Pre-boomer Poms Pump Up The Volume

Usually on BoomerCafé we features stories about what boomers are doing to stay active and young. But boomer writer Marcia Barhydt puts a twist on the theme: she writes about “pre-boomers” who stay equally active and young. Are we their inspiration or should they be ours? Whatever the answer, one thing you’ll learn here is that these pre-boomer Poms Pump Up The Volume.

Sometimes I run across a story about pre-boomers — translation: older Americans — that I think is a wonderful example of what we boomers can aspire to.

I just read an article about a group of older, much older, women who are the definitive description of stepping outside of the old retirement thinking box and jumping into the boomer belief that retirement mostly means a second opportunity.

These women may be pre-boomer, but they maintain the same kind of tenacious spirit and dedication that we boomers are making mainstream about our own concept of aging.

They’re called the Sun City Poms; they’ve been cheerleading and competing for 12 years and the average age for these women is, are you sitting down…73!

The Poms, eighteen of them, all together have 59 children, 100 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren. Kinda like their own cheering section.

Marcia Barhydt

What started nearly twelve years ago as perhaps the nation’s oldest cheerleading squad has evolved into a group that embodies the philosophy that youth is wasted on the young. But some boomers are free to join: applicants for this in-your-face group must be a minimum of 55.

The women are very clear about their message, “It’s to smash those old clichés about being elderly,” says Alverta Hettinger, 69 years old, who is the Poms’ business manager as well as a performer. “The idea that your body is too old to do anything active — that’s death.”

This is not a group of older women doing a George Burns shuffle. These women really kick it up! And they kick it up high! I’d be pressed to do their routine. Okay, let’s face the facts: I’d be turned down immediately from an audition.

Watch this video to see how very cool these women are:

The Poms continue to shatter stereotypes and redefine aging. Well, that is what we do so well, isn’t it, redefine each stage of our boomer lives?

I’ve never been a fan or promoter of “retirement” cities. I believe that these cities promote what I call The Rocking Chair attitude, as in sitting in your retirement rocking chair and just waiting…

However, I may need to rethink this. Sun City, Arizona, long known for being the first “retirement town,” does not give an inch to the concept of being old. It uses sports and social activities to beat back the urge to be sedentary, and its residents make liberal use of surgery and cosmetics to defy the forces of gravity and greying.

The Poms are ambassadors for that attitude. Members eschew designations like “senior citizen” and “elderly.” For a long time, I’ve felt that the mainstream word “senior” is an ageist label, so it’s good to find kindred spirits.

They think of themselves, as boomer-member Thelma Ward put it, as having reached “the age of elegance.” Ms. Ward, 65, is fresh from her victory in the Ms. Senior Arizona beauty pageant; in April, she will compete in Atlantic City for the national crown. Amazing.

The Sun City attitude is one we all need to embrace. It fits with the way we’ve done things for all stages of our boomer lives and it needs to continue for the new stages into our 60s, 70s, 80s, and beyond.

And look at what an amazing role model we have with the Sun City Poms!

Rah Rah!

©2011 Marcia Barhydt

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