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Boomer History 101

If Your Boomer Man Seems Confused, Here’s Why:

English Major Rules Ike's Old Office

English Major Rules Ike’s Old Office

It starts with ‘Old School’ and how do you define it.

Yes, it’s the title of a Will Farrell movie, but move along.

Old School in 2013 could mean the 1980′s, bumped to the 1990′s for twenty-somethings.

It works for shorter attention spans, but not longer.

Wiki says antiques need to be at least one hundred years old, so you can’t call Baby Boomers old school.

Or can you? From a cultural perspective…

Boomers are the last generation linked hand in hand to Old School ways. From parents to grandparents, aunts and uncles, it rubbed off on them.

Call it the silvering surge of the Greatest Generation, the oldest boomers, the first hippies, day-glow organizers and counter-culturalists.

They heard The Voice before anyone else.

Their parents drilled them with experience they always promised “would make sense when you get older.”

They heard more about the Great Depression than any book ever reported. The same with WWII.

(Early boomers, born from 1946 to 1952, have parents from the Depression and WWII-era running from 1929 to 1945.)

Did early boomers’ parents care about reducing, reusing, and recycling?

Did equal rights matter? Women’s rights? Gay rights? They did to those directly discriminated against, even in a time of even greater discrimination.

Did they think about saving the earth during the Dust Bowl? Worry about the atmosphere while the A-Bomb ramped up?

With food, shelter, and clothing in short supply, children and young people of the 30′s and 40′s had another focus.

The bigger issues weighing down on them was a future in a Nazi-run world, or under a Japanese military regime.

The world got too crowded and bad ideas started to squeeze.

How bad was it back then? Stalin (perennial candidate in the man causing most deaths to his own country category) was an Ally.

U.S. servicemen signed up ‘for the duration’, death reports flowed across America, and the world hunkered down.

These are early boomers’ parents (EBP) who lived through those times, people who heard Civil War stories from their own granddaddies. Now it’s Old School enough.

EBP’s answered the call from North Africa to D-Day, from Guadalcanal to Tinian.

Young men left their wives, even more left moms and dads, all being molded by the war machine. And all recognizing common images.

Every soldier in Europe knew the comforting face of General Dwight David Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander.


It feels like this great American was chosen to rule the world.

He looks like a tough man, one used to making hard decisions and still win the respect of troops and citizens.

Boomers’ parents and grandparents knew him well as four-term President Franklin Roosevelt’s trusted voice from the war.

Anyone who’s served in the armed forces knows the special bond with leaders. You like them, you hate them, and you respect their authority and follow orders. Period.

In WWII, young men followed orders as if they came straight from Eisenhower. Charge that machine gun nest? Okay.

After the war they got another round. This time President Eisenhower groomed the men in the gray flannel suits from 1952 through 1960.

Transform wartime production into the greatest economy on earth? Okay.

The man who empowered the troops did it again. From a ‘chicken in every pot’ to a ‘leader in every home’, early boomers lived in an aura of Ike.

For an inside view of what parents of early boomers might be like, look for The Honeymooners episodes. Two fifties couples on the verge of having their own little bundle of boomer live in apartments.

Raise your hand if Ralph Kramden could be your father.

Portland baby boomers and boomers across the nation grew up watching their dads operate, watching them shift gears they learned following an icon. How did it work out?

Enough of us understand the advantage we grew up with, that our dads were as bewildered as we are as fathers when things head south. Except they had FDR-Truman and Ike traditions backing them up.

Their guys saved the world from an evil fate.

Who’ve we got? Nixon, Ford, Carter? Reagan, Bush, Clinton? Bush, Obama?

The buck didn’t stop on Truman’s desk, or any other. It never stops. But it did for the American dad’s during Truman. He said it did and that’s that.

Early boomers were raised in that forge, molded by men molded by Ike or MacArthur, Nimitz or Halsey.

Of all the great and forgotten men in history, Eisenhower always gets the biggest NW Boomer smile.

In between jobs as Supreme Allied Commander in WWII and President of the United States, he picked up side work as President of Columbia University wjere the bald beacon of America cooled out after his tour.

Years later, long-haired protesters locked themselves into his old office. Sat at his desk and lit one up.

It’s a great scene in boomer history. What are some of yours? Make them good ones.


About David Gillaspie
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