In American history, there are three generations that profoundly affected our country
Given that I am, admittedly, all too self-centered, I got to thinking about our generation and what has happened during our lifetime and wanted to explore a number of topics along that line. However, I also got to thinking that in American history, there are three generations that profoundly affected our country and to some extent the world at large.
The first is the generation that led us into independence in the eighteenth century. They established, not just a new country, but also an exemplary government that caused upheaval throughout Europe.
Next I nominate what Tom Brokaw has correctly called “The Greatest Generation”, that of our parents. They survived the Great Depression and mobilized both the manufacturing and military arms of this country to save the world from unspeakable evil.
Last, I nominate us. We are called the “Boomers” since we are the result of the huge number of births following the conclusion of World War II. I submit that, for better or worse, our press for unprecedented social and legal changes impacted society here and worldwide as few others in the history of the world.
Given this huge pat on the back for us, I started to look at the bewildering changes that have taken place in our lives and are gone forever. I used to wonder at my grandmother’s experience in historic changes. She was born in 1888 and died in 1990. In her lifetime she saw the first indoor plumbing, the first electricity, the first telephone, the first flight, the first walk on the moon. Socially she saw prohibition come and go, saw women get the vote, experienced the assassination of John Kennedy, the civil rights movement, and much more. But I submit that we have experienced the same and so much more.
I will try over the next few articles to look at many of these aspects, but let me start with the lighter side and look at what we found to be essential every day and irreplaceable that are now on the Rubbish Heap of History.
There are many obvious ones: the dial telephone; the black and white television; the slide rule; typewriters; record players; slide and overhead projectors; and so many more things we could each name that were once everyday essentials, but have now vanished.
But some of the more subtle ones that we may not readily think of are:
- Alarm clocks. Even I now have an alarm set by my tablet for various reminders throughout the day. In fact, I understand that wristwatches are fast fading into history, replaced by the cell phone or multipurpose device that performs so many functions that a cultural dinosaur like me cannot ever begin to tap its potential.
- Batteries. We used to need regular and alkaline batteries for nearly everything like cameras, flashlights, and toys. We even had the rechargeable batteries. Now we may still use them in smoke detectors and the remotes, but our mobile phones, tablets, gaming devices, toys and much more simply plug in to recharge.
- Even simple things like soaps and detergents are changing. Bar soap is out, liquids are in; laundry and dishwasher soaps are no longer liquids, put pods measured to the exact amount required by we simple minded consumers are a large part of the marketplace.
This list could go on and on and reflects the rapidity of change we have lived through. Come up with your own examples like VHS players and tapes and video stores; eight tracks; floppy discs; etc. These are things that are the equivalent to what we saw as quaint in our own parents’ and grandparents’ generations. Things like the crank to start a car, buggy whips, spats, one-room schools, butter churns, athletes that competed for fun, politicians that sometimes voted with their conscience instead of what was politically expedient.
In future articles I will try to explore other things we “Boomers” have experienced that we could pass on and that, frankly, may tick off younger generations.
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