As I am approaching 6 and a half decades on this Earth, I thought it might be interesting to take a fun and insightful look back on what each of these decades of my existence brought with it through my eyes. Remember this is based on my perspective as to what I saw unfold.
The most precious, beautiful, angelic baby girl was presented to the world and the world was presented to her. Me. ha, ha. In retrospect, it was quite apparent that this world was not where I wanted to be. It was unfamiliar territory and I must have felt a need to return to where I was most comfortable. I had no choice but to stick it out so I went along with the flow, very unwilling to participate in what life had to offer. Looking back at pictures and memories, I seldom smiled and wanted to participate in as little as possible.
The fifties was a time of hope. All major wars were a thing of the past and people were striving to get by and achieve the great American Dream. Television was about to make a big impact on our lives. TV brought entertainment and broadcasts of news from around the world to keep us entertained and informed about current events. Advertising began letting us know what we needed in order to survive, be cool, be successful, or whatever other method of sales approach could reach in and grab us. Basically TV brought with it a clever way to brainwash us into believing we couldn’t live without certain things. I guess that’s when “Fake News” was born.
Television shows were made up of the lives of families that somehow always managed to get through everything. No matter what went on in their lives by the end of the episode they all seemed to live happily ever after. Let’s face it, we all wanted that perfect family life and even if we didn’t have it, we lived it through TV. Television made life seem beautiful. We felt that we were at least headed in the right direction and that if we worked long and hard, our dreams would become a reality. Life was indeed full of hope. Even I bought into the perfect life, perfect family scenario that television portrayed.
People were not afraid to work hard to provide for their families. What stands out in my mind about this decade is that people took pride in their work ethics and in their appearance. Things were built to last, after all your reputation was at stake so you wanted to do your best to ensure your business could prosper and grow. People always tried to look their best regardless of their financial status. Sunday’s were family days. Church and visiting with family or friends after Church was a typical occurrence. We dressed in our finest and remained in it throughout the day.
Growing up in the fifties taught me that children should be seen and not heard. It also taught me about respect for others especially elders and persons of authority. Despite my desire not to participate in the daily rituals of this life, this decade taught me to believe that life was good.
All in all, I’d say for the most part we lived a life where we trusted each other’s word, our neighbors and those we did business with. I know I trusted everybody, after all, it was the right thing to do.
The decade of my childhood. Kids were kids. We were disciplined. We had chores, rules, and regulations. We also had the freedom to roam around, use our own imagination, and discover what the outside world had to offer. We made up games and spent hours outside playing with friends or by ourselves. Parents were not afraid to let us roam free. Our neighbors would keep an eye on us. If we did anything wrong you better believe our parents would find out and we’d get punished or worse. Our rear ends would be introduced to the wooden spoon or the leather strap. We expected the worse and learned from it. Unless we were crazy, we tried to make sure we never got in trouble again. Life was good for the most part.
Looking back on it, some might say the latter part of the sixties was the beginning of the end. I don’t think it was meant to be (or maybe it was) but it’s definitely the decade where chaos showed its aggressive face again. Good and bad were happening simultaneously. The American Dream was becoming more and more of a possibility; which was a good thing. There were also revolutions erupting which the older youth hoped would change many things for the better. New freedoms were beginning to emerge, love and peace were being sought after. The baby boomer generation was being formed and many of the remaining generations were appalled by what was taking place amongst this new generation. Sex, drugs and rock & roll were becoming a new way of freedom of expression and not everyone understood what was happening.
It was in the sixties that my generation learned the harsh realities of assassinations and war. Devastating blows hit us hard at the loss of many leaders who were killed because of their beliefs. We were introduced to war and a place called Vietnam. Youth began questioning the motives of past generations. Generational warfare began to emerge. I like many of my generation, began to think that our parents’ generation knew nothing. Our generation knew it all. One thing this generation knew was that it refused to get involved in any war that didn’t directly involve them. Of course there were still those who believed in fighting for justice, but for the most part, this generation was against war. Protests erupted all over. Protests against the war, in favor of the war, fight for equality, against equality, civil rights, you name it, we were protesting for it. A new age was approaching. It was a rebellious time and a time of exploration. Man had landed on the moon.
