Monday, August 11, 2014

The Lost Generation

Shelburne, Vermont
44 25.420N 073 15.001 W

We are anchored in Shelburne Bay at the exact spot where our favorite photo was taken.   It is an especially beautiful place.  Last night we watched the "super moon"  (the next full moon will be September 9, a day when we might be at sea heading south).   This morning the dawn was spectacular as the sun rose behind the Green Mountains.

We get emails from high school classmates keeping us up to date on news and events.   Recently, the news has been filled with an alarming number of death notices.  Knock on wood.   But it makes me think about our generation.

Libby and I were born in Nov/Dec 1944.  We belong to "the lost generation."  The boomer generation began a year later.  I never heard that term until recently.  I thought we belonged to no generation at all; neither "greatest generation" nor "boomers".  That doesn't mean we weren't generation aware.

We greatly admire "the greatest generation."   Growing up, talk of the war and the depression dominated everything.   I even felt as if we were of the WWII generation, but that wasn't because it was true, but because of immersion in the culture of our elders.

All through our lives, we have been made intensively aware of the boomer generation following at our heels.  Every school I ever attended closed its doors as soon as I graduated to be replaced by a brand new bigger school for the boomers.

In our college years, students wore butch cuts, joined ROCT, volunteered to go to Viet Nam, and never saw nor heard of marijuana or any other drugs.  Oh yes, one more thing, we also missed the sexual revolution by a year.  I remember looking at a Playboy spread about co-ed dorms in 1967 and thinking "damn, it sure wasn't like that when I was there."

I also recall shock reading about on-campus anti-war protests and hippies in 1967 after graduating in 1966. Holy mackerel, the turn-around was so complete and so rapid that it felt as if the boomers were an alien species.  Since then, that cultural divide never disappeared. We constantly hear of and are reminded of differences between us and the boomers.

We are used to being ignored in the media.   In any given week I can read about the problems of retired people (10 years older than us) plus a flood of articles about boomers about to retire.  Nary a mention of our generation. I can't recall a singly news story in any media in any year that focused on (or even mentioned) "the lost generation."  I only learned the term lost generation by a Google search that took he to this page on Wikipedia.

There were also benefits.  We had the great privilege of growing up in the 1950s during the years when the "golden years" were at their best.

A legitimate reason for making "the lost generation" lost is that we are few in number.  Remnants of the depression and the war caused the birth rate to drop dramatically in those years.

US Birth Rates by year.

A practical consequence that persists is that in the past year we note a substantial increase in the number of cruising boats. Retirement of the boomers may have been delayed a bit because of the 2008 recession, but it is in full swing now. We fear that many of our favorite places might become overcrowded in the the coming years. In that respect, retiring early plus being part of a relatively underpopulated age was a great benefit. The window for that benefit may be closing.

(Sombody else can analyze and explain the even lower birth rates post-boomer.)

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting post Dick. Regarding the birth rates chart, if you disregard the baby boom it looks as though birth rates were on a fairly steady decline throughout the 20th century, probably due to the wider availability and greater effectiveness of methods of birth control. The post baby boom era correlates well with the availability of the pill.


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