My Granddad on my Mom's side of the family retired in 1971, at the age of 55. Grandmom didn't retire until 1980, at the age of 56 (Granddad was 64 by then), but then went back to work part time.
But, Granddad didn't sit around on his ass all day making a mess and spending money, either. He'd keep the house clean, tended to a huge garden, worked on cars as sort of a shade tree mechanic (until they started getting more complicated with emissions controls and such), would usually cook lunch and dinner, and when I was a little kid, often watched me. And, he was also getting a gov't pension, which was pretty nice.
So, they both pulled their weight, just in different ways.
To the OP, aren't those railroad pensions pretty generous? My other Granddad, on my Dad's side of the family, worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad for about 35 years. I have no idea how much he actually gets, but I've heard mention that it's pretty good, and I think exempt from taxes, as well!