The sixties were not only a decade of confusion for the world but for me as well. My personal world was rapidly changing. My two older brothers were getting married and moving out, my best friend moved away and my parents were getting divorced. Divorce back then was a rare occurrence. My mother moved my younger brother and I two towns away, where everything was foreign to me. The divorce and move devastated me. All that I loved and my security was left behind. The pain of seeing my dad left alone still haunts me to this day. Any dreams I might have had of TV’s perfect family were shattered. I felt alone in this big world of ours. If I didn’t want to be a part of this world before, I certainly wanted no part of it now. The American Dream may have been booming but my dreams had faded fast. My level of trust was beginning to shift as well. I wanted to trust but was hesitant in believing. After all, I trusted in the American Dream but I was living a nightmare. In order to survive, I began developing a relationship with God who for me was One I felt most confident in.
The Vietnam War was going strong and seemed as though it would never end. A new TV show called All In The Family made its debut. This show dared to talk about and explore subjects that were too taboo for television. It appalled yet entertained us all. It presented a new look and insight to those who chose to understand.
People’s rights we seemingly beginning to be recognized. More and more people were achieving the American Dream. The war was finally coming to an end and it looked as though we had made it through the storm. I had met a boy and had fallen madly in love. I was learning how to smile.
For the most part, life seemed to be heading in the right direction. Little did we know that turmoil was erupting on our soil. Radical groups were beginning to emerge. Militants tried to start wars between blacks and whites. The neighborhood that I grew up in and where I sometimes lived with my dad was a multicultural neighborhood. I had friends of different races, creeds, and religions. I watched in shock as some of my friends turned on each other. I didn’t understand how the color of one’s skin could determine the character of the person. My boyfriend (now husband) and his friends were attacked because they were white. Whites were beginning to experience what blacks had experienced for years. Hatred of skin tone. I hated everything about what was happening. I didn’t want to choose my friends by color. I wanted to live in harmony with everyone. After all, didn’t we all want the same things out of life? What had happened to the peace and love of the sixties?
While that turmoil was erupting, more changes were occurring. Women were finally speaking up for their rights. More and more were joining the workforce alongside the men. Divorces were becoming more commonplace and the decline of family life as we knew it was beginning to happen. In addition to this, stores were opening on Sunday. You might think okay, so what’s the big deal with that? This gave people an opportunity to step away from Sunday rituals of Church and family gatherings. Sunday became a day of liberation to do as we wished. And we did just that. Sunday was slowly becoming no longer a day of rest, God or family. We were being set free from Sunday traditions. Traditions that were soon to become a thing of the past.
For those of us who became parents in the late seventies, we wanted our children to have more and do more than we did. We felt guilty if we couldn’t provide what we thought they deserved. Advertising was making us feel guilty as well. They knew how to market their goods and we bought into it. It wouldn’t be fair if our children felt left out of the advertising ploy. They knew just how to get us. Many of us may remember the Cabbage Patch craze. Waiting in line for hours just to get a doll for kids who didn’t want the dolls as much as we wanted to get them the dolls. I remember getting a call from the local toy store telling me to meet the manager around back at the delivery door. He had a baldie baby for me. I felt like I was embarking on a drug deal, secretly getting a stash. I wanted that bald baby doll more than my daughter did. I still have it and the other cabbage patch dolls and many, many outfits that I had to get her. I had succumbed to the advertising BS thinking that my investment would one day pay off. You know what those dolls are worth today. Nothing!
The seventies, the decade of my teens and early twenties. Where true love my kids, John Travolta, Disco beats and love songs filled my life with joy. I had survived this decade and hopefully would survive being a wife and mother in the upcoming decade.
