Who is old?

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Here’s a classic column that G. George Ostrom picked out from July, 1973.

It came over the car radio at a bad time. It upset me so badly I almost drove right through a stop sign. Somebody decided to call anyone 55 years old a “senior citizen.”

I’ve got a ways to go to see 55, but it is still close enough that I do not like to think in ten years some dingbat is going to refer to me as a SENIOR CITIZEN. If such a thing should happen, my reaction will depend on who it is calls me that. If it is a man, I’ll probably punch him in the wine sniffer, but if it is a girl of the opposite sex, I just might take on some of the basic characteristics of a nasty old man.

Age is a different thing to different people and out attitude toward it is obviously affected by relativity. In my first army company, the average age was 19, but we had one misplaced draftee feller who was 28. He was startin’ to lose a little hair and because I was 17, he was the object of great sympathy from me. I used to help him carry some of his gear … poor old guy. Smart old guy.

On my first date with my first wife Iris Ann, I was 28, but I told her I was 24. She was 20 but led me to believe by sneaky conniving that she was 21. We went to Frenchies for drinks and dancing and I could have got arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

My dad and I were talking the other night and I made mention of the radio announcement referring to “senior citizens 55 and over” and how much I resented some bureaucratic incompetent coining such arbitrary phrases. He said, “Don’t knock it son. I just got my ‘Pioneer’ fishing license today. There are advantages to racking up a few years on Earth.”

The Montana Fish and Game Commission apparently has some smarter public relations men than the outfit I heard about on the radio. I don’t want nobody calling me a senior citizen until my kids start negotiatin’ with the undertaker, but by golly, you can start callin’ me a pioneer anytime you feel like it.

Had a fine float trip down the North Fork from Polebridge to Coal Creek last Wednesday with an old jet pilot buddy of Chuck Mercords, Vic Woods and three of his fine young’ins. They live in Columbus, Ohio.

Every so often, we should view our blessings through the eyes of someone who hasn’t been here before. It serves to remind us how lucky we are to live in the Flathead.

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