Saturday, November 8, 2008

Who are our senior citizens, anyway?

I was thinking what treasures the older generation are. In the matter of just another decade or so, most of them will have passed away and that will be the end of the pre-computer generation. That's actually a a scary thought. As far as I can remember my parents have always been pretty much the same but sometimes gems from their past come up.

My Dad, who was born in 1932, can remember when he had to wear a little medallion with his blood type on it around his neck, when he was a schoolboy. And he can remember being frightened and having nightmares that Hitler was going come and march his Nazi army down the city streets of Adelaide. He can remember street peddlers selling rabbits (to cook), blocks of ice, and pots and pans.

A few weeks ago we found a few photos of my Mum at her 21st birthday. The year was 1957 and she looked like one of the girls from "Happy Days." (OK, now I guess the younger generation would say that I'm showing my age too. "What's 'Happy Days'?") She can remember having to save ration tickets for the most basic grocery items when she was a girl. And one of her favourite afternoon snacks was bread and dripping. My Nanna used to scrape the cold old fat from the bottom of the frying pan and save it to spread on sandwiches. Mum says that sometimes there were mouse footprints on it but Nanna would simply skim the top off with a knife and give the kids what was underneath. To those, like me, who might shudder at that, what a different world it was back fifty years ago.

Yet already I've noticed that our own generation already is 'the oldies' to the youner generation. Was it different in the 1970s and 80s when many of us grew up? You bet it was. Not all that long ago, my sister hired, 'Return to Gilligan's Island' from Blockbuster, to show our kids the sort of comedy we used to love. After a short time of watching the Skipper swipe Gilligan over the head with his hat, and Ginger mooching around the island in her glittery ball dresses, and Mr & Mrs Howell waving their bank notes around, our kids were bored. "This is corny and stupid! How could you have enjoyed this?" We had no answer except that we were products of our time.

I've already told my kids about chunky telephones with cords and proper dials, huge vinyl records in the music shops, being able to stretch out in the back of the car at night without having to wear seatbelts, running around the district with bare feet and not worrying about stepping on needles and syringes. I can remember during heatwaves, when we knew that anyone who drove with all their windows up must have air conditioning in their cars. I can remember when "Wet Ones" was a brand new invention that my mum loved to keep our hands fresh in the car. I remember when we'd only just heard of lasagne, and thought we'd have to try this delicious looking Italian meal. I can remember when my brother and his friends were crazy about being able to communicate with others on their CB radios. And when TV tennis used to be the sort you'd play with two sticks and a little dot. My dad was one of the first in our circle of friends to buy a video recorder in the early '80s, and it was a Beta, the sort that was like an old-fashioned tape-recorder.

And during my High School days, we all had to research class projects with the "World Book" encyclopaedias in the school library because the internet was a thing of the future. If the project was on Shakespeare for example, I'd always find others hogging the 'S' encyclopaedia, so I'd have to be inventive and try 'E' for Elizabethan Theatre instead. Is that old fashioned? The way the kids laugh when I tell them, I'd have to say yes.

So I'm afraid that maybe our generation are not all that young anymore either, and have priceless memories too, to impart to the younger one. We should remember as many stories as we can because the mundane details of one generation is bound to become entertaining folklore to the next.


  1. Great post, but I don't like the thought of being the "older" generation! My kids just can't believe that we didn't have home computers and cell phones or MP3 players and such!
    They think we're so old fashioned, but I get my laughs as the new styles come out, and they are the clothes I wore as a teen!!
    Tara B

  2. I need to pull out my "old lady voice."
    When I was a kid, I remember going to drive-in movies. All the drive ins in our area are now shopping centers.
    If we went to the regular movies, we would usually get there late and stay for the next show until we reached the point where we came in. You could also get a large tub of popcorn without sacrificing one of the children!

    Oh and I remember when my cousins got their Atari Video game system! They had the best graphics! LOL!

    Peace and Laughter!

  3. I think there are things that should never be let go. My daughter loves to watch reruns of I Love Lucy. That woman is still funny to this day.

    I also rent on a semi-regular basis old movies, so my daughter can see that good and even great movies can be made without sex, drugs and violence, and still be entertaining.

    I think our generation and younger are becoming a generation of convenience, and that scares me.

    I never ever want to let go of books, and I am not talking about eBooks. I am talking about something I can hold in my hand. there is something to be said for the feel of a hard covered book.

    Anyhow, I have ranted long enough, and I truly loved this post, it was great!!!

  4. What great memories! My MIL who lives with us, is almost 84yo. My father is 76, in great health, only been sick twice in his life, and still works, and is full of interesting stories. Both of them were born before television was invented and a common household item.

    My spouse and I just love the Seventies Show as it truly portrays our life oh way back then and brings back lots of laughs and memories.

    Being middle age is hard to come to grips with but I am there.