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Boomers Had a Different Thanksgiving

‘Twas the weekend before Thanksgiving
And all through the place
People shopping for ingredients
At a furious pace.

The market shelves were stocked
to the brim with care
In anticipation that Turkey Day
would soon be there.

On sale was the butter,
brown sugar and yams;
Fried onions and chicken broth,
both in a can.

On turkey! On gravy!
On Brussels sprouts on a stalk.
Traditional items were there —
No need to squawk.

But something was different
It wasn’t the same feel;
Wall-to-wall Christmas music
Made Thanksgiving shopping surreal.

You don’t have to be an aging boomer to realize that the Christmas “season” seems to be arriving earlier and earlier with each passing year. Mister Boomer, for one, enjoys some fun holiday songs (can you say, “What’s Christmas without Darlene Love?”). However, when Mister B did his THANKSGIVING shopping this weekend, the prospect of a full month-plus of Christmas music didn’t cut it in his book.

When we were young boomers, part of the great fun of all holidays — including Thanksgiving — was the anticipation of events and foods that would only happen once a year. Mister Boomer has written about anticipation before (Boomers Learned to Wait), but this is more than that. There are concrete differences in the Thanksgivings of forty or fifty years ago and today.

Mister Boomer submits for your approval three basic categories for these differences: the gathering; the meal; and the singularity of the holiday.

The Gathering
Thanksgiving, like most holidays in our boomer days, were all about family getting together. Extended families often met around a Thanksgiving table. Aunts and uncles, grandparents, neighbors and family friends all held a place of honor around the table. Or, should we say, tables. There were often far too many people for one table. The first break was the kids’ table (Boomers Sat at the Kids’ Table). If need be, a tertiary table was set up. These could often be “card tables” — which were fixtures in practically every boomer home. Our parents played card games of many types, and the folding table was put to use for those instances between holidays. As a last-case scenario, TV trays could be used for visitor overflow. Most boomer houses had some form of TV tray set. Mister Boomer’s family got theirs the same way they got the folding table and chairs — trading stamps.

For the first couple of decades after the War, most family members lived within fifty miles of each other, so gathering together was more or less implicit. The Boomer Generation would be the first to move further from home in large numbers — first for college, then for employment or a “better groove.”

Family size also played a role in the size of the gatherings. Since The Pill wasn’t approved for contraception use until 1960, many early boomers, like their parents, came from large families. It was not the least bit unusual for families to have two, four, six or more children.

People dressed up for holidays, too — even the children. Little girls wore dresses and boys wore white shirts and dress slacks. Some men wore ties, but only an occasional uncle did that in Mister B’s house.

The Table Setting
In Mister Boomer’s experience, his family’s table design never reached the level of artistic expression. Rather, it was more form-follows-function in his house. On rare occasions, if someone sent flowers, there was a harvest-colored centerpiece. Otherwise, it was either a bowl of fruit and mixed nuts, or more often than not, nothing at all. Cramped quarters didn’t leave table space for frivolities when dish after dish needed the real estate.

The place setting, however, was one thing that helped make it a holiday. In Mister B’s family, it meant eating on the good china. His mother had acquired her full set of china the same way many mothers of boomers did — by purchasing one piece at a discount each week at the supermarket. The dishes remained in the cupboard except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Again, the Boomer family children could bask in the glow of another holiday, knowing it was made special with supermarket china. Cloth napkins often accompanied the place setting — another special touch. One year, Mister B’s father discovered the “wonder” of the cloth-like Vanity Fair paper napkins, and the family’s set of cloth napkins never returned.

You’re the One
Each holiday had its own identity, from colors to events to foods. For Mister B’s Upper Midwest locale, the events were a parade in the morning, which Mister Boomer’s father wanted to attend every year in his early days, and football. In later years, Mister B’s father would attend the games. Dinner would be held until he returned. Except for those times, dinner was usually served between one and two o’clock. It was, according to Mister B’s mother, all about when the turkey was ready. An electric roaster in the basement was where the turkey roasted for hours. Mister B’s mother, like boomer mothers everywhere, got up very early to start the bird, which often tipped the scales at 15-20 pounds.

The TV was never turned on during the meal. Nor were there any records or radios playing. The meal was intended for conversation among the assembled. In Mister B’s house, the dining room was too small and the table positioned in such a way that the TV wasn’t visible from there. The kids’ table sat in the living room as an extension to the dining room table. The kids had a view, but it was not turned on, not that much would have been on that children would enjoy anyway.