The eighties didn’t do much for me. It was a decade of partying all the time. While things were progressing at a rapid pace in the world, I found it hard to keep up. Electronic devices and the World Wide Web were infiltrating our lives. We’d just get acclimated to one thing when something else would be invented to replace it. Our wants were overtaking our needs and we were beginning to live way above our means. Entertaining around a table of food and loved ones was being replaced by the club and alcohol scene. I couldn’t relate to this scene so I found my joy by surrounding myself with people that inspired me, who were not overly impressed by worldly things and who I could converse about God with. I raised my children in the eighties as best I could. I had many hang-ups and vices many of which I tried to rid myself of. Unfortunately, that was a hard task to manage. As much as I didn’t want to be a part of worldly desires, frustration caused me to fall hook, line, and sinker into shopavision another carefully plotted advertising ploy. If they knew how to sell it, bet your bottom dollar, I knew how to buy it. I became a part of the game I tried to avoid. Not only did Shop TV emerge but another new show was about to change the structure of family television entertainment. It was a show called Roseann. It was a show about a dysfunctional family that left most of us feeling quite normal. No longer was there need to hide behind the pretense of a perfect family. They didn’t exist.
The 80’s also brought with it another harsh reality. We watched in horror when the spaceship Challenger exploded midair during a live broadcast. That left us all shocked and dismayed. While George Orwell’s book 1984 warned of impending dangers, things were becoming all too real. The death of all those on board the Challenger brought more realities front and center. The devastation was all too real.
The decade where my generation began realizing that we had slowly become a generation overtaken by our children’s generation. Suddenly we knew nothing; they were the ones that knew it all. Funny how that happens. The nineties carried over what the late eighties wanted to enforce. Greed is Good. Power is everything. BS makes you a winner. If it was out there we wanted it and didn’t care how we got it. It was ours for the taking. We were brainwashed into believing that we needed X, Y, and Z in order to live the life we deserved. Mans power wanted to overtake the Power of God. In the process of all this, women were coming into there own. Some “minorities”. (I hate the reference to that word”) were finding their voice as well. It looked as though equality may be possible after all. It was happening slowly, but it was happening.
Reality television was becoming the “new norm”. Just about everyone lived vicariously through celebrities. We wanted what they had and would go through whatever lengths were needed to be like them. We wanted their hair, their bodies, their lifestyles, their money. The more they had, the more we wanted. Drug and alcohol parties seemed to go hand in hand with this new craze. I wanted no part of it. I continued on my quest of self-discovery.
While I was searching for peace within, the Gulf War came into existence. War had become all too real to my generation again. It was a different war than all the previous wars. Technology had brought us into a new dimension of war and terrorism and it was frightening. We were, however, America, the greatest nation on the planet. We’d go in strong and come out stronger. The only thing we had to fear was the approaching Millennial. Many believed the Millennial would be the end of the world. New Years Eve 1999 we all partied because it was 1999. While we waited for the ball to drop we wondered if the world was about to end. In some strange sense the world as we New it had ended in 1999.
We made it into a new century The year 2000. Technology at its best and worse. A decade of transition into another dimension. If you don’t mind I’m going to roll the first two decades of the Millennial into one. They are decades of change so for now, I’ve changed a decade into more than 10 years. Entitlement has provided me that privilege. Let’s take a good look at the 2000s.
While it took some getting used to, we managed to get through the first year and a half without too many glitches. We survived the Millennial. Or so we thought.
It was a beautiful, sunny morning when life as we knew it came to an abrupt end on September 11, 2001. 18 years ago this week. A day we all said we’d “never forget”. The hatred that the rest of the world had experienced first hand had paid us a surprise visit brutally attacking and shaking us to the core. We as a nation, as a people, were no longer safe. We had been placed in the ranks of the vulnerable. Despite all the carnage, we seemed to unify as a nation. We worked together trying to rebuild all that was destroyed. Reaching out to help and aid any and all who needed a helping hand. A bond that we believed would never be broken and would remain in the memory of all those who lost their lives on that horrific day. Unfortunately, that didn’t last long. Promises along with memories have a way of slipping away with time. We seem to have replaced those promises with anger, fear, and resentment. Media is making us question everything and everyone. Conspiracy theories are everywhere and we don’t know who to trust. We have become a nation divided by two parties. Both of which are laden with deceit. We simply choose which deceit is easier to swallow.
