Introduction: The Grand Generation (02:58)
Elderly Americans share their views on aging. Retired coal miner Nimrod Workman is a centenarian who has 18 children, 89 grandchildren, and 58 greatgrandchildren. Others include farmer Cleofes Vigil, civil rights activist Rosina Tucker and New York baker Moishe Sacks.
"Experience is What the Old Have to Teach Us" (02:00)
Waterman Alex Kellam recalls a saying his grandfather and old captains used to repeat: “know nothing, fear nothing.” He alludes to harrowing experiences he’s had on the Chesapeake Bay and shares lessons he’s learned about crabbing.
"God Give Me Work ..." (01:35)
Sacks describes his routine when he worked as a baker and the sense of accomplishment that he felt at the end of every each week. He says it is important for elderly people to continue working, even beyond retirement.
"Old Age is Not For Sissies" (03:20)
Kellam recites lines from a poem on aging. Ethel Mohamed — a retired storekeeper from Belzoni, Mississippi — says she feels the same age as whoever she is talking to. Vigil says he still feels strong and works hard. Sacks says he also feels young but struggles with buttons.
"Older People Are Empowered By Their History" (06:34)
Workman harkens back to his years working 16 to 18 hours a day in the coal mines for less than a dollar a day. Tucker recites “At the Closed Gate of Justice” by poet James D. Corrothers. They feel a sense of purpose based on their work in the labor and civil rights movements.
"Memory Shows Us the Person ..." (01:39)
Kellam recalls the thrill he felt the day he caught five channel bass with his fishing buddy. The smell of low tide takes him back to those happy days on the bay.
"In Order to Possess One's Past ..." (01:48)
Mohamed says she took up embroidery in an attempt to pull herself out of the depression she felt following the death of her husband. Here house is “like walking into an album” thanks to all the pictures she displays there.
"A Sense of Continuity ..." (02:18)
Vigil plays a mandolin tune that his grandmother taught him when he was a child, and he recalls sitting fireside and listening to the songs and stories of his elders. “It’s still in my heart in my mind,” he says. “I never forget it.”
"Doctor, Doctor, Will I Die?" (04:10)
Documentary subjects share their feelings about dying. Workman says he doesn’t worry about it. Mohamed says she has lived a happy life but jokes she’ll never be ready to go. Tucker expresses her feelings on mortality through song.
Credits: The Grand Generation (00:55)
Credits: The Grand Generation
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