Baby boomers have seen it all

By Tom Anselm

It ran from 1946 to 1964. It produced the greatest single increase in birth rates in the history of this nation. It created a generation that has been written about, dissected by the media and courted by advertisers since its inception. And now, we are bringing it to you, live and lively.
We’re talking about the baby boomers, baby.
I am pretty much at the front end of that phenomenon. As a ‘49er, I can boast of having been alive in seven decades. I’ve seen black-and-white television and the World Wide Web, the Cold War and more than a couple of hot ones, rotary dial and cell phones, 8-tracks and iPods.
There were moon walks (no, not Michael Jackson’s), Mickey Mouse becoming a theme-park magnate, self-cleaning ovens and cars that talk to you (no, not KITT from “Knight Rider”).
I’ve seen my kids grow up and my waistline grow out. Heard of nuclear fallout and experienced follicle fall-out. Gotten jobs and lost jobs that didn’t even exist when I was born.
I’ve found out that what the Beatles said — “all you need is love” — just might be true when it all comes down to it.
But I’ve found out that it doesn’t hurt to also have a couple of bucks, considering gas has gone from 25 cents a gallon at the Mars Station on Natural Bridge Road in 1972 to nearly $4 at Huck’s down the street today. Heck, in ’72 I could fill up my yellow Pinto hatchback and get a six-pack of Falstaff for $4. Oh, what a country!
We’ve found that one of the greatest joys of being this age is hangin’ with our kids’ kids. However, Jill and I have also seen our parents decline in health and pass away. All of them. The last two within a year of each other.
Nothing prepared us for any of that. You just go through it and pray for a better day.
These days, we’ve got two things we never had in our child-rearing days: Time and a little extra money at the end of the month. So we’ve got some decisions to make.
We are both looking at retirement in the next few years. We go back and forth on that and a lot of other questions. Do we retire, only to have to work at something else? We have a house that is too big. But in this market, should we even think about downsizing? And to where? Are our bucks set up right so we don’t outlive our investments? And what kind of jobs would we have, if we did retire?
And, most importantly, should I follow through with my threat to get a tattoo of my wife’s name on my left shoulder when I turn 60?
What’s a boomer to do?
In the Journal’s series on baby boomers, we hope to shed some light on these and other pressing conundrums. In the meantime, let’s look again for inspiration in the words of the Fab Four.
“Ooblah dee, ooblah da, life goes on.”
Yeah!

Tom Anselm writes “A Boomer’s Journal,” which appears every other week on the Journal’s opinion page.

Boomers defined by changes they’ve witnessed or created

By Jan Pollack

Baby boomers experienced the expanse of American ideals and the fight for freedom within their own country’s borders and outside of them.
Tumultuous events like the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War and the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy affected their teen and early adult years.
People born between 1946 and 1964, the 77 million people known as baby boomers, are important because of sheer numbers.
Demographics alone created societal changes in farming, education, crime, health care, energy use and consumerism. They caused us to think differently about the environment, politics, science and the manner in which we provide for people in need.
In their retirement years, boomers are continuing to make changes through volunteering and charitable giving. Some are leaving jobs to follow their interests or pursue other lines of work, and some are retiring from a job only to open a small business.
Beverly Berner, co-chairman of St. Louis Community College’s Plus 50 Initiative, believes that boomers are at an age where they are looking for flexibility in their work schedules.
“Baby boomers want to make their own hours. They want to do their jobs and go home, perhaps to take care of elderly parents or be with the grandchildren,” she said.
Thomas Eysell, University of Missouri-St. Louis associate dean and director of graduate studies, said he sees an increase in baby boomers on campus.
“People are remaining active, are pursuing interests not previously explored,” he said. “They are working part time, may have second careers and are moving into volunteer work.”
Baby boomers’ births created the largest population spike in the country’s history. As they grew, they created changes felt at every level of society. Why should their retirement years be different? Staying active, ready to pursue new interests, baby boomers will continue to look ahead and make changes as needed.