One of the nice things I discovered many years ago was that living in an area with a large population of older folks has many rewards. While I surely wasn’t classified as being old at the age of 55 when I pulled the work plug, I soon found myself involved in community affairs with people who wanted to help solve the problems of living in a small town. Some of them had backgrounds that were amazing. Even those who hadn’t climbed the corporate ladder to any great height had experience that allowed them to make great contributions.
The Old Geezer
Most of the people I worked with in those early days of my retirement are no longer among us, but the fruits of their labors are being enjoyed by the present occupants. Our little part of Tillamook County is quite unique. We have three small towns that are all very different. The largest population is Manzanita, however, the full time people are outnumbered by those who have second homes in the area. Nehalem has a very small city area but serves a large part of the county with water. Wheeler has a large percentage of full time residents and a great many of them are older people. Each of these cities have different sets of problems but have come together on things such as fire and police protection, and have developed adequate water supplies that serves the area.
Having served on the City Council and as Mayor a couple times, I have a good feel for what needs to be done to keep things running smoothly. I remember attending meetings of the Oregon Mayors Association. It didn’t take me long to realize that all of the subjects that were discussed and all the problems that were addressed were the same in all cities and towns — big and small. Actually, the smaller towns are the largest challenge because they don’t have the resources that the big cities enjoy.
I know that communications are much different and better now, than what we had when I first joined the Wheeler City Council. There was a single dial telephone and a duplicating device that used that old purple ink. There was a large addressograph machine that didn’t work, and the records were all in cardboard boxes, stored here and there in the office, and in a back room that didn’t even have shelves. I remember donating an old telephone that was in a box, and I strung wire from the office into the meeting room so we could be touch with the world while we were deliberating.
These days, the office has many of the latest technical devices, and all the records and communications are on the computer. That brings me to wonder how we all worked back in the days before we had those screens to watch at all times. I know that I had a secretary, and because I could type, I would write up documents, and then pass them to her for the final copy work. One time, some brain head decided that we didn’t need that many secretaries and so they formed a pool, where we would send our material and they would type the finished product. It didn’t work very well, and sending out letters with many corrections showing was a bit embarrassing. These days, with automatic spell check, we don’t have as many of those kinds of problems.
So, here we are, living on the left edge of the country, in a place that is a bit wet, now and then, but surely looks like heaven. After a long dry summer and fall, we are now watching Mother Nature remind us of who is in charge. True Oregonians, and others who have been here for awhile, think rain is just fine, and just work around whatever is happening. We have many volunteers, both young and old, who give of their time and expertise to make our life even better. Every volunteer brings something unique to the table, and with their assistance, big problems become easier to handle. I would say that having a bunch of older people around can be counted as one of our assets, and for those younger people who may criticize us now and then, with a bit of luck, you will all be in our position and can live the good life.