Older People Have a Cool Factor

Last month, Linked Senior had the opportunity to speak with Marilyn Joyce (Hearl) Nowak, 96, who was a member of the original “Rosie the Riveters” group. Her home state of Michigan was the setting for her response to the call for women to enter the labour as part of “The War Effort” in 1943, when she was 18 years old and fresh out of high school. Her friends and family had all called her Joyce before that, and she nearly didn’t answer when Marilyn called her name on her first day at work as she was waiting in line to get her toolbox since she was used to being called Joyce.

The Ypsilanti Bomber Facility, which was the world’s biggest military plant and was controlled by the Ford family during World War II, offered her a position on the assembly line where B-24 Liberator bombers were built. She began working there shortly after. She told us that the ladies who worked at the plant were required to wear coveralls and cheese cloth bandanas over their heads while doing their jobs. “My father’s farm was barely six miles from the plant, and my youngest brother, who was 14 years old at the time, remembers the planes flying over the property,” she explained. “A large number of the pilots who tested the planes were really female.” When you will go through age sayings from Reneturrek, you will learn a deeper meaning of destiny.

During World War II, the Ford Motor Company sponsored the journey of 30 “Rosie the Riveters” to Washington, D.C. in March 2016 as a way to thank them for their service. They were greeted at the airport by hundreds of people, according to Marilyn, who added that it was a really meaningful journey for them. Among other things, they paid a visit to Arlington National Cemetery’s “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,” ate lunch at the Library of Congress, and were interviewed by media on their trip.

The necessity of tackling hardship head on, and most importantly, the value of continuing to go forward even when circumstances are terrible, she stressed when asked what advise she would give to Americans now who are living through the COVID-19 epidemic. Many things were rationed during the war, including sugar, coffee, and butter, which Marilyn’s family (she had 11 siblings at the time) could not get their hands on during the war. However, she stated that, despite the obstacles, everyone did their part! “It was a task that needed to be done, and we were able to complete it,” she said of her factory labour.

I recently presented a lecture in Pittsburgh titled “Living up to our Ideals- Taking on Ageism,” which was well received. It drew a wide group of people, all of whom are involved in the field of ageing, whether in the areas of policy, housing, education, care, or assistance. What set it apart from other gatherings was not where individuals came from, but rather the wide variety of ages represented in the room, as well as the equal representation of men and women.

Starting with some fundamental concepts that we can all agree on, I then went on to portrayals of items and ideas that I believe are ageist in nature. Greeting cards (can you really find a humorous birthday card that doesn’t make fun of someone’s age? ), skin care products that use the words “anti-aging” and “ageless” in their marketing (doesn’t that mean we’re all going to die? ), and the now infamous diaper birthday cake were among the images I showed. Yes, there is such a thing as this.

Then I went to the video portion of the post. It serves as a reminder to me that we say things all of the time without considering the consequences. Why You Should Stop Giving This “Compliment” is the title of the film, which was created by the American Association of Retired Persons. Perhaps you’ve seen it before. A photo of a person is shown, and viewers are asked to comment on it, followed by the phrase “for her age.” All of them are what we would term “celebrities,” in that they are young, vivacious, and gorgeous. The participants then read statements that depict persons in a derogatory manner, which we would consider offensive. A few examples include statements such as “she looks attractive for a fat girl” and “she drives effectively for a female.” People, both in the video and in the audience, became increasingly alarmed by the implications of what was being conveyed. After that, the last comment was read: “She appears to be in fair health for her age.”

The issue then arises, why do we feel the need to include that? What is the point of qualifying it? Isn’t it enough to just state that she appears to be attractive?

I invited everyone to spend a few minutes discussing their reactions to the situation. I’d heard many of the remarks before: “I’d never thought about it that way,” “I’d said it so many times,” “I believed I was genuinely offering a compliment,” and so on. “I’ll never say it again,” is a phrase I really like hearing.

However, there was one statement that caught me off guard. ‘It was all predicated on women, the participation, and the images,’ stated one of the participants. “How about the men?” He was absolutely correct.

I was surprised to discover that the majority of the presentations I make are to female audiences. And, as a woman, I see the process of ageing through a female perspective. However, his question struck a chord with me since I was conversing with a male friend of mine the same week he asked it. He has 59 years of life experience and was just laid off from his job in the technology field, where he had worked for more than 25 years. He lives in a city that is heavily influenced by technology. As he began looking for alternative career prospects, he was confronted with a dilemma that he had never considered before: does he appear to be too old? He was well aware that he would be competing for positions with individuals much younger than himself, and despite his extensive experience, he was concerned that he would be perceived in a particular way…as being too old to do the job. What exactly did he do? He had his hair coloured. He went over the common indications of ageing with the audience.

This is the narrative I told in Pittsburgh. When I did, I observed that several of the males in the room were nodding in agreement. I also saw that several of them appeared to be dying their hair, which I assumed was normal.

The issue of ageism is not one that can be divided into two categories: male and female. It is not a problem that can be separated into two categories: race and ethnicity. Ageism, on the other hand, is a phenomenon that exists throughout the world. It has an impact on all of us. Every day, we all get a little bit older.

What should we do in this situation? “Old People Are Cool,” let’s celebrate it, let’s embrace it, let’s shout it from the rooftops and from the streets!