I had a wonderful time answering over a thousand questions in my last AMA six months ago.

The events that transpired after my 15 minutes of Reddit fame helped make my 90th year to be one of the seven best of my life. I was profiled by the Washington Post; appeared on a German television station (as well as local American television); and in May penned a full-page piece in Oprah's O Magazine.

I was truly impressed at the breadth and depth of the questions I received in that AMA. I enjoyed sharing thoughts with so many (apparently) young people, and I wondered if there are any more questions out there that I might answer? I truly see the present days as some of the most critical ones I have seen in my lifetime, and I am convinced that inter-generational (as well as interracial/sexual/cultural/socio-economic et. al.) dialogue is extremely important. Perhaps there are some who have might yet have questions for me. I'm eager to share my perspective with you, and hear yours in return.

You can also check out the two blogs I operate: www.dcfreeculture.com and www.ronlehkersrants.blogspot.com.

So if there are any more questions out there, let's have at them!

My bio in brief: Born in December 1925 in San Antonio, Texas – volunteered for the Marine V-12 program in 1943 – spent my working life as a teacher and principal in Michigan – four children and nine grandchildren – now retired in Washington, DC. More details in my previous AMA.


I won't be able to get to every question today, but I'll spend about an hour every day answering questions until everyone has a response.

Comments: 2458 • Responses: 27  • Date: 

sandra_nz1652 karma

When my dad turned 60, I asked him what the most important thing in life was. He said "friends". What would you say?

dcretiree2432 karma

And I would add "and family"

aniketj1080 karma

Sorry if this was asked in the previous AMA, didn't go through all the questions.

How do you feel to be from a time where the most unbelievable invention was the car to now, where a man-made object has finally reached Pluto?

dcretiree1572 karma

Thanks for asking – I certainly wouldn't expect you to go through all that previous stuff! Up until recently I would've agreed that the car with the mobility it provided for changing rural/city culture in our country had the most profound change. And certainly looking back some of that was for the good some of it for the bad. However I'm beginning to think this media, the computer, and all the stuff that goes along with this truly recent invention is continuing to play a major role in how society functions and how people relate. Not only is it dividing us age wise but it has tremendously influenced how we get our information and organize our lives. Of primary concern for me are the issues raised in two books by Robert Putnam, "bowling alone" and "our kids".

And all of the issues about space are beyond my nonscientific mind. I do think they should have an impact on the conservative religionists and their concept of heaven, creation and other religious issues. But that's another concern of mine.

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Geezhello23863 karma

You said this year was one of the seven best. What was another year of your life that you consider the best?

dcretiree771 karma

I truly enjoyed answering this in my blog that I reference in my "ask me anything". They range from a happy childhood, my college years, to starting in am professional career as a teacher to getting married, having children and grandchildren and my greatest enjoyment as a principal – 15 years in an inner-city junior high school. I've truly been fortunate.

tehmlem711 karma

Given the enormous technological and social shifts you've experienced, do you have any advice for younger people likely to see similar shifts in our lifetime? How do you keep up with this rate of change over the course of a lifetime?

dcretiree1204 karma

I really don't keep up, but I have depended upon my grandchildren to keep me a bit "in the loop". My advice would be to make sure you are still keeping in touch with the views and values of the older generation

kinderdemon394 karma

In the previous Ima, I was surprised by your politely worded but unmistakably firm left wing convictions: most people my age (millenials) expect people your age to be conservative and yet there you were recommending the communist manifesto and defending key contemporary left wing movements like Black Lives Matter.

How did you come to your political convictions? Do you feel distinct from your generation, or is the conservativsm of your peers overstated?

dcretiree517 karma

What a fascinating question, and I believe one that should be addressed much more. I've been asked this many times in many ways and I harken back to a question asked of me and a professor Michigan State University by the most erudite person I have ever known, a young man now deceased who happened to be black. How did you two Southerners become so liberal in race relations? The easy answer for me was sensitive parents (neither of whom went beyond the eighth grade in school) and a lifelong influence of a mainline church.

