Baby Boomers are joining the ranks of the 50-plus. Math makes me 59 in 2013.
Turning 50 and Proud of It
We grew up not trusting anyone over 30, but with the passage of years our attitudes had to change. The Baby Boom generation consists of those of us born between the end of World War II and 1964. I speak as one born in the middle of this group, in 1954. From the time the soldiers came home from World War II, until the nation lost it’s invigoration for procreation, love was in the air, and pregnancy seemed to be carried in the water.
Those ten years older, or ten years younger, will have a bit different perspective of world events. Other generations will have to speak for themselves.
However, we are all Boomers, and we are lumped into the same statistical data and analysis. We are also a large buying market.
Food for thought: We are never as old as we're going to be.
We never even thought about turning 50, but this mid-century birthday will be slamming some celebrities this year. Birthday celebrations made news when Oprah Winfrey and Jerry Seinfeld turned over to the big five Ohhh….
John Travolta and Ron Howard have entertained us since we were kids, and they were kids too. They have reached the age of 50 this year, 2004. Actor Kevin Costner could be lumped with this bunch of the "aged." He was born in January of 1955, and the gentleman has young children. The fires in our hearts still burn brightly, and strong
Where would we have been were we not watching Opie age through the entire goings on in Mayberry. Sheriff Taylor, in his troubles, helped us see how to solve some of our own problems, and how to laugh about it. With astoundingly red hair, as seen in in color on television by then, Opie became Ritchie Cunningham, and we finished high school, got married, got a job, and settled down. Fonzie was a stereotype, and he’s still cool.
Since beginning his career as a high school student, of sorts, in "Welcome Back Kotter," Travolta has starred in 31 films to date. He showed us how to disco, and we liked to dance, though “rock and roll never forgets. In his movies he’s been unscrupulous, cagey, been cute with babies, and blown away the competition in “Pulp Fiction”. He has a phenomenal web site for his fans. Way back when, we had teen magazines that we read and looked at until they fell apart.
TV Land has become our manifest destiny. Instead of traveling to the other coast across hard terrain, we watch it. Technology captured the shows we actually watched. When you see a rerun 40 years later, you tend to notice different things. I cannot figure out why I liked “Green Acres” because I find it annoying now. However, I most often find a childlike contentment after a particularly poignant saga. "Dick Van Dyke's" Larry Matthews and "Lost in Space's" Billy Mumy were born in '54. Butch Patrick (Eddie of the Munsters) and Barry Williamson (Greg on the Brady Bunch) are additional "child stars" born in this year. Ethan Phillips appeared on "Benson," and Lauren Tewes kept up with social affairs on the Love Boat.
Because I, too, was born in 1954, let me offer a general timeline of what we were doing at certain times of our lives. Before they were famous, they were just kids growing up in an era know for hippies and drugs, and the anti-war movement.
We were in third grade in 1963, the year President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, at the Grassy Knoll. Because I attended Catholic school, we spent the entire afternoon in church. We remember the effect the President's death had on the adults around us, and we were sad without knowing exactly why.
During early elementary school, I remember bomb drills, undoubtedly related to the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the fact I was living on the Texas Gulf Coast at the time.
When the drill bell sounded, you had to stick your head under your desk, which really offered no protection from the little understood evil of Communists with nuclear weapons, pointed at the US from 90 miles away from the Florida coast.
A good visualization of the situation may have be captured in a Goldwater for President commercial which ran in 1964. A little girl was picking a flower on a hillside, with a subsequent shot of a nuclear mushroom cloud explosion. The commercial aired only a few times before it was pulled from air play.
The Democrats' kids chanted "Goldwater, silver water, no water," and President Johnson, the one with the big ears and the Texas accent, was re-elected in 1964.
War doesn't really mean much to a third grader, but the evening news showed it to us every night. As we grew to adolescence, the war escalated, and we and our classmates feared the age of 18 and the draft.
Television was generally silly, quite in opposition to the Vietnam War.
We grew up knowing the same characters who now appear on TV Land. The sixties felt good.
It was that same school year, 1963-64, that the Beatles blasted on to the American scene and the Ed Sullivan Show. His show was a Sunday night staple for many families, but others of us watched "Bonanza," because Dad was the sole bread winner and in total control of THE television. This was long before remote control TVs.
Televisions were perhaps less expensive, but more of a financial investment.
I think most of the dads gave up Bonanza for two nights that year, because we young Beatles' fans were a force to be reckoned with, especially then. We might have been young enough to throw a fit to get our way, and actually gotten away with it.
Our parents didn't understand the loud music (guitars with amplifiers, and electric guitars with amplifiers) or the long hair that became associated with rock and roll.
The length of a guy's hair or a girl's skirt stated who we were. Parents didn't get that at all. It was more than just general teenage rebellion. It was the shaking off oldness, making way for everything new and "us."
Musicians born during 1954 include Elvis Costello, real name Declan Patrick McManus; Jermaine Jackson, one of the elder brothers of the musically influential Jackson family; and Nancy Wilson of Heart. Stevie Ray Vaughn, guitarist known for his special brand of Texas soul, died at age 35, in 1990, but we can listen to his rhythm and blues
Bob Geldof, noted for organizing "Band Aid," also organized two Live Aid charity concerts in 1985. He was certainly the most philanthropic rocker born in 1954. His gift was organization, and rock and the world benefited. Not all hippies became old cynics.
We were there at the beginning of rock and roll. The icons were close to ten years older than we were, and will be included in "The Best of '44”. We looked up to the early rockers as our older brothers, and almost our heroes, to be emulated as much as possible.
Sometime during early elementary school, television shows began broadcasting some of their shows in color. However, if you only had a black and white television set all the shows were still received at home in black and white.
Parents disciplined by restricting viewing time, and such treatment was cause for believing the world was unfairly going on without us.
We watched sitcoms and variety shows like Carol Burnett, Sonny and Cher, and an almost endless list of singer turned host variety shows--which meant they included a variety of genres by definition, including comedy, and all types of music presented by men and women, boys and girls, of all ages.
So as I grind in my heels, take a deep cathartic breath, I am preparing to slip stealthily to the other side of the fifty hill, rather than romp over it. Hair color in a boxwill keep me younger looking for a few years yet. At any rate it hides the inevitable grays that creep into our hairlines and natural highlights. This is the last counting birthday I think I’m going to have. Nobody wants to be old. I may just develop a memory problem, because I don’t want to actually lie about all the years of favor God has granted me.
I’m grateful to have gotten to the top of that fifty hill. You know they say, “the grass is always greener.” I can see for years and years from here. I’m almost ready. That nitrogen based fertilizer couldn't be far behind.