I was (am) a Baby Boomer, born in 1952.
The following is the first paragraph of Wikipedia’s entry for Baby Boomers:
Baby boomers (also known as boomers) are the demographic cohort following the Silent Generation and preceding Generation X. The Baby Boom generation is most often defined as those individuals born between 1946 and 1964.
Interesting charts listing characteristics of Boomers can be found at:
These charts also compare Boomers to the generations before and after us. You might enjoy scanning them.
I may or may not be a typical Baby Boomer, but I will share a few of my early experiences. Some will be unique to me; others will be like experiences of my fellow Boomers.
My dad was in the Air Force during the Korean War, but he did not fight. For a while, he was stationed on the Japanese island of Okinawa in the East China Sea. He also spent time in Formosa, today known as Taiwan.
When he was stationed in the States, my mother and I (and eventually my sister) lived at times near Air Force Bases in Missouri and South Carolina, and at an Air Force Station near Texarkana.
When we could not live near where Dad was stationed, my mom, my sister and I lived with my mom’s parents in rural north Arkansas.
I look at that little house today and marvel that my two grandparents, their three teenage daughters, my mom, my sister, and I managed to live happy lives in such a tiny space. But we did. Those were wonderful days for me.
Eventually my dad left the Air Force and became a store owner and Postmaster in the tiny town of Elizabeth, Arkansas. My brother and another sister were soon born, and that is where I grew up.
That part of Arkansas is near enough to the deep south to be miserably hot and humid in the summer but far enough away to be cold and often snowy and icy in the winter.
Our family was certainly not wealthy, but for that part of the country at that time in history, we were more comfortable than many.
I knew for certain I was loved. I never went without food, clothes or a clean bed.
I had cousins and friends to play with. I liked school and made good grades. My parents set boundaries, which we stayed within.
I grumbled about having to sweep floors, wash dishes, carry in firewood and pick up toys from the yard before Dad mowed, but I was not overworked.
I was never afraid of anyone except the Russians.
Mom disciplined her kids with a switch broken off her forsythia bush. Dad disciplined us with a look that kept us on the straight and narrow for a good month.
Since we lived in a rural area, my siblings and I roamed freely. We had never heard the term, stranger danger.
We knew everyone.
We played hopscotch and jumped rope. We hula hooped. We played jacks and kids’ card games. (I was deadly at Authors.)
My sister and I constructed beautiful hollyhock dolls from the plant’s blossoms and buds.
Our lone brother shot his B.B. gun and climbed and fell out of trees. We still joke that he was fortunate enough always to land on his head, so he wasn’t badly injured.
We played Mumblety peg, which none of my Indiana friends have ever heard of. It involved using a knife, but no one ever got hurt. Google it.
In summer, we tied strings to the legs of June bugs and flew them like kites. We swam in a nearby creek.
We put our black walnuts in the road for cars to run over and peel off the yucky outer husks. We then cracked open the hard shells with a rock and ate the nutmeats, digging out stubborn pieces with bobby pins.
Most mornings, my young siblings and I watched Captain Kangaroo. We loved the antics of the Captain, Mr. Green Jeans, Tom Terrific, and Crabby Appleton. (He was rotten to the core.) We knew by heart the song, It’s Another Be Good to Mommy Day, that was featured on the show .
Our family owned one black-and-white television set, and since we lived in a rural area, we had access to only one TV station, KYTV in Springfield, Missouri. This was (is) an NBC affiliate.
No matter how hard we twisted the big metal antenna pole outside our living room window, we could not access any other station. I routinely watched Bonanza, My Three Sons, Fury, and Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color (in black and white).
The Beatles made their big debut on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964. My neighbor, whose television antenna accessed a CBS station, let me watch the show in her living room.
Soon after, my parents allowed me to buy a pair of tennis shoes like these. (Today I found a pair for sale online for $475.)
Keeping with the theme of fashion, here is a photo of me wearing a pair of go-go boots in 1966. I was 14.
Ironically, one of the shows that made go-go boots popular, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In, was banned by my dad. Although it was an NBC program, it didn’t appear on our TV screen.
Dad also didn’t let us watch the part of the Dean Martin Show that featured the dancing Golddiggers.
Among my friends, not one of them had a dad who restricted their television watching. I felt deprived.
Speaking (again) of television, we watched the Huntley Brinkley Report almost every weeknight. As far as I knew, that news show would lead with heartbreaking pictures of the Viet Nam War for eternity.
At different times I had crushes on Richard Chamberlain (Dr. Kildare), Michael Landon (Little Joe Cartwright on Bonanza) and Glen Campbell (singer).
We had party-line telephones and shared our line with two other families. Each family had its own phone number but could use the phone only if no party-line sharer was already using the line.
We could also listen in on phone conversations of our line sharers. We didn’t do much of this, because mostly they just talked about whether we were ever going to get any rain and what was happening on their soap operas.
In elementary school, I said the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag every morning, read a passage of Scripture, and sometimes listened to my teachers pray.
I sweated on a hot school bus half the school year and felt my toes go numb with cold the other half.
In my teen years, girls wore their dresses short, and boys wore their hair long, if their parents tolerated it. Girls either wrapped their long wet hair around empty frozen orange juice cans to get big curls, or they spread their hair across ironing boards and ironed it to remove natural curls.
We went to church three times a week. Each summer, our church had a “gospel meeting.” A preacher from another area visited and preached every night for at least one week, sometimes two. Our family heard every sermon.
I attended Sunday school and Wednesday night Bible classes from the time I was a baby.
While going through some of my parents’ old papers a few years ago, I found a Sunday school assignment I completed. The photo isn’t clear, but it is a rough draft of a report on Queen Esther.
In junior high school my friends and I made gum-wrapper chains long as our arms. Mostly we worked on these chains while riding the school bus.
We made and wore out many paper fortune tellers like this one.
My fortune teller told me I would meet and marry a guy from Indiana. We would have two kids and four grandkids . . . just kidding.
Was I a happy kid? I never thought about it. Life was what it was. I didn’t do much evaluating of my circumstances. I didn’t have everything I wanted, but show me a kid who does.
I had parents (and grandparents) who were always nearby. They loved me, saw that I had everything I needed, set boundaries, and taught me about Jesus.
Paraphrasing King David’s words in Psalm 16:6: The boundary lines fell for me in pleasant places, and I enjoy a wonderful inheritance.