Old looks old
If you grew up on the east coast you’ll remember those time forgotten factory towns that once were home to small industry. The towns coal miners and tannery workers called home.
I just spent ten days in one.
The trip was an onslaught of input and emotion. This wasn’t the town I grew up in, but was a similar one in a similar part of the world. And, like so many, hadn’t really changed much since the fifties. It was a town comprised of all the aunts and uncles our generation had ever known. A town the “kids” had all left.
This was an un-retouched town of bingo parlors, the Pennsylvania Polka, and an aging Hallmark store with a selection of “so you’re turning 90” cards.
This was a town where oxygen and walkers were big business, Archway filled cookies owned a whole section of the grocery store, all gas stations were full service, and no one had heard of cappuccino.
Over the years, I’d wondered where all the people that looked like my relatives had gone. Stout, red-nosed women with sensible shoes and cotton hose. Grey hair that encircled their foreheads in sturdy, rolled waves. Men with dented big noses and high-waisted grey pants. Aunt Florence and Uncle Chris.
Where I live, people don’t look old.
In fact, as I was leaving for the airport to see my mother a neighbor came up and was fluttering about while explaining that I shouldn’t look at her lips, nooooo. They were swollen. She’d just had them tattooed.
I didn’t know it at the time, but this exchange was so far removed from what I was about to experience in Pennsylvania, I can hardly wrap my mind around it now.
We dye our hair, dip ourselves in placenta oils, we Botox, lipo, laser-peel, lift our foreheads, de-fat our eyes, implant our chins, change-out our breasts, tuck our tummies, lighten our sun spots, lift our buttocks, remove our moles, replace our hair and keep a pair of trail runners in the back of the Explorer so that we can do a quick hike on the way home.
We don’t look old. Just tired.
Our generation is so removed from our parent’s generation, the “Greatest Generation” as Tom Brokaw calls it, that we hardly recognize it. And you won’t see it eating in Spago and reading “W”.
But it’s there, in Altoona and Binghamton and Watertown and probably Otis.
And it’s there in Mary Elizabeth Blumenstock Mott from Fort Plain, New York. No matter what animal extract I choose to inject.
on that trip I had a lot of time to think about my mother….and the world she lived in before I was born…the great depression, several wars, Herbert Hoover, jack benny, guy lombardo… and after I was born…space travel, television, john kennedy, the computer, the beatles.
She was really caught in an evolving time. between two very different philosophic worlds . And that conflict and mindset towards life, certainly affected me. And all baby boomers growing up during the 50’s and 60’s. Because of our parents, we too, were caught in the mix of two very different worlds.
What did that do to us?