I don’t know whether every Baby Boomer feels this way or not, but the older I get, the more confused that I become about which generation that I should actually claim as mine. I was born in 1950, and as though it was yesterday, I remember standing in front of my second-grade class singing Catch A Falling Star and Put it in Your Pocket.
When I was 12-years-old, I remember walking to the neighborhood snack bar and playing Johnny Angel on the jukebox.
A little bit later, my best friends and I all had shifts made of velvet, and mine was blue.
Not much more than a year after that, I became a Peter, Paul and Mary Groupie and I clamored for the Hammer of Justice and the Bell of Freedom
On my 15th birthday, my boyfriend gave me a copy of the Beatles’ White Album and he brought me a box of pink tulips that he had cut from his mother’s garden. Those were the first flowers that I received from a boy.
When I was 16-years-old, my parents rented the Catholic Hall and hired a band that played Gloria G-L-O-R-I-A over and over again, while all my friends and I danced on my birthday.
Because I went to college at the University of Mississippi, which was rather insulated from the Hippie movement, I wasn’t really aware of it until I was well into college. During the first part of my college years, Rhythm and Blues was the music of the party scene.
During the latter part of the time when I was in college, acid rock began to creep into some of the parties. The Hippie movement was led by college-aged kids when I was in college and a few years before that. In that way, I am from the Hippie era, but I never got into drugs; I didn’t go to Woodstock, and the only thing Hippie about me was my blue jeans, which I sewed with flowers and peace.
Throughout my childhood and youth, I was very much aware of my parents’ generation. I loved the way that when my family was traveling on vacations, we sang songs from the 1940’s and earlier.
When I was a teenager, I had one foot in the 1960’s and another foot in the generation of World War II. Because my dad had fought in World War II and because my mother was a war bride, I felt close to that era, too, and my parents taught me their songs.
But another part of me was nostalgic for my grandparents’ generation. I’ll never forget the days that my grandmother tried to teach me to dance to the Missouri Waltz.
My grandmother’s family were German immigrants who came to America with very little at all, and they chiseled out an existence from that. That was my grandmother on my dad’s side. My great-great-grandparents on my mother’s side landed in Virginia and were among the people who clawed their way across the Cumberland Pass and drove Conestoga wagons into the midwest. They also survived by the sweat of their brows.
I grew up with the Coca-Cola Santa Claus. That was before the era when kids demanded video games and game-playing systems and computers and cars. When I was a child, Santa still came and left a few toys under our tree on Christmas Eve.
During my childhood, Christmas did not come all year long and for Christmas, I did not simply get a check–a large one, at that–and because of what I did not get during my childhood, life was magical. I wish I had realized that when I was raising my own children.
On a site that compares the Baby Boomers [my generation] to Generation Y [young parents today], I noted the following observations Here. The following is written by a Gen Y:
Differences Between Baby Boomers and Generation Y
We feel entitled to everything
We are such an entitled generation, we’re babied by our parents and society….
We are more rebellious
Our generation has this chip on its shoulder that for some reason makes it difficult to respect authority….
We constantly want more
Our generation has been given everything since we were born….Being that we were always given what we wanted, many of us don’t appreciate the simple things around us. We are very wasteful and are always looking for more, rather than being content with what we have.
At first, I thought, “Yes. This is true. Today’s young adults are angry and they cannot seem to get enough, but then I recalled some old movies that were made during my parents’ generation.
In The Imitation of Life, an African American child confronts her mother blaming her because she is black. The child becomes a teen and disowns her mother. She is ashamed of the fact that she is African-American.
The old movie Mildred Pierce is about a youth who grows up ashamed of her mother who had to work as a waitress to make enough money to provide for her children. Again, the girl disowned her mother, simply because she was a reminder of tougher times that the girl wanted to forget.
I do believe that there are more young adults today who turn their backs on their parents than there have been in generations past. The practice is so very prevalent that it has been given a name: Divorcing Your Parents.
For at least two or three generations, parents have tried to provide for their children and have been repaid by the meanness of unappreciative kids. The parents in my generation tried to shelter our children more than was customary in times past. Many of us were single parents, and we did everything possible to try to compensate for our having been divorced. In my own case, I know that I gave my children more than I had. Instead of creating a generation of kids who honor and respect us for what we have done, however, we Baby Boomer mothers have created a network of mad kids who detest us for what we tried to do and couldn’t do enough who resent us for what we could not be. In short, we Baby Boomers have created a scary generation to follow us.
In the movie Mildred Pierce, Mildred’s friend Ida said that Mildred should have been an alligator and should have eaten her daughter at birth. Some of us should have probably done the same thing. At the very least, I believe that it is obvious that the Baby Boomer’s concept of family is not the same as that of today’s young adults.
©Jacki Kellum May 11, 2016