Meet The OGs

Published: April 12th 2010
in Culture » Society

Barbara and Harry
Pic: The OGs
Barbara and Harry, wedding day
Pic: The OGs
Barbara and Harry now
Pic: The OGs

Barbara and Harry Cooper are 93 and 98 years old, respectively. The Jewish couple resides in the Hollenbeck Palms retirement home in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles. But don’t let their almost-triple-digit ages fool you. Barbara and Harry are about as hip as any Tweeting-Facebook-using-20-somethings.


Known in the blogsphere as The OGs (or The Original Grandparents), Barbara and Harry started their website in November 2008. The retired discount shoe store owners first launched The OGs blog to entertain their grandchildren, but soon found out that many more readers were interested in what they had to say. Their entries may not be about being “original gangsters,” but Barbara and Harry are always ready to take it to the streets.


From their opinions on lesbianism (Barbara believes in “acceptance of people and religion and different points of view”) to a video entry addressed to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa protesting against budget cuts that will affect local libraries, The OGs continue to fascinate their fans with their insights. The Jewish Journal calls it “a small phenomenon,” while reviewed their blog as “Fantastic and hilarious... completely heartwarming.”


With the help of their grandchildren, Shalom Life recently asked The OGs questions about their life, marriage, blog success and why Barbara called Boyle Heights as the “Jewish Tijuana” of the ‘30s.


I know you've been married 73 years. What's your secret for staying together?


Harry: Yes dear, yes dear, yes dear, yes dear.


Barbara: Giving instead of taking. In all relationships—even in conversation—give the other person their due. Render unto Caesar which is Caesar's. In other words, don't try to beat the system, or even show your husband that you are smarter. Just be yourself. I'm never going to show him that I know more than he does.


Any tips to young couples?


Harry: Work hard to make your spouse happy. A woman should work hard, and the man should work hard and do things that he thinks that she'll appreciate. She will do things that she knows will be appreciated. Try to be very happy with the future.


Barbara: Don't sweat the small stuff.


Barbara, you once dubbed Boyle Heights as a "Jewish Tijuana" back in the '30s. Can you describe what it was like back then?


Barbara: It was. Women were not dressed properly. They wore their house dresses on the streets and they wore bedroom slippers. They were not current Americans—it was Third World. They had barrels on the sidewalks, pickles, herring, and olives. It was almost like a tourist attraction. If you walked down the street they would have a deli with hot dogs that were rolling on a spit and you smelled the smell of corn beef and hot dogs… The older generation tried to hold on to whatever ethnically they remembered or they could do. But the younger generation all strived to be as Americanized as possible—and they were.


How much has LA changed since then, especially the Jewish community?


Barbara: Well, everybody became upgraded. They became part of the American scene, and yiddishkeit was dropped almost 90 per cent.


Related articles: (Society, Barbara Cooper, Harry Cooper, Blog, The OGs)
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