
don’t see it that way because maybe it’s family. And maybe mom and dad
always indulged a little anyway, but now we’re talking about a
senior who needs everything, all of their income
needs to be devoted to them, and all of the resources
need to be devoted to them, and they’re all
complicated issues. They require services
from a number of different, of our partners
across Shelby County. – Speaking of
partners, because, for four-plus
years now I guess, the Coordinated Response
to Elder Abuse team has been working together. Many different organizations
all working together. And you’re a part of it. From your
viewpoint, is it working? Are you achieving some success? – We are achieving success, and we’re achieving it
on a national level. What we’re doing
here in Shelby County, we are trying to put it into a
program that can be replicated across the United States. We can send trainers out and
show other cities and counties how they can do what we’re
doing here in Shelby County, because we are being
recognized on a national level, people are talking about us,
people are looking at us and saying, “Things are working. Let’s see what they’re
doing here in Shelby County.” – Let’s talk about the
future to close things out. Memphis is a poor city. We have an immigrant population
that is probably only going to grow in the coming years. We also have a baby-boom
population that’s going to age. So what does the future look
like to you as you sit there at the Community Legal Center. – The future of the
Community Legal Center, it only looks like
we will be growing. You know, 25 years
ago when we started, it was a part-time attorney
who would process some clients who came into a clinic,
and we would refer them out to private attorneys who agreed
to represent them pro-bono. Now we have five
full-time attorneys working on legal issues. The Community Legal Center
is only going to grow as these needs grow,
and we’ll be looking at all sorts of different
sources for funding. We get our monies from a
number of different places, including the Shelby
County government, who now provides
for my position as an essential service,
so I think the fact that Shelby County government
is recognizing that what we do for the Elder Law program is an
essential service here in Shelby County only speaks
to the fact that everybody is starting to recognize
that these problems are only going to expand. Especially in a city
that has a poverty issue. – Well let’s hope we can
address those problems in the future. Thank you very much
for being on The Best Times talking about
the Community Legal Center. – Thank you. [soft guitar music] – (Cris)
To find out more about the services provided by the
Community Legal Center, visit their website or
contact them directly. [gentle chiming music] Memphis has produced
its share of famous people in the last 200 years. But chances are you’ve never
heard of Phoebe Fairgrave-Omlie. She was the first woman
in America to hold a civilian pilots license. And was a friend and
confidant of Amelia Earhart. Historian Janann Sherman
spent 17 years researching and writing the
biography of Phoebe Omlie, a woman who spent her
life “Walking on Air”. [upbeat guitar music] – (Janann)
Phoebe Omlie was born in 1902, and right out of high school
decided she wanted to fly. Figured out a way to get her
hands on an airplane and taught herself to do stunts, hoping
to sell them to the movies. – (Cris)
Phoebe Fairgrave was still a teenager in 1921 when she met
WWI veteran Vernon Omlie. He was the only pilot
at the airport willing to teach a women how to fly. They teamed up to
fly stunts for movies, and go barnstorming
across the Mid-West, with Phoebe dancing atop
the wing of Vernon’s plane. – (Janann)
She was both brave and very determined about
what she wanted to do. But it was scary
times, you know, there weren’t any safety
belts, no gear of any kind. She put suction cups on the
bottom of her sneakers in order to help her keep her
footing on the wings. It was not a very good life
expectency for that sort of work, plus it
didn’t pay worth a hoot. Again, in Vernon’s log book
he’s keeping track of money in and money out,
and sometimes they didn’t clear ten bucks for a month. – (Cris)
The 1922 flying season ended at the Mid-South fair in
Memphis, and so did Pheobe’s barnstorming career. Phoebe and Vernon
had to pawn their luggage to get enough money
to pay their hotel bill. They had gotten
married earlier that year, and Vernon felt that Memphis
offered good opportunities, so they settled here. By 1926 they had teamed
with other air enthusiasts to open Memphis’ first airport. Vernon and Phoebe
established Mid-South Airways, offering flying
lessons, cargo transport, crop dusting,
and airplane sales. – And they’re trying to
build a legitimate business. What really helps them
actually is the flood of 1927. But now, this is a way to
establish a useful legitimacy. And they were flying the
mail from Little Rock, they were picking up
people stranded on sand bars, they were bringing in
medicine, this was really, really dangerous work. And all of a sudden, people
