The Revolution Comes to Rossmoor 

As the Vietnam War generation invades senior communities, an old generation gap rears its ugly head.

Page 7 of 7

Doubet and a few of his friends also left CORG and started denouncing Solloway's clique as quislings and traitors. "A slicker character you never ran into," the younger rabble-rouser grumbles of Solloway. Joe Oliver, a member of CORG's slate on the board of directors, recently resigned from the board in disgust. And Solloway, who serves as treasurer of the Golden Rain Board, now finds himself taking flak from former allies as well as the swim-in contingent. "Gilbert Doubet's a bomb thrower," he says. "He represents only Gilbert Doubet. He's a lone wolf." Solloway finds the pool protesters just as irritating. "I've listened to this interminably," he says. "When you take out all the inflammatory rhetoric, I can tell you that what has been done is a fairly circumspect curtailment of hours only for the winter. ... These people on the water thing are just really off-base."

Such is Rossmoor's atmosphere leading up to the debate over the $22 million Creekside Development, which for some residents has come to symbolize all the hopes and anxieties associated with the boomers' imminent arrival. Steve Adams claims the project is perfectly sound, and that his critics' warnings of financial risk are hopelessly overblown. "We have every reliable source of revenue available to cover the cost of borrowing," he says. "None of the cost would come from the residents here."

Not all the residents buy it. In addition to having purchased their homes, Rossmoor folks must pay hundreds of dollars in membership dues each month, and the poorest members watch those dues as if their lives depended on it. As their old fraternal societies die off, and their health begins to fail, they can feel their world slipping away. No one knows what will come next. "They are rushing ahead with this huge financial proposal and putting us in hock for twenty years," says Rose Michaels, a CORG member who also has grown disenchanted with Solloway's leadership. "What's driving it is the new generation that's coming in, the baby boomers. They're the ones beginning to buy in, or they're hoping to attract them. So they're trying to make this a younger community. But the reality is we're not a younger community. ... We've already had people move out because they can't pay the bills. In the last couple of months, I heard of three people in my circle of friends. They bought trailer homes, and they say they just can't afford to stay here anymore."

"The younger people, they want this, they want that," Gardner says. "They want a covered swimming pool. They want more meeting rooms, and they want more exercise equipment. But everything they ask for costs a hell of a lot of money. ... They got two hundred clubs, for chrissake! They got plenty of swimming pools. But they want more."

The baby boomers, whom writer Frances Fitzgerald once called "a generation so large it seemed to have no parents and no memory," are only just starting to retire, but their sheer numbers are already sending shock waves through senior havens that know they're coming, but not how to deal with them. Just as the boomers made adolescence the unquestioned ideal of American culture, they will remake the ends of their lives in ways we are just beginning to fathom. Even if few boomers have yet heard of Rossmoor, their specter haunts Tice Valley nonetheless.


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