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HCC location won't offer seniors escape from youth

July 01, 2009|By TIM ROWLAND

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I was interested to see the Washington County Commissioners are going to build a senior center next to Hagerstown Community College.

One question.

You've seen the traffic on Robinwood Drive. What's it going to be like if you add 200 old people a day to the mix? (Now that I, myself, am officially old, I have the necessary cover to make age-related jokes. Thank you very much, AARP membership-solicitation mailing.)

It's going to be the largest Subaru Impreza/Buick Electra parking lot you've ever set eyes on. Throw in a half-dozen ambulances waiting to get to the new hospital and it should be ever so much fun.

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Anyone who routinely needs to drive that road knows you have to ride the brakes all the way from Dual Highway to the college, so seniors should feel right at home. Until the kid in the Honda Civic with the screwy muffler goes buzzing past on the right in the name of getting to his destination 16 seconds sooner than if he had just waited along with everyone else.

The last I'd heard, the new senior center was going to be at the former Richardson's restaurant, which made sense since, demographically speaking, the before and after would not have been materially different.

Truth be told, when I saw the headline about a senior center at the college, I thought the idea was rather silly. But after reading the comments from Commissioner William J. Wivell, it made sense, in a Wivell kind of way. The center would be close to the school's walking trails and gym, and of course, it will be a boost for HCC's fly fishing class enrollment.

Call it Hagerstown Elder Care College. That way, you don't even need to change the stationery. Next time the Harlem Globetrotters show up, they can all reminisce about wartime gas rationing.

The center is to be built next to the school's amphitheater, which could be interesting. You'll have Social Distortion as the headliner and a warm-up act featuring a Benny Goodman tribute band.

Aside from that, I have trouble noodling through the potential for old-young synergy.

What can today's college students possibly gain from rubbing elbows with the older population, aside from wisdom, manners, a sense of history, frugality, patriotism, respect, reliability, work ethic, patience, self-discipline and manners?

Not that I'm implying anything. It's just, I feel that texting during a funeral crosses the line.

Obviously, it's a two-way street, and seniors would stand to pick up some tidbits from the younger crowd.

What we need is a group of people who are about five days shy of a phone call from Willard Scott walking around cackling, "What up?" and "Awesome."

The potential for confusion is problematic. Washington County will be the only place in the land where 90-somethings are asking, "Want to hook up?" and teenagers are asking, "Is it all on one floor?"

All I'm thinking is the majority of us older people spend decades trying to get further away from young people, and now this. We go to the good time and trouble to earn our way into a gated community so we never need to hear the grinding of a solitary skateboard wheel or be bothered by a wayward bottle rocket.

Somewhere, there had to have been a golf course or a quilt shop with a little of extra building space on the side.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or by e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant video under opinion@herald-mail.com, on antpod.com or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 at 6:30 p.m. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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