Tag Archives: Baby boomers

Laboring Through the Day

When I was young, my parents told us kids that Labor Day was a day set aside for families to labor together. Clever spin. Every year, on the first Monday of September, we were awakened early to start a day of cleaning out the garage… or weeding the garden… or scrubbing floors… or canning peaches… or whatever.

Funny thing—even after all these years…

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Yesterday’s Writer or Today’s?

You’re a dinosaur writer if you can remember:

  • Writing your first draft on a pad with a pencil.
  • Pulling out a dictionary to check spelling.
  • Typing and retyping your entire book manuscript on a manual typewriter. 
  • Accumulating a big box of tapes to hold your tape-recorded interviews.
  • Endless hours researching in the library.
  • The card catalogue and the Reader’s Guide to Periodic Literature.
  • Sending meticulously typed proposals by snail mail.
  • When there was no such word as snail-mail.
  • Being sent on an all-expenses-paid book tour by a publisher.

 Times do change.  I have done my best to pass these milestones with equanimity and am even managing to adjust to e-books and on-line printing.  But the news I got today was the final straw: the Encyclopedia Britannica will no longer publish print editions.  That’s right.  This bastion of everything you could ever hope to know will soon be only digital.  After more than 200 years, those stately volumes through which we loved to thumb will no longer be.

And little wonder.  The Britannica’s best year was 1990 when 120,000 copies sold.  But in the next six years, the number fell to 40,000.  Today, the online versions serve more than 100 million people all around the world.  So it’s good business to move on, though it still doesn’t make me feel better.

I like change.  I embrace it. But change can go too far. Which is why I checked the Encyclopedia Britannica’s website to see if I can still get a set.  The good news is that I can.  The bad news is that the final hardcover set would set me back $1,394.  

Hmmmm….  Never mind. My nostalgia seems to have faded.

“We are tomorrow’s past.”

Mary Webb, Scottish writer


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How Soon They Forget!

Did you catch Paul McCartney’s double performance at the 2012 Grammy Awards?  After he finished,  Twitter exploded.  No, not with messages from praise-gushing fans.  Confused twitterers tapped out:  Who is this guy? and  He sure is old to be starting out!  and Must not be much. Never heard of him. 

I really didn’t need another thing to make me feel old.  Just last week I reviewed a manuscript from a fellow much younger than I.  He said that when he was in high school he wanted to go on a mission trip to Russia but his parents said absolutely not.  “You can go on a trip,” they told him, “but not to a communist country.  It’s too dangerous.”  So he showed them another possibility—a trip to the Middle East.  “Okay,” they said. “That’s a good, safe place.”

How times change!  And how times change us.

Welcome to 2012~

“People change and forget to tell each other.”

Lillian Hellman


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Good Old Days?

Okay, folks, I just got another of those Good Old 1950s nostalgia lists:

  •  Gallon of gas: 18 cents
  •  New ’58 Chevrolet Corvette: $3631
  •  Men’s All Wool Suit: $28.90
  •  Cotton Dress: $3.29
  •  Rib Roast: 29 cents per pound
  •  1 carat Diamond ring: $399.00
  •  New house cost: $10,450.00 

Well, I remember the 50s.

  • We had air raid drills where we kids practiced hiding under our desks to protect us from an atomic bomb attack.
  • We wore dog tags to school so our dead bodies could be identified.
  • We couldn’t swim in public pools for fear of polio.
  • We were terrified of communists
  • Everyone smoked their lungs into charcoal
  • Sexual harassment in the workplace was the norm
  • Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to surrender her bus seat to a white man
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. led the civil rights movement, and he and his followers were persecuted mercilessly
  • Average income: $3,425

Good old days?  Hmmm…

The truth is, every era has its good and its bad, its triumphs and its frustrations.  Instead of succumbing to the myth of  “the good old days,” let’s make the here and now “the good these days.”

“Arrange whatever pieces come your way.”

Virginia Woolf

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Refections on the Fourth

I was awakened at 5:30 a.m. by the faint boom… pop… bang… of fireworks.  Yep, at 5:30!  Got me to remembering: 

  • The year my husband and I nestled together on the White House lawn and watched the most spectacular fireworks of all time.
  •  The time we went to Hawaii on my husband’s birthday and I cooked a special dinner in our condo and served it on the lanai. Unbeknown to me it was a special Hawaiian day, and just as we started to eat, a beautiful fireworks display lit up the sky.  My husband said with awe, “You planned this for me?”
  •  The olden days (as my kids used to say) when home fireworks were commonplace.  My dad used to bring home a bunch of sparklers and those worms that expand when you light them and pinwheels and small rockets, and he’d shoot them off in the street right there in South San Francisco.

At 6:00 a.m., I thanked God for the USA, and prayed for its future.  At 7:00 I kissed my husband and told him how much I love him.  At 8:00 I called my dad and said “Thanks, Pop, for so many great memories!”

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address, 1863


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Retire? NOW?

I just read that Olive Stephens, of Shady Shores, Texas, announced she would not run for a twentieth term as mayor. 

So what, you say? 

Well, here’s the thing:  Olive is 94 years old.  Yep, 94!  She has been mayor for 38 years.  But now she is having a bit of trouble getting around, so she thinks its time for someone else to step up and take over.

No, I am not contemplating running for her job.  I don’t even live in Texas!  But when people ask me retirement oriented questions–which they do more and more frequently–my standard answer has been, “I want to write as long as Agatha Christie did!”   (Agatha Christie, you might recall, wrote almost until her death at the age of 85.  Still just a spring chicken, Olive Stephens would surely say!)

As much as I continue to admire Agatha’s tenacity, I have decided to rehitch my writing plans to Olive’s star.  I think I’ll keep on going until I’m 94, too.  Then I’ll turn in my computer and enjoy my retirement. 

“After a certain number of years, our faces become our biographies.”

Cynthia Ozick


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Happy New Year, Baby Boomers!

It’s actually happened: Baby Boomers are getting old.  Uh… I mean, reaching their senior years.  Ummm… that is, they are now truly mature.  What I mean to say is that today the oldest members of the Baby Boomer Generation turn 65.  They have reached the age of discounts, early bird specials, and, once upon a time, retirement.

So what, you say?  You’ve had your fill of Baby Boomer trivia?  Well, consider this:  According to the Pew Research Center, for the next 19 years about 10,000 people will cross over into senior citizenhood every day.  By the year 2030, senior boomers will number a whopping-70 million-strong.

“Yikes!” some of you younger people may be gasping. “What are we going to do with all those old folks? With so many getting more and more decrepit, what will happen to our society?”

Hey, Boomers have never done anything in the same old way, so why would they start now?  Already, they are in the process of reinventing retirement.  Boomers may be getting older, but they definitely remain a vital force to be reckoned with.

Come on, Boomers! Let’s raise our glasses of prune juice and share in a collective New Year’s toast:

We watched Howdy Doody and Roy Rogers,

We rocked and rolled and sang of freedom.

We vowed never to trust anyone over 30,

We promised to transform the world.

Let’s do it!



(The Second-Half Adventure:

Don’t Just Retire–Use Your Time, Skills & Resources to Change the World

by Kay Marshall Strom)

“Do your little bit of good where you are.  It’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu



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