The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

By Bill Mead
Columnist Emeritus 

Those Studebaker days

The Overall Picture


Bill Mead

Today, We Honor The Overall Man Classic Bill Mead

Reprinted with permission

I have found that one of the worst things about growing old is that you have fewer people to talk to. This hit me again last week when, during a meeting with our news staff, I referred to the late sportswriter Grantland Rice and drew only blank stares, reminding me how long ago Rice went to that big press box in the sky.

Frequent episodes like this make me wonder why old guys marry young women. What do they talk about? My wife and I grew up in the same era so I can talk to her about the Mills Brothers and Harry Truman without an orientation lecture. Like me, she still prefers Glenn Miller tunes and thinks the Grateful Dead are people who suffered coronaries during Internal Revenue Service audits.

I used to wonder why older people so often retreat to retirement communities and other geriatric ghettos. Now I realize they simply want to be where the others speak their language. Neither my wife nor I have the slightest interest in living this way because we enjoy the company of younger people, even when we don't know what they are talking about and they, in turn, sometimes think we are speaking some archaic dialect.

We cope with the generation gap by lapsing into "oldspeak" when we are alone, sharing outmoded opinions about morality and such things. We try to shift conversational gears when we are with the kids but it's getting harder as time goes by. We now define anyone under 50 as a kid.

The upshot is that my wife and I tend to spend more time in our own company and with others our age. This seems to be true of most older couples we know. The longer two people have lived together the more common experiences they have to pull from their memories. I'm sure most shrinks would consider that undesirable and I'm not sure they aren't right. As we age we need to make stronger efforts to reach out to the present and the future.

With our grandkids around and because of our daily involvement in the newspaper business our natural tendency to look back is balanced by current responsibilities and the need to plan ahead. Still, it would be nice to run into more people who know what we're talking about when we reminisce about our 1950 Studebaker.

What's a Studebaker? Get outta here!

If you don't know Bill: Bill Mead was the longtime publisher of the Tehachapi News, along with Betty Mead, his wife and partner of more than 50 years. Known for his keen wit, which could be gentle or scathing or somewhere in between but was often self-deprecatory, Bill's writing won him a wide following among News readers. His column "The Overall Picture" ran in the News for more than 25 years, and in 1999 he published a collection of his columns in a volume entitled The Napa Valley Outhouse War. His book is currently available for sale at the Tehachapi Museum for $10.

Bill had a remarkable mind and because of his intelligence, humor and appearance he was regarded by many as Tehachapi's Mark Twain. As Betty used to remind him, he was "older than the oldest Model A Ford" and his wealth of life experiences and rural upbringing allowed him to bring a thoroughly American, 20th century perspective to his reflections and musings on the everyday. Bill passed away in 2008 but his writing lives on.


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