When we thought we’d never age

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

When I was in my late teens, my buddies and I sat around one night at the summer camp by the lake and started counting up at what years we’d hit 40, 50 and 60. Those years were, at the time, very far away.

I was going to turn 40 in 1995. That was so far into the future that I thought it would never come. But it came and went, and then came 2005, which also raced by.

That brings us to 2015.

Back on that moonlit night at a time when life was a lot simpler, we imagined what 2015 would look like and what we would be doing. The year was 1972, the first year I worked at that camp. I washed pots in the kitchen.

The camp lasted all summer. It was one of those places where the rich dropped off their kids and went to spend the summer in Europe. The kitchen staff was there for almost three months. I still know some of the guys I met that year. We all have turned or are turning 60.

I recently reached that magical mark. I hope that there are a lot more years ahead as I venture into an age that, back in my summer camp days, seemed unimaginable.

We had more important things to worry about, like who could give us rides to the Pizza Barn, where the servers weren’t much older than us and seldom carded us when we ordered an adult brewed beverage and pronounced its name correctly.

We also worried about being able to get back in time for meals after hitchhiking to the convenience store three miles away and then finding it hard to hitch a ride back to camp. We usually got picked up without much delay. But every now and then, it was touch and go, and we barely made it back in time.

Hitchhiking back in those days was considered a safe mode of transportation in the resort area where I worked. We even got to know some of the people who gave us rides on numerous occasions. One guy had his whole family in a VW bus and never failed to stop when he saw us. That was in 1972, though. Don’t try this today.

So, where will you be in 2015 at the age of 60? I asked Ben, one of my buddies on the kitchen staff. He had no clue. We had no clue.

“I don’t know if I’ll even make it that far. We’ll probably have flying cars and living in space or something like that,” he said. “You’ll be writing some engineering textbook and trying to make it interesting.”

I was going to be an electrical engineer and was also writing for the school paper. Later, I dropped the engineering part. I figured that the world would be safer for it.

Ben’s father was a rich doctor. He should have been a counselor’s aide and goof off like the rest of the aides. Instead, he got a job as a waiter and hung out with us. Money was not important to us back then, mostly because we seldom had any. Ben wanted to go his own way and be self-sufficient. Then there were those of us who had to be self-sufficient, so it worked out well.

We lived for the moment, for the day, the summer fun, and we repeated it the next year and the year after that. And, we had no clue what life at 60 would be like, and we really didn’t spend a lot of time dwelling on it, except for that one night.

Now I know. The future has arrived, and I feel the same as before and do the same thing I did at 59. And I can also sit back and reminisce about those summer nights when we didn’t have a care in the world, except trying not to get carded at the Pizza Barn.

Life was good back in those days, and it’s still good – at 60.