REFLECTIONS: It’s amazing how much has changed in 50 years

Fifty years of living.

That’s a long time.

Frankly? It’s a miracle anyone’s survived that long.

Why?

Ya gotta think back into the ‘60s …

Kids were born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant. They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can and didn’t get tested for diabetes.

They were put to sleep on their tummies with jammies … in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints.

They had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, nor did they have special latches on doors or cabinets … and when they rode their bikes, there were no helmets.

They all hitchhiked … boys and girls … together or singularly … and without fear…

They rode in cars with no car seats, booster seats, seat belts or air bags … and if they wanted a real treat, they rode in the back of a rickety pick up on warm days … and if had “guts,” even on cold ones.

They grew up drinking water from the garden hose … not from a bottle. And they shared their soft drink with four friends … all from one bottle … and, believe it or not, no one died from germs.

They ate cupcakes and lots of white bread with real butter … and it was good!

And when they splurged, they drank Kool-Aid made with sugar. BUT no one was overweight. Because they were all outside playing as kids … every day … and even in the rain.

As kids, they left home early morning on weekends and during the summer … and played outside all day. And it was OK. Their only rule was to be home by dinner … or when the streetlight came on.

Guess what? They couldn’t be reached for hours at a time … for there were no mobile phones. And guess what again? That was OK, too!

Some of the more adventurous kids would spend hours building go-carts out of scraps … and then ride down steep hills … to suddenly discover they had forgotten this thing called “brakes.” And after a few collisions with bushes … and perhaps a tree or two … they learned how to correct their problem … this time, wearing their bandage or two of courage.

They didn’t have PlayStations, Nintendos, XBoxes or video games.

They didn’t have 150 channels on cable, video movies or DVD’s.

They didn’t have surround-sound or CD’s, cell phones or personal computers. There were no chat rooms or Internet.

But they all had friends … who they met one-on-one … and played with outside.

They fell out of trees, got cut up, broke bones and teeth … and there were no lawsuits because of it. Just an occasional scolding from the parents … or a bit of hugging … all depending on the circumstances.

They ate worms and mud pies made from dirt … and those poor worms didn’t live in them forever…

Fast food? Only if you had a McDonald’s in your town … and most towns didn’t. So fast food meant a cheese and bologna sandwich … or a PB&J … on the run.

They rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house … and knocked on the door or rang the bell … or for that matter, just walked in and hollered for them.

Little League had tryouts … and not everyone made the team. Those that didn’t make the team just had to learn to deal with disappointment. (Imagine that!)

And, now and then, someone got into trouble … and the idea of a parent bailing them out if they broke the law was unheard of. (Parents actually sided with the law … how about that too?)

With all that being said, these (baby boomer) generations produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever!

The past 50 years have bloomed with an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

We’ve had freedom, failure, success and responsibility … and we’ve learned how to deal with it all.

And as one scrolled through the ‘60s, one would find 1962 was very prominent.

The most popular TV show in 1962 (if you owned a TV) was “The Beverly Hillbillies,” seconded by “Candid Camera.”

The Academy Awards were taken over by “Lawrence of Arabia.” And “Spartacus,” seconded by “West Side Story,” was the top movie.

“Peppermint Twist-Part I,” by Joey Dee, was at the top of the music scene, followed by “Duke of Earl” by Gene Chandler. And the Grammy Award? That was taken by Tony Bennett with “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”

John Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for Literature and Walter Lippmann won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting.

In sports, the San Francisco Giants took the World Series from the Yankees 4-3, and the U.S. Open was won by Jack Nicklaus following a playoff with Arnold Palmer.

And world-wise in ‘62, Kennedy began the blockade of Cuba … and the Cuban Missile Crisis was brewing and, with a great deal of social debate, the U.S. escalated its part in the Vietnam War. The Cold War was in full swing as well as was the border war between China and India.

Adolf Eichman, one of the major organizers of The Holocaust, was found guilty in Israel and hung for “crimes against humanity.” And Uganda gained its independence … while the first black student became enrolled at the University of Mississippi. On the “social/cultural” scene, The Beatles performed their first single hit in England: “Love Me Do.”

Tom Cruise, Jim Carrey, Demi Moore, Matthew Broderick, Steve Carell and Jodie Foster were born that year. As were Eddie Izzard, Jon Bon Jovi, Emilio Estevez, Garth Brooks and Wesley Snipes.

Yep, Feb. 7, 1962, was extra special. Particularly for me.

See, it was a Wednesday.

I was pacing the halls of Big Rapids Community Hospital … specifically outside the maternity ward … a far cry from what they have now. “Birthing Center?” Never heard of that back then!

Wife Nancy was inside … and we were expecting our first child … and, as ‘twas the case back then, we had no idea if it was a boy or girl.

We knew what the boy’s name would be … and mother Arlene broke up a intense husband-wife discussion (so to speak!) the previous week. She ended up suggesting (naw … recommending) the name Wendy if it was a girl, after Wendy Wittig, daughter of good friends Bill and Ann Wittig.

So when Doc Lee Hickox came out to see me in his scrubs, grinning ear to ear and waving a pink pillow … I knew — Wendy Buckingham Batdorff was born.

So, with that I say to daughter Wendy Miller (who with her husband, Blake, and grandkids, Hope and Zack, live in the house I grew up in on 4th Street in Manistee) congrats on being a survivor … and finally, after all these years … I GOTCHA!

(For what it’s worth, Garth Brooks is exactly the same age as you … to the day! Ha!)

With best of hope for another happy and healthy 50 … and a helluva lot of love and admiration.

You go girl!

Just me.

Pops.

 

Jack Batdorff is the chairman of the Pioneer Group. E-mail him at jbatdorff@pioneergroup.com.

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