It never ceases to amaze me how readers still respond to the "game" we call Old Older we have been playing for — yes — close to 40 years. T'ain't none of us, as the old feller said, gittin' any younger.
This was brought home to me a week or so ago when I chanced to meet an acquaintance who launched into an impassioned plea for "more Old Older columns."
Appropriately enough, we met while both of us were engaged in a popular current pastime known as physical therapy. I'm not sure exactly where it was that she hurt, but I was engaged in making my new shoulder move in ways it hasn't moved in years. We are, as a rheumatologist friend likes to put it, outliving our skeletons in this age of medical miracles.
Since the game had been called to my attention, I checked. Indeed, it has been almost two years since I last dipped a toe in that stream of nostalgia. Is the Old Older game still viable? Hmmm.
The question posed by her unbridled enthusiasm sent me to the dog-eared old Manila folder files at the office, in what was once known as the "morgue." These are the pre-1994, pre-digital archive files that once contained current news stories and columns but are now — well, you might say "irrelevant," but I would say "history." Come to think of it, they may constitute a journalistic Old Older — old if you once relied on these files, older if your work is in them.
I discovered that the Old Older game has been played in the column nearly 60 times since the first one — in 1975.
That one was a reference, at the end of a brief history of the railroad in Santa Rosa. It said: "The sound of a train whistle should make you remember. You're an old-timer if you remember when there was NWP passenger service north to Eureka. You're an older-timer if you remember when passengers as well as Gravensteins came from Sebastopol and points east of the P&SR."
"But then, " I wrote, never dreaming that I was starting something that would last so long, "that old-older game is one that can be played about any number of things around here."