start re-thinking about what this flying stuff is all about. – (Cris)
That same year the world’s most famous aviator
stopped in Memphis on his cross-country celebratory tour
promoting aviation. Within two years of that
visit, Memphis opened its first municipal airport
with Vernon Omlie as manager. In 1928, Phoebe became
the first woman to enter the Ford Reliability Tour,
a 6,000 mile cross-country exhibition of aviation safety. She flew alone. – (Janann)
She refused to take anybody, including a navigator, because
she said if there’s a man along, they’ll think
he did all the flying. So I’m going alone. And so she does, and becomes
the first woman to fly over the Rocky Mountains
in a small plane, over the Great American Desert as they called it
in those days. It was very risky stuff. – (Cris)
The late ’20s and early ’30s was the heyday for
air racing in America. The national air race
in 1929 marked the first time women were allowed to compete. Phoebe flew
alongside 20 other women, including Amelia Earhart. And she won her class. After the 1929 event,
Phoebe became one of the founders of
The Ninety-Nines. The first organization of
female pilots in the country. Amelia Earhart was
elected as the organization’s first president. – She and Amelia
were probably as close as anybody was to Amelia. Poor Amelia… she was married to G.P. Putnam,
who was a big PR guy. And he just made sure
she had the latest, greatest, largest,
fastest airplanes, but never was enough time
to get checked out in them, never was enough time to
really learn how to fly them. – (Cris)
In 1937 Amelia was planning her fateful
around-the-world flight, when Phoebe paid her a visit. – (Janann)
She was very, very concerned about Amelia and that
last trip Amelia made. To the point where
she went to Miami the night before Amelia took
off and said, “Don’t do it.” – (Cris)
Phoebe’s greatest air racing success came in 1931,
when the national air races allowed women to compete in a
handicapped format against men. She beat a field
of 63 entrants, including 46 men,
to take the title. – And that was big,
that was really big. She was national news
everywhere when she won that. And it came with a big purse,
but mostly what she won was the publicity, and it’s
Eleanor Roosevelt who sends her a telegram and says, “I’d like
you to consider campaigning for my husband, who’s running
for President,” in 1932. And so she does. – (Cris)
Phoebe flew around the country campaigning for Roosevelt. Her work and her friendship
with Eleanor Roosevelt earned her a
political appointment in the new administration. In 1933 Phoebe became
the first woman to hold an executive job
in Federal Aeronautics. But the transition to a
desk job wasn’t an easy one. – It was a difficult
position to be in. She wasn’t trained
as a bureaucrat, she was a pilot, a
woman in a man’s world, all those sorts of
things were very difficult. Still, one of the things that
surprised me that I found in the evidence was that her
expertise was very much valued, and she in fact worked very
closely with engineers at Langley Field in
aircraft design, in safety features,
in that sort of thing. They really paid
attention to her. – (Cris)
Unfortunately it didn’t take Phoebe long to hit
the glass ceiling. – The only way she thought she
could challange that was just to be as
competent as she could. To demonstrate that she could
do this job and do it well. But it’s very frustrating
when it’s not recognized. – (Cris)
In 1936 Vernon died in a plane crash, as a passenger
aboard a commercial flight. After his death,
Phoebe stopped flying. She remained a bureaucrat
throughout the war years, but became disillusioned
with the Truman administration, and its negative view
towards civil aviation. In January of 1952,
frustrated and embittered, Phoebe resigned
from government, and walked away from
aviation altogether. – She becomes
extremely right wing. She goes way over to what
would now be the tea party. In those days it was
the John Birch society, you know the tea party
and the ultra-right party is not a new phenomenon
in America, it goes, it just has different names. But she becomes very
much enamored by that, and ends up sort of devoting
her last years to fighting those kinds of fights. – (Cris)
The last 20 years of Phoebe’s life
are almost a mystery, as she becomes
increasingly obsessed with anti-communism,
states rights issues, and right-wing politics. – For about twelve years,
she just traveled from place to place. She would stay with
old aviation friends, she would stop in a town
and put an ad in the paper to be a companion for elderly
ladies and do light housework, and she would just keep moving. She finally ends up in
Indianapolis, Indiana in 1970 and she dies five years later
in a flea bag hotel. The kind of place where you
keep your milk on the window sill to keep it cool. It’s very, very, very sad. Completely alone,
completely strained, broke, victim of
lung cancer, poverty, what a sad end. – (Cris)
Phoebe Omlie was buried alongside her husband
Vernon here in Memphis at Forest Hill Cemetery. One obitiuary writer wrote, “Without a plane, she was like
