Baby Boomer Classic Photos

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A friend of mine, named George (last name withheld to protect the guilty), has been following the folderol I’m posting about baby boomers and their era between 1946 and 1964.

He sent me an email with lots of photographs about things each of us, as baby boomers, should immediately recognize. I’ve collated the many individual shots into a twelve image photomontage for your enjoyment. The first photo, cod liver oil, immediately caused a reflux reaction withheld for nearly sixty years.

Please feel free to comment, and share these remarkable images with your Facebook friends.

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Good things happened in 1958

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And here are two of them …

In July, a toy company in California, named Wham-O, started to market a plastic circle that people put around their waists and started them spinning. Thus, began the hula hoop, a $1.98 thing that you can buy today starting around $10.00.

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Richard Knerr and Arthur “Spud” Melin are the two guys credited with developing the hula hoop which they patented in 1963. A fad started immediately, and in its first four months, twenty-five million of them were sold. More than 100 million were sold within two years. One of the first hula hoop manufacturers, Carlon Products Corporation was making more than 50,000 of them every day.  In 1999, the hula hoop was inducted into The National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester, New York.

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In case you needed to know:

  • The longest verified record holder is Aaron Hibbs, from Columbus, Ohio who kept a hoop spinning for 74 hours and 54 minutes in 2009.
  • Paul “dizzy hips” Blair twirled 132 hula hoops at once in 2009.
  • Austrian, Roman Schedler, holds the world’s record 100 meter dash for running while twirling a hula hoop around his waist in 13.84 seconds, and
  • American, Kris Slomin, holds the world’s record mile for running while twirling a hula hoop around his waist in six minutes and forty seconds.

In 1958, a brand new Chevrolet Corvette cost $3,591.  That same vehicle is worth more than $100,000 today.

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And the final thing is that Arthur Melin’s nickname, “Spud,” got me thinking about one of my favorite toys from the 50s … the spud gun.

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“I like it when somebody gets excited about something. It’s nice.” ― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

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In February 2014, AARP published a list of “Readers’ Picks: Ten Books Boomers Love.” Numbers two through ten are published at the end of this post. Number one was J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, first published for adults on July 16, 1951, only to became popular with adolescent readers because of its teenage themes of angst and alienation. The book has been translated into almost every major language in the world, and it’s already sold more than 65 million books with an additional 250,000 sold every year.

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In 1960, a teacher was fired, and later reinstated, for assigning the novel in class. While I remember having the book as required reading in high school, I don’t recall anything from it, even after reading the synopsis. Does that mean I had my angst and alienation under control?

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Three highly-publicized shootings have been attributed to the shooter’s reading Catcher in the Rye, including; Mark David Chapman’s shooting of John Lennon, John Hinkley Jr.’s assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan and Robert John Bardo’s shooting of actress Rebecca Schaefer. Other murders have also been associated with the book. Talk about angst!

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On the other hand, last year, the Huffington Post, listed five things the book can teach you, “even if your prom-going days are far behind you.”

  1. You’re not alone in your frustrations.
  2. Societal niceties aren’t only phony.
  3. Excellent writing can transport you.
  4. Growing up means channeling your frustrations towards something productive.
  5. Beauty is rare and worth holding onto.

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In 2014, a movie documentary, named “Salinger,” (duh) was aired. It’s available on Netflix. I found it fascinating, but critics and reviews rated it poorly. If you have two-hours, and you’re motivated to learn about Salinger’s “unique” life, please watch it. He was certainly one of the “Greatest Generation,” having landed at Normandy, surviving the Battle of the Bulge, and ultimately being involved in the liberation of one of the German concentration camps. He also volunteered to help with the trials of German war criminals.

By the way, did you know J.D. stood for Jerry (actually Jerome) David?

And here’s the rest of the ten books boomers love:

  1. Catch-22
  2. Roots
  3. In Cold Blood
  4. Lord of the Flies
  5. Fahrenheit 451
  6. Slaughterhouse-Five
  7. The Color Purple
  8. The Joy of Sex
  9. The World According to Garp

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Hair Nation

People have inquired whether these posts are actual excerpts from my book, “Baby Boomer Reflections: Eighteen Special Years Between 1946 and 1964.”  They aren’t.  The book is scheduled for release in May 2015.  It is an actual story.  These posts are fun memories I believe we need to share.  If you agree, please share them as well with your FaceBook friends.

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The post-war ‘50s were times filled with relative affluence following the sacrifice and rationing of the preceding decade. It was time for people to experiment with