Meryl Baer can be found writing about whatever she wants – from travel to food to friends and relatives – over at Six Decades and Counting. This post about Baby Boomer memories was originally featured there.
Last week I attended a granddaughter’s graduation from preschool at a community center.
Kindergarten here she comes!
After the ceremony everyone adjourned to a large room for snacks, pictures, and goodie bags filled with a school T-shirt, yearbook, and months worth of schoolwork.
I wandered around, looking at bulletin boards announcing events for members of the community center.
One particular item caught my eye, a sign announcing a class titled, “The 1960’s: Life a Half Century Ago”.
And suddenly? I am history.
My entire generation is history. People – historians, sociologists, psychologists and others – study us.
I speculated about the instructor. An old geezer like myself? Or a fledgling historian with no idea what it was like living through the 60s, aging from a generation of innocent kids and a nation recovering from war, lulled by increasing economic prosperity and the relative calm of the 1950s, to a nation by the end of the 60s weary of an Asian war and transforming politically, economically, socially, culturally.
I started the 1960s as a kid attempting to live with such difficulties as one hard-wired wall phone in a house of four people…one black and white TV, no cable, 7 channels…one bathroom…no dishwasher (or microwave or computer or cell phone or DVDs).
I could tell stories:
About President Kennedy’s Cuban missile crisis speech. Unfortunately I was gossiping on the phone with a girlfriend!
About the music. Almost every one of every age is familiar with Beatles songs, but I could describe taking the train along with girlfriends to Shea Stadium, witnessing the group perform amidst a mob of screaming teenagers.
About the assassination of President Kennedy and an eighth-grade science class listening in disbelief as the school principal announced the tragedy over the school’s PA system.
About the first men on the moon, raging inflation, the escalation of a war Baby Boomers did not understand, how wardrobes changed when my high school dress code no longer required girls to wear skirts or dresses.
Staring at the sign I felt old. In the minds of the kids and parents milling around, celebrating four- and five-year-olds, the 1960s are the Stone Age, an era before Amazon, Google, Netflix, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat, Instagram, Starbucks and Nutella.
And I am a relic of that primitive era.
A couple of days later I took my nine-year-old granddaughter Hailey clothing shopping for her birthday. We shopped at her favorite store, Justice, catering to kids and young teens, then walked around the mall and wandered into Chico’s, a favorite clothing store of mine.
Afterward Hailey announced to the grown-ups – her parents – that I shop at an old lady’s store, fuddy-duddy one of the eloquent terms she used.
OK, I accept the description, but my outfits are very different from the house-dresses my grandmother wore or my mom’s clothes. I don’t think Mom ever wore jeans.
The 1960s are history, occurring over half a century ago, and I am older than half a century. It is therefore time to, as the humorist Erma Bombeck stated, to “Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.”