Take Heart, Unmarried Women 35 and Older

The radio show The Romance of Helen Trent, which aired from 1933 to 1960, began each of its 7,222 episodes by reassuring women over 34 that they weren't too old to attract a man:

And now, The Romance of Helen Trent, the real-life drama of Helen Trent, who, when life mocks her, breaks her hopes, dashes her against the rocks of despair, fights back bravely, successfully, to prove what so many women long to prove, that because a woman is 35 or more, romance in life need not be over, that romance can begin at 35.

Mary Hatch, spinster librarian from It's a Wonderful LifeThe premise reminds me of It's a Wonderful Life, in which George Bailey's absence from wife Mary's life turns her into an unmarried and independent career woman in a smart hat. I watched that film dozens of times as a child without envisioning a scenario in which she might have been happy with that fate.

After attending a public screening of the film, Elyse Kroll wrote in Information Outlook that the library scene hasn't aged well:

While it is decidedly a period piece at this point, it has managed to remain relevant, and in many ways still feels fresh. That is, with one memorable exception -- the infamous library scene. ...

You probably remember it: Clarence the angel offers suicidally dejected George Bailey a glimpse of how much worse off the world would be had he never been born, culminating with the horrifying revelation that if not for George, Mary Hatch would have wound up not just an old maid, but -- horror of horrors -- a librarian to boot! This moment triggered a huge laugh from the audience, a laugh that was probably not intended when the film was made in 1946.


Perhaps, but consider Mary 30 years later, as she starts wondering who will take care of here - or even care about her - as she gets older. It's easy to be carefree at 35; less so as the years pile on...

I'm happily married, but I think you're overestimating the benefits of the institution. Marriage isn't the only way to surround yourself with people who will care for you when you get older. It isn't even a reliable guarantee that your spouse will stick around to care for you.

Did people save for their retirement in 1946, or did Mary Hatch rely on Social Security?

"... I think you're overestimating the benefits of the institution."

Hubris forces mankind to think that are the 'creators' of some social organization they give a name to. Since, in their arrogance, they created the institution, they convince themselves that they can change it at their whim.

Unfortunately for our collective ego, the institution is one of nature and apparent in every single appearance of life, from the highest to the lowest in the hierarchy we name it as.

With a quick glimpse into the often frightening face of reality, mankind can see that the institution of 'marriage', better defined as 'family' does not guarantee any life support for old age in all of the animal kingdom, but with one exception. That exception is the genus Homo, spec. sapiens sapiens.

Mankind perfected nature's institution of family and altruistically provided for the support of family past their ability to provide for themselves.

... or perhaps I exaggerate, and mankind is not the only altruistic species in creation, and the example of other family life was observed by mankind and more expertly applied by 'regulation' to provide support for the aged ... married or not ...

Social Security actually subverts the tendency for mankind (Americans and other forced charity by socialistic nations) to support family altruism, and Welfare handouts further undermines that support for the natural process/institution of family (while also creating, apart from the 'poor', an entirely new social class of dependence).

Rogers, you misinterpreted my comment. If you have no children (whether you are married or not), then there will likely be no one who will be able to look after you when you get older. Regardless of the welfare policies you ask for and receive, no state paid care will actually care about you. At best, they may - and I emphasize may - look after your physical needs.

Without descendants, you'll end up terribly alone.

You watched 'It's a Wonderful Life' over and over again? As a KID? WTF!?!?!

Dude, that is just strange.

I despise audiences that laugh at the library scene. I saw it last year in London and the audience was in hysterics and it pissed me off because I didn't know why. I had to come on here to understand it and it doesn't change the film one iota. Some people are just stupid and can't detatch themselves and decided to ruin the whole movie. By the way, the first time I saw this movie was in 1999 and the audience certainly didn't laugh then!!

I saw the film again in 2016 when it was a Flashback Cinema selection at the local theater. I think you can laugh at the flaws like Mary Hatch's spinster future and still love the film.

Seeing it on a bigger screen at the theater, I had these additional observations:

1. Pre-marriage George has a disturbing way of making out: He presses his cheek on Mary's while choking back sobs. No wonder her mom was upset.

2. If Peter Bailey picks a better second-in-command than drunk brother Billy, George never gets trapped in Bedford Falls.

3. It's supposed to be a hell on earth, but Pottersville looks like a fantastic pub crawl.

4. I have a nagging feeling that Bedford Falls would've voted for Trump while Pottersville would've voted for Hillary.

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