Boomers Can Now Say, “When I Was Your Age…”

We’ve all heard it: Growing up, our parents and grandparents would never miss an opportunity to remind us “how good we had it” compared to when they were growing up. Now it’s our turn.

When we look back at the tremendous hardships, coupled with enormous lifestyle changes and technological advances experienced by the preceding two generations after World War II, they did indeed bear witness to amazing times. But looking at the past fifty years that chronicle the growing of the boomer generation, we can say no less about our times. The social and political upheaval of our youth was rivaled only by the technological marvels that evolved to pave the way for the next generations.

So, the next time your grandchildren — or children — ask you about what it was like when you were growing up, here are a few common things that are now taken for granted that our families just did not have when we were young children, because they either hadn’t been invented yet, or were not popularized until we were well into our teens and twenties.

Boomers did NOT have:

Cell Phones (not commercially sold until 1983)

Touch-Tone Phones (slowly replaced the rotary dial when introduced in 1963)

Anything related to Personal Computers (PC not popularized until the 1980s)

Internet (not commercially popular until the mid 1990s)

Master Card/Visa credit cards (Diners Club was the first credit card, introduced in 1950, but MC and Visa weren’t popularized until the mid 70s)

Microwave Ovens (invented in 1946 but not popular in the home until the mid 70s)

Garbage Disposal Units (on the market in 1938 but took until the 1970s to become readily accepted by municipalities and available to consumers)

Plastic Garbage Cans (steel cans ruled; we kept them until they rusted out through the bottom)

Plastic Garbage Bags (not popularized until the late 1960s)

Disposable Diapers (not commercially available until the late 1960s)

Automatic Dishwashers (not common in households until the 1970s)

Non-Dairy Creamer (first introduced in 1961)

Cuisinart Food Processor (available in 1973)

Heart Transplants (first in 1969)

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging — first in 1977)

Rollerblades (introduced in 1979)

Instant Noodles (introduced in 1971)

VCR (introduced in 1971; DVD players weren’t around until the 1990s; and forget about TiVO)

Karaoke (introduced in 1971)

Jacuzzi (whirlpool popularized in the mid 70s)

Here are some things we DID have. While some are still around, others have been relegated to the dustbin of history:

Slinky (invented in 1943)

Lincoln Logs (invented in 1916)

Erector Set (invented in 1911)

Silly Putty (invented in 1943)

Frisbee (introduced in 1948)

Portable Transistor Radio (popularized around 1954)

Etch A Sketch (introduced in 1960)

Tupperware (the famous seal was invented in 1947)

Polaroid Camera (on the market in 1948)

The ‘Pill’ (approved by the FDA in 1960 — for boomer moms, of course)

Music Cassette (first introduced 1n 1962, but popularized in the 1970s)

Roller Skates (around for hundreds of years)

How about it, boomers? What did you have as a child that your children or grandchildren didn’t?

I Age, You Age, We All Age for Discounts

Mister Boomer’s mother-in-law always says, “Pick an age you like and stick with it.” For that reason she was, like Jack Benny, 39 for many years. Eventually she started to admit her age. That time coincided with her reaching an age that would officially qualify her as a senior citizen. Why the “sudden” turnaround? “Well, I want my discount!” she would say, “I’ve earned it.”

Now it’s time for boomers to join the senior discount crowd. The final batch of baby boomers will reach age 50 by 2014. Those of us who have passed this milestone know exactly what happens the moment the odometer of life clicks to the half-century mark: an envelope arrives from AARP.

Mister B has heard many a boomer react with disdain and alarm at the “invitation” to join the world’s largest senior organization. Most received that initial envelope with all the the robust verve they once reserved for the “greetings” from their Uncle Sam. Ignored at best, ripped to shreds at the other end of the spectrum, an invite from AARP is often treated as tantamount to impending doom. For boomers who would rather “burn out than fade away,” they still voice the creed, “hope I die before get old.”

Yet, AARP is unrelenting. Like a hair band guitar solo, they grab that note and repeat it until they beat you into submission. Once you get that first invitation, you can bet your sweet bippy more invitations will continue to arrive.

Mister Boomer ignored the invite for many years. Uncertain about any group that would have him for a member, Mister B’s boomer values — now updated to read, “never trust anyone over fifty … make that sixty.. would you believe seventy…” held steadfast. Then friends and family got into the act and asked if he had joined. “No,” was the terse response, “I’m too young.” A harangue would inevitably ensue, the speaker relating the many benefits of membership.

Actual adulterated photo illustration by Mister Boomer. Your discount mileage may vary. Not an offer or endorsement.

Finally, Mister Boomer’s sister hit a nerve. She extolled the virtues of the AARP discount. Semantically different than a SENIOR discount, an AARP discount was for members. With a family trip pending, Mister B succumbed to the siren call of the discount.

A few weeks later, the membership card arrived. Sooner than you can say, “Adam West is Batman,” the card delivered on its promises. WHAM! 15% off a car rental reservation; BAM! 20% off a hotel stay; then two weeks later, POW! 30% off eyeglasses! Mister B had saved enough in the first month to pay for the membership for at least another decade. By then, the “real” senior discount will kick in. Well, there is still a chance to “die young and stay pretty.” In the meantime, bring on the discounts!

As our 70-million strong generation ages, we may very well break the back of the traditional senior discount. The Social Security eligibility age is now in play, so what’s to stop the senior discount from going the way of the one-hit wonder?

If you’re like Mister Boomer, you may not be all that concerned with any organization. After all, when asked what we were rebelling against, didn’t we answer, “what you got?” Here, however, experience is the best teacher. The next time that AARP invitation arrives, check it out.

What do you think, boomers? Are you ready to save some moolah or do you already know that membership has its privileges?