Senior Class

Fred Silverstein AKA Dubba/Gumps/Gumpy

Our Ultimate Responsibility

I recall a talk I made to the production staff at Praxis, which is where my bathing fixture experience got its start twenty-four years ago. I had just returned from a trip to Massachusetts, where I had witnessed a mechanical contractor having a problem, because of a small manufacturing defect, installing a Praxis ADA showers at a hospital. This was only some months after I had begun my tenure at Praxis. I told the staff that our goal was not just to satisfy a contractor, a distributor, a rep, an architect or engineer, or even the hospital management and staff. Though each of those were important customers, our ultimate responsibility was to the person who, for whatever reason, had to be in the hospital room and might have to shower. That person deserved the very best shower we could possibly build because that shower may help them in the healing process. A shower is not just a shower. Not when it is in a hospital. And furthermore, to bring it really close to them, I said that person may one day be an aunt, or a sister, or a daughter, or father of one of them.

Some of those folks are still at Praxis and, occasionally when I see them, they tell me how they recollect that little talk and how it resonated with them. They tell me that, as we worked on innovations for ASA and accessible bating fixtures, innovations which would mean more orders for Praxis and work for them, they still remembered who our ultimate customer was and why.

When assisted living exploded on the scene in the mid-nineties, Praxis got in the game early. Praxis had been the first company to build an ANSI compliant one piece shower, following a design by Ron Mace, AIA, a pioneer in accessibility and an icon for the community needing access. Back then we were known by our brand name Aquarius. It seemed only reasonable to expect to be the leader in senior living bathing fixtures just as we were in hospital bathing fixtures. Under the guidance of Rick Millard, one of the early proponents of universal design, Praxis formed a new brand called Comfort Designs and set about the work of building an extensive array of accessible and code compliant tub showers and showers with design features specifically devoted to seniors. Rick pushed us to come up with innovations in installation like EasyBase™ and to make our senior living models look, not institutional, but home-like. And in the ensuing years Comfort Designs has built an ever expanding line for all parts of senior living and has moved, in a big way with the Inline Trench Shower Systems, into health care. Comfort Designs now offers models for all segments of senior living: Independent, Assisted, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing and Long Term Care. Now with Asura, Comfort Designs leads again. Asura is the next critical step in bringing beautiful, safe, secure, and durable bathing fixtures to senior living.

Now as Senior Advisor to American Bath Group, I think back to that talk I made to the productions staff. I am certainly glad that our people took it to heart and made being the leader, and building for our ultimate customer, our mantra. Because I am not just Senior Advisor, but a senior adviser, in sore need of total bath room renovation so that I can enjoy taking a shower knowing I will be secure and safe and able to use it, God willing, for a long time. And because Rick Millard had us focus not only on accessibility, safety, security and durability but home-like aesthetics, the Comfort Designs shower to be installed in my bathroom suits the very refined taste of my decorator, Sandra Silverstein.

Fred was featured in a recent article by Field & Stream.  Check it out!

“Fred Silverstein may be the country’s most experienced flooded-timber hunter. He has hunted the last 60-plus duck openers and has no plans of stopping—not when his camp is full of kids, grandkids, and in-laws who can’t wait to hunt beside him.” read more…
Article by T. Edward Nickens

AKA Dubba/Gumps/Gumpy

I am attempting my very first blog for Comforts Designs (CD). It is supposed to be about Aging. About the process and how the process impacts one’s daily life and how the design of showers and bath tubs by CD meet the challenges head on and enable the aging ( people of all challenges really) to bath comfortably, securely, all the while in strong, long lasting and beautiful bathing fixtures.

I say “attempting” because as I sit here at my computer, I am having a very difficult time seeing what I’m typing. The right eye has 20/25 vision thanks to cataract surgery. It is now for far vision.  Surgery is pending on the left eye, which will be for near vision, and so it is really hard to see up close.

I am aging. It seems the process is speeding up. All the family gathered in Brownsville, TN, where Sandra and I live, for my seventy-fifth birthday last Oct.  All the family is five children, four children in-law, twelve grandchildren and assorted siblings and cousins. The twelve grandchildren explain why I am “aka Dubba/Gumps/Gumpy”.

Before we had any grandchildren, I bemoaned the fact, telling Sandra that a grandchild, just one, would confirm, once and for all, why we even had children in the first place. Then our second daughter, Alyson, married a man with three small children and, suddenly, we had three grandchildren. Initially we said “they are our inherited grandchildren’. But, very quickly they became “grandchildren”, for we took them in utterly and completely and they took us in the same way. It was really quite beautiful.

Well, early on they decided they had to find the right “grandparent” names for us. Sandra became “Lilly”, quite accurately describing her beauty, elegance, grace and peaceful nature. But, they could not find the right name for me. At dinner one night, at the world famous Bar-b-que joint Bozos in Mason, TN, our grandson Alex said, I should be called “Gumps” because I was a duffus like him and Gumps just fit. So, Gumps it was for Alex, Jimbo, and Caitlin. And it was “Gumps” for a while, or at least until granddaughter Charlie came along and called me “Gumpy”. Like her mother Corey and aunt Lynne,  she is an LA girl and, in typical CA fashion, she formally gave me a west-coast, LA, version of the southern “Gumps”. Son-in-law Andy is in the “business”. He is a creative genius for Comics and TV shows so he probably influenced his daughter Charlie in the name changing. To Charlie, and her younger sister, Kenzie, I am “Gumpy”.

About the same time we got Charlie, Abby came along. Our daughter, Alyson and son-in-law Jimmy, introduced us to Abby at the international terminal at LAX, where they landed with Abby, age eleven months,  in tow from Guangzhou, China. When she got around to calling us by our grandparents names, Sandra became “YeYe”, which has, no doubt,  some royal meaning in Chinese. For some inexplicable reason, I became “Dubba”. Maybe it has also some royal meaning in Chinese. Probably not. But to Abby and her younger brother, Jack, I am “Dubba”. Their older siblings, Jimbo, his wife Mary Morgan (grandchild twelve), Alex and Caitlin also began calling me Dubba. Our daughter, Eliza  and son-in-law Johnathon, brought the number to twelve with Bodhi, age four now, and River, age two now. They had a choice of the three names but for some reason, they call  me “Dubba”. Sandra/ Lilly is “YeYe” to them but still “Lilly” to the older group and the CA girls.

So, dear reader, it is very confusing. Often, Sandra and I refer to one another with the wrong name when speaking to one or more of our children or grandchildren. And Sandra says “you asked for grandchildren and they came exponentially”. While it is confusing, these twelve very different grandchildren, all smart and funny and wonderful young folks, are an unbelievable blessing. Who could be so blessed? Oh! Yeah! Daughter Lynne is single. We may have more grandchildren and, maybe, I will have a new grandfatherly name to add to the three I now have. Sandra may be “Lilly” or “Yeye”  Maybe not. So be it. This is what it’s all about.

I am supposed to blog about “Aging” and CD’s great bathing fixture offering to Health Care and Senior Living owner, developers, architects, engineers and design professionals. Next time. After the surgery on my left eye.

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