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What About 'Geezerettes'?

May 25, 1986

Columnist David Broder (Editorial Pages, May 7) has noted an interesting trend, the emergence of the age of old geezers, spearheaded by Ronald Reagan. However, Broder seems to inhabit a strange landscape where nary an old woman can be spotted for miles.

Where are the geezerettes? Surely they are not all in nursing homes gumming their Zweiback or desperately prowling cosmetic counters for yet a better wrinkle cream!

A strange omission, considering there are many more very old women than old men around these days. Yet, if we turn our gaze away for just a minute from Broder's superannuated jocks and aging pols, the names of the geezerettes spring immediately to mind. And not a one is a token dredged up from some dusty archive by a graduate student in Women's Studies.

No, the names on the roster are familiar, and are a testimony to achievement, courage and grace. Katharine Hepburn, Agnes DeMille and Mother Teresa, would surely appear. How about writers Eudora Welty, Ursula Le Guin and Clare Booth Luce? And Grace Hopper, the inventor of COBOL and Dr. Rosalyn Yalow, a Nobel Laureate also merit admission, as do Lili Krause, Katherine Graham, Joan Kroc, Ella Fitzgerald and Rose Kennedy. As a matter of fact, geezerettes now even have their own highly-rated television show, The Golden Girls.

Some of my favorite geezerettes are gone now, but have given much to our age in their old age: Ruth Gordon, Georgia O'Keefe, Simone de Beauvoir, Wanda Landowska and Golda Meir. And while we're at it, let's give a nod to some gezzerettes-in-training, Jeane Kirkpatrick and Margaret Thatcher. When they get really old, they're going to give new meaning to the term "old geezer."

So, let's hear it for these wonderful old women! And, by the way, I'd like to remind Broder that they were doing their geezing long before Ronald Reagan's vibes were needed to energize a 46-year-old golfer and a 52-year-old jockey.

If the young must have role models, then there can be none better than these beloved geezerettes. They symbolize lives well lived, with vigorous old age as just reward. And just maybe their images can wean us from our obsession with that tiresome parade of witless, bouncing nymphets foisted on us by the cynical peddlers of eternal youth.


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