When I was young it was almost an automatic reflex to consider someone on either side of 60 to be ancient. You assumed they were ready for a nursing home, a move to Florida or a plot at Blossom Hill.
I, of course, looked at Concord’s older citizens as being sage and wise and important parts of our community and spent hours listening to them weave their stories about the history of our city. I didn’t want to just live in the present but felt that a foundation of rich history and stories would increase my pleasure in the “then and now” and enable me to play a more active role in the future.
The hours I spent sitting on the squeaky swivel stools in J.J. Newberry listening to Maude and Millie, the “Queens” of the luncheon counter, talk about those they had served throughout the years and how the streetcar had made a stop in front of the store to unload dozens of prospective customers, was like a veritable history lesson. Of course the fact that they made the best French Fries I have ever eaten – cut and cooked to order – was a more than pleasant addition to my “classes”.
I vowed then and there that one day I would make myself available to open the eyes and ears of some future generation to the Concord I was experiencing each and every day as well as carrying forth the stories I was hearing. To that end, each day in our city was a great adventure as I absorbed and actively participated in being a resident, never understanding the frequent complaints from some that Concord was “deadsville” and “dull” and there was “nothing to do”. “HUH????”
As I got closer and closer to 60 I found myself wondering whether I was suddenly going to “get old” or when the aches and pains that allegedly help to announce such milestones would begin to become an unwelcome visitor, trying to take up permanent residence. I’m still waiting.
Several times a week I climb on the treadmill and do 4-6 miles. Daily I walk anywhere from 2-5 miles, can still high kick to the top of the door frame, 200 times as part of my warm-up and still comfortably fit into my 31 inch waistline pants.
Maybe aging manifests itself in other ways I pondered as I answered a question the other day.
I was downtown when I was approached by a casual acquaintance in her 30’s, who had recently taken my book, “Was That a Name I Dropped?” out of the Concord Public Library.
“I loved your story and your honesty and it was the fastest 500 pages I’ve read in years”.
I went on to tell her that I’d received an e-mail from Leonard Maltin, who requested a copy.
The blank look on her face made me realize that she had no idea of whom I was speaking.
When I got home I googled Leonard Maltin to make sure he didn’t qualify for a “Methuselah Award” and noted that he is only 62, still actively employed on “Entertainment Tonight” and that his Movie Guide, out annually, is a huge best-seller.
The next day someone mentioned seeing a poster for my book in the window of Gibsons and wanted to know, “who’s the broad with you on the book cover?”
“That’s Doris Day”, I told him, to an equally blank look.
The Quigley Poll, an annual popularity poll of the top box-office film stars has been conducted for more than 80 years. The cumulative poll indicates that to this date, Doris Day is the most popular female film star in movie history and the folks at Turner Classic Movies that report astounding ratings whenever her films are shown, would support that. However, I guess in today’s world of instant celebrity, the name means little.
I explained briefly who Doris Day is (she is alive and well and lives in Carmel, California) but she might as well have been from the Prehistoric Era.
I also explained that the cover photo had run in one of the tabloids back in the 80’s with the caption, “Doris Day and unidentified escort pose happily for photogs after exiting famed Beverly Hills eatery, Nate N’ Al, where they enjoyed a quiet breakfast together. Could it be love for Miss Day and her much younger friend?”
Of course anyone who made it through just the Prologue of my book would know there isn’t a word of truth to that.
Nevertheless, it got me to thinking that perhaps one of the reasons that no one seems to take my concerns, comments and suggestions about the state of Downtown Concord seriously, is because I’m considered from another era, another planet, another world – I’m irrelevant!!!
I understand that each new generation likes to feel they have all the answers. I recall a great many contemporaries in the 1970’s announcing that if you were over 30, you might as well be dead.
I also recognize that there are some people who simply like to disagree or balk at change or complain or maintain the status quo. Some are most sincere in their feelings and not simply attempting to disrupt or obstruct.
However, I would like to believe that the “young” have learned enough from life to appreciate that those of us who have lived longer may want to share our ideas in order to make their path a little easier and instill in them bits and pieces from our journeys so they might be better for it.
A day hardly passes without some e-mail or encounter from someone who objects to my voicing an opinion about the way I see the Main Street misadventure headed. But the number of e-mails and encounters that support both my right to speak my mind and my genuine concerns for our city outnumber the others by 4 to 1.
This is my 7th blog for WKXL and I have just started my third month. I have also deliberately not made a habit of constantly monitoring and checking the number of hits my blogs have attained. Unlike some politicians, I don’t want to live by numbers, feeling that it might impact my determination as to what I write about.
I did, however, check it prior to starting this latest blog and was overwhelmed for a moment or two at the number of folks that have clicked on to see what I was talking about.
The realization that my 6 blogs figured in the top 12 blogs in the last 90 days, made me surmise that perhaps I am not yet irrelevant.