Copyright © 2006 Henrietta W. Hay
September 15, 2006
"Gimme the good old days!" I hear those words a lot from people who knew the good old days, or at least the old days. But were they really better?
The cultural differences between generations are very real. A great deal of research has been done on the subject.
I got my generations a bit mixed up. I was very active in the women's movement in the 70's and 80's, so many of my friends are much younger than I am. But now I am living at the Commons with people more or less my age, and making new friends of my generation.
We -- those of us born between 1910 and 1925, give or take a few years -- are known as the Traditional generation or the G. I. generation. Our cultural reference points were the Great Depression and World War II. Here where I live nearly every man and several women
were in one of the branches of the armed services. And nearly every woman is the wife or widow of a service man.
Our work ethic was strong. We worked if we wanted to eat. This is the generation that even now is afraid to throw anything away for fear we might need it. A major depression will do that to you.
And while we are thinking about the good old days, 100 years ago the average wage in the United States was 22 cents per hour. The average worker made between $200 ad $400 a year. 95% of births took place at home. 90% of the doctors had no college education. They attended medical schools generally rated as substandard My grandfather made house calls by horse and buggy.
On the other hand, sugar cost 4 cents a pound, eggs were 14 cents a dozen and coffee was 15 cents a pound. Only 14% of homes had a bath tub. There were 8000 cars in the U. S. and only 144 miles of paved roads. The maximum speed limit in most towns was 10 miles per hour.
Yes, things were different then.
Then came the Baby Boomer generation, the largest generation ever.
Officially they were born between 1946 and 1964. They had very little concern for Word War II and have been known to ask, "What is a depression?" Their cultural reference points are Vietnam and the environment. They protested and marched and waved their arms. They started the sexual revolution during those years, along with excessive use of alcohol and drugs. But they brought us concern over global warming and destruction of our natural environment. And they brought women an approach to equality.
They have a good work ethic. They want to be rich and have the
luxuries of the moment. It's hard to find a boomer without a tiny cell phone/camera, a lap top computer with bells and whistles and all the other new electronic gadgets. They are in contact with the whole world. Unfortunately, I have to admit some jealousy, because I would be right in there with them if I were 40 years younger.
This is the generation that always believes it is right -- always right. It is the generation which is trying to force religion into government. It has brought us our president.
I'm glad I was able to be a part of both generations. We are all individuals and there are traits and ideals that go through all the years. Maybe some day I'll tackle Generations X and Y.