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Something About Us Seniors

by Stan Scisloswki

We are the last, as a group, to have entered our late teens with virginity intact ... and we are the last link to a remarkable, almost mythic time.

I picked up a book at the library the other day, entitled YOU HAD TO BE THERE, written by Robert Collins and published by McClelland & Stewart.

I found it great reading since it tells the stories of people coping with the problems most families had to face during the hard and lean times of the Depression, that period between 1929 and 1937, after which there was a slow but gradual improvement in their quality of life. The author also takes you through the war years and how things were on the home front, and then the return of the veterans at war’s end and the problems that cropped up with regards to marriage, the workplace, education, the status of women, etc. And then the so-called ‘baby-boomers’ were born and a different set of problems arose when they started growing up. But I’ll not get into that here.

The following excerpt spells out more or less what we seniors are all about and how manners, morals and things in general have changed since those distant – and in so many ways more enjoyable – times.

“There are 3.6 million of us over age sixty-five, about 12 per cent of the Canadian population. We are the last link to a remarkable, almost mythic time. We are the survivors of the Great Depression and World War Two, architects of postwar Canada, parents of the celebrated boomers. We have lived through monumental change, unparalleled in any previous generation: from horse-and-buggy, Model-T Ford, and crank-handle telephone, to moon walks, space shuttles, and the Internet. We are better educated, more affluent, more vigorous, and longer-lived than any generation before us. We are more widely traveled and hungrier for study and self-improvement well into old age.

Yet, in all this we have clung to a certain innocence that no generation is likely to have again. Although many of us are equipped to the teeth with the tools and toys of contemporary society (computers, VCRs, fax machines, cellular phones) such wonders still mildly amaze us.

We are still “old-fashioned” in our outlooks. We are the last enthusiastic patriots; the last to go willingly (albeit fatalistically) to war for king (or queen) and country. We rarely flagellate ourselves over the Canadian “identity”; we think we know what it is. We are the last to accept authority with respect: authority of parents, teachers, police, governments, military officers. We are the last generation to have reached adulthood without television, credit cards, computers, push-button phones, or the Pill.

We are the last, as a group, to have entered our late teens with virginity intact. We are the last to believe widely in the sanctity of marriage, in the invulnerability of family, in mannerly children and courteous adults. We place high value on hard work, loyalty, and self-sufficiency.

You can easily spot us, even if the grey hair and wrinkles aren’t a dead giveaway. We dress-up, meaning we are usually overdressed by contemporary standards for most occasions. At parties, church, or the theatre, our men tend to wear suits
or jackets and ties; our women favor dresses more often than pants. Our men will hold doors open for women, and our women still say “thank you.”

We like music with lyrics we can understand. We hardly ever “right-size,” “download” or “prioritize” anything. We cringe when young people exclaim, “That really resonates for me.” Most of us prefer to send letters on paper, rather than e-mail. We gaze bemused at the young lining up with bovine patience to get into the movies or bars; we have detested line-ups since the war.

We wonder how girls with rings in their lips and studs in their tongues can eat without slobbering. We don’t understand how guys can blow their noses with rings in them. We wonder why pre-teens hands never extend from the sleeves of their jackets. Do they have very long sleeves or very short arms?

In twenty years, give or take a few, we will all be gone. The world, for better or worse will never see our like again. Generations are forever fading and turning to dust. Will our passing matter one iota to Canada? How and for what might we be remembered?”

Whether you’re one of the sixty-five and over generation, a teenager or a ‘baby-boomer’,If you want a good book to take to bed with you or to read in your easy-chair, I’m sure you’ll find this book one of the more interesting ones you’ve read of late.


First you forget names, then you forget faces,
then you forget to pull your zipper up,
then you forget to pull your zipper down.



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