Beyond Our Threescore Years and Ten
as the Psalmist says, “The days of our years are
threescore years and ten,” then my bride of nearly
54 years and I have been living, well, living overtime
seems to be the apt phrase, for an extra 10.
That’s as of today for the Independent and Argumentative One, who will
command extra respect until I hit the magic mark two days hence on Thursday.
There’s an additional biblical prediction in that same Psalm about
what happens “if by reason of strength they be fourscore years.” That
extra decade supposedly entails “labor and sorrow.” Since we
seem to have avoided or evaded the worst of all that during our 70s, maybe
that indicates smooth sailing ahead.
Maybe, but I wouldn’t make book on it.
One thing I’m sure of, had I know I’d last this long, I certainly
would have taken better care of myself. I mean the way Joan did. That’s
why she’ll climb the ladder to paint a chimney or clean the roof while
I — well, I might as well admit it, while I hold the ladder and hand
up the necessary tools.
• • •
major problem as one ages, we’ve found, is accommodating
oneself to increasingly sophisticated everyday devices. I don’t
think it always was that way.
When both radio and I were in our infancy, people struggled with the “cat’s
whiskers” on their crystal radio sets and then later had to deal with
the dials, three as I recall, on those “superheterodyne” radio
sets. But as time went on, things got simpler.
Radios with simple dials made it easy to find the desired station and adjust
the sound. Even the introduction of FM didn’t complicate things.
The same was true of television. We began with few choices when it came to
channels but were required to adjust antennas — rooftop or “rabbit
ears” — to get good reception, and later we had to learn how to
deal with color adjustments, but we did learn to cope. We even learned to play
movies on our VCRs without any great difficulty.
But then came the refinements, especially in the hand controls, with all the
things you could do, all the tricks you could learn. It was all so simple that,
we were constantly told, “A child can do it.”
True enough, but where do people in our age category come up with a kid to
handle these simple chores which are beyond our ability?
We went for one of those “new and improved” control systems touted
by our television provider and ended up with so much trouble that in anger,
chagrin and disgust we switched to another. Guess what? We’re still in
the same boat. Maybe the oars are different, but we’re still rowing around
I’m not even going to start in on what happened when I changed to a different
computer provider or server or whatever they’re called. I’m still
feeling my way along — and very gingerly, let me tell you — on
There’s no way to find out who coined the pronouncement, but whoever
it was who first said, “Old age is not for sissies!” certainly
knew what he was talking about.
• • •
churchgoer who stuck around on Easter after services to watch
the kids searching for their eggs noticed that rather than the
real thing, most of the hidden surprises were egg-shaped plastic
containers filled with candy and other goodies.
She noticed one little guy proudly carrying an unopened one, and asked him, “What
do you think is in that egg?”
The youngster must have spent plenty of time in markets with his mom, because
he had an immediate answer. Holding his “egg” aloft, he piped, “My
• • •
of mine sent me a clipping of a comment by presidential brother
Jeb Bush on a proposal to create a Gubernatorial Fellows program
to bring in college students to work closely with his Florida
administration for a year at a time:
“It’s helpful for me to get outside the box as to who I hang with
as a leader.”
You suppose that’s a muddled way of echoing Benjamin Franklin’s
remark at the signing of the Declaration of Independence? You know, the one
that goes: “We must all hang together or most assuredly we shall all
• • •
friend Harlow is well past the child-rearing stage, but there’s
nothing wrong with his memory, including that of the holiday
when he, his wife and five offspring were forced to all pile
into their VW for the trip from Oakland to San Jose.
It’s not a long drive, but those five offspring squabbling in the back
seat made it seem forever. I mean before he even started the engine in Oakland.
So he turned to the back seat, fixed the unruly quintet with a glare, pointed
menacingly and said: “OK, listen up! This is not the station wagon. This
is the Volkswagen, so with one hand I can reach back and get one of you by
the throat! Do you understand?”
Ten eyes opened wide, he reports, as five heads nodded and five voices whispered, “Yes,
Whether he was Jim or Ellis that day matters not, but he says if he just could
have patented his tone and his look, he could have sold the patent and retired
early and rich as the man who created a cure for attention deficit disorder.
retiring from a long and respected career with The Sacramento Bee,
Stan Gilliam found that he just couldn't stop writing. So he brought
his "Stan's Sacramento" column to the Spectrum, where
it has been a favorite of readers for 15 years ... and counting.
Focus Humor 55-Plus
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