Boomers Are the In-Person Generation

Over the past few years, technology has advanced to such a degree that it enables people in the workplace or social situations to communicate through a screen instead of in person. This choice was hardly imaginable in the boomer years. In fact, the contrast between lifestyles of then and now completely illustrates that boomers were the in-person generation.

Wherever and whatever needed to be done, boomers had to physically be there to do it. Take banking, for example. Mister Boomer remembers when he got his first full-time job after college. Every Friday he’d be standing in a bank line to cash his paycheck. Although ATMs existed in some areas since 1969, the early machines were only cash dispensers and could not accept deposits. Whether you needed to make a deposit or withdrawal, apply for a mortgage or other loan, or were looking for traveler’s checks for an upcoming vacation, it warranted an in-person trip to the bank.

Before boomers became part of the workforce, they were students. Then, as now, students were required to research select subjects and write reports, essays and papers. In order to do the necessary research, boomers had to visit the nearest library; usually, multiple in-person visits to the actual library building would be necessary to complete a project. The fact that the same type of research can now be done on a phone device that you keep in your pocket was science fiction in the boomer years.

Likewise, school itself was an in-person requirement. Classes were held in classrooms with other students and a teacher, not on an electronic device. Studies are still being conducted to identify the positive or negative aspects of this new capability, but for boomers, the only way a student could stay home from school was if a snow day was declared, and that meant no classes that day. Ironically, in some areas, school districts are now looking at eliminating most sick or snow days because of the online schooling option.

If you wanted to see family or friends who lived far away, you had two choices in the boomer era: get in the car and drive to see them, or board a plane or train to their destination. Long distance phone calls were expensive, and as a general rule were not used for casual catching up. An in-person visit was the only way to see their faces and speak with them. Now, of course, “visiting” anyone anywhere in the world via a screen is only a few clicks away.

Mister Boomer does not mean to imply that one is better than the other. He is merely an observer, pointing out how boomers have lived though historical happenings in all aspects of technological breakthroughs and changes to societal norms. Think about that the next time you ponder the history boomers have witnessed.

How about you, boomers? Do you miss the in-person requirements, or welcome the ability to proceed through your day as you wish?

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