Friday, September 5, 2008

For All Ages

I’ve mentioned the abundance of children in South Pasadena, but I haven’t yet noted the many elders of our tribe. Southern California isn’t exactly noted for its warm embrace of graceful aging. There are areas of greater Los Angeles where you will rarely even see anyone over 50. (If you do, they -- and their plastic surgeons -- wouldn’t dream of admitting it.) But here in South Pas, many silver threads are woven through the city’s tapestry, and I think they not only add to the elegant beauty of the place but make it stronger.

A sense of history is here in the people, not just the buildings. Some residents were born in the very houses where they will spend their retirement. A lot of folks who moved here many years ago to raise a family have stayed for decades past their last child’s high school graduation. South Pas also has several assisted living facilities as well as a convalescent hospital. Since the city itself only spans a few square miles, it is a manageable community for people of all ages.

I like being in a place where the local breakfast joint has a row of strollers as well as walkers. It feels like a big family where every generation is included. I hope I’m lucky enough that when greater society says I belong in a museum – I’ll be like this gentleman: proudly living with everyone else on the outside of it.

22 comments:

Knoxville Girl said...

Laurie, what a wonderful image and narrative.
Every elderly person is a museum of living history, and I think it is a shameful travesty the way our society in general marginalizes them.
When I was an undergrad in college, I worked as a nurses aide at various nursing homes in town, and the only thing that made the job bearable for me was listening to the stories those venerable elders would tell me about their lives.
Your photo hit a nerve, can you tell? That's what good art does.

Kelly said...

I loved your observations about the elderly among us. I agree with Knoxville Girl too. Without their connection to our history, the anchor to the past that an older generation brings, I think a community is lacking a sturdy foundation. I believe also that that history doesn't necessarily need to be tied to the place in question, but just to a different time and different worldview. When I first moved to Geneva, my husband and I were in our late twenties. We had only one neighbor younger than 65. It was surreal, and yet so comforting. And when our kids came along...heaven!

Virginia said...

What a poignant photograph today. Your words are always the perfect addition. Since I am knocking on the door of which you write today, it's comforting to know that elders are revered in your community. Ever read "Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge" by Mem Fox? You should read it to your little one.

Yak Pate said...

Laurie, when the city planners of South Pasadena are dumbstruck by an unexpected growth surge, eventually they are going to trace the source of the phenomenon... to your website!

Your pictorial storytelling is deeply evocative. But even more, I appreciate the sense of wonder that informs your commentary. The world does, indeed, look better through the eyes (and camera lens) of one who loves it.

keith said...

Another great BW photo and love the last line of your post.

Halcyon said...

I like the old-timey feel.

Hilda said...

Beautiful, poignant image and commentary, Laurie. You actually brought tears to my eyes. Filipinos have very strong family ties and I cannot imagine leaving my parents (both of whom have been gone for more than a decade) in a home, much less just leave them to fend for themselves in their old age. Your South Pasadena sounds so much more humane and human than many other places in the US that I've heard about.

And about the poem: close. "Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast"—not beast. :) But bravo anyway for remembering!

Dixie Jane said...

"Knock knock", "Who's there?" Why it is I, remembering that inside every old woman is a young girl. This young girl, trapped inside, knows what it is like to sing and dance. And how important it is for there to be a mix of the old amongst the young. It is part of life and part of what makes life interesting and gives meaning to the generations. My own maternal grandmother lived with us from my birth until I was 13. When she was no longer mobile, my girlfriends and I would put on shows for her and enjoyed her reception and laughter. Thanks, Laurie, for bringing to us such a poignant picture and food for thought.

Sharon said...

Beautiful photo and even more beautiful comments.

JulesG said...

Oh I miss South Pasadena so much!

I lived on Mission just steps from Trader Joe's! I loved it there so much and if I had a job offer in LA I would pack up the fam and move back to S. Pasadena without a second thought.

It's such a lovely place. Keep up the good work.

Columbo said...

Laurie, as usual your capture the shot and give such a great narrative to accompany the picture. I interact with people well into their 90's and a few in their early 100's. I am facinated with their stories, and I always find time to listen. Here in Salem we have numerous retirement homes, some assisted living others independent. I have a 13 year old who has no grandparents. When ever I get a chance I try to have my son experience their presence and stories. Thanks for the posting, and I especially like the B&W.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Visit Pasadena Adjacent, wordpress is being a pill today.
I completely agree with you. South Pasadena is a generational city. I know people who live in the homes their parents (in one case,her grandmothers home). And if you should need assisted living for a elderly parent, facilities are nearby and you could visit often.
High School reunions are a big deal in South Pas. People keep in touch.

Leedra said...

Love the photo, bet he could keep us busy listening to his stories for awhile. He does look a little lonesome. Or maybe he is waiting on somebody.

Per Stromsjo said...

Well captured and eloquently written.

ilhamks said...

strong illustration, you have a clear picture that i can enjoy

Mike said...

You found him at a museum?! So life-like. Amazing.

L, u gotta try the Hi-Life. For de tacos i.e.
It's a bit ezer on the budget.

Now I gotta go home. Home where I want to go. Home to listen to Coldplay w/de buena vista social club.

Laurie said...

Thanks for the wonderful comments today, everyone. Like many of you, I have a special fondness for our older generation. I love raising my daughter in a place where all ages gather together.

Welcome julesg and ilhamks and halcyon!

VIrginia, I have not read it but I am going to Amazon after I sign off here... Thanks for the suggestion!

Mike, Hi Life is on the list. (All in the name of good blogging, right?)

Until next time, people. Merci!

ken mac said...

excellent post and sentiments.

Château-Gontierdailyphoto said...

Very nice shot, so artistic.

Jutilda said...

You know I love this just for the visual effect of the deep shadow tones. It has geometry and is really lovely. :!)

Laurie said...

Thanks you guys!

Anonymous said...

That is Marshal. He has great stories to tell. He lived in the building where 750 ml. is now. That was many years ago.. but he seems to be looking back there in the photo.
He is a great example of aging gracefully. Takes the Goldline down from Pasadena every day just to be back his beloved good ol' South Pas.
When you see Marshal, ask him about the health benefits of his morning dose of oatmeal at Heirloom.