April 1966: Noting that there are more women than men over the age of 60, and that women over age 60 often are widowed and may "subsist on inadequate diets and live in a state of sexual frustration," Utah physician Victor Kassel proposed a solution: allow men over age 60 to have more than one wife. In this way, many lonely, older women might once again have a husband, albeit one they're sharing
The Baytown Sun - Apr 19, 1966
In later remarks, Kassel complained that the publicity which his proposal received overemphasized the sexual aspects of his proposal. But to be fair to the media, he himself drew attention to some of the sexual benefits (for men) of polygyny:
Kassel said it is true an older man's problems with sex lie with boredom rather than impotency. "With three, four or five wives," Kassel said, "he wouldn't be bored any longer."
Many aged persons are uninterested in their appearance, change their undergarments infrequently, bathe inadequately, and seldom cleanse their external excretory organs. Polygyny offers to the woman someone for whom to compete. The man, on the other hand, is interested in being courted. Each person will do his or her best to upgrade appearances, each will be alert to the advantages gained by the competitor, and each will learn the tricks of becoming more attractive. The end result must be finer-appearing older citizens.
It can be argued that the jealousy aroused as the result of the competition would be carried to an extreme by the women and would disrupt the quiet, peaceful home. This may occur. But when there is a choice between uninterested, dowdy, foul-smelling hags and alert, interested, smartly dressed ladies, the selection is obvious.
In October 1990, the Sun ran a story about a 101-year old woman who supposedly had to quit her job as a newspaper carrier because she got pregnant after being seduced by a reclusive millionaire on her route. The story, of course, was totally false. However, the Sun also ran a picture with the article of a real woman, 96-year-old Nellie Mitchell of Arkansas.
Mitchell sued, charging invasion of privacy (she had never given them permission to use her photo) and emotional distress, because she now had to endure people asking her when the baby was due. During the trial, the editor of the Sun explained that they had needed a picture to go along with the fake story, and had found in their archive a photo of Mitchell taken in 1986. They had used it, assuming she must have been dead by then. And dead people can't sue for damages.
Mitchell won and was awarded $150,000 in compensatory damages and $850,000 in punitive damages.
Hattie Wiener received patents in 1991 and 1993 for an anti-aging chair. The two patents were basically variations on the same theme. The 1991 version of the chair is on the left below, and the 1993 version is on the right.
Actually, in the patent write-ups she didn’t mention the anti-aging properties of the chair, but that’s how she described it to the media. She also promoted herself as an “anti-aging consultant.”
The idea was that the chair would force a person to sit upright, and thereby improve their posture and circulation. And this, in turn, would help a person stay healthy as they aged.
She hoped to sell the chair for $600. A lot for a fairly minimalist piece of furniture. But as far as I can tell, it never made it to market.
(left) The Desert Sun - Oct 27, 1991; (right) Austin American-Statesman - Nov 10, 1991
Hattie was in her 50s when she patented the chair. Fast-forward almost thirty years, and now, in her 80s, she's still in the news, but for a very different reason. She's become known as the "Tinder Granny," due to her enthusiasm for using the dating app Tinder to find hookups with younger men.
She's certainly defying the stereotypes of age. But I'm disappointed that in none of the recent pictures of her is she using her anti-aging chair. In fact, in the photo below she's totally slouching.
Back in 1970, Douglas P. Stewart, a professor of classics at Brandeis University, made headlines for advocating that the elderly should lose the right to vote.
His thesis is this:
"The old, having no future, are dangerously free from the consequences of their own political acts, and it makes no sense to allow the vote to someone who is actuarially unlikely to survive and pay the bills for (what) he may help elect."
In other words, Stewart thinks old people vote with an attitude of "grand je serais mort, je me ficherais de tou — (when I'm dead, it (society) can go to hell)."
Stewart, if he's still alive, would now be around 83. I wonder if he's still voting?
The Daily Journal (Franklin, Indiana) — Sep 23, 1970
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.