Mister Boomer’s Easter Flashback

As aging boomers can attest now that six-to-seven decades have elapsed in our existence, there are plenty of flashback memories from which to choose on any occasion. This week, as another Easter season passes, Mister B was transported to the early 1960s. The flashback in question concerned his father and attending church on Easter Sunday.

Lent, that 40-day period set aside before Easter for personal reflection and to ask for forgiveness for past transgressions, is also a time when many Christians “give up” something as a symbolic sacrifice for the season. It was encouraged in Mister Boomer’s parochial school, though not particularly practiced among the schoolchildren, who tended to offer up something that wasn’t that much of a problem for them to do without for a month and a half.

Mister Boomer’s family practiced the no-meat-on-Fridays rule, but other than that, it was not typical for family members to discuss “giving up” something for Lent. So it was with great surprise that one year, his father announced he was giving up cigarettes for Lent. Mister B recalls his mother reacting with skepticism. After all, Mister B’s dad had a two-pack-a day habit at the time. Yet he was resolute. From that day forward, he did not smoke, at least around the family.

If you’ve read Mister Boomer’s posts for any length of time, you know his feelings on smoking. There was nothing about it that Mister B could tolerate, even as a child. So cutting the cloud of smoke in the home (or car!) by half for a few weeks was more than welcome.

So it was, as Lent went on, his father held out while his mother continued to spew smoke. Unfortunately for Mister Boomer, though, Lent does not last forever. Easter Sunday was fast approaching, and Mister B and his siblings wondered what would happen to their father’s pledge. They would not wait long to find out.

On Easter Sunday, the family drove to attend services, parking in the smaller of the two parking lots that abutted the church. It was the early 1960s, and church attendance was at its highest, especially on major religious holidays. Securing a good parking spot was crucial to getting the rest of the day underway, lest extra time be spent in trying to exit.

After the service, Mister B’s parents shuffled the kids along so the family would be in the car and ready as soon as an opportunity to leave appeared. Mister Boomer cannot recall the reason for the rush, but more than likely it was the fact that a visit to both grandmothers would ensue, which meant two Easter dinners awaited that afternoon.

As the brisk pace brought the family to the church doors, Mister B saw his father reach into his suit jacket pocket and pull out a new pack of Lucky Strikes. As soon as he crossed the threshold and was outside, a cigarette was in his mouth and being lit with his Zippo lighter. He did not even wait to get to the car. Cigarette lit, Mister B’s father took a long drag and began coughing, though he never stopped the family’s brisk pace to the car. He coughed and coughed, but the cigarette remained in his mouth. There was the answer Mister B dreaded; his father would smoke again.

In fact, Mister Boomer’s father did continue to smoke for another three decades after that Easter Sunday. Still, for forty smoke-free days from his father, Mister Boomer had a moment to catch his breath.

Was giving something up for Lent part of your Easter tradition, Boomers?

More Easter reading from Mister B:
Boomers Loved Their Chocolate Easter Bunnies
Our Sunday Best for Easter

Boomers Were Dialed In

Fifty years ago this week — April 3, 1973 to be exact — a historic event took place on a sidewalk in New York City. There, on Sixth Avenue between 53rd and 54th Street, Martin Cooper, an engineer for Motorola, placed the first mobile phone call. He was holding a device approximately the size of your forearm, that more resembled a field communications radio from WWII than what we now know as a mobile phone. He was calling Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, holding a prototype DynaTAC 8000X, which weighed in at 1.1 kilos — that’s approximately two and a half pounds. It would take another decade before mobile phones were available to the public, but this successful call paved the way for the mobile industry that boomers live in today. In the boomers’ adult lifetime, the world went from no mobile phones to what was estimated to be 67% of the world’s population in 2019 owning a mobile phone.

From push-button phones to 8-tracks, VCRs to cassette tapes, the record shows that boomers embraced new technology faster than previous generations. Yet some boomers hesitated to hop on the cell phone bandwagon, and Mister Boomer was one of them. Mister B recalls it seemed like an unnecessary extravagance in its early days. After all, phones were readily available at home and in businesses. However, as time went on, Mister B saw the advantage of having a phone in one’s own pocket. He clearly remembers the event that pushed him into the age of mobile phones.

In the late 1990s, Mister Boomer traveled a bit for the job he had. In one such business trip, he was instructed to call colleagues when he landed at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport so a ride could be arranged. When Mister B deplaned and walked through the maze of hallways to the passenger luggage area, he looked for a pay phone to make his call. There were none to be seen. After far too long a time searching in all the likely spots, he asked an airline employee where he could find the pay phones. “You’ll have to go to the next terminal,” was the response. It was only the 1990s, but already, pay phones were disappearing. Mister B grabbed his luggage (which did not have wheels) and hoofed it over to the next terminal, where he found a small bank of lonely pay phones.

When he returned home and relayed his story to Mrs. Boomer, she cajoled him by saying it was time he got with it, man. She was ready for an upgrade, and offered him her hand-me-down. So it was that near the end of the 1990s, Mister Boomer joined the mobile phone world with a palm-sized device that featured familiar number/letter buttons, but had only a tiny screen that displayed the number being called. It did, however, have a permanent antenna jutting out of the upper right corner.

For now Mister Boomer still has a landline, which is the label people use to describe the wired-into-the-wall home phone that boomers knew their whole lives. In Mister Boomer’s home, that phone sits on a telephone stand. It’s the place he sets his mobile phone down when he arrives home, as well. Old habits are hard to break.

Additional reading about telephones from Mister Boomer:
For Boomers, Phone Followed Function
Boomers Called Long Distance
Boomers Tossed the Party Line

How about you, boomers? Were you an early cell phone adopter, or did you wait a while to get yours?