Today many families keep up the traditions of their parents, with little marshmallows in the sweet potatoes and a green bean casserole, but often that is where it ends. Families are smaller today than they were in the 1950s and ’60s. Many households do not even possess a roasting pan large enough to hold a turkey, and many do not own “good” china. Boomers may have been the first generation to exhibit this trait. Mister B recalls when Brother Boomer got married and invited the family to his new apartment for Thanksgiving; he got a ticket for speeding when he raced to his mother-in-law’s to borrow a roasting pan. Mister Boomer doesn’t own a roasting pan that large to this day. Having moved eight times in the past 30 years, things like china and roasting pans were not exactly on the must-have list.

Smaller families, people living further apart, seniors and couples with no children living in their homes — and some families — are opting for a restaurant experience on Thanksgiving these days. This was a rarity in our day, but in Mister B’s opinion, it’s a good concession. Not everyone wants to cook a big meal, or spend the day with large numbers of relatives in their house. Today’s double-income families with shared cooking responsibilities changes the landscape, too.

Don’t even get Mister B started on the insanity that has become Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving. This year, more stores are actually opening on Thanksgiving day. That would have NEVER happened in our boomer years.

Yes, Thanksgiving is a different experience for our children and their children than what we knew. Fifty years from now, they will probably be saying the same thing.

Like Mister Boomer, are you feeling the need for a little more nostalgia this holiday? Try an encore reading of this classic Mister B posting: Boomer Turkey Days.

What’s different in your household this Thanksgiving, boomers?

posted by Mister B in Food & Beverage,Getting Older,Holidays,Pop Culture History and have Comments Off on Boomers Had a Different Thanksgiving

Boomers Sat at the Kids’ Table

When it came to Thanksgiving holidays and other events that called for family — which could include grandparents and aunts and uncles — gathering around the dining room table for dinner, the boomer kids of the families were relegated to what was referred to as “the kids’ table.” It was often a secondary table from the household, which could be smaller and also not as tall as the dining room table. While the grown-ups sat at the “big” table, the mom of the house, or a helpful aunt (but never the father or uncle!) would serve the kids at the table.

Mister Boomer has heard this tradition lives on to this day, but there have been changes, not the least of which is predicated by family size. After the War the Boomer Generation began in earnest. Young couples were optimistic for the future and had children right away. Birth control in the form of the Pill was still 19 years away from being introduced when the first boomers were born in 1946, so a perfect storm of new families was bound to occur. By 1960 nearly half the families in the U.S. had children under the age of 18, and the average family had two children. In Mister B’s experience, families he knew had at least three and more typically four or more children, rather than the national average of the time.

Combine the children in extended families, and the math certainly presented a dilemma in seating when hosting the family holiday celebrations. In this light, the kids’ table seems a logical solution to the problem.

Yet by the time we reached the age of 10 or 12, many of us would complain about being seated with much younger siblings and cousins. There was no hard-fast rule for when a child might move up to the “big” table, but by our early teens it would appear most had found accommodation with the grown-ups. Naturally, a spot needed to be available, whether by cramming in another place setting or fewer adults being present.

In Mister Boomer’s household, the kids’ table and accompanying chairs was a folding card table set that his mother had acquired with trading stamps. The folding chairs and table were stored in their original boxes in the basement until such time as they were needed. When still more seating was required, a folding aluminum table was used, both of which stretched out from the dining room into the living room. The aluminum table was generally used for young teens, as it was not as steady as the folding table, and could seat another six or eight, while the card table’s limit was four.

Kids were expected to sit and enjoy their meals, which they did. Dishes were brought to them and cleared away afterward, lest young sleeves find their way into the leftovers. Occasionally discipline was required for an uncooperative individual, in the form of a quick butt-swat by a parent. For the most part, though, kids stayed in place, and always said their “please and thank you’s.”

Mister Boomer has few specific memories about sitting at the kids’ table, but recalls doing so in his own house and also at the houses of aunts and uncles when the family was invited for holiday dinners. He does remember thinking at one time, whether being seated at the kids’ table afforded full access to all of the food that the grown-ups were eating. Mister B enjoyed a holiday feast, and didn’t like the idea that he wouldn’t be entitled to the complete menu. He also enjoyed a good turkey leg, and wasn’t above asking for one at home, but was too polite to ask when visiting.

