Did you make a resolution to be kinder this year? The many elderly in your sphere of interaction are a great place to start. They’ve seen more than you can imagine and are often eager to share their stories. Next time you’re “stuck” behind someone creeping along with their walker, repeating the same story you’ve heard 50 times, or needing help with basic life skills, the following article will give you pause for thought. This story has been making the rounds and the original author is unknown, but as writer, producer and broadcaster Adrian Vance said when I contacted him for permission to print,
“a great story
deserves a life.”
(Vance edited and shared this piece contributed by John Dusek on his blog https://adrianvance.blogspot.com/ June 27, 2017. I received it courtesy of a memoir client and veteran dealing with the health impacts of Agent Orange. Note–the woman on the right in the photo is my own Great Aunt Caroline on the eve of D Day)
CHILDREN OF THE GREATEST GENERATION
Born in the 1930s and early
40s, we exist as a very special age cohort. We are the Silent Generation.
We are the smallest number of children born since the early
1900s. We are the “last ones.”
We are the last generation, climbing out of the depression, who can
remember the winds of war and the impact of a world at war which rattled the
structure of our daily lives for years.
We are the last to remember ration books for everything from
gas to sugar to shoes to stoves.
We saved tin foil and poured fat into tin cans.
We saw cars up on blocks because tires weren’t available.
We can remember milk being delivered to our house early in the
morning and placed in the milk box on the porch.
We are the last to see the gold stars in the front windows of our
grieving neighbors whose sons died in the War.
We saw the ‘boys’ home from the war, build their little houses.
We are the last generation who spent childhood
without television; instead, we imagined what we heard on the radio.
As we all like to brag, with no TV, we spent our
childhood “playing outside”.
We did play outside, and we did play on our own.
There was no little league.
There was no city playground for kids.
The lack of television in our early years meant, for most of us,
that we had little real understanding of what the world was like.
On Saturday afternoons, the movies, gave us newsreels of the
war sandwiched in between westerns and cartoons.
Telephones were one to a house, often shared (party Lines) and hung on the
Computers were called calculators, they only added and were hand cranked;
typewriters were driven by pounding fingers, throwing the carriage, and
changing the ribbon.
The internet and GOOGLE were words that did not exist.
Newspapers and magazines were written for adults and the news was broadcast
on our table radio in the evening by Gabriel Heatter.
We are the last group who had to find out for ourselves.
As we grew up, the country was exploding with growth.
The G.I. Bill gave returning veterans the means to get an education
and spurred colleges to grow.
VA loans fanned a housing boom.
Pent up demand coupled with new installment payment plans put factories
New highways would bring jobs and mobility.
The veterans joined civic clubs and became active in politics.
The radio network expanded from 3 stations to thousands of stations
Our parents were suddenly free from the confines of the depression
and the war, and they threw themselves into exploring opportunities they had
We weren’t neglected, but we weren’t today’s all-consuming family
They were glad we played by ourselves until the street lights came
They were busy discovering the post war world.
We entered a world of overflowing plenty and opportunity; a world
where we were welcomed.
We enjoyed a luxury; we felt secure in our future.
Depression poverty was deep rooted.
Polio was still a crippler.
The Korean War was a dark presage in the early 50s and by mid-decade school
children were ducking under desks for Air-Raid training.
Russia built the Iron Curtain and China became Red
Eisenhower sent the first ‘advisers’ to Vietnam.
Castro set up camp in Cuba and Khrushchev came to
We are the last generation to experience an interlude when there
were no threats to our homeland.
We came of age in the 40s and 50s. The war was over and the
cold war, terrorism, global warming, and perpetual economic insecurity had
yet to haunt life with unease.
Only our generation can remember both a time
war, and a time when our world was secure and full of bright
promise and plenty We have lived through both.
We grew up at the best possible time, a time when the world was
getting better. not worse.
We are the Silent Generation
“The Last Ones”
More than 99% of us are either retired or deceased, and we
feel privileged to have “lived
in the best of times”!
It’s a cold, snowy day here, pretty rare for southern New Mexico. Days like this turn many of us into gleeful 5 year olds and snow photos show up on our social media feeds, usually featuring goofy family members and pets frolicking in the fluffy white stuff or beautiful landscapes.
When you come back inside to warm up, here’s an idea for some family fun over cups of hot chocolate:
We’ve all seen them, those intriguing word clouds made up of colorful words related to one topic that are really like a poem or condensed story. It’s lots of fun to try one as an artistic version of your life story. They make great gifts too, let your inner child play a bit! Here’s a link to one site where you can make your own:
What about creating a word cloud unique to your family and framing it for the start of the New Year?
