Those affected are buried by debts incurred for credit card payments, used cars, health care, and sometimes the college educations of their children. Some have lost their homes. And for many of them, even as they reach beyond 70, real retirement is elusive. Although they worked for decades at McDonnell-Douglas, many of the septuagenarians are still working, some full time.
Lavern Combs, 73, works the midnight shift loading trucks for a company that delivers for Amazon. Ruby Oakley, 74, is a crossing guard. Charles Glover, 70, is a cashier at Dollar General. Willie Sells, 74, is a barber. Leon Ray, 76, buys and sells junk.
“I planned to retire years ago,” Sells says from behind his barber’s chair, where he works five days a week. He once had a job in quality control at the aircraft maker and was employed there 29 years. “I thought McDonnell-Douglas was a blue-chip company. But then they left town — and here I am still working. Thank God I had a couple of clippers.”