Most of my friends (here in DC) and in mainline churches are liberal, yet if I were back where I last lived in Muskegon Michigan what you say may be true. I feel the November election has the potential to show the true nature of our country – and I personally am counting on young people.

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Valiantful307 karma

What technology out there today just blows your mind?

dcretiree778 karma

Easy! Those cell phones that can call Huber and give specific directions for getting from place to place – and a host of other things that I don't know about and I'm too old to learn

GY-265 karma

What event that took place in your life time that you can remember had made the largest impact on both your life and the life around you?

dcretiree1075 karma

I love the opportunity to give 2 personal responses: 1. The fact that in college I hurt my back playing basketball and thus was physically unable to be called back into the Marine Corps to go to Korea. It probably saved my life. But I have only is the highest regard (and that of guilt) for those who did serve in that painfully horrible conflict.

  1. After my fiancé – the first girl I ever kissed – returned her engagement ring because she wanted to experience being a liberated female – later "accepted" a second ring and remained my wife until she died.

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Pinefire167 karma

May I ask a follow up question?

Regarding answer 2:

How did you process the return of the engagement ring emotionally/mentally? And what pushed you to propose a second time, rather than 'respecting her decision' so to speak?

Of course I recognise you did respect her decision in the true meaning of the word, rather I meant why didn't you 'leave her to it'?

dcretiree408 karma

It was truly a difficult year, however our "break up" was not final but as she said it was her need to experience a life on her own. With the help of friends and a year working to get my Masters degree and a second year of teaching I had plenty to keep me busy. Since I truly believe "we were meant for each other" it was difficult for me to date other women and my patience paid off. It didn't hurt that her father and younger sister were always in my corner.

And how fortunate I am 22 years later to have found someone again 16 years ago. Thanks for the opportunity to reminisce.

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macedogna232 karma

What does the word "future" mean to you?

dcretiree775 karma

I love your fine tooth reading! The most critical "future" I feel is the November election in which I must say from the outset, I feel that the worst of the American character is on display in one candidate. To me the other candidate, while not perfect, shows a willingness to change – certainly a proud characteristic of America – as evidenced of her growing up following her parents lead but changing as she saw greater needs – and has a track record (while too often falling prey to negative influences) of standing up for needy people and causes.

I'd hoped to remain politically free in order not to lose some of my audience, but the issues I feel are two critical to remain silent.

So sorry for the rambling, but these are the thoughts off the top of my head. Dictated and not proofread

Lufernaal231 karma

See, I don't mean to sound negative or anything, but you're closer to the end of your life than most of us are, and you have lived more than most of us will ever do. My question is regarding the perspective of not existing anymore.

A lot of people say very nice and inspirational things about death and nothingness, but I don't care, my feelings don't change. I am completely terrified and I am only 26 years old. The only thing I really care about in my life is this very fact: the end. I don't even live a very incredible life, I'm mostly alone, spend my time doing nothing but watching different kinds of TV show and I feel no pleasure whatsoever when it comes to my professional or social life. It is as if everything is just static.

How do you feel about it all? I figure you feel like you have lived a very good life and you have enjoyed your time here, but do you really feel like that's it? Like it's okay? Like the nothingness of not existing isn't the worst thing that could happen to a someone who used to have endless possibilities ahead?

EDIT: For all the people who are kind of attacking me as a person for feeling like I am feeling, I am just trying to say that I love my life and I wish it never had an end. I know it does not and will not happen, and I am not arguing otherwise, I just wanted to express my wishes and hear what a 90-year-old person feels about it.

dcretiree333 karma

Oh there are so many things I would like to consider with you. First of all, death is one of the few things in life that I(fortunately) do not have control of. Therefore why worry about it. Second, I can think of nothing worse than being old and decrepit. I hope I die before I reach that stage. My gosh it sounds so trite but I can only think of a beautiful flower that will after serving its duty and then dies and that's it. I think humans are the same.

