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Nude and Elderly: Fine Lines Between Hero, Villain

After a nude, 91-year-old Lake Worth man stopped a thief Saturday morning, he was cheered. Maybe it wasn't the ticker tape parade Robert E. Thompson recalls from when he returned from World War II, but his deed was celebrated in all the Florida papers, and the tale even reached New York.

But for the nude and elderly, fame is a fickle food. On Sunday, in Fort Worth, Texas -- near that state's own Lake Worth, as it happens -- a 71-year-old man ventured into his backyard with one gardening tool too many. That article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram was snatched up by the Dallas media, and now Robert Dean knows the dark side of society's attitude toward naked old people:

"Nothing but a weed whacker and a smile," cracked the headline in the city's NBC affiliate. On the Dallas Morning News' Crimeblog, commenters had a field day with the report: "Too much garden hose?" asked one. Dean has nearly eclipsed Thompson's fame -- Fox affiliates in Boston and Washington, D.C., picked up the story. (Note: Lest we add insult to injury, the photograph above is not of Dean.)

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Thomas Francis

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