Turning the page with anticipation wouldn’t quite describe this change of season. “Season”, meaning a new milestone in life’s journey. It is strange to think my 5th decade is rapidly coming to a close.
They say, once you’ve reached 40 years, you begin to look back more than you look forward. Some of that is because there is a lot of life and experience lived. Accomplishments have been made, goals have been reached, the kids are grown – or nearly, a marriage weathered and worn, has survived…or not. A lot of water under the bridge.
And, I’m definitely no longer middle-aged, unless living to 120 is the new 80.
This generation I belong to is best known as the “Baby Boomer” generation. It means those born during the post–World War II era – approximately between the years 1946 and 1964 – are bona-fide members. Almost exactly nine months after World War II ended, “the cry of the baby was heard across the land,” as noted by historian Landon Jones describing the trend.
- More babies were born in 1946 than ever before: 3.4 million, 20 percent more than in 1945. This was the beginning of the so-called “baby boom.”
- In 1947, another 3.8 million babies were born;
- 3.9 million were born in 1952;
- More than 4 million were born every year from 1954 until 1964, when the boom finally tapered off.
Baby Boomers made up almost 40 percent of the nation’s population during that time. And, According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the term “baby boomer” is also used in a cultural context.
Boomers are history’s most documented generation, making headlines for their civil rights sit-ins, Woodstock fame and Vietnam protests. They experienced the tragic assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. They witnessed the first man on the moon.
And then there was me, among the millions …. born right smack in the middle …. 1955.
The first 10 years of my life may have looked something like this – 1955 – 1965:
- Home was a safe haven—no need for a security system. We rarely locked our doors.
- We walked or rode our bikes alone to school. My route took me down the hill along Multnomah Bible College (which is now Multnomah University). I’d be going down when all these grown-ups would be going up to Central Bible Church for chapel.
- My mom would be at home when we arrived after school.
- We could play until just before dark, then moms would holler for their kids to come home, and most families would sit down together for a planned supper.
- Our parents always wanted better for us than what they had for themselves growing up. They expected us to be respectful, of good character and follow the rules. Discipline was the norm, swift and consistent.
- The only TV in the house – if we had one – was a black and white – in the living room for everyone to watch shows together. I remember as we were sent to bed, it wasn’t long and the aroma of popping corn would make its way to our upstairs rooms, drawing my curious self back down the stairs as Twilight Zone’s theme song began to play.
- TV stations signed off at midnight with The Star Spangled Banner. The screens turned into a blizzard as each station shut down. Oh, if only technology today would take such a break!
- Our friends were our neighbors and we all attended the school in our neighborhood. We were always running back and forth between houses playing our games and visiting as families.
- We would climb trees and not fear being sued if we fell out. Except for Mr. L who lived next door and yelled at us if he caught us in his cherry tree.
- Our telephone numbers had a lettered prefix we memorized, like Sunset 2- 4848. (Ours was AL2-9731)
- Milk in glass bottles were delivered to our house each day. These were the best!
- Cracker Jack with real prizes (I received my engagement ring from one! But, that was 1975, so…), I loved wearing my own wrist watch, with moving parts, maybe Cinderella pictured under the glass.
- The Beatles, The Monkees, The Byrds, The Turtles, The Moody Blues, (and we think today’s bands have curious names!), with other greats like: Jimmy Hendrix; The Mamas and the Papas; Peter, Paul and Mary; Joan Baez; Bob Dylan; and so many more.
Yet, even with all this fun in remembering, they were also unsettling times.
Those Were the Days, My Friend….and they made us who we are today.
We carry with us the thrill and agony of those times. Some are still healing, some may never recover. Others are accepting where they’ve come and rest satisfied in where they’re going.
Looking back requires more than 1000 words to recall, but in the beginning of this post I stated I was turning the page. It’s not good to hold on to the past, even though our past teaches us how to live our future.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. ~Jeremiah 29:11
I had no idea, 60 years ago, that I’d be here today…
….A mother, mother-in-law, a grandparent, a wife of nearly 40 years. Never did get that college degree, but a Master’s in Life Experience seems to be my greatest achievement.
If you are among the Baby Boomer club, how is it going writing your next chapter? I’d love to hear what page you’re on.