Saturday, October 28, 2017

Speak Your Mind

Gray Panthers founder, Maggie Kuhn, raises a hand in victory. "Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes."
Maggie Kuhn turned 65 in 1970 and was forced to retire from a job she loved with the Presbyterian Church.
A senior women shares a seat with a punk mohawk young man. Speak Your Mind and other stories of Grandmas and reason. marchmatron.com
Retirees, like adolescents, are a relatively new social identity.
Joan Cassis, Untitled (Elderly Afro-American Woman with Braid, Mary) 1986.jpg
If you skipped civics class, the prior social structure was something like:
Middle age women sells flowers on the street corner in Paris 1899

Be born.
Hopefully don't die within the first few years.

Pendet Traditional Balinese Dance,Indonesia

Work as soon as skills, like walking and talking, are developed.
Hopefully don't die or succumb to illness or accident limiting working ability.

Senior woman on the street corner, selling papers. Victorian London.Speak Your Mind and other stories of Grandmas and reason. marchmatron.com
Reach the age of reproduction. 
Become a fully functional adult, with no adolescent folderol, while continuing to work your hind end off.
Vintage photo. An old couple. The man steals a kiss while she hold flowers.
Have a whole bunch of babies. 
Hopefully don't die during childbirth or succumb to illness or accident limiting working ability.
Continue to work in some kind of manual labor while toting your children to the job site.
Then . . .   
Old woman in sunbonnet by American photographer Doris Ulmann 1930s. Speak Your Mind and other stories of Grandmas and reason. marchmatron.com
IF surviving famine, drought, war, murdering marauders, plague, domestic violence, royal or religious displeasure, falling from a high place or having something heavy fall on you . . . 
Beautiful black and white photo. Senior woman with white hair and cateye glasses, hold a kitten to her cheek and smiles
and IF some of your progeny don't die or succumb to illness or accident limiting working ability . . .
Black and White photo of an old lady, head covered, holding a cane. Shot drom below the subject looking into dark sky.Speak Your Mind and other stories of Grandmas and reason. marchmatron.com
then MAYBE . . . 
possibly . . . 
but probably not . . .  
you can cut back on working for your keep.
A senior women shares a seat with a punk mohawk young man. Thumbs up.peak Your Mind and other stories of Grandmas and reason. marchmatron.com
Which is, coincidentally, part of the GOP budgetary plan.
Senior UK war veteran in red uniform jacket  sells matches on the street, in Canterbury, Kent 1928 Speak Your Mind and other stories of Grandmas and reason. marchmatron.com
One of the earliest type of old-age pensions involved the military.  
Roman Legionnaires were eligible for funds after 20 years of service. 
The fall of Rome was exacerbated by a reduction in pensions to favor tax cuts for the elite. Voluntary recruitment plummeted and the state countered with military conscription and a large force of poorly paid barbarians . . .
Colorized photo of Civil War Veterans, North and South, sit on the front steps and shake hands
which worked out well for the Goths . . .
French WWI Veteran Pierre Recobre (1889-1983) at a ceremony in the early 1980’s
but not so much for the Romans.
Portrait of Otto von Bismarck,  minister president of Prussia in uniform.Speak Your Mind and other stories of Grandmas and reason. marchmatron.com

In the 1880s, the leader of Prussia, afraid the Socialist Party would oust him, initiated a state care program for the few seniors who lived past 70. 
Around the same time, some industries experiencing a labor shortage started to entice workers with the promise of a pension.
Victorian era poverty. Woman sits on the curb holding an infant. Speak Your Mind and other stories of Grandmas and reason. marchmatron.com
Then, infuriating those with Victorian sensibilities, summarized as:
Misfortune experienced by those age 8 to 80, is a sign of God's personal displeasure and mollycoddling is interference with some divine plan . . . 
Photo of a beggar running alongside King George V’s coach, Epsom Races in 1920s. Speak Your Mind and other stories of Grandmas and reason. marchmatron.com
which is, coincidentally, an additional  part of the GOP budgetary plan . . . 
Roosevelt, the New Deal, Social Security, and the rest of it provided some safety net for survival after aging out of the workforce.
black and white photo. Grandma takes a glove off to use her cell phone. Speak Your Mind and other stories of Grandmas and reason. marchmatron.com
The tech industry rapidly made skills obsolete and options for senior employment narrowed. 
An elderly couple rides the Merry Go Round. 1950s.
Optional retirement shifted to mandatory retirement, enforced by both industry and government.
Old black and white photo of a senior couple in work clothes pose with arms linked. Speak Your Mind and other stories of Grandmas and reason. marchmatron.com
Unless the senior in question is a farmer or rancher . . . 
Old black and white photo. An old farmer poses with a bundle of hay on a pitchfork. Speak Your Mind and other stories of Grandmas and reason. marchmatron.com
because evidently farming expectations for seniors includes any number of activities involving climbing ladders, taking a day or two off after a hip fracture, and then pulling the boots back on.
Maggie Kuhn, founder of the Grey Panthers. Making funny faces and Panther claws. The best age is the age you are. - Maggie Kuhn
However, Maggie, not being employed in agriculture, was forced to retire.  
In response, she formed the Gray Panthers saying, "It’s a fun name. There’s a certain militancy, rather than just a docile acceptance of what our country’s doing." 
Twin Cities Gray Panthers march for women's equality. Founder Maggie in the center. 1980s
Kuhn had a history of controversial advocacy including teaching human sexuality and birth control at the YWCA in the 40's. 
Tricycle Club of the Century Village Retirement Community (West Palm Beach)1960s. Speak Your Mind and other stories of Grandmas and reason. marchmatron.com
She was also opposed to the budding retirement home industry that created "glorified playpens" and had been working to improve rights and self-determination in the homes supported by the Presbyterian church.  
Fannie Kuller with the San Francisco Gray Panthers. Age and Youth in Action. Grey Panthers on the prowl. 2002
Supporting inclusion, Maggie chose the slogan "Age and Youth in Action".
1981 seniors protest Reagan's proposed cuts in their Social Security.
In the 80's, Reagan experienced backlash after proposing cuts to Social Security. 
Instead, in a genius PR move, he "rescued" the aging population with an enormous financial redirection and the trickle was definitely coming down. 
In 1986, Reagan, who was well over 65, signed into law a ban on mandatory retirement. 
Gray Panthers founder Maggie Kuhn died April 22, 1995, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Nine years later, at 89, Maggie died after having a heart attack. The Grey Panthers remain an active advocacy group. 
#Grandma #Politics #Wisdom #Resist #CivilRights
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Other stories of Grandmas and Reason:

 Everybody Knows That

 I'm betting on Grandma 


 Big Red Bus

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