The passing of another year made me a bit reflective, I think. I started thinking about all that has happened in my 68 years.
First of all, I realized I have lived in portions of eight decades. I was part of the early days of the Baby Boomer generation. The Cold War was just beginning and I lived to see it come to an end, along with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
When I was a kid, we held A-Bomb drills in school, or air-raid drills as some called them. We’d either get under our desks or go out into the hallway and line up on the floor, with our head down between our knees. This, supposedly, would help us survive if someone dropped an atomic bomb on us. (You have to realize how naïve everyone was about nuclear weapons in those days. I have seen scientists watching bomb tests from behind chest-high walls being cautioned to remember to put their sunglasses on. Even they weren’t fully cognizant of the danger they wrought.)
Many countries that existed when I was a kid are no more and the names of others have changed.
At home, delivery men — milkmen, vegetable hucksters mostly — still used horse-drawn wagons. There were still men who delivered milk and bread to your door, along with the Fuller Brush man and the insurance man, who came around every week or month to collect the few cents that made up your premium.
At the early part of my life, there were no jet planes.
Television was a big wooden box with a very small screen that received shaky black-and-white pictures. Some folks bought large magnifying lenses that attached to the box and made the picture bigger, if a little distorted around the edges.
In the early days, TV was on just for a few hours a day. No, really. A program would come on around noon — I recall the Kate Smith Show, and the Sons of the Pioneers, each show was about 15 minutes long. There might be a soap opera, but then the station would stop transmitting until dinner time, when a 15-minute news program might come on.
Eventually, of course, programming increased and I was able to enjoy Ernie Kovacs, Howdy Doody, The Big Top, Super Circus, Kukla, Fran and Ollie, Willlie the Worm, Mr. Rivets, Uncle Pete, Chief Halftown, Sally Star and Bertie the Bunyip. Well, OK, I didn’t really like Bertie all that much, but that was about all that was on when I got home from church on Sunday mornings.
I certainly can’t remember all the incredible advances in my lifetime, but, besides jet planes, there was polio vaccine and a virtual end to polio — when I was young the March of Dimes’ literature featured photos of iron lungs. Google that, youngsters! — the beginning of space exploration, artificial hearts, transplants, stereo, cassettes, 8-tracks, CDs, home video cameras, VHS and DVDs.
My generation technically didn’t invent rock-and-roll. That was invented by teenagers when we were about 8 years old. But we did take rock-and-roll and make it ours.
My generation was instrumental in the Civil Rights movement, the peace movement and the feminist movement.
My generation both fought in Vietnam and protested against the war in Vietnam.
During my lifetime, we’ve seen the power of huge computers shrink to the size of a postage stamp and now we carry incredibly powerful computers in our pockets — only we call them smartphones.
We Baby Boomers are getting older now. Our numbers are still great, though, and don’t be sore that we still demand attention. We know that we need to work for what we get. We always did. We always will.
Hope this is a good new year for you.