Introduction by Jesse Wood
Jan. 17, 2014. Meet Steve Canipe, a 68-year-old professor, who just happened to have taught High Country Press publisher Ken Ketchie at East Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte in the early ’70s.
You’ll be seeing Canipe’s byline frequently because Steve plans to write a weekly column called “Boomer Bytes” until he runs out of ideas – and he has quite a few of them! The column, as the name suggests, will focus on a variety of topics that may be of interest to baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964.
Canipe said he hopes to start a conversation with his column, though he doesn’t want to share a dialogue with just his fellow boomers. He hopes the younger generations will jump in – if only to soak in what the older generations experienced in their lifetimes.
Canipe encourages comments following the story or shoot him an email at [email protected]. Enjoy.
By Steve Canipe
Hello readers. This is the first of a weekly blog post, which focuses on issues of concern to those of us who are termed “baby boomers.” It will be by, for, and about those boomers and our issues. In other words, it means those of us who were born between 1946 and 1964. Current population estimates are that there are nearly 75 million of us. I use “we” and “us” because I am one of this illustrious number!!
Have we already begun turning “old” at 65? According to published reports, there are more than a thousand of us turning that magic age every day and this aging will go on until 2029. I’m not sure why 65 is considered the age of “oldness” because even the oldest of us don’t qualify for Social Security at that age. The oldest of us had to be 66 to qualify for full benefits and the youngest of us will need to be 67 for full benefits. Currently we qualify for Medicare at 65 and we can still take early retirement at 62. Maybe the Medicare is the trigger.
During our years since birth, we have had a profound impact on any number of things because of our large population numbers. Many of us have been witness to some pretty spectacular things and some of those we might just as soon forget. Some of the technology that was being developed was instrumental in our power as a group. Television began to make a strong penetration into the entertainment scene and along with it the advertising that was targeted towards us.
We were the first generation to really embrace differences in all forms. We were pretty much responsible for different type music and our more open attitudes have led to more relaxed attitudes on race, sex, drugs, etc. We were more open to seeing and accepting differences than our parents and we have instilled that attitude into our children. Each generation had its war and Viet Nam was ours. It was not pretty and there were many different attitudes. Some of us were willing to go to fight to defend a country we loved so much or because we believed in obeying authority even if not in support of the war; others loved the country just as much but were willing to leave the country to avoid doing something that was antithetical to what was believed.
When we were in school, we were crowded into large classes or sometimes new school buildings. Our classes were always larger than the class ahead of us. We necessitated new teachers, new school classrooms, and lots of other things because of our large numbers. We changed education, as we changed everything else. We were pretty egalitarian and believed that everyone should be judged by their merits. The leaders whom we respected covered a broad range from Martin Luther King, Jr. to John Kennedy to Billy Graham. These role models have led to our own boomer leaders including Bill Clinton and George W. Bush – almost a paradox. But then we never were easy to pigeonhole.
We always felt that we were special. Our coming of age coincided with others like us across the world. In the British Isles the Beatles were a profound musical influence and in the US we had Woodstock. Unlike generations before, the emerging technology of the transistor radio allowed us to band with our fellow boomers and listen to that “devil music” our parents abhorred. We could listen outside the house with our new-found portable music sources….and enjoy it without hearing our parents harp about it.
There are so many life-shaping events that we grew up with – some of the events are listed below; not all were historic but all were important in shaping who we were:
- Cuban Missile crisis
- Communism- rise and fall
- Presidential assassination
- March on Washington
- American Bandstand
- Walk on the moon
- Sexual freedom
- Mickey Mouse Club
- LSD and other drugs
- Davey Crockett, hula hoops, and Barbie dolls
- Antiwar protests
All these factors and many more had a profound impact on us as individuals and as members of the boomer group. Time magazine in 1966 listed the Boomer Generation as the Time Man of the Year. We have been spectacularly successful in an economic sense. Many economists estimate that we have earned about 77% of the wealth currently in the US. Now that we are reaching the “golden years,” we are finding that some of our wealth has fled (recent market downturns) and many of us now plan to work well into our 70s in order to make ends meet.
This first blog was about us as a group, but as we know, we are not a megalithic group – we are variable and different. We have tended through our lives to embrace differences in whatever shapes they come. The upcoming weekly posts will touch on topics of interest not only to us boomers but also will be of interest to our children to help them better understand us. With our growing longevity, we intend to be around a long time yet.
If you have ideas for topics, please share them with me via the email address [email protected]