phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Senior citizen

Posted by Steve E on September 02, 2005

In Reply to: Senior citizen posted by Russ Cable on September 02, 2005

: : : When was the term "Senior Citizen" first used? In August 1918, a postcard received by my grandmother from a girlfriend who was holidaying at Saltburn contained the following message, "I am very downhearted that you can't come and cheer us all up as there is nothing doing amongst the Sn Cs. Understand. I'm fed up at the sight of them. Bow wow." My assumption has been that Sn Cs means "senior citizens", but I read somewhere that the expression originated in the US two decades later.

: : Maybe it was used early but became popular in the 1950s.

: : " 'Senior citizen' has been a popular euphemism since the 1950s, when the number of older people suddenly seemed to have multiplied. It had: in 1900 the average life expectancy was forty-five, by 1950 the average life span was almost seventy years; the population had doubled but the number of people 65 and over had quadrupled to become 8 percent of the total.In the 1950s, for the first time, millions were reaching the age and had pensions to become 'retirees,' a new American group, and a new word to most. But by now pensions themselves, the small houses built quickly after World War II, and the new Postwar life-styles had destroyed the 'extended family' in which the elderly lived with their children and grandchildren. People began talking about the new 'retirement houses' in 'retirement villages' and 'apartments for seniors' where the elderly, according to the ads, could most happily spend their 'golden years.' Warm places without the rigors of winter and expenses of furnaces and overcoats." From "Listening to America" by Stuart Berg Flexner (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1982).

: Have you considered that "Sn" maybe short for Saltburn?

In rereading the context of the postcard Saltburn Citizens seems to make sense given the year of 1918--a time when disparaging remarks were not made quite so freely. And more sense of: "I'm fed up with the sight of them." I get the feeling the writer was extremly bored with her holiday at Saltburn and wanted something more exciting. (P.S. Where is Saltburn?)