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Centenarians aren’t old fogeys

To the editor:

Recently, Fort Dodge public schools celebrated 100 days of the school year, and as part of the celebration activities, at least one school had students (and a teacher) dress up as a 100-year-old person.

What does a 100-year-old person look like? Women of 100 years of age today are more likely to wear a smart dress or pantsuit than a calico gown; a man of 100 years might prefer sporty trousers and a golf shirt or casual sweater. Physical appearances at age 100 (or any age) can vary greatly due to economic circumstances, health, life experiences, and other variables over which one may have no control.

People who have attained 100 years of age survived the Great Depression. They fought and survived the World War II battles. They survived the Holocaust. They survived polio epidemics and life without antibiotics. They ran steel mills and built automobiles. They farmed with horses or equipment considered primitive by today’s standards, they fed their families with food they grew and managed a household without modern conveniences. This generation should be honored and respected.

I believe that acquainting students with 100-year-old persons living in our community, inviting them to share their life stories and experiences, and allowing youth to learn firsthand what goes into reaching 100 years of age, would provide a more positive experience than teaching ageism and encouraging stereotyping through meaningless costumes.

Mary Jane Pitman

Fort Dodge

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