Mister B can only wonder what a group of today’s kids might think of such a scene as the kids’ table back in our boomer youth days. If we could borrow Mr. Peabody’s Wayback Machine and transport them back to 1960, we could, like the Ghost of Christmas Past, show them how the children, dressed in their holiday best — boys in white shirts and dress pants, girls in dresses — were sitting relatively patiently at the kids’ table, not a cell phone, tablet or video game in sight. Would they think it was a form of punishment? torture? or just primitive, as compared to the more casual atmosphere of today’s kids’ table?

Moms were home more often in the boomer youth days, but Mister Boomer didn’t know any who were crafty. In Mister B’s neighborhood, there might be a main table centerpiece of fruit or flowers, but that’s about it. The china (purchased week-by-week at the A & P) sat otherwise unadorned by raffia-tied napkins or woven table runners, while the kids’ table had less formal dishware, but not plastic utensils and paper plates.

Do you have fond or not-so-fond memories of the kids’ table, boomers?

posted by Mister B in Holidays,Seasons,Suburbia and have Comment (1)

Boomers Had Their Turkey (and Ate It, Too)

If it seems that turkey — the staple protein for every non-vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner — has changed since our early boomer years, it’s because it has. There have been dramatic changes to the bird we consumed through the years, most noticeably since our parents’ time in the Great Depression.

The earliest settlers found the wild native bird to be so tasty that they brought some back with them to Europe. In order for heads of state to continue to dine on the exotic poultry, they quickly started to raise turkeys themselves. By the 1700s, the wild varieties had been hunted to near extinction in the Americas, but domesticated turkeys were being cultivated on both sides of the Atlantic.

In October of 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed a proclamation declaring Thanksgiving an official holiday, to be observed on the last Thursday of every November. The turkey was famously associated with the first Thanksgiving dinner — a celebration of the first harvest at the Plymouth Plantation in 1621 — when the Wampanoag Indians introduced the Pilgrims to the bird. It has been a part of our holiday tradition ever since.

By the 1920s, heritage breeds were reintroduced into the wild and the population of wild turkeys has been steadily growing since. Most turkeys were consumed on the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, and at that point most were not being hunted, but rather domesticated birds were purchased fresh through a butcher. The variety most served to our parents in their youth was called Standard Bronze. It’s also the type of turkey that is depicted in the famous painting by Norman Rockwell. This variety was known to be lean and with long legs, producing a deep poultry flavor with less white meat and a slightly chewy texture.

During the 1930s, about a quarter of the population was unemployed due to the Great Depression. Many people could not afford a turkey, so smaller varieties were bred. These smaller breeds introduced size differences into the marketplace so more people could enjoy a bird on the holidays. Due to the impact of the Depression on the holiday seasons, in 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt suggested changing Thanksgiving to an earlier date so that the Christmas shopping season could be extended to help boost the economy. Congress did not agree, ultimately declaring the fourth Thursday in November the official date by passing Public Law #379.

As the post-war boomer years pushed forward in earnest in the early 1950s, science and technology were introducing all sorts of innovations to the marketplace, including TV dinners and Jell-O salads. Thanks to the widespread adoption of frozen foods, domesticated turkeys could be frozen for shipping across the country and available year ’round. Yet the public’s taste was changing. The overwhelming preference of the 1950s consumer was for more white meat on their turkeys. Breeders complied and produced Broad Breasted Whites. It was a variety specifically created to have larger breasts and shorter legs in order to maximize the amount white meat. The new variety quickly became the norm for boomer families in subsequent years.

Today ninety-nine percent of turkeys consumed on Thanksgiving are the Broad Breasted White variety, though signs point to that fact that tastes may be changing once again. The public’s penchant for white meat hasn’t diminished, but the introduction of heritage breeds, and organic and free-range varieties has tempted a food-conscious generation to taste the difference. Most will say wild heritage breeds and turkeys allowed to roam on farms taste better. Others point to the growing concern over how the birds are treated in their march to the marketplace, including the use of antibiotics that control disease while helping the birds to grow larger.

No matter in which camp boomers find themselves, it is certainly true that more turkey is consumed today than when we were young. It is the fastest growing type of meat, known not only for its taste but also because it contains fewer calories than other meats, and is generally less expensive. Our annual consumption of the bird has doubled since 1974, from 8.7 pounds per capita to more than 17 pounds last year. By contrast, in 1935 only 1.7 pounds of turkey was consumed per capita. There is no doubt that turkey is not just for Thanksgiving any more.

