Reached The Age Of Government Signup

On this day that I write this column, I finally have reached the age of Medicare signup. I have too much invested already in health insurance at the private level to not take advantage of getting on the list for some rocking chair care after all these years of paying Uncle Sam to look after a chunk of money he took out of my pay checks to reach this special time in my life. Plus, the thought of cashing in on my life insurance is not just what I have in mind at this time. My body has been overhauled by removing my gall bladder a few years back, I’ve had my sinuses reamed out by surgery that I would not wish on my worst enemy, and this year I lost a kidney, as well as a foot and a half of colon. I guess after all the bodywork I’ve had, the government is getting the better part of the deal.  
So, as they say, I became 21, I turned 30, I was pushing 40, I reached 50, I made it to 60, accomplished 65 and am hoping to hit 70. After that, it’s a day-by-day thing, so the Bible has been telling me for a long time. I’ve reached the age where the car radio is either on the oldies or turned off. I don’t have time for this new-fangled loud-bumping music that you can hear two miles down the road before you get to where you are going. My theory is keep your music to yourself or risk having your radio knobs permanently removed by one of us old geezers in a Cadillac Fleetwood Deville.  
But, my 65 years have really been quite a trip. I grew up seeing television picked up on an antenna attached to the chimney with maybe 5 prongs for the first time as a first grader and today I watch it as it is beamed to my satellite dish from space. I started out watching Howdy Doody and Andy Griffith on black and white TV and continue even today watching black and white Andy Griffith shows on a color digital television. I have lived in the era of tube radios, transistor radios, stereo radios, satellite radios, MP3 players and iPods.  
My first phone call was on a wall-hung crank telephone connected to a party line. Since then, I have used a dial phone, push button phone, color tone phone, car phone, bag phone, cell phone, smartphone and even an Apple that didn’t come off of a tree. I can remember dreaming of a phone where you could see the person you were talking to and now wish that phones would just go away at times.  
Communications on our farm used to be the dinner bell ringing for meals or when trouble had occurred in the area. It also included my mother waving a dishtowel out the back door to let us know when dinner was ready when we worked in the fields near the house. Today, mothers are usually at work or they simply call on the cell phone to remind men folk when “lunch” is ready.  
We took typing in school and today’s students know about computers at the age of two. I used to type reports on an Underwood manual typewriter, advanced to an electric typewriter, moved on to a word processor and graduated to a computer with limited memory capacity. Today, I’m using a computer with gigs of memory and enough capacity to have handled all the data from the NASA Apollo missions that took place in 1965 to 1972.  
I watched on TV the day President John F. Kennedy spoke those famous words, “My fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” I also remember where I was the day he was assassinated. A lot of history has happened in those short 65 years. I was of the Vietnam era, the Watergate happenings, Desert Storm and 9/11. I saw John Glenn orbit the earth with my classmates in our community school, Mickey Mantel hit homeruns, witnessed man’s first steps on the moon, Coco-Cola attempting to change its formula and failing, the Beatles perform on Ed Sullivan and Tennessee go from a blue state to a red.  
Who knows what the next 65 may hold. Hope to be around to watch some of it. Maybe even get to keep my Medicare for a while, but that’s another story.                      
– Pettus L. Read is editor of the Tennessee Farm Bureau News and Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at