Friday, January 27, 2012

Retiring Former Hippies Spark a New Generation Gap

Former Hippies are Getting
Close to Retirement!
Much to my surprise, when I opened my January 30, 2012 issue of "Time Magazine" and read the column near the back written by Joel Stein, I was stunned to discover that he had devoted a portion of his weekly column to Laguna Woods Village, the retirement community in Orange County, California where I live.  The comments he made were a bit embarrassing and, I'm forced to admit, entirely true.

Marijuana Use in Retirement Communities

Somehow, Joel Stein heard about the little fuss we had in our community last year over medical marijuana plants that are quietly being grown by some of the retirees.  Apparently many of my neighbors are able to qualify for prescriptions that allow them to grow and possess small quantities of pot, and they are taking full advantage of the opportunity.  Needless to say, this has once again created conflict between the Baby Boomer generation and the older retirees who lived here peacefully without marijuana for the past 40 years!

Some Baby Boomers were growing marijuana plants in the garden center, resulting in secret night-time raids by neighboring young people looking for easy access to the plants.  The Boomers wanted the homeowner's association to hire guards!  Instead, the board told them that, if they have a prescription, they can legally grow small amounts on their own patios.  Who knows how many pots of pot are now popping up?

Generation Gap in Retirement Communities

As Joel Stein points out in his column, the issue of whether or not marijuana should be grown in Laguna Woods Village is not the only problem to come between the Baby Boomers and the older senior citizens in this and other retirement communities.  It seems that the Generation Gap that was the focus of the 1960s has reared up once again, especially in 55 and over communities! 

Remember that the Baby Boomers are the children of a generation that grew up during the Great Depression, willingly supported and fought in World War II, and were very frugal with money.  The Baby Boomers, on the other hand, are the generation that listened to Rock n' Roll, loved to travel, and (in some cases) did not support the war in Vietnam.  During the past few years it has not been unusual to see Boomers sitting in lawn chairs on street corners in our community with signs declaring their opposition to the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Beyond the issues mentioned by Joel Stein, I've also noticed that Baby Boomers and the older generation are struggling to come to agreement about how to run the community.  While the older generation is satisfied with things that are old and a little worn, as long as they are still functional, the Boomers want facilities and services that are modern and new.  For example, many Boomers are unhappy with our local community cable television station, because we are unable to access some types of programming, such as MTV and Pay-for-View.  The elderly volunteers who serve on the boards do not consider these services worth the extra cost.  Another issue has been our recently completed, elegant new golf and tennis clubhouses, which were resisted by some of the more elderly residents.  The younger residents have been able to get these new facilities built, despite the efforts to stop them, but it has not been easy.

Peace, Love and Rock 'n Roll after Retirement

Overall though, despite the bad publicity and the occasional disagreements, Laguna Woods Village (as well as the other over-55 communities I have visited) is a pretty peaceful place.  There is so much to do in these communities, that there are plenty of opportunities for people to find the types of activities they enjoy, including enjoying dances and music from a variety of time periods. 

It is also possible for residents to quietly putter around their own patios, whenever they want to enjoy some relaxation, peace and quiet.  Of course, from now on when I see one of my neighbors relaxing on their patio, I'm going to wonder if they are actually cheerfully tending their marijuana plants.  Whatever the cause, peace and love are still the rule of the day in Laguna Woods Village!

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Photo credit:  morguefile.com

7 comments:

  1. good to see your blog, awesome and superb articles here

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  2. Thank you for your encouragement! I think a lot of us Baby Boomers are trying to figure out how to retire during one of the worst economies in decades. I hope to help a few of them with the information they need to figure things out!

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  3. I'm going to have to look for Joel Stein's article. This is a fascinating topic and the push and pull between the generations is especially interesting. Great report!

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  4. The generational rift was also in evidence in Irvine's Woodbridge, even though it's not an over 55 community. The board of directors were likened to the Gestapo.

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  5. That is interesting about the generational divide in Irvine ... since it is also a college town. All those people who grew up in the 60's and becoming the conservative older generation today!

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  6. Sure hope we don't have this problem at the Rock Till Ya Drop... really don't think it'll be an issue ;-)

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    1. I agree, Gerald, that I don't think the Rock Till Ya Drop community would have this problem. Only people who loved the 1960's and its music would be living there, so there should be fewer conflicts with older senior citizens!

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