Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - September 13, 2013

Qualifying for a cheaper meal!

I turn 60 today. Sixty. Six-zero. Six-oh. Sixty schmixty.

Somehow seeing it in writing makes it more real. Otherwise, I simply can't figure out how I got to be this age. Am I not still a mostly brown-haired woman with a relatively wrinkle-free face?

Not when I look in the mirror! A silver-haired woman with "crinkles" on her forehead, mouth and eyes looks back. Husband Art calls me his "silver fox," which I take as a compliment and better than him calling me his "ol' lady."

Trying to get a sense of how long ago I was born, I decided to see what big "events" occurred in 1953:

*Dwight D. Eisenhower succeeded Harry S Truman as the 34th U.S. President
*71 percent of all TVs tuned to "I Love Lucy" for Lucy's birth of son Desi Arnaz, Jr.
*Premiere of "Peter Pan"
*DNA structure discovered
*Nikita Krushchev elected head of Soviet Central Committee
*Jonas Salk tested his polio vaccine
*IBM introduced the 701 Computer using punch-card technology
*Ian Fleming published his first James Bond novel, "Casino Royale"
*Mickey Mantle hit a 565-foot home run
*Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mount Everest
*Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II
*The first Chevrolet Corvette
*Korean Armistice Agreement ended three years of war
*U.S. Rep John F. Kennedy married Jacqueline Lee Bouvier
*First issue of "Playboy" magazine, featuring a centerfold photo of a nude Marilyn Monroe
*"TV Guide" magazine began publishing
*Nobel Peace Prize to Gen. George C. Marshall for his post-war plan to rebuild Europe.
*The first color TV sets went on sale
*Burger King opened its first restaurant
*Popular songs: "Vaya con Dios," "Cry Me a River" and "Your Cheating Heart"
*Movie "From Here to Eternity" starring Frank Sinatra and Donna Reed
*Movie "Stalag 17" starring William Holden, Don Taylor and Peter Graves
*Edgar and Edla Freeland's second child - daughter Gloria Beth - is born.

Hmm! Since none of those things are in my memory, it seems as if they took place very long ago. Maybe I wouldn't feel quite so old if I checked who else was born the same year I was:

*Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner
*Former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold
*Current U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill
*Cuban percussionist Emilio Estefan
*Politician Jeb Bush
*Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
*Baseball player George Brett
*Actors Mary Steenburgen, Pierce Brosnan and Tony Shalhoub
*Comedian Tim Allen
*Singer Cyndi Lauper

OK, that's better! I don't consider any of them to be "washed up" or ready to be "put out to pasture" yet ... and I'm not either.

Keeping with the list format I seem to be using here, I tried to think of some of the highlights of my own life:

*Growing up on our Kansas farms
*My marriages to Jerome and Art
*Births of daughters Mariya and Katie
*Watching our daughters grow into beautiful women
*The marriage of Mariya and Lacey
*Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador from 1976-1978
*Working as a reporter in Costa Rica from 1978-1980
*30-plus years as a journalism and mass communications professor at Kansas State University
*Marriages of siblings Dave and Gaila and the births of their children
*Mom and Dad's 50th anniversary
*Milestone birthdays of mother-in-law Donna and aunts and uncles
*Relaxing at our North Woods cottage
*Our U.S. and international travels
*Holiday celebrations with loved ones

Even this column has been a highlight of a sort. When I began, I thought it would be fun for a year or two to once a week focus on and write about something that caught my attention. But I never dreamed I would continue for as long as I have. At the 10-year mark, I had Art attempt to go back through them and categorize the topics. But my mind has bounced around to so many subjects - thanks to having been fortunate to have had so many varied experiences - that he eventually gave up. That was two years ago ... and I still enjoy writing it.

Reflecting, I feel I have been extremely lucky. Oh, I've had heartaches - the death of my first husband Jerome and others whom I've loved, and a life-threatening illness in 1997. But for the most part, I feel like I've been surrounded by love and laughter all my life.

As to who I am rather than what I've done, that may be harder to answer. Art often tells me I'm one of the more unusual people he's ever met. He says my delicate physical stature contrasts with my mental strength. I'm shy, yet I have a farm girl's down-to-earth practical nature. I have an analytical, logical side, but it often bumps up against my emotions.

But regardless of who I am, I'm old enough that I could patch together my 1960s and '70s diary entries, letters I've sent and received, photos I've taken and columns I've written to fashion a "memoir" of sorts.

Or not! I still haven't completed the growing-up books for the girls, so when would I ever find time for this?

And as for the future, my aim is to get as much out of each year as possible. Heck, I'm not sure what next month holds, to say nothing about the next decade.

So maybe I'll just keep it all on a very practical and immediate level. At 60, I qualify for the "senior" discount at many restaurants. I'll definitely take advantage of that!

From the left: at one year, in first grade, at age 21 and current.

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Earlier columns from 2013 may be found at: 2013 Index.
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