Blue Thongs, Red Hats, and Needham’s Senior Center…John Prescott’s The MetWest Scene

“After much number crunching, Needham officials believe the town can afford a new, larger senior center, without an override, and selectmen are setting up an exploratory committee to figure out how to make it happen.”

_ Boston Globe

In the U.S., almost 8,000 people a day are turning 60 years of age!

The first wave of the nation’s baby boomers has just started collecting social security benefits, and the impact on the country’s senior centers will be similar to this generation’s impact on schools, jobs, and consumer behavior.

Already, the boomers are letting it be known that the word “senior” does not apply to them.  They much prefer the term “community centers,” given that the senior description has in the past, been in reference to the fragile physical condition of the original “brat pack!”

Age is an issue of mind over matter.
If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

~Mark Twain

Gyms, internet cafes, investment clubs, pilates classes, motorcycle clubs, and video game tournaments represent some of the activities senior center staffs are planning, and in some instances, already offering.

Trendy bistro food and hip surroundings are essential elements for the boomers.  And because many of them will continue to work well into their 70’s, resources for employment demands are necessary.

A group making headlines lately has been the Blue Thong Society.  Begun in California when a group of friends were celebrating the 50th birthday of one of their own, these women determined that the “Red Hat Ladies” of yore, needed an alternative that reflected the differences in generations.


Deciding that “blue thong” clearly differentiated them from the “red hat” group,   these women have seen their ranks swell nationwide as more and more women from a generation used to “pushing the envelope” have joined in this social networking opportunity.**

The aging of the population has a direct impact on cities and towns and senior centers are a critical element in promoting healthy, active lifestyles.

As we age, many feel their world shrinking, or marginalized.  Depression, physical inactivity, loss of esteem, and lack of financial resources often result.

The seniors of Needham currently make due in the basement of the Stephen Palmer building.

This is hardly the physical environment most conducive to helping those who have contributed so much to our town, communities, and nation.

The Needham selectmen are putting together an exploratory committee to determine possible sites for a facility which will be an integral part of the Needham community, and will allow the town to offer the resources our town’s seniors so richly deserve.

A proposed project could go before Town Meeting within a year.


Needham Wants A Senior Center/

The Red Hat Society

Seniors World Chronicle

The Blue Thong Society

Who We Are…


“We’re smart and sassy women who have blazed new trails and broken the molds since birth. We’ve worked, rebelled, rock ’n rolled, raised families and never failed to stand up for what we believe in. Now we’re ready for our ‘next rally’: a time for us, our girlfriends and that second adolescence we’ve been hearing about in the news. We don’t plan to be ‘golden’ or ‘senior’ or ‘plus’… just us! We’ve never been good at sitting down and shutting up and we’re not about to start now. Blue haired? No way. Blue Thong? Any day. Join us as we Fight Frump and finetune the art of being hip, chic and fabulous forever!”

“We burned the bra. We rebelled,” says Jackie Tushinsky, 52, one of the Blue Thong Society founders at Mary Jo Wallo’s 50th birthday celebration in March 2005.
“Groups like the Blue Thong Society and, earlier, the Red Hat Society, are like the consciousness-raising groups of the ’60s and ’70s, says Saira Qureshi, a lecturer in women’s studies at Arizona State University at the West Campus. Their approach to aging taps into their youthful rebellion, when they fought the strictly coded worlds of marriage, motherhood and the workplace.”

“Women are tired of being invisible once they reach a ‘certain age’ and are making themselves seen and heard,” says Deana Rohlinger, an assistant professor of sociology at Florida State University.

Rohlinger, with fellow sociology Professor Anne Barrett, are researching the Red Hat Society and its role regarding women and aging.

“It (Blue Thong Society) is the updated version of the quilting bee, but with an edge,” Rohlinger says.

“The Red Hat Society and the Blue Thong Society provide women with social support and a sense of community. They also directly challenge cultural stereotypes about how middle-age and older women look, act and feel.”

The Red Hat Society was started more than eight years ago by another Californian, Sue Ellen Cooper. She commandeered the red hat and purple dress mentioned in Warning, a poem by Jenny Joseph, as what has become its members’ visible rejection of quietly fading into the sunset once the mid-century mark is hit.

Arizona Republic


has evolved into the world’s largest social networking community for women 50 and beyond. This ever-growing organization unites under the umbrella of a Red Hat to celebrate Fun, Friendship, Freedom and Fulfillment and to bond as members travel through life together. Women over age 50 are known as “Red Hatters” while those under 50 are called “Pink Hatters.”The worldwide sisterhood has more than 30,000 chapters in all 50 states of the U.S. and in more than 25 foreign countries. It has grown phenomenally fast and has been featured in such national magazines as Newsweek, Good Housekeeping and Women’s Day, in addition to such major metropolitan newspapers as The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times and The Boston Globe, plus hundreds of local dailies. It has even inspired a legendary team of award-winning, creative talents to create our musical, “HATS!” This marvelous play manages a nod to the poignant side of aging, inspires belly laughs and delivers a wildly entertaining theatrical experience at the same time.

Red Hat Society



Top Real Estate Agent for more than 14 years, serving the real estate needs of  Wellesley, South Natick, Weston, Needham, Wayland, Newton, Framingham and other MetWest communities.


Vice President

Century 21 Commonwealth


BostonKayakGuy…The MetWest Scene


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