In just five days it will be over. Since I cast my very first vote
for Alf Landon back in 1936, I have been convinced on the day after
most elections that the world is going to hell in a hand basket because
my candidate or my special issue went down in flames. And yet, after
all the times I have entered that voting booth, I still feel that same
pride and hope in the future that I did that first time. The Republic
still stands. And the sun will rise on November 8.
Having voted in 16 presidential elections makes me an eld. What is an
eld? Crossword puzzle fans know that it is a three letter word meaning
old age. And being an eld has turned out to be pretty interesting,
what with a whole new career after I became one. It wasn't until I was
75 that I discovered what I wanted to do when I grow up -- write with a
deadline that forces me to do it.
There was a time, not too long ago, when elds were considered
has-beens. No more. According to Betty Friedan, now 79 we are on the
cusp of a revolution in aging. Whether because of modern medicine or
vitamins or exercise or all of the above, more and more elds are going
strong and are involved in all sorts of activities, physical and
mental. Young people tend to ask, "Why are all these old people
behaving as though they aren't old?" Answer: They aren't. We are
learning that chronological age is less important than health, enough
money to live on and attitude. We are learning that with luck the last
passage of life can be a very good one.
If the politicians are worried about the onslaught of baby boomers
turning 65, wait until 2030 when there will be nearly 9 million
over-85's, twice the number alive today. Just think of all those 85
year olds still running the world! It's enough to make today's
toddlers double up on their orange juice.
Today's elds are doing some pretty exciting things and have some words
of wisdom that might be worth heeding by the generations coming along.
John Kenneth Galbraith wrote when he was 87, "The one thing to worry
about is boredom. If I'm not reading, writing or talking, the hours
pass with infinite slowness." He is 92 now and probably is still
talking liberal Democratic politics. Go, John.
I think my favorite eld is Julia Child, who is 88 with her delightful
personality intact. She still has a cooking show on PBS, "Cooking with
the Master Chefs." She probably horrifies my doctor by advising us to
eat whatever we want, preferably rich, luscious stuff that we like.
(Note: Don't worry, Doc. I don't do it often.) She is a bit stooped,
but as hearty as ever celebrating a just baked blueberry tart "oooozing
Helen Hayes at 90 was still following her own advice. "If you rest you
Anthony Quinn is still acting at 85. Management expert Peter Drucker is
going strong at 90. The glamour girl of my youth, Maureen O'Hara, now
80, appeared Sunday in a television play and says she thinks it would be
neat to make it to 102. I hope she does. Strom Thurmond is still a
member of the U. S. Senate at 97, but let's not use him as an example.
He was old at 5.
Norris Hatcher of Mount Airy, N. C. works a 40 hour week using
screwdrivers and staple guns in a furniture factory. He is 94. "Maybe
I'll retire when I get old enough," he says.
Charlotte Haugland, 91, is a C. P. A. in private practice in Tacoma.
She says, "I like working for the personal contact with clients. I have
had almost all of them for many years, and when they die I get their
Don't ever underestimate an eld.
Only five more days. I need them to gather strength in case I have to
listen to Dubwa murder the English language for four years. But
whatever, the sun will rise on November 8.