The Value of Laughter with Lillian Hoffman, 93

The Value of Laughter with Lillian Hoffman, 93


Lives at Waterford Terrace in La Mesa, California

Born Adventurer | Loving Matriarch | Entertainer | Free Spirit

Q: What do you like to do… with your days?
A: Twice a year I get together 30 ladies — no men — and I tell risqué jokes and sing songs for them. Let’s just say I feel more comfortable with just the women. With everybody’s aches and pains, I want them to forget for an hour or two. I love doing it. And if God spares me, I’ll do it for a long time to come.

Here’s a sample: A woman called her doctor and asked, “Did I leave my panties there?” “No you didn’t, Mrs. Brown,” the doctor answered. “Oh,” said the woman, “I must have left them at the dentist’s.”

Here’s another one: A woman took her husband with her to her doctor and the doctor says, “Well, Mrs. Smith, you are all right, but no sex for 2-3 weeks,” and woman says, “John, did you hear what the doctor said?” And her husband says, “Yes, I did, but he told that to you, not me!”

Q: And were you married?
A: I was married — and God blessed me with 6 grandchildren.

Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I was born in Romania, but came to Philadelphia when I was a year old and grew up and met my husband there. During WWII he enlisted in the Marines and we were sent to Camp Lejeune, N.C., and we stayed with him a year, and that’s where my first daughter, Judy, was born. We called her our Rebel, and since her sister, Meryl, was born back in Philly, we called her our Yankee.

Q: What were some of the most important things in your life?
A: Well, when I went to Camp Lejeune, it was an entirely different life there in the South. I came from Philadelphia and I didn’t like the way they treated the black people in North Carolina, and I would ask “Why are the blacks segregated from the whites [on base]? They are giving their lives for their country just the same.”

And I encountered a lot of anti-Semitism, even in school in Philadelphia; I remember one incident out of high school, I took some tests for a job, and you also had to give your religion, and I wrote Jewish, of course. I took all the tests and I know I did well, but no one called me for a job. My mother got very disgusted and suggested I put something in the newspaper and write about how fast I type, etc. The first man who interviewed me asked, “Do you mind if I ask a personal question? What size bra do you wear?” And I said — “Why? How big is your typewriter?” And I left, fast.

My mother told me to try again. “He’s a nut,” she said, and the next interview was to work for an optometrist, and he asked me all kinds of questions; the last one was, “Do you see that cot over there? Will you please go and lie down?” Fortunately, I had my pocketbook with me and I ran out. After that, I took a civil servant test and got a job.

Q: What is the hardest thing about growing older?
A: Getting sick. But I also know that age is just a number and you are only as old as you feel. Sometimes I feel like 150, and sometimes I feel like I’m 40-50 years old. I’m alone now, but not lonely. I read a book a day and we have marvelous books here. Not the silly ones, good ones. David Balducci, like that. Wonderful ones — my television and my books and my daughter, God bless her. She lives in Rancho Bernardo, and every Saturday she takes me shopping. I’m going to buy a bikini next time we go out.

To read more stories like Lillian’s, visit, or check back for our weekly resident interviews in the Sunshine Stories Blog.

*This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living

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