Most important to me is the opportunity to try to make a difference in life – to relate to other people – to help preserve our environment. I sincerely hope you can reach beyond the television screen and realize that each of us can make a difference and find meaning.

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qxxx31 karma

terrified and I am only 26 years old. The only thing I really care about in my life is this very fact: the end. I don't even

also not him.. I am 36 now. I was terrified when I was in my 20s. But with time that fear just faded away. You can't prevent your death. So deal with it and enjoy the life. If you have a shitty life the death will be a salvation.

I think religions have their own theories how the life after life will be. Some say there is nothing.. you are just dead. Some say you will be reincarnated. Personally I really don't know what will happen. But I am curious, but not terrified.

dcretiree28 karma

Thanks for your thoughtful contribution to the dialogue. To me the greatest contribution of our churches are twofold – a place to consider the meaning of life and a place to find meaningful friendships. And it's only in my later years that I have discarded my traditional Christian beliefs and proclaim myself to be an agnostic atheist from a Christian perspective.

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alphanum3rical198 karma

Did the kids in school actually get worse over time? or What are the main changes in their character you observed over the period of time you were teaching?

dcretiree459 karma

I believe I answered this in a previous question and I hope it is available to you. I've always felt the kids are kids and pretty much reflect the behavior and values of their home and surroundings. I do feel however, and from my life's experience know the dedicated teachers and good schools can make a difference. I do feel our greatest failings are in inner-city schools where we should be viewing teachers as specialists to help in these difficult environments. I do feel that there is also an increase in the number of troubled use as a result of drugs and other influences.

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shpongolian194 karma

How do you feel when young people say you're adorable?

dcretiree332 karma

Since it was a term I've never thought about in relationship to myself, I was delighted when the person who wrote the article, I believe, was the one who had it changed

LLLLLink169 karma

Have you recently felt sexual attraction to a person? Or does that just fade out of life at a certain age?

dcretiree807 karma

The joy of seeing beauty is no respecter of age.

datChef120 karma

I always wondered, you have such a long history, does it ever bother you that you have very few people left with similar histories and life events to relate to? For me there are young people everywhere and we all end up experiencing the same stuff and we can help eachother out. For you though, the amount of folks your age is probably pretty small, is that ever hard for you? My grandpa is coming up on 90 and he is pretty darn healthy, but kinda bored without many fellow old dudes to hang out with.

dcretiree201 karma

I truly feel that the opportunity to be with young people all of my life is one of the things that has added to not only my health but my relative positive disposition.

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RefriedJean115 karma

What would you tell a 22 year old who doesn't know what to do with his life?

ShouldRS493 karma

Get off my lawn

dcretiree380 karma


lesteramod195 karma

Do you drink or smoke?

dcretiree458 karma

Naturally I experimented with the pernicious weed in my youth, and I did follow my parents example until the age of 25 and since then have not smoked but enjoy alcohol in moderation.

Iluvbewbies2191 karma

Naturally I experimented with the pernicious weed in my youth

If there ever was a thing I expected a 90 year old to say, this would be it. That just goes to show the stereotypes I hold against the elderly - I most often assume a conservative stance on all subjects.

Now, for a 90 year old to do an AMA is pretty unique. My grandfather died at age 88 without ever touching a computer, let alone knowing about reddit. You handle it flawlessly. Which makes me wonder: have certain changes in society given you problems, and if so, which?

dcretiree115 karma

Oh my,, my noxious weed was the evil, immoral sinful tobacco! And yes, I do have trouble with the computer, but with the help of my grandson, I manage!

TheNarwharrior87 karma

All of the lovely old people I know use idioms out the ass. Are you one of those? Which ones your favorite?

dcretiree126 karma

My idioms such as they are in mid from my mouth, and there are so many definitions of idioms that I'm not sure which you refer to. I'm from Texas – left there in 1946 – and have no accent that I'm aware of. My children laugh when I say Beethoven.

