On January 1, 2006—the day I started writing this book—Kathleen Casey-Kirschling turned 60.
Who is Kathleen Casey-Kirschling? According to the record books, she is the first of my generation, the first baby born in 1946 and, therefore, the first baby boomer.
In the newspapers that morning, there were several articles about her. All of them had the same angle:what are the baby boomers thinking about now? And the answers were the same:we are thinking about retirement.
Ah, retirement! That lovely notion! Living comfortably without toil, without stress, without working! Who could resist such an idea?
Not me, nor my contemporaries. Not even our parents. But before the turn of the 20th century, before the advent of the modern city with its population migrations and proliferation of factories and office buildings, retirement didn't exist.
In the pre-industrial days, you worked until you dropped. As you aged, you did less of the hardest work, but you worked. This is still the rule in many agrarian cultures. Old people stay in the family circle (usually as respected elders) until, surrounded by their children and grandchildren, they curl up and die.