Mister Boomer clearly recalls some memorable Thanksgiving turkeys of his youth. His mother would clean up her enameled electric roaster that was primarily used on holidays to roast the bird. One year an attempt was made for a more traditional bird variety. It was a tom that Mister B’s parents were not satisfied with, proclaiming for the whole family that it was chewier than previous years, and that the experiment would not be repeated. Mister B, enjoying a turkey leg, could not tell what the fuss was about.

One Thanksgiving in the late 1950s, Mister B’s father decided to invite his entire family over for the holiday dinner. The roaster again was deployed, but this time a Butterball turkey was on the menu. The Butterball brand was known for two things: more white meat (making it a Broad Breasted White variety) and juicier meat due to injections of a flavored butter product. Swift Premium marketed the brand at the time, licensing the rights from Butterball Farms. The bird received rave reviews all around, so Mister B can attest first-hand to the changing tastes of boomer families for more white meat.

Today boomers enjoy turkey sandwiches, turkey bacon, turkey sausages and turkey loaves any time of the year. Yet the Thanksgiving turkey still evokes special memories — past and present — of meals shared with family and friends.

Can you remember the turkeys served on your families’ Thanksgiving tables, boomers?

posted by Mister B in Food & Beverage,Holidays,Pop Culture History and have Comment (1)

Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem Soup Bones

The Thanksgiving meal had ended, and the clean up had begun. Mister Boomer’s father-in-law was carving the remainder of this year’s turkey and removing large chunks of meat from the carcass. “I get all the bones!” Mister B’s mother-in-law stated emphatically. Befitting a person of her generation, nothing would be wasted on this holiday bird. That sent Mister B on a trip down Memory Lane.

When Mister Boomer was a child, leftovers extended as many days beyond Thanksgiving as the remaining turkey would allow: turkey sandwiches; turkey casseroles; hot turkey open-face sandwiches; and turkey soup were on the family menu. The turkey carcass, like all meat bones, were used to make the soup. It was common for the parents of boomers to wring as much use as they could out of whatever food they purchased. Whether it was from a time when people held a different train of thought that had been ingrained into their being from their immigrant parents, or a result of living with food rationing during World War II, “waste not, want not” was the order of the day.

It was common for the parents of boomers to use every bit of the holiday turkey, including making soup stock with the bones. The leftover bones of any family meal could end up flavoring a pot of soup.

Turkey carcasses weren’t the only animal bones utilized in the Mister Boomer household. When he was a youngster, money was tight in the Mister Boomer home. That meant the leftovers from any family meal would help make up a meal or two during the week. At least three other meals per week were either meatless or executed as economically as possible. Fortunately, Mister B’s father loved soup in any iteration. The soup-cooking trinity for Mister B’s mom were carrots, celery and onions. Aside from being among the most inexpensive and readily available of fresh vegetables, they could impart real flavor to water to become the basis for any soup.

Mister B recalls his mother sending him to a corner store a couple of blocks away. “Ask the man behind the counter for soup bones,” she would say. At the store, the meat man would know exactly what she was talking about. In the late fifties and early sixties, soup bones could be gotten for free, or in some instances, for only pennies per pound. Most often Mister B would return home with oxtails or ham shanks. One time in particular, Mister B recalls the butcher wrapping ham shank bones in paper. Without any charge, he was free to walk out of the store with the paper package, as large as a school book, tucked under his arm.

Mister B’s mom dropped the ham shank bones into the pot she had used to caramelize her vegetable trinity and covered the ingredients with water. Then she’d add a package of split peas and some salt and pepper. A few hours of simmering later, the family had split pea soup for dinner. Sometimes, there would be fork-sized chunks of ham still on the bones, adding an extra salty, meaty flavor to her thick soup; Mister B’s father would sop up every drop with the help of a slice of white bread. As a change of pace, butter beans were substituted for split peas.

These days, Mister B prefers to make vegetable soup, but he doesn’t care for onions. Nonetheless, the same basic steps hold true: inexpensive ingredients, starting with celery and carrots and combined with whatever is on hand in the fridge, are fair game for a great soup concoction on a fall night. Mister B learned his frugality lessons well.

Whether we’re personally in a situation of plenty in our lives, or experiencing tough times, perhaps we should take a page from the book of our economically-minded parents, beginning with making full use of all the food ingredients at our disposal. “Waste not, want not”; now that’s something to be thankful for.

