Origin of the quip "the golden years should be called the rust years"
April 18, 2019 5:24 PM   Subscribe

Mrs. Larry David Syndrome claims that her grandfather coined this quip (or a variant of it.) I think it's much more likely to have originated from a comic/humorist and he just was repeating it. (It does follow the pretty standard joke format of turning a phrase on its head by substituting an opposite.) Can anyone tell me who was the first person to publicly say/write this phrase (or a close variant such as "...more like the rust years") and what year that occurred? Or when this phrase first became commonly used?
posted by Larry David Syndrome to Media & Arts (3 answers total)
I haven't found a source yet. A Googling for " 'rust years' golden" shows a fair number of people using the phrase. I haven't yet seen anything older than 2012, but that may be more a function of the search than actual use.
posted by bryon at 9:42 PM on April 18, 2019

Google Books cites pensioner Charlie Hoogstraal using the similar construction "rusty years" back in 1972. Given that the "golden years" phrase was coined for a retirement community ad campaign in 1959, that's fairly close. But it's also an easy enough joke that I doubt it has a single originator. He very well might have independently coined the phrase within his social circles.

(FWIW, I question the wisdom of trying to disprove this harmless bit of family lore. Even if you could prove her wrong, what good would it do anybody? Your wife loses a charming anecdote about her grandpa and you end up looking super petty. I'd advise letting it go.)
posted by Rhaomi at 10:12 PM on April 18, 2019 [11 favorites]

Follow-up: here's a PDF source for that cite, on page 9. It was actually from 1974.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:18 PM on April 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

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