Boomers Looked to the Future on TV

If you are a fan of boomer-era TV trivia (and who isn’t?), you may or may not be aware of an esoteric tidbit that directly coincides with this date in history. The Jetsons (1962-63), the animated TV series, was set in a future 100 years from the time the series was aired, which would mean it took place in 2062. In the series, George Jetson, the family father figure, was named as a 40 year-old man. Subtract 40 years from 2062 and 2022 surfaces as the year of George Jetson’s birth. Somehow, someone got to July 31 from there. Where the exact month and date came from is left to speculation.

Mister Boomer has written previously about The Jetsons, as it was a family favorite in his household. In the past month, while Mister B was flipping through the channels, he found an episode of The Jetsons airing, so he invested a half hour to watch it. The episode was the one where George’s daughter, Judy, enters a songwriting contest. The winner of the contest will get a date with a famous rock star, Jet Screamer. George, wanting to keep his daughter away from any rock & roller, tries to sabotage Judy’s entry by substituting some words with his son Elroy’s secret code. In true sitcom fashion, of course, Judy’s altered song wins. George follows Judy on her date with Jet Screamer, and sneaks into that night’s concert by picking up equipment and walking behind the back-up band. Ultimately, George gets on-stage behind a futuristic drum set to better watch Jet and Judy, only to be discovered. The tables get turned when George is then put in the spotlight as the father of the winning songwriter, who will start the song off with a drum solo. With the spotlight on George, he launches into his solo lead-in to the song, Eeep! Opp! Ork! Ah-Ah! It turns out George is a regular Buddy Rich on the drums, a swingin’ 40 year-old daddy-o. It’s worth checking out, boomers.

Speaking of age, Mister Boomer recalls right around the time that The Jetsons was being broadcast, a teacher in one of his classes asked the students to do the math to see how old they would be in the year 2000. Then, she asked them to imagine what their life would be like when they were 40 years old. Mister Boomer recalls it was a frightening proposition since 40 seemed so old! The future envisioned throughout our boomer years did come to pass in many ways (though we have no flying cars yet), but the thought of thinking forward around 30 years was almost too much to bear.

In terms of The Jetsons, once the space-age marvels are eliminated, the characters acted pretty much the same as people did in the 1960s. In The Jetsons example just mentioned, George was anti-rock & roll until he got his 15 minutes of rock stardom. It seems that somehow, we can envision technological marvels, but human evolution is much harder to predict. Star Trek may be the only TV show that looked to a future when poverty, war and disease were in the past.

As we boomers age, it’s fun to remember the way we were 40, 50 or 60 years ago. Yet it’s more than a little frightening to think forward and wonder what our lives will be like 20, 30 or 40 years from now. Maybe a young Mister B was right to be wary 60 years ago. Happy Birthday, George!

How about you, boomers? Did you ever imagine your life in the year 2022?

Boomers Remember the First “…Gate” — Watergate

There are seminal moments in the life of boomers that conjure vivid memories: John Kennedy’s assassination; Neil Armstrong taking his first step on the moon; and the Watergate hearings, to name a few. Fifty years ago this week, on June 17, 1972, burglars were arrested while breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate hotel and office complex in Washington, DC. The story of corruption, abuse of power and ultimately, the cover-up, unfolded before the eyes of the country in a series of televised Senate hearings examining the Watergate scandal.

Every boomer recognizes the names involved: John Dean, John Ehrlichman, E. Howard Hunt, G. Gordon Liddy, and of course, Richard Nixon, immediately come to mind. There has been much written through the years about Watergate, not to mention movies and TV interviews. Now at the fiftieth anniversary, there is another avalanche of recollections emerging about the original crime and subsequent cover-up that resulted in the resignation of the President of the United States. Mister Boomer writes about boomers and their way of life in the three decades of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, and makes no claim to being a historian. What is important to Mister B at this auspicious anniversary is how boomers absorbed the historical happenings then, and whether their mindset was in any way influenced by these events in the years that followed.

Mister Boomer was a college student when the Watergate hearings were aired. He did watch some of them on TV, but mostly got his information from the daily newspaper. A running account in an ongoing series of articles summarized each of the hearings and latest revelations. Of course, there was also the evening news with Harry Reasoner, John Chancellor or Walter Cronkite.

People sometimes forget that the time span from the arrest of the Watergate burglars to Nixon’s resignation was just over two years. Many months passed to digest the information that exploded in the public realm from the White House, the Senate hearings and reporters, most notably Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein from the Washington Post.

To a young Mister B, the parade of names involved in Watergate was difficult to keep track of, but it was evident as individual criminal trials went on that the whole thing was a conspiracy, not merely an office break-in. Most of the boomer males in Mister B’s circle were opposed to every U.S. president since the beginning of the Vietnam war on principal, for the simple reason that they feared getting drafted. Nonetheless, many particularly relished the resignation of Richard Nixon as the culmination of events that began fifty years ago.

What did Watergate mean to your mindset then and now, boomers? Did it shatter your trust in government — as President Gerald Ford attempted to address in the aftermath — and reinforce suspicions that the President of the United States was, despite his pronouncement to the contrary, a crook? Or did it restore your faith in the ability of the government’s watchdogs to hold people in our highest offices accountable?