Hey Boomers, How is Your Memory These Days?

The human brain is an amazing thing. As aging boomers now know, you can walk into a room and forget why you went there, yet a flash of an image, sound or smell can trigger vivid memories decades old, and it’s yesterday once more (as the Carpenters once sang). Along those lines, it’s been Mister Boomer’s experience that fellow boomers can recall — at a moment’s notice — the lyrics from songs that they may not have heard since way back when. What’s more, the detailing of these lyrics are not dependent on whether the boomer liked the song or not.

So, in a thoroughly unscientific manner, let’s conduct an experiment to test Mister B’s hypothesis. Click the link below to view/print/download a PDF document that is Mister Boomer’s Lyrics Memory Quiz. Take the quiz and see if you agree that you can recall a bunch of these songs immediately.

Speaking of memory, we can’t forget about our fellow boomers who have been isolated — many for months, now — during these uncertain times. Mister Boomer personally knows several vulnerable boomers who have remained inside their living quarters, venturing out only for doctor visits. You may want to introduce the quiz to them over a video call as a way of increasing interaction in those on-screen visits. It can get them thinking and remembering, and maybe inject a little fun into your next internet social meeting, too.

A note about the song choices
Mister Boomer has selected the songs in this 24-question quiz partially by what has appeared randomly in his brain under his “Morning Jukebox Syndrome” affliction. That’s a circumstance where Mister B wakes up with a song playing in his head, lyrics and music included. Since first writing about it, he has heard from several other boomers who say they, too, possess this morning oddity. Otherwise, he tried to mix up the choices to span the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s to include as many boomers as possible. As a mid-generational boomer himself, Mister B has a real affinity for songs from the ’60s, as regular readers of this blog will know. Late-era boomers may have been born too late to know some of the songs from the 1950s, though they were repeatedly played as oldies for the past 50 years. No matter, it’s not a competition and won’t appear on your permanent record!

Some song lyrics will pop into your head immediately (I can name that tune in three notes!). Others may take a few minutes while your internal search engine sends out its bots to look for the file. Some only need a few words to be identifiable, while others may require a little more set-up to jog your memory. Some of these lyrics start the songs, and some lead into the chorus, while others are pivotal moments within. Each set of lyrics comes with a built-in clue by the indication of the number of words that are in the next line. Mister Boomer suggests singing the lyric to yourself (or to your video chat buddy), and you may find the next line flows effortlessly. Give yourself extra points if you know the name of the song and the band or person who recorded it. Add a thousand more if you can recall the year it was released.

We all need a little fun these days, and Mister Boomer hopes you can have some fun with this. Once you finish your quiz (Mister B recommends printing it to physically fill it out), then click on the answers link below to see how close you came. Mister B is betting you’ll remember more than you thought you might.

You’ll need a PDF Reader:
Click to view/print/download Mister Boomer’s Lyrics Memory Quiz

Click to view/print/download Answers to Mister Boomer’s Lyrics Memory Quiz

One legal note to relay: Please do not repost the downloaded PDFs or attach them in emails to friends and family. Rather, please respect Mister Boomer’s copyright and send a link to this page instead, so your recipients can experience them for themselves at the source. Thank you!

Boomers Knew Signs of the Times

It occurred to Mister Boomer that our generation knew and employed hand gestures — signs of the times, if you will — that became identified with our generation. Some we inherited from previous generations and carried on the tradition, while others we adapted and made our own.

Pee-yeew!
The symbol for “something is not smelling right” is a thumb and index finger grasping one’s nose. A gesture often used by children, it could under those circumstances relate to personal proximity to a gaseous presence, often emanating from a sibling. When performed behind the back of the alleged offender, often an adult, it was a “man, this stinks” statement to surrounding siblings or classroom pals.
In later years, it was used to describe the stench of polluted air. Occasionally it was used as a metaphor to protest government action that, to the protester, meant “something stinks here.”

Peace Sign
Perhaps the hand gesture that is most often identified with the Baby Boomer generation, this sign of the times consisted of lifting the first two fingers of a hand to form a “V.” Similar to a Boy Scout oath-taking hand gesture, it differed in the separation of the fingers.
Most people know that Winston Churchill utilized the gesture as a rallying symbol to mean “V for Victory” during the second World War. Yet there is evidence of its use as a symbol of victory as far back as the 1400s. Two boomer-era presidents — Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon — were known to raise both arms fully extended in a “V for Victory” stance in political rallies.
Boomers adapted it as a sign of peace during protests of the Vietnam War, a symbol simply stating, “All we are saying, is give peace a chance.” It became identified with pacifists and hippies, but survived and spread beyond the counter culture.

Roll Down Your Window
Boomers know the sign to ask the person in the next car to roll down their window is a hand grasping an invisible handle that is then rotated repeatedly. It was an indication of the manual method most people were required to perform to raise or lower a window inside a car.
Most often used at stoplights, it could be utilized to ask for directions, or in the case of boomers, more often to talk to members of the opposite sex. It might also be used to invite the other driver to race when the light changed.

Boomers recall Mike Myers immortalizing the gesture in the 1992 movie, Wayne’s World. When his character and his cohort Garth (Dana Carvey) pull alongside a Rolls Royce at a stoplight, he does the hand gesture to ask the other car’s occupant if he has any Grey Poupon — a spoof of a popular TV commercial of that time.

Check, Please
Everyone knows a hand wave in a restaurant is meant to gain the attention of a server, most often to indicate that the meal is complete and the bill is requested. It can be a simple raised hand and arm like a student in a classroom, or a hand waving. It is often seen as a hand holding an unseen pen and writing in the air.
This hand gesture did not start with Baby Boomers, but Mister B is including it here because the concept of middle class families enjoying fine dining was mostly unknown in the early part of the Baby Boom. As the middle class grew in the 1950s and ’60s, it has been Mister B’s anecdotal experience that families went to restaurants mainly on special occasions. Boomers would see their fathers perform the gesture at the end of a Mother’s Day meal, and, a few years later when going to a restaurant became an option for dating, employed the hand sign themselves.

Middle Finger Salute
Another symbol that has a long history around the globe, boomers embraced this insult gesture as their own. There was no greater way to express rebellion against the Establishment than to perform the obscene gesture of raising a middle finger, whether that was aimed at the grown-ups from previous generation, at teachers or government.
By the 1970s, the gesture had been overused for all sorts of mundane occasions, diluting the earlier insult and shock factor that drew a separation line between generations.

How about you, boomers? Do you recall these or other hand gestures that you think of as signs of our time?