a bird with a broken wing.” [gentle chiming music] – Our lungs provide us
with life-giving air. But 30 million Americans
suffer from a disease that makes every breath a struggle. COPD is a debilitating
combination of three pulmonary diseases. Here in Tennessee,
9.4% of adults have been diagnosed with COPD,
one of the highest incidences in the South-Eastern
United States. And it comes at a price. State-wide the annual cost
for treatment is $794 million. And there is no cure. Let’s find out more about COPD. [light acoustic music] – (Cris)
What is COPD? – Chronic
Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, so it incorporates
three different diseases. Chronic bronchitis, which
basically presents with cough continuously, emphysema, which
I say is like destruction of terminal airway, the air
sacks, and chronic asthma. The asthma doesn’t
respond to inhalors completely. Those are the three big
things incorporated under COPD. – (Cris)
What are the symptoms? – So basic very common symptoms
is shortness of breath, that’s what it starts
with, and then cough. Because a lot of these airways,
when they get destroyed, they become a
seat for infection. And they start
secreting a lot of mucus, and the people
will be coughing. Exercise limitations,
that will be another thing, and there are other symptoms
that people present with, like depression,
or weight loss, and exercise limitations,
those kinds of things are typically present. – (Cris)
What causes COPD? – So COPD basically
is caused by smoking. It’s actively smoking
or passivly smoking, that basically causes COPD. Apart from that, other
biomass fuels like… chemicals, farm
chemicals, toxic gases, those can cause COPD. – (Cris)
Is age a risk factor? – So COPD is very common
once it goes more than 40 years of age. If you look at the whole
populous in a year it’s about 5% have COPD, and when you go
more than 40 it goes to 10%. And I think one thing I
want to insert here is, COPD is now the third leading
cause of death due to medical reason. And the problem
is, it’s going up. Now heart diseases used
to be the number one, and now everyone is focused
on heart care and everything, and the cure has
been excellent, so it’s going down. Where the COPD
mortality is going up. – (Cris)
Is COPD a risk factor for other diseases? – One of the most common
things which COPD leads to is lung cancer. If a season has
been pollen-high, people who have COPD have
more chances of lung cancer. Now if it occurs
during smoking, or because they’re
individual affect, but they have more
chances of lung cancer, but the have more
chance of heart disease, stroke, sleep apnea,
obesity, depression, exercise limitations,
anxiety, weight loss, all those things
can happen with COPD. Vitamin D deficiency,
chronic renal problems, yes. – (Cris)
How is COPD diagnosed? – Basically when COPD comes,
it’s like a clinical visit. Somebody who has shortness of
breath over a period of time, which is not getting better. We start with that. There’s no, and then
a history of smoking, or being exposed to
smoke or other biofuels, or anything, that gives
us suspicion for COPD. There’s no lab test to
diagnose COPD as such, but there’s something we do
called a lung function test. So basically what we do
in a lung function test, is we want to see
how much a person can breathe in a machine. – (Cris)
How can COPD be managed? – There are different methods of
managing COPD, definitely. One is we’ll say is
stopping smoking. That’s the basic. Because once you stop smoking,
some of the literature says like in 10 to 15 years your
lung goes back to the person who never smoked. After that we have got some
medicines which can definitely make it better. Those medicines can
bronchodilate the airway. Those medicines can
also decrease secretions, like helping with the cough. There are a couple more
things like oxygen therapy. If somebody definitely
needs oxygen then we do that. It has somewhat
improved the quality of life, and maybe prolonged life, but
definitely the quality of life will go up. And then ultimately one more
thing we do in management, is end of life care, because
if somebody has a case of very severe COPD, they will be
admitted to hospital multiple times, they will have
to go on a ventilator, and the outcome
may not be great, so we want to talk
to our patients, “Hey, what do you want?” in that case. – (Cris)
For more information, go to the website of
the COPD Foundation. Want more information
about life after 50? Go online to watch more
shows and find more resources. And send us your
feedback and story ideas to [email protected] That’s all for this
edition of The Best Times, please join us next week
for more stories about life after 50. Until then, I’m Cris
Hardaway, thanks for watching. Goodnight. Funding for The Best Times
is provided by: The Plough Foundation. Striving to do
the greatest good, by helping the greatest
number of people since 1964. Additional funding
is provided by: The members of WKNO.
Thank you. [gentle chiming music] [acoustic guitar chords]