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Silver Threads: Baby Boomers can't turn back the clock

Bettye Anding

Bettye Anding

I must have gotten the only remaining tickets for Monday night’s performance of “The Golden Girls” at Mid City Theatre. I’d been seeing stories and ads about Ricky Graham’s latest production for several weeks but, true to my personal modus operandi, had procrastinated about making arrangements to go.

Everything that was listed last weekend on the theatre’s website was sold out except for Jan. 13 at 8 p.m. So I had to tell myself that going on a Monday night was certainly doable, as it’s now been a number of years since either my spouse or I had to get up early on any Tuesday morning and report to work.

That hurdle mentally cleared (old folks still cling to the custom of “going out“ on weekends), I started thinking about the trip from Algiers to Mid City, certainly not a long one as the crow flies but slightly further than we usually drive for entertainment and into neighborhood streets whose twists and turns and parking opportunities are unfamiliar at night. And, to make the possibility of problems even worse, I awoke to a rainy Monday morning.

When I began writing Silver Threads for the T-P at age 62, I envisioned in one column a world in which the Baby Boomers would have everything set up for their comfort in their golden years. “They’re a huge group,” I thought, “and they’ll soon be in charge.”

I foresaw a city made up of neighborhoods with many things convenient for  the elderly. There would be small streetcars rolling along avenues affording opportunities for shopping, banking, dining, entertainment and whatever else you needed or wanted to do. With housing and houses of worship and hospitals and clinics nearby, of course.

It would be like New Orleans and other old American towns of  60, 70, 80 -- 100, 200 years ago! Like Magazine Street, a neighborhood center that over the years has waned and then waxed again wonderfully.

This was only a pipe dream, of course. Baby Boomers can’t turn back the clock. Shopping malls, big-box stores and multi-plex movie houses and the necessity for cross-town trips to some of them arrived years ago and are here to stay.

When Lakeside Shopping Mall opened in Metairie in 1960, I was a 25-year-old stay-at-home mom, eager to put the stroller in the car trunk, settle our little son in the car seat, and get out there to investigate. I couldn’t foresee that 50 years later I’d think twice before making the trip and certainly not plan it at night.

Not being a student of urban trends, neither could I imagine that one day the shopping as we knew it on Canal Street would be gone. Now that was a neighborhood -- the Maison Blanche, Holmes, Godchaux, Gus Mayer, Kreeger stores served customers there, and the Joy, Saenger and Orpheum movie theaters beckoned nearby.

And not being a student of technological trends, I never imagined that some of the 21st-century counterparts of those beloved institutions would post their wares on a thing called the World Wide Web.

But you take the internet, on which I have indeed bought items I couldn’t seem to find anywhere else: narrow shoes, a wallet I found at a shop that’s since stopped selling them, a zebra purse as a teenager’s Christmas gift … I’ll still watch movies on a very large screen, try on clothes before taking them home, and sign up for important services at someone’s desk.

And seeing one of Ricky Graham’s hilarious productions on your computer screen wouldn’t be as much fun as being in the audience at Mid City Theatre, which has added more performances since Monday evening.

Our trip there was smooth and uneventful, the only hazards being the parking lot mud puddles that lingered after the morning rain.

Bettye Anding is a former editor of the Living section of The Times Picayune, for which she wrote “Silver Threads” until her retirement. Email comments to her at [email protected].

Bettye Anding is a former editor of the Living section of The Times Picayune, for which she wrote “Silver Threads” until her retirement. Email comments to her at [email protected]