Because we are living in unsure times, I think it’s quite feasible to say that we may have gone a little over the deep edge. Perhaps we want to take it all in before it is all taken from us. I feel we are pushing the boundaries and there may be no turning back. We are living in times of entitlement with no accountability for anything. Social media allows us to execute our rights of freedom of speech providing we agree with one another. If we don’t agree then we are raked through the fire and executed along with our liberty to speak freely.
Politics has become a three-ring circus filled with many a clown. A nation divided because we no longer know how to think for ourselves. We must choose a side and think as they do. All that was fought for through the years by the decent people who wanted nothing more than equality for all seems to be going up in smoke with each passing day. Reverse(ism) as I call it, is taking up residency. Double standards are becoming commonplace and refusal to see in our selves what we are so quick to see in others is a normal everyday occurrence.
We went from hating labels to changing labels, to identifying people by labels. For a generation that hated being labeled, they have created their own labels. It’s very confusing. Oops, I think my generational pull is acting up.
Why can’t people just be seen as individuals that like to dress a certain way, act a certain way or have preferences that may or may not meet the approval of others? Why do people have to go through torture just to be accepted in this world? I can’t help but wonder about the phycological trauma one might put themselves through not to mention the physical endangerment that can affect the body. Why do people have to be implanted and reconstructed just to let their “real” self emerge?
We are now living in a fake world. Fake News, fake bodies, fake implants, fake genitals, fake hair, fake teeth, fake lips, fake nails, etc. We want to express the real me meanwhile all that we’re expressing it with is fake. You see where I’m going here? I don’t want a fake you, I want a real you and the real you has nothing to do with your physical appearance. It has all to do with who you are within. Fake is a money-making, profit machine. We have so convincingly become brainwashed that we no longer know what real is. Real is being ourself. Real is accepting one another with dignity and grace. It is respect for who we are and for who others are.
I don’t know what the next decades will bring, I can only hope that they bring forth an era that can inspire without pretense. An era where people can feel comfortable in their own skin whether it is male or female, black or white, etc. An era where judgment is not cast, acceptance is welcome and different educates.
These six and a half decades of my life have taught me a lot about myself and others. I have been the youth of the day and have become the elder of tomorrow. I’ve seen changes for the best and some for the worse. Every decade brings new hopes and challenges. I can only hope that in time there will be no need to label ourselves as anything but human, with a spirit that wishes to soar with all that it has.
As for me, I’m glad I stuck it out. I discovered many things along the way and have tried to see the world through my eyes as well as the eyes of others. I learned that challenges build character and I am indeed quite a character. Whatever life threw my way, strengthened me. I learned to accept myself for who I am, not for what I look like. Somewhere inside that adorable little baby still exists within the spirit of who I am. I realized that I am so much more than the world sees or rather what I thought the world saw. I am what God sees and that’s good enough for me. Some day I’d like to listen to your perspective on the decades you grew up in. It took six and a half decades but I can safely say I’m glad I became the me I always wanted to be.
Married 44 years to my hubby whose purpose in life is to prevent me from getting through the “Pearly Gates”. Mother of two, Nanna of four loving granddaughters and retired secretary aka administrative assistant. I went to the University of Hard Knocks where I received my Doctorate. My thesis is titled: How To Survive Life’s Trials Without Killing Yourself or Someone Else. I live by the belief that when life throws you a curve, learn from it rather than use it against yourself. Faith and humor are my survival kit. Appreciate the simple things for they are the true treasures of life.