The Duncan Banner

Opinion

June 26, 2012

Boomers are nostalgia bound

DUNCAN — We are the big, boisterous bulge in this nation’s population chart; the “pig in the python,” as some have dubbed us.

We’re the Baby Boomers, the generation born between 1946 and ’64. We’ve been skewing demographics since our parents, fresh off surviving a Depression and a world war, began ... well, I think you know what they were doing — and doing it at an historic rate.

In a nation of around 312 million, nearly 79 million fall into the Baby Boomer age range.

To put in perspective how we changed the numbers game, the U.S. population was 141 million in 1946 and by the time The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, the number was over 220 million. You do the math.

Here in 2012, about 45 percent in the front end of the generation have already hit the “Big 6ohmygawd5,” and around 10,000 Boomers a day join the 65-years-old set.

The youngest Baby Boomers are 48, and by 2030 the entire generation will have reached 65, which used to be the age people were “supposed to retire.”

We’re the folks who are losing hair and hearing, growing liver spots and varicose veins.

Those of us with memory cells still active are also becoming nostalgic; reminiscing more frequently about how good things were back in “The Day.”

Thanks to the evolution of longevity and modern medicine, the generations behind us still have decades to endure Baby Boomers drifting into senility. It’s inevitable they’ll be bored and even short-tempered hearing about our past — some are already

But they’ll just have to put up with hearing about Boomer nostalgia like:

• Whatever happened to “curb feelers,” which were pretty hip in the ’50s and ’60s? Curb feelers probably served no practical purpose, but they looked cool — like a car wheel growing a set of Ray Walston-esque antennae. (Ray Walston! You know, My Favorite Martian?)

• Nobody gets called a “rat fink” these days. And why did we stop giving each other “skin?”

• Remember when someone checked your oil and washed your windshield? Remember ethyl gas? Remember running boards?

• Converse All-Stars have become chic footwear for some modern young folks. Does that mean we’ll see a revival of Keds and Red Ball Jets? How about Buster Browns or Hush Puppies? Penny loafers?

• I miss the word “percolator.”

• Was there a telethon that wiped out lumbago? Nowadays, nobody seems to complain about being stricken with lumbago, which was fun to say, not fun to have. How was it cured? Maybe that’s what castor oil was good for, because you never hear today’s parents threaten to give their kids castor oil.

• Some young people are retroing by purchasing vinyl albums again, which I think is a good sign for civilization as we know it. CDs, iPods and satellite radio have quality sound and all, but I still like to hear “clicks” and occasional skips of vinyl. And its neato that young’uns are discovering the depth of sound of vinyl records.

• I miss good AM music stations on the radio. Back when FM was still a “new thing” and music was pigeon-holed into “genres,” the Top 40 included everything from hard rock ‘n’ roll to Moon River or Okie From Muskogee. It exposed us to a wide range of musical styles, and explains why Baby Boomers have such eclectic music tastes.

• Here’s one: Dollar-a-carload night at the drive-in. Few of today’s pampered youth know the special joy of stuffing seven kids, 10 grocery bags full of pop corn and two cases of bottled pop into the front and back seats of a car. Or the sublime sight of getting inside the drive-in and releasing the nine other kids stacked like cordwood in the trunk.

• When was the last time a kid ate white paste at school? Does anybody still toss spitballs?

• Let’s see the hands of every guy who was in love with Annette, and every Boomer female who cooed over Ricky Nelson.

• Remember trying to dance like James Brown or The Temptations or the June Taylor Dancers?

These are a just few remnants of “The Day” that will annoy young people as millions of Baby Boomers guide our walkers down the road to elderdom.

There’s a lot of old stuff — words, expressions, tangible and intangible things — that should be new again. There are a lot of stories from “The Day” that need to be laboriously and frequently shared with the younger generations.

And there are 79 million of us primed to make sure our drift into nostalgia is shared.

jeff.kaley@duncanbanner.com

580-255-5354, Ext. 172

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