Wishing you a Happy New Year,
Sooo—I don’t know what your Christmas holiday preparations look like, but here’s a peek at mine—The good, the bad and the ugly. Today has been full of wrapping up of loose ends and daydreaming (creative planning) for future projects. I’ve spent a couple hours scanning historical 100 year old photos for a business client. Then, dropped off a big plate of delicious homemade fudge and Christmas wishes at their office.
Home to get ready to apply a second de-stink treatment to our young dog who had a recent run in with a skunk and still stinks! Prep treatment, leave dog to think all is well and there’s no bath on his horizon. Head off up the valley to deliver a children’s workbook to the winner of yesterday’s FaceBook giveaway. Thanks for sharing your Christmas memories! Then, home to catch pup and administer the de-stink bath. Oh, and did I mention my washing machine broke the day after he got sprayed the 1st time? And the part is on back-order? Well, I’m thankful I have more than one set of clothes-ha!
While he marinates for 30 minutes I can’t help but see the humor and absurdity in today’s schedule and thought I’d write about how thankful I am to be alive and be able to experience all these things. This month has also brought the joyous wedding of my son and precious time with my family.
There is much to be thankful for.
This afternoon will see working on an article and beginning to line out some memoir coaching classes for the new year. I’m also developing some new printables to help you tell your story a bit at a time. My online shop will be up and running soon and you’ll be able to find these in that section as well as gift baskets, journals, workbooks and a variety of other useful and intriguing items.
Then—when all is quiet this evening I’ll pet the cat curled up on the couch, start a fire in the fireplace, light some beautiful candles and make a double batch of Christmas sugar cookies. No, mine won’t look like they belong in a magazine, but they’ll taste just as delicious and my family will enjoy them and relish the tradition.
Here’s hoping you find the joy and humor among whatever your holiday preparations bring. Life is a gift!
Santa brought me an early new toy– a cookbook template I’d love to fill with your favorite recipes, photos and memories surrounding your family gatherings. Graduations, pre-Christmas parties, weddings and friendly pot-lucks are already gearing up early this month and every one of them has wonderful food. Party chit-chat often involves traditional family favorites or new dishes people want to try. We love those treats! Our desire to eat three times a day drives a creative enthusiasm around the topic of delicious food.
As you gather with those you love this holiday season collect those recipes and stories or memories surrounding your meals and holiday traditions. Take those scraps and bits and bobs of recipes from Aunt Leta, Grandma and Uncle Joe’s fabulous BBQ sauce and bring them all together in one place. I’d love to craft these together into a one-of-a-kind personalized cookbook for you and your family. What a meaningful, unique gift that everyone will cherish and add to over the years.
The first five people to help me test my new cookbook template will receive a 15% discount on their project. Offer expires on 12/15 so get in on the goodies now!
We love to hear our elders reminisce about holidays. Their memories help tie families together and strengthen bonds. These gatherings sometimes bring challenges but they sure do stick in our hearts and minds. The topic of holidays is great material for story gathering, especially for the younger generations who’d love to know what your childhood was like. So much changes over the decades, world events, technology, customs — open up the door for a sneak peek into this part of your story. Make sure you add in some of these details as you go through the following questions. You’ll all be glad you did.
The book Recording Your Family History provides some great prompts for recording your childhood holiday memories:
“Think back and describe who would be there
around the table and what it was like for you on that holiday.”
Here’s a few questions to start with:
Can you describe in detail one particularly memorable year?
What type of food would you eat?
What was your favorite tradition?
What was it like?
Were there special religious festivities as part of your holiday celebration?
Did you ever receive or give a gift with especially great meaning?
How about now, what do your holidays look like?
Do you still make special recipes handed down in your family?
What holidays have you celebrated that carried forward from your ancestors? Tamales? Lutefisk? Baklava?
I’d love to hear about your holiday memories, drop me a line.
Celebrate Agriculture! Whatever language you say it in, shout it loud this fall. I’ve been crazy busy this week getting ready to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of an irrigation district in southern New Mexico. It’s fun to be part of telling the story. I’ve been immersed in great photos old and new of hardworking people building, farming, irrigating and otherwise engaged in the age old struggle to produce food, clothing and shelter. It’s humbling and awe inspiring.
So this harvest season my thanks and appreciation to all who make this happen. Remember your agricultural roots next time you sit down to some enchiladas and pecan pie.