By John Schlageck, Kansas Farm Bureau
Being one of the early Baby Boomers there’s plenty to talk about in my lifetime that’s lasted into its sixth decade. During this wonderful, turbulent time my generation has been praised and pummeled.
We called for banning the bomb, making love not war, witnessed the horror and assassination of our beloved president John F. Kennedy, watched as integration took its first steps and beamed with pride as man first walked on the moon.
During our grade school years, penicillin was relatively new and saved millions of lives across this country and around the world.
We stood in a long line that wrapped the length of our school gym and took a sugar cube that contained the first polio vaccine. One of my classmates suffered from that terrible disease and walked with a limp the rest of her life.
Frozen food and TV dinners became the rage, although I never liked either. I preferred Mom’s meals made from scratch with love.
Copying machines from Xerox made their debut in office buildings. We drank our sodas out of 12-ounce glass bottles. That was the “real” thing.
Plastic containers had yet to make the scene. During my sophomore year at Sheridan Community High School, Tab, the one-calorie diet soda premiered – years before the diet soda craze took over the national landscape.
We shopped at five and dime stores where you could buy a candy bar for a nickel and a soda for a dime. You could call someone for a dime and mail a letter for four cents.
A new Ford coupe cost less than two grand in the mid-‘50s and you could purchase a brand-new home for $10,000. Heck, you can’t even buy a car for that today.
Horned rim glasses were the rage and contact lenses a novelty. Frisbees and the pill ushered in the ‘60s.
The ‘60s – wow what a decade. War, free love, revolution, integration, college, making our own way without the oversight of our parents, neighbors, cousins and our small communities.
And the music, every year countless musicians like the Animals, Beatles, Stones, Cream, Dylan, Jefferson Airplane, Doors, Quicksilver Messenger, Country Joe and the Fish, Hendrix, Joan Baez and Roy Orbison released new albums. Talk about classic rock, there’s not a thing like it today. Never will be either.
As Dylan wrote about the times changin’—most of my contemporaries married first and then lived together. Manners meant, “Yes ma’am” and “Thank you.”
Bunnies were no longer just furry critters named, Bugs but beautiful young women serving drinks in up-scale clubs in cities across the USA. Designer jeans were scheming girls named Jean or Jeanne.
We believed fast food was what we ate during Lent, not something eaten on the run. Househusbands, computer dating, dual careers and commuter marriages were still a decade into the future.
Yes, we arrived on the scene before day-care centers, group therapy and nursing homes although most of us have now encountered these phenomena. We started listening to our favorite music long before FM radio.
For us time-sharing meant togetherness – not condominiums. Software wasn’t even a word. When we were kids, “made in Japan,” meant junk and the term “making out” referred to how you did on an exam.
In our day, cigarette smoking was still fashionable. Grass was mowed, Coke was a cold drink and pot was something you cooked in, not tripped on.
We discovered the differences between the sexes, but not sex changes. We were the last generation to think a woman needed a husband to conceive a baby.
Today, the golden age of boomers has become a distant memory. Instead of country clubs and Club Meds many of us are looking at the prospects of hearing aids, lens transplants and assisted living.
But hey, we once had the world by the tail. We kicked up our heels and lived like there was no tomorrow.
Now that tomorrow is here, it’s time we continue to live, dream and experience each and every day with the same zest and exuberance for life that we once enjoyed in our youth.
For me that’s continuing to tell the story of farming and ranching, reading, family, friendships and listening to music.
I listen to blues, classical, blue grass, jazz and rock and roll. I prefer listening to analogue like I have for more than half a century. I listen to digital in the car.
It’s almost time to spin some wax. You know, the latest craze Daddy ‘O. Twelve-inch black vinyl on a turntable.
See you later, alligator.
John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion.
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