I love to use clichés. Dictated but not proofread

Matrix_Wendigo87 karma

Over your career in education, did you notice any specific generational change in the way kids are and how they behave or were there just good kids and bad kids for your entire run?

Congrats on the good year. I hope you get many more.

dcretiree157 karma

Since I retired 30 years ago as principal of an inner-city junior high school, I can't truly comment on recent changes in the behavior of children. However I continue to volunteer work I work with children of all ages. You my (perhaps idealistic view) is that the behavior of children is much determined by the environment in which they are nurtured. That's why the home and outstanding schools with sensitive teachers are extremely important. I am concerned however that the need for helping children with special education has grown excessively due to drugs and other problems largely cause from socioeconomic environments. Thanks for the thoughtful question dictated but not proof read. Thanks for the thoughtful question

Mafiya_chlenom_K74 karma

Having lived through the Civil Rights Act and everything that went along with it, how would you compare those happenings to what is going on today?

dcretiree170 karma

Such a fascinating question. It would be interesting to see how that earlier era would have played out with the social media. Instant media attention seems to heighten immediate response for good and ill. While I highly admire the activism of young people today, I do feel they are somewhat oblivious to the role that patience has played in achieving the progress that has been made since WWII in race, sexual mores and many other areas.

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hey_blondie_66 karma


dcretiree267 karma

I share your concern in many ways, but I truly feel the potential is there to make unbelievable progress in solving our problems if we can have patience to realistically approach problems. I love the idealism of young people, but feel they need patience. And I'll use the example of the progress that Hillary promises over that of Bernie – to cite an unpopular prejudice of mine. I truly can't believe the progress we have made in so many social fields in my lifetime. Unfortunately today I feel the social media while it has great potential is too often used to drive us apart. This is such a long topic that I hope to develop it when I come back from my summer vacation and try to expand on the topic in my rant blog. Thanks for asking

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vflgbo21 karma

How do the racial tensions/protests/etc of today compare to the '60s? How is the mind set similar or different for the average American today regarding these issues?

dcretiree38 karma

Let me quote a previous answer. Below.

And I would add that I have felt very positive about the progress we have made since World War II. Yet I am totally disgusted by the vitriolic campaign level by one presidential candidate that I feel has caused us to take steps backward. I also feel that the hostility toward our first African-American president by a small percentage of our population has caused us to negate much of the progress that has been made..

Dictated but not proofread

Having lived through the Civil Rights Act and everything that went along with it, how would you compare those happenings to what is going on today? permalinkembedsavereportgive goldreplied [–]dcretiree [S] -1 points 2 minutes ago Such a fascinating question. It would be interesting to see how that earlier era would have played out with the social media. Instant media attention seems to heighten immediate response for good and ill. While I highly admire the activism of young people today, I do feel they are somewhat oblivious to the role that patience has played in achieving the progress that has been made since WWII in race, sexual mores and many other areas. Dictated not proofread permalinksaveparentEDITdisable inb

aatop14 karma

How fast do you type?

dcretiree65 karma

I couldn't do this if I didn't have a Dragon dictation "machine". Arthritis has slowed me down

wecarryknives6 karma

How do you think the political parties in the country have changed, and do you think we are heading into a radicalized direction on both sides?

dcretiree13 karma

I'm sorry that so much of politics has consumed the questions, but I guess that is inevitable in the times we live in my desire to be honest. I was raised a Republican and agree with many today who feel the party has lost its way. And while I now agree with many of the goals that Bernie proclaimed, I feel that progress is best made through the compromise more accessible through the positions of Hillary

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breadandfaxes6 karma

Why do you say last?

dcretiree3 karma

After three strikes, I thought I would be out. Actually there are two reasons that led me to say that: first I find it take so much time and there is so much I want to do yet in my life and second, I'll soon run out of curious questioners.

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MrReey-23 karma

Do you still masterbate?

dcretiree0 karma

Too many assumptions in that question for me to answer