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John recently alerted me to a PBS News Hour interview that my brother’s friend Paul Solman conducted with Rosa Finnegan, an enthusiastic 100-year-old worker. That reminded me that I had purchased the September 3 issue of the Christian Science Monitor Weekly largely because that lovely lady was on the cover.

The lead article had an intriguing title and blurb: “The silver-collar economy — More companies are hiring people 65 and older because they believe they are reliable and productive, while the seniors themselves need and want to work. But is the trend squeezing out young people?”

It interested me because I’m an older worker who is not tired of working. I don’t know if all young people feel squeezed out, but just yesterday, a young employee asked a friend of mine, “Are you thinking of retirement? You’ve been here a long time.” My friend made a polite rejoinder about loving the work and the people and not making any plans to leave.

She has many productive years ahead of her.

Mark Trumbull writes of Rosa Finnegan that she “has plenty of similarities with other wage-earning Americans. She hitches rides in with a co-worker, likes to joke around with colleagues, and feels very grateful to have her job. At the end of the day, she’s ready to sink into a cushy chair at home.

“But Mrs. Finnegan is also a trailblazer. She offers striking proof that employment and productive activity need not end when the so-called retirement years arrive. Let’s put it this way: Where many people now nearing retirement can recall Sputnik, civil rights protests, or the pitching wizardry of Sandy Koufax, she mentions memories of gas-lit streets, the spread of telephones, and working at a rubber plant during World War II.

“Having passed her 100th birthday this year, Finnegan is still working at a needle factory in [Needham, Mass.], helping to make and package the stainless-steel products in custom batches. Yes, she walks a bit more slowly now than many of her co-workers. But Rosa, as they all call her, still has willing hands and a nimble mind. And she has no desire to leave her job.

” ‘I’d rather be here than almost anywhere,’ she says. ‘You feel like you’re still a worthwhile person, even though you’re old – [you’re] not sitting in a rocking chair.’ ”

Read the whole delightful story here. And check out the Solman interview and his video clip, here.

And to all who say U.S. manufacturing is dead, I will just point out that there is a needle factory in Needham.

Photograph: Melanie Stetson Freeman / The Christian Science Monitor
Rosa Finnegan works on a needle at Vita Needle in Needham, Mass.

 

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