A Reader’s Letter

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I wanted to share some feedback from an individual who also grew up in Pennsylvania. No further comments from me except that I hope you enjoy his profound comments as much as I did.

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Finally read Baby Boomer Reflections on a Cathay Pacific 13 hour joy ride to Hong Kong.  Light years away from a trip to Shamokin or Centralia. I can certainly see in those pages–the humor, thought process and irreverence.  So GREAT!

Quick and easy read, tons of smiles, and many repressed memories coming out and connecting with the past—bringing many friends, locations, events and emotions back to life. Funny how certain things stick with you  – for whatever reason. You caught a lot of those same memories.

Page 22 — Houses–we had 6 people sharing bedrooms and one bathroom.  I lived that.  But our backlog was too much so my dad added a toilet only — just off the KITCHEN.  Interesting activity when you had company at the house—but it worked!

The family meal at exactly 5:30 every day.  My dad would drive home from work, the same route and timing everyday.  If we went to the library after school, and wanted a ride home, we had to be on a certain corner at 5:20, home at 5:30, and eating at 5:31.  One of the most reliable processes in my life.

I started driving in ’69.  I’ll never forget gas at $.29 9/10.  Anyone ever figure out the 9/10 thing?

Dances at the “Y”, impact of the Kennedy Assassination, taking out the ashes, 3 years of HS Latin, NY Worlds Fair trip…….. And the music.  Oh, the music.

WKBW Buffalo was a real memory—sleeping every night with a transistor radio and 9V battery under my pillow.  I also remember vividly—WLS Chicago, KDKA Pittsburg, WOWO Fort Wayne, and a station in Windsor Ontario CKLW.  I can still hear the jingle……..”C-K-L-W -The Motor City”.   Wow, we could dream about the big world out there.

Also…. WFIL and WABC in the day…but they cut their power at night.  I knew every word to every Top 50 song in 1965.  Today, I’m lucky to know the #1 song or artist.  And words…. forget it.

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I have very fond memories of growing up in an innocent time.  In the summer, we would leave the house everyday on our bike at 8:30, with a bag lunch, and return home by 5:30 (for dinner) without a care or any threat of personal harm. Exploring everything …..   (And it wasn’t an “English Bike” with three speeds.  It was basic pedal power.)  Proud to be from my hometown, but things have changed so much.

Don’t know how or why, but someone “up above” decided that I would venture out into other parts of the world and be blessed with the opportunity to see so much more and meet incredible people.  My life has definitely exceeded my early Pennsylvania dreams — beyond my wildest expectations.  Hey, this kid from PA married a beautiful beach girl from California who has shown me a whole other world!!!  So lucky!   And I never, ever thought I would see so many countries and cultures.  (On my way to India as I read this book and write this email) How surreal.  But even today, I love exploring the neighborhoods, parks, countryside and natural wonders of those places …..the same stuff that I saw (locally) on that bike, but now in a global context.

Those PA roots are so strong and proud. Those traditions you speak of in the book are “sacred” in so many ways…. especially now that digital toys and experiences will eventually make the baby boomer experiences obsolete, except for a Wikipedia page.

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As a footnote—My (Our) Hometowns have transitioned. The pride, honesty, simplicity, work ethic and credibility of the people we grew up with are fading fast.  The entire complexion of a town like Pottsville or Lewisburg is now changing with a loss of pride. The last few times I visited my hometown as my parents were dying–I hardly recognized the place and the people.  I tell my friends that I believe somewhere, the good ol’ Quaker, William Penn is crying.

Baby Boomer Reflections helped me remember the best of times.  Thank You.

4 thoughts on “A Reader’s Letter

  1. Wow, reading this letter from a small town guy in PA and thinking how eerily similar his experience growing up was to mine some 2500 miles away in the small desert town of Desert Hot Springs, California. Same thing with our dinners, you just had to be home for dinner and you talked about your day around the table, but no one worried and no one made you call unless you might be late and it had better be a really, really good reason.

    I didn’t have a bike because we couldn’t afford one for all five kids, so the three older siblings who delivered papers got the bikes. I have no idea what happened to them after that but I never got one. So, I walked everywhere with my friends. All over town, collecting bottles and getting to keep the money to get candy or a Green River soda at the Five and Dime, go to the matinee’s, swim at my friends house, bake cakes with my elderly neighbor or build forts.

    We were poor a lot of the time, but sometimes it felt like we were pretty well off. That’s because my Dad would say, “When you have money you can spend it and when you don’t you don’t complain.” So, sometimes we had no electricity and would bathe in a tub that was heated over the fire pit in our back yard and sometimes were were eating at the fanciest places in town. That’s just the way it was in our family and I didn’t know any different. Some people had better houses, better cars, better clothes and went on family vacations. We didn’t but it didn’t seem all that odd to me because that’s just the way it was. I was excited when we got a portable TV and disappointed when the police came to take it back because the guy my dad got it from had stolen it. Life goes on and we went back to listening to our favorite shows on the radio. The Shadow, Kids Say the Darndest Things, The Lone Ranger, Mystery Theatre, etc.

    We knew everyone in town and they knew us and, believe me, if we got out of line our Dad would know about it before we even got back home. We were afraid of getting in trouble so we measured everything we did against the possible consequences should our Dad find out. It was a healthy fear that kept three girls and two boys on the straight and narrow around town. At home was a slightly different thing because rules were meant to be tested and my older siblings did a lot of testing and even with their punishments, us two younger girls found our own ways of getting in to mischief.

    I too married well, and my New Yorker husband gave me a whole new perspective and we built an amazing life together. I look at where I came from, lighting candles around the house to have some light to do my homework by, and where I am now and marvel at the transition.

    We gave our kids the best childhood we could and, for the most part, I think they enjoyed a fair amount of freedom to come and go in their somewhat small town too, even if it wasn’t exactly like ours. Their extreme sports put an end to the family dinner the same time every night, but Sunday’s were sacrosanct. They too had a healthy fear of disappointing their parents, but we had a much different way of handing out the consequences then our parents did back in the 50’s and 60’s. We did have family vacations as that was something I made sure we did often. We still have those with the entire family, once each summer without fail. Even that is getting harder as the grandchildren go off to college and summers are shorter.

    I know our grandchildren feel like they have a good life and aren’t missing out on anything and that’s wonderful to know. But they do love to hear their Papa and I tell them about our escapades as children between the time we finished our chores on Saturday morning and dinnertime that evening.

    Like

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