Yesterday I realized that it's been 50 years since I graduated from college. 50 years! Could I even have been alive 50 years ago? I am not a red wood tree, or an ancient tortoise. I'm the same person I was when I was twelve years old. So how could I be thinking about going to my 50th class reunion in April. I'm just a baby. To be precise, a war baby. One of those born just before the ending of World War II, a time and culture so different from today one wonders how we got here.
Fifty years ago, women were "co-eds" not students. Students were men.
Fifty years ago, women were in school to find husbands. Men's and women's jobs were different back then, listed in separate classified ads. And unless you wanted to teach or become a secretary or nurse, it was hard to imagine what else to do except be a wife and mother.
Fifty years ago, we were reeling from being at war. Stability and responsibility, while underlying post-war values, were being slammed by a wave of change the war had put into effect. The atomic bomb had left a sense of insecurity and fear of destruction. Rock and roll provided a cultural bomb, exciting the young while bringing panic to those associating peace and well being with the comforts of a new GE refrigerator and the big C word, conformity.
Fifty years ago, something was in the air that suggested that being like "the Jones" was a good idea. And "the Jones" were the new modern couple who lived in a new modern suburb with new, modern appliances and a console TV.
For many, it was easy back then to think that things in American were going great. And then all of a sudden, things weren't.
Thanks to Life Magazine and television, we began seeing our society for what it was and was not. We saw poverty on young families faces, a tearful parade for an assassinated President, the church where little children were bombed to death for being African American. We also saw itsy bitsy bikinis, mini-skirts, Jimmi Hendrix, the impact of the Pill, a trip to the moon, Hippies, and, of course, the trappings of yet another war, Vietnam!
And I was living in the middle of all this ... fifty years ago! Looking back, it's like a cavern between then and now. And here I am, standing on the edge, feeling like a prehistoric tortoise, not a youngster at all, wondering who else might remember all this and what experiences and lessons learned there are to share.
Where are the war babies I went to school with? How did they adapt to so many changes? How have they evolved and transformed?
I may wonder how it's possible I've lived all these past 50 years, but I'm looking forward to sharing all of it this spring.