What visions of soup bones dance through your memories, boomers?

posted by Mister B in Food & Beverage,Holidays,Pop Culture History and have Comments Off on Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem Soup Bones

The Great Cranberry Scare of 1959

Most of us boomers can’t imagine what a Thanksgiving dinner would be like without cranberries. The ubiquitous holiday sweet treat figures greatly in memories of our youth. Some families preferred the whole-berry sauce, but Mister Boomer’s family would never think of varying from the jellied variety in a can. Chances are, a can of jellied cranberry sauce was one of your first solo encounters with a hand can opener. If your household was anything like Mister B’s, opening a can of cranberry sauce was an annual event filled with entertainment value and sweet anticipation. The kids would vie for which one would get the honors of opening the can. They’d gather around as the appointed one methodically slipped the can opener onto the lid, squeezed the handles together and twisted the butterfly-shaped metal knob to slowly cut around the lid edge, until the top was free. Flipping the can over on a plate, the can opener was employed again to pierce the bottom, thereby releasing the vacuum. With a couple of shakes, the sweet stuff would at first slither with an amusing low, slurping sound, then eventually plop from its metallic cylinder to the plate below. How could you not love a food that displayed the ridge shapes of the can in which it was stored? Besides, the ridges could also be used as a handy guide for slicing.

For millions of American families, there was no cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving in 1959. That year, a food scare prompted many families to avoid cranberries altogether for their holiday meal. The story actually begins in 1958, when Congress passed an amendment to the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938 that banned from food any substance that could be shown to cause cancer in test animals. Fast forward to November of 1959, and a group of farmers in Oregon and Washington treated their cranberry crop with a weed killer called aminotriazole. Since the crop was ready to harvest, it was the wrong time to spray the chemical because it left a residue on the harvested crop. Aminotriazole had been known to cause cancerous tumors in laboratory rats.

On November 9, 1959, Arthur Sherman Flemming, Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare — the parent agency to the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — issued this statement:

The Food and Drug Administration today urged that no further sales be made of cranberries and cranberry products produced in Washington and Oregon in 1958 and 1959 because of their possible contamination by a chemical weed killer, aminotriazole, which causes cancer in the thyroids of rats when it is contained in their diet, until the cranberry industry has submitted a workable plan to separate the contaminated berries from those that are not contaminated.

 A reporter asked Secretary Flemming whether a housewife should buy cranberries for her family; his response set off a national panic. Flemming said that if a housewife wasn’t sure of the origin of the product, then “to be on the safe side, she doesn’t buy.” That was enough for millions of Americans to stop purchasing cranberries or cranberry sauce that year. Cranberry farmers across the country were devastated as even the White House chef chose not to serve cranberries to President Eisenhower, giving the Commander in Chief apple sauce instead. Several politicians and scientists tried to calm the panic. Vice President Richard Nixon was a candidate for President, stumping for votes in Wisconsin. He ate several bowls of cranberry sauce to prove its safety. Senator John Kennedy was in his home state of Massachusetts, the largest cranberry-producing state. He drank two glasses of cranberry juice for the press, but the damage for the holiday had been done, even though there had been no ban on the sale of cranberries.

In January of 1960, a study conducted on the crops in question showed that less than one percent of the crop, and only in those two states, had been contaminated by aminotriazole. In retrospect, many historians agree that Flemming overreacted and presented too literal an interpretation of the Delaney Clause. Tests showed that even in the contaminated crop, huge doses would be needed to reproduce the cancer results previously found in the lab.

Congress allotted $10 million in damages to farmers for their loss, but it was too late to save their 1959 holiday season. It has been said that one positive thing that came out of the situation was that farmers tended to follow pesticide instructions more carefully. The Great Cranberry Scare of 1959 may have been an overreaction, but it acted as the harbinger of what was to come in the 1960s with pesticides such as DDT, which spawned Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, and subsequently the environmental movement many boomers embraced into the 1970s.

As you feast on the traditional fixings this Thanksgiving, think about how boomers have played an important role in the government policing of our food supply — and yet how constant vigilance is the name of the food safety game.

What holiday memories of cranberry sauce come to mind for you, boomers?

posted by Mister B in Food & Beverage,Holidays,Pop Culture History and have Comments Off on The Great Cranberry Scare of 1959

Boomers Made Black Friday

Now that we are are “officially” in the holiday gift-buying season, let’s examine the effect boomers have had on Black Friday. Before the first boomers were in their teen years, the term “Black Friday” referred to a day in 1869. Two speculators had tried to corner the gold market, which resulted in the collapse of the price of gold. In fact, all events referred to as “black” days of the week had traditionally indicated ominous events, usually with a financial connection. The great Stock Market Crash of 1929 is often referred to as “Black Tuesday.”

It is the Stock Market Crash and the Great Depression that lead us into the beginnings of the Black Friday story. In 1939, the Depression still had hold of the country and things remained pretty bleak for the majority of consumers and businesses. Since November contained five Thursdays that year, Thanksgiving would fall on the final day of the month. For businesses, that meant the holiday selling season would only be 24 days long. There had been an unwritten rule among retailers and consumers for many decades that holiday shopping should begin after Thanksgiving. For that reason, many large department stores across the country started to sponsor Thanksgiving Day parades as early as the 1920s as a way to usher in the holiday shopping season.


Boomers may or may not have recognized the alliance between commerce and Thanksgiving during their Wonder Years, but this clip surely shows it was there in 1960.

Business leaders had suggested the holiday be moved before, but with the Depression lingering in 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt agreed to move Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday in November, from the last Thursday position it had held since President Lincoln signed the first holiday proclamation in 1863. The thinking was that retailers would be helped out by adding an extra week to the holiday shopping season. It was not an idea that was well received. Only 22 states decided to adopt the new Thanksgiving Day. This prompted humorist Will Rogers to declare that there were two Thanksgivings: one for Democrats and one for Republicans, since Republicans were overwhelmingly against the idea. Congress finally got around to approving the date change in 1941, moving Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday in November, where we celebrate it today.

Despite the discrepancies in the Thanksgiving holiday celebration date, there still was no mention of Black Friday. That would wait until long after the War. So long after, actually, that the first wave of post-war boomer children had reached their teens and twenties. The first mention of the day after Thanksgiving being called Black Friday dates to 1966. That’s when police officers in Philadelphia referred to the day as being “black” because of the huge problems vehicular and pedestrian traffic caused them. Since many people were home for the holiday weekend, they would flock to see the city dressed in its holiday best. Retailers joined in the “black” foray to lament the onslaught of shoppers that would descend on them the day after Thanksgiving. Many boomers will find it hard to recall a day-after event named Black Friday. It had not really coalesced into a full-blown marketing event during our formative years, though some stores did grab the name for their sale advertisements.

While the parents of boomers helped create the circumstances surrounding Black Friday, it was the Boomer Generation that took it to its next level. By the 1980s, boomers were in charge as store owners, managers, marketers and as parents themselves. We had already become the greatest consumer generation the country had ever seen, and now we were poised to elevate our own paean to shopping. It was about this time that attempts were made in the press to change the ominous “Black Friday” to one that referred to “in the black,” which meant a time when retailers were “out of the red” and into the profit-making zone. It wasn’t necessarily true for many retailers, but sounded like a reasonable explanation for calling the day “black.” In the 1980s, the country was in a recession. As a result, deep discounts began to be advertised for the day after Thanksgiving as a way of luring shoppers to specific stores. Sales usually centered around clearance items, with the occasional “loss leader” (the limited quantity, highly discounted item) tossed in as bait. Therefore, it was the Boomer Generation that set the stage for Black Friday, though it took the children of boomers to take it to the level of insanity that now occurs.

Boomers recall a time in their youth when stores not only didn’t open at 4 a.m., they rarely opened before 9 a.m. It was even rarer for one to stay open past 9 p.m. In most areas, stores were not open on Sundays, even during the holiday season. As the sixties became the seventies, seven-day-a-week retail store hours were becoming accepted as the new norm. It would seem a somewhat logical progression that the next twenty years would see an extension of the hours to earlier and later. This season, however, another milestone has been reached; the first mention Mister Boomer can recall of retail stores staying open 24 hours a day, beginning on Thanksgiving Day. In our younger days, it was a source of pride for stores to post a sign stating they would be closed on the holiday, “So our employees may celebrate with their families.” Now, the new source of pride appears to be the “always open” sign.

What do you think about Black Friday, boomers? Is it a logical extension of our boomer-sixties mantra of, “If it feels good, do it,” or have we become the next generation of carpetbaggers, eager to wring out the last drop of profit from an all-too-willing public?

posted by Mister B in Getting Older,Holidays,Pop Culture History,Suburbia and have Comment (1)