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BABY BOOMER ANTHOLOGY, A LIFE IN COMMON

BABY BOOMER ANTHOLOGY

Family tree with Grandpa on the left. On the right? Need help.

Every family has a man with so much backbone you’d think he has two of them.

Such a man might have been injured on the job and took up another line of work.

Maybe that man was a logger who broke his back in the woods and took up ranching.

His biggest regret was missing WWII.

During the rationing-era he sold beef to people in the logging community until a government official came calling to put a stop to his entrepreneurial work.

As a law abiding citizen he did what he was told.

The next time he brought beef to the loggers’ kitchens he gave it away for free.

No law breaking there.

Baby Boomer Anthology, pt 2

Why do we like to think we’re the last generation with ties to a forgotten time?

Because we are.

Grandparents and parents lived through the Great Depression, WWII, and Korea.

Who else has a bigger three?

People on the farm had different experiences than town folks, defining experiences.

They raised livestock and grew vegetables.

One man had two sons who helped him slaughter hogs in the barn.

On a normal day they’d bring it out of the pen where one side was outside barn wall.

Holding two ropes on a pig’s neck, the boys stood to either side while their dad brought out a big pistol in a holster and quick-drawed a few times before pulling the trigger.

The kill shot glanced off the pig’s head and sent it reeling.

The boys knew better than to let go, even when the hog bashed through the barn wall into the pig pen, dragging them in it’s panicked state.

They hung on while the pig churned through it’s own mess, breaking down the pen and heading for the garden.

Their dad ran after them with his gun, yelling for them to hold it for another shot.

After pulling them through their mom’s garden and ripping up the plantings, it stopped long enough to take another bullet.

Baby Boomer Anthology, pt 3

BABY BOOMER ANTHOLOGY

Three generations with Grandpa on the right.

Today we understand the value of education. Get a college degree, get a better job, live a better life.

It sounds so simple, but not when you’ve got a dissenting opinion.

In some households in the late 40’s and early 50’s education was an excuse.

Imagine a man telling his son, “The only reason anyone goes to school past the eighth grade is to avoid work. If you’re afraid of work, get more schooling.”

How ‘old school’ is that?

When a man in black says it, you’d better believe it. You still make up your own mind, but that other opinion hangs in the air.

How much weight does an education message hold when it comes from the man who refused to install indoor plumbing? The man you accidentally dropped in the hole he dug for the new outhouse?

Look at the three generation picture above.

The man on the right isn’t posing in gangster-chic couture. He looks bad-ass because that’s what bad-ass looks like.

The man on the left is even more bad-ass after five years in the Marines.

The kid in the middle grew up to earn advanced degrees.

It’s a long way from 8th grade.

Baby Boomer Anthology, pt 4

BABY BOOMER ANTHOLOGY

Ma and Pa with their first two. DG in the headgear.

We know by now how life plans take a detour.

That girl from high school you couldn’t shake, the one you wrote to from boot camp who wrote back?

Love letters don’t always mean true love, then sometimes they do.

So you get married and share your plans for a life in the Marine Corps.

But you’re smart enough to dodge the alter until you’re a sergeant so you can live together in service splendor.

The definition of service splendor in the early-50’s was sharing a Quonset hut with a blanket wall in the middle hanging from a rope.

What newly wed wife wouldn’t jump at that? Now add a kid, then another.

One mom convinced her Marine to leave the Corps, go to college, and get a real life.

And he did.

Baby Boomer Anthology, pt 5

BABY BOOMER ANTHOLOGY

College grad Dad with two plus one. DG’s got a grip.

Following in the well trod footsteps of WWII vets, one resting Marine (never ex-Marine) used the GI Bill, worked full time with a wife and three kids, went to a community college, then a four year school.

He graduated and started his career.

It’s a boomer story start to finish. The kid in the middle above did the same thing except it was the Army and two kids.

On one hectic Mother’s Day he called his mom to say he couldn’t make the run to her house and celebrate.

That didn’t go over well. Not well at all.

She was not happy. He could tell when she rattled off the timeline of his conception.

The dad hitchhiked up from San Francisco where he was stationed with the Marine Corps.

She got her mom to watch older brother so she could spend the night in a hotel with dad. During the conversation on Mother’s Day she rattled off every form of birth control on the market in 1954.

Her son dodged them all.

She didn’t plan on being pregnant so soon after her first kid, but things brightened up a bit when she found out he was going to be a girl.

After he popped out with all the baby boy gear she found herself trapped with one kid who spent the day beating his head on everything he found while gnawing his way out of his crib, and another who watched the action silently.

Life in a Quonset hut was never better.

As a three year old his parents took him in for a check up because he had an odd walk. The doctor diagnosed him with dwarfism. With that knowledge he grew into a 6″3″ man, the tallest female dwarf on the books.

His mom finished the Mother’s Day pep talk by explaining what happened to the family dog and cat from his youth. The dog bit one too many people; the cat got explosively ill all over the garage.

“You’re dad took them out and shot them,” she said. “What do you think of that?”

Only one answer would work here. “I’m glad I didn’t bite anyone or get sick in the garage, Mom.”

That was the last Mother’s Day he missed. He couldn’t hear anymore tender tales of childhood.

Baby Boomer Anthology, pt 6

BABY BOOMER ANTHOLOGY

Later day Dad with DG.

You should never cut firewood with your dad after age thirty.

A good son will worry about the old man and hustle like the devil.

The old man will get a kick out of it because he did the same with his dad.

You say, “Run the saw and I’ll feed you, split the rounds, and stack the wood.”

He’ll crank up his chain saw.

You’ll wear a t-shirt to show the guns, he’ll wear long sleeves.

You’ll scrape and gash your skin until your bleeding through the bark rash.

He’ll say, “You’re going to impress your city friends who don’t know what work is.”

You remember that story about his dad saying anyone who goes to school past eighth grade is afraid of work and haul another log over.

His approval kills the pain.

Later that evening you’re offered a soothing rubbing alcohol scrub to prevent infection.

Baby Boomer Anthology, pt 7

BABY BOOMER ANTHOLOGY

Old Dad, young son, and a different ax.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now I’m found,
Was blind, but now, I see.

T’was Grace that taught,
my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear,
the hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come.
Tis Grace has brought me safe thus far,
and Grace will lead us home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
as long as life endures.

We’ve been there ten thousand years,
bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise,
than when we’ve first begun.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.

About David Gillaspie
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