Old Pharts Unite: What Will You Be When You Grow Up?

A Washington Post article that ran in Saturday’s Kitsap Sun noted that the peace symbol turn 50 on Friday.

Where did the time go? I was three in 1958 when British graphic designer Gerald Holtom, “…drew myself … a man in despair .. put a circle around it to represent the world.”

I learned a lot from that article that I didn’t know about the peace symbol:

It was unveiled at a British ban-the-bomb rally. (Does anyone out there remember hiding under your desk or sitting out in the hallway, head tucked, with your classmates, doing a bomb drill in case the Soviet Union dropped the big one? Fat lot of good that would have done, but somehow it made our parents and teachers feel safer, Hiroshima still fresh in their minds.)

Since then, the article states, “The symbol has marched in service of many causes over the years: civil rights, women’s rights, environmentalism, gay rights, anti-apartheid, the nuclear freeze movement and the latter day anti-war crowd.”

In junior high I sketched the peace symbol on my binder, in high school wore it on a tie-dye T-shirt with my lime green mini-skirt.

But now I’m dating myself. When I turned 50, my once-athletic body started falling apart piece by piece. Now, like a classic car, I require a lot of maintenance and my mileage is not what it used to be.

I’m at that time of life when the list of things I’d like to do “when I grow up” gets longer in direct proportion to the years in which I have to so them growing shorter with each passing birthday. I want to be a zoo keeper, travel to Australia, write a book, learn the tango. With the newspaper industry going the way it is, who knows, maybe I’ll have to have a whole new career. The way things are going, maybe I’ll never be able to retire.

According to Kitsap Sun columnist, Liz Taylor, I’m not alone. In a recent column, Taylor talks about a “new kind of retirement” in which my generation (the Baby Boomers – if you can stand that over-used term – I prefer Old Pharts) won’t be retiring any time soon:
A. Because they can’t afford to.
B. Because they don’t want to.
C. Because society can’t afford to have them retire.

Taylor writes: “Seventy-eight million boomers now are aged 43 to 61. Following behind are just 40 million Gen Xers in their 30s, ready to take the boomers’ jobs when they retire. Hmmm, I see a shortfall of significant proportion ahead.”

The correct answer to why our retirement won’t look anything like that of our parents’ generation is, “All of the above.”

In anticipation of a story I plan to write on “retirement revisited” I’d love to hear from anyone else out there who has reinvented their life and livelihood upon middle age. For example, I know a guy, retired from Amtrack, who enjoys volunteering at the local junior high. By this time next year it’s likely he’ll be applying his teaching skills in Africa in a position with an organization similar to the Peace Corps.

What are your plans? What’s been your experience as an older worker? Comment here, send me an e-mail at chenry@kitsapsun.com or call me at (360) 792-9219.

And remember, we have nothing to fear but gravity.

Peace, Chris

One thought on “Old Pharts Unite: What Will You Be When You Grow Up?

  1. I call us Fat Old Guys — FOGies. Remember all the ads and books about how to become so rich that you could retire before 50? That was the American dream.

    Well, I retired at 48, not because I was rich, but because I sold my business. I hate retirement. I learned to fly, taught flying lessons, did missionary work in the Philippines, and now I am starting a photography business.

    I can’t stand the idea of being old and useless and having nothing to do, no reason to get up in the morning.

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