Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

Seventy looks different depending on one's perspective


The young generation thinks old age begins somewhere around 30 years; maybe 40 for the more generous of our youth.

Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones once said, “I’d rather be dead than singing “Satisfaction” when I’m 45.”

Well Mick, you will be almost 72 this summer when you are standing on stage at Target Field, the home of the Minnesota Twins, singing “Satisfaction.”

If the young generation bemoans turning 30, my generation, the baby boomers, have determined that old age doesn’t begin until age 70. The media tells us so. Have you noticed how young the 50- and 60-year-old women appear to be on Viagra and Cialis commercials? For that matter so do the men I suppose, not that I’ve ever really checked them out.

In reality, we are living longer and looking younger than the parents of our baby boomer generation. They lived much harder lives filled with more physical labor, less relaxation and vacation time and lived in an era that spanned the Dust Bowl years and the Great Depression.

Personally, I never felt old when I turned 40, 50, or 60. I was 64 when I discovered the ravages of old age, courtesy of a car accident that shattered my sternum and cracked my vertebrae. By the time I recovered a full year later, I found myself lying on an operating table at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester with my sternum once again cracked wide open. Unbeknownst to me, I had a hole in my heart since birth, a faulty valve and a couple of plugged arteries in dire need of repair. That recovery took almost two years and by then I found myself approaching the old age mark of 70.

Recently, two of my lifelong buddies turned 70, although neither of them looked, or for that matter acted their age. They are both named Jimmy; one living in Kansas, the other in Aitkin County. Jimmy from Aitkin County got the surprise of his life last Saturday in the form of a birthday party. The "surprise" part of the party was kept secret for six weeks.

I told his children, “Don’t to worry; the surprise is safe. After all, it’s Jimmy who is the biggest talker in Aitkin County.”

When Jimmy walked through the door at Jackson’s Hole in Lawler, Minnesota, a room full of his friends and family yelled “Surprise!” Jimmy admitted it was indeed a surprise. He didn’t have a clue a party was in the works despite all the pans full of food and drawers of silverware and utensils that were smuggled out of his house the moment he turned his back. Jimmy was literally grinning from ear to ear as he perused the room full of people, some old high school friends he hadn’t seen in decades. For many of us, it was old home week. We hadn’t gathered in the Lawler/Arthyde area since buying up Tommy Thompson’s cheap land back in the 1970s. My wife and I bought a nice wooded 40-acre plot for only $1,800. Unfortunately, Tommy forgot to mention that we were surrounded by what’s referred to as Horseshoe Swamp. I had another name for it; “The Mosquito Capitol of the World.”

Many of us pulled up stakes in the 1980s and gravitated to nearby communities such as Moose Lake, McGregor and Finlayson. It was at Lawler where we once again met last Saturday and reminisced about the old days of “Holler in Lawler” and the years we spent out in Beaver Township raising our kids. But mostly we spent the day celebrating with Jimmy, the good friend of everyone, on his 70th birthday.

By seven p.m. the old-timers were heading for home. We had sipped our two drink limit, the strongest thing smoked was a few Camel cigarettes and the only sign of drugs were Aspercreme and Tums.

I guess we’ll cop to 70 as the new standard for "old" although I prefer to stick with the old adage, “You are only as old as you feel.”


Reader Comments

wiggy writes:

Wick that was right on. I know I feel and sometimes act younger than 63. So sorry to miss you and the family in San Diego. Maybe in LA.


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