Remember, when we were kids, how Tippy/Fido/Lassie lived in a dog house outside? Now a majority of dogs live indoors, and a considerable percentage of those actually sleep in their human owner's bed. A "Dog's life" indeed.
When I was a kid they still delivered milk to your front door. The bottles were thick glass, with a cardboard lid. When it was freezing outside, the milk froze, which caused it to expand and pushed the lid up; it sat on top of the expanded contents. Also, jeans were called 'dungarees', remember?
Do you remember the comic strip, Li'l Abner? Al Capp's popular strip had a wealth of memorable characters. One of them, Joe Btfsplk, walked around with a cloud over his head, to visually get across the idea that he was a jinx. His cloud was, to some of us, as famous as the cloud of dust that accompanied the Peanuts character, Pigpen.
Inspired by another Li'l Abner character, Sadie Hawkins, an American cultural institution thrived for several decades, in the form of Sadie Hawkins Dances. In what was, for those times, a major role reversal, a girl would ask a boy to the dance. You might say 'ah, those were simpler times', but every era has its good and bad characteristics.
Remember how when kids had glue in their rooms, you had no doubt that it was solely for model planes and ships?
Remember how smokers could smoke anywhere, including doctor's offices (and in including doctors in their offices?)
Remember Nehru jackets? The "DA" (Duck's A__) haircut? Putting Vaseline Petroleum Jelly on your hair? Eating Sen-Sen and Violet to try to hide the cigarettes on your breath? We do.
Remember Arthur Godfrey and his ukelele? Beanie and Cecil? Miss Francis? Clutch Cargo?
...Remember? We do.
Baby Boomers are a force on the Web
An article by Karen Newman.
Here's one for you, a common test pattern of the days when we did not have 24-hour content, since TV was live and had to therefore have a crew, and there was a lot of local content. Due to these factors, there was a time overnight when the station was just displaying a static display. In order to make it easy for technicians to calibrate the devices, this pattern was displayed (I guess) :)
The passing of Fess Parker recently inspired this article in the NY Times; worth a read if you lived in those times. One of the themes is the marketing powerhouse that became the Davy Crockett phenomenon. This line from the article is especially quoteworthy "[W]hen the Crockett programs began catching on, the whole phenomenon [of mass marketing such things as themed lunchboxes and the coonskin caps] still felt fresh and innocent. Watching, and then buying the Crockett souvenirs, seemed less like taking part in a fad than like participating in a civic ritual." Nicely turned phrase.
Remember Conelrad? It preceded the Emergency Broadcast System. We had a radio with two symbols on certain frequencies, to which we would turn if there were a calamity. Of course, the backyard fallout shelter was part of that worried world, too.
Of course Conelrad was a response to the decades-long global standoff called the Cold War, which was a major formative influence on the Boomers. This web site is for a Cold War Museum.
Some 1960's Hairstyles
How many of us remember how, when the TV repairman came to the house, he used a mirror to be able to see the TV screen, as he fiddled around with the knobs on the back of the set?
Speaking of TV, I still miss the way that every network had an obvious TV season, where new shows were rolled out at the same time, and shows didn't drop in and out of sight like they do now. Getting old, I suppose. Also, in those 'old days', the family would gather around the single TV set, thus at least slightly promoting family cohesion; now everyone repairs to their lair and views what they want in a usually solitary fashion.
How many of you heard your refrigerator called a 'Frigidaire'? That was actually the name of a company, but they must have grabbed so much mind share that the name became the generic name; nice little Public Relations victory there.
Part of what happened in the Fifties was the use of brand names to refer to objects, as for many of our families, the appliance or device was the first of its kind that they had ever had, so the brand name of a now-common device became a generic reference. Many of our parents had iceboxes, where ice from icehouses was picked up every couple of days, chopped off a big block for you while you waited, often put on straw to insulate it a little bit while you drove it home. I remember getting ice from an ice house in Hagerstown, MD, and using some of the ice in a home-made ice cream maker. It was good.
Atomic Legacy of the Cold War on many Boomers
A recent article in Politics Daily by Walter Shapiro reminds us once again of the fearful toll taken on many US citizens by government testing of nuclear weapons during the period 1951 - 1962. During that span over 100 nuclear bombs were detonated in the atmosphere in Nevada. The winds and rain carried and deposited nuclear fallout (do most of even know what the term means any more) over large sections of the US. A corresponding toll was seen in the story of the 'Atomic Vets' who were positioned near nuclear blasts to see the impact on military forces.
Using the teeth of deceased people who lived during that period, scientists working for a public health project named The Radiation and Public Health Project believe they can get accurate and significant samples of the impact of Strontium-90, Iodine-129 and other lethal isotopes on the health of our fellow citizens. In one poignant moment, Shapiro recalls the moment when JFK realized the deleterious effects of the atmospheric testing, yet felt he had to continue the tests for fear of falling behind the Soviet Union.
GI's in Germany during Cold War (1965-68)
For some, nostalgic; we hope, for many who were not there, at least interesting. A Public Information Office staff put together this site of photos and observations.
Has petting disappeared from the culture? When I was a kid, getting to 'second base' could fortunately have TWO positive meanings.
The world of the child out of doors
When I was a kid, you left home after breakfast, and your Mom would simply say 'Bye', because that's all she HAD to say, not warnings about predators, and drive-bys, and such. In those days, many of us (not all, I know, not all by any means) went outside, on our bikes, ran around in woods, played pickup games and generally had a pretty free-form deal. We got home after a long day's play for dinner, and so to bed.
Now, the sad thing is that even if parents thought it WAS safe to send their kids out, there wouldn't probably be any OTHER kids, so the whole point would be lost. What a shame. That's a step backward, in my view.
The Social Security Trust Fund was DESIGNED to 'go broke'
This is just one of the facts that we as Baby Boomers should understand, as this is an area ripe for demagogues. After reading this article, I was much less concerned about the future of my retirement. You may also want to put your mind at ease by reading it. Proper attention and the right perspective will keep this incredibly useful government 'entitlement' viable. (I put 'entititlement' in quotes because we ARE paying into it, after all, and this viewpoint of mine does not argue against some discretion on the part of new savers about where and how their money is invested).
Here's a choice a lot of us face: When to admit that we've been coloring our hair, and let go of the facade. An interesting book on the subject by a fellow Boomer.
Our first year---2007:
The Kerouac novel, On the Road, turns 50. Its birthday has inspired a slew of new books about that book and its enigmatic author. Also turning 50, or celebrating the event 50 years ago: Sputnik, which inspired a major change in our educational emphasis, and West Side Story, a daring remake of Romeo and Juliet in a gritty urban milieu. A recent commemoration of the Little Rock High School by nine quietly determined black students, and the ripple of change which it helped inspire, is a reminder to us that, indeed, significant change within a single lifespan is possible. Many would agree that significant change is also necessary, but we'll leave that to other contributors to pursue.
Another article about boomers, hippies in particular, including a child of Ken Kesey. The names of some of these folks are worth the read alone.
Although the Ken Burns documentary about WWII is not strictly for us Baby Boomers, it is a tribute to our parents, and a cold-blooded look at a war which changed the world forever, in which at least 60 MILLION people died, and 405,000 US military paid the ultimate sacrifice in a global conflagration. As Mr. Burns said in a recent interview, about one thousand WW II vets are dying EACH DAY, and as they near the end, they are opening up with a candor which heretofore they did not exercise. Let's all realize that war is always hell, as General Sherman put it in the Civil War, so let's make sure we undertake one with full understanding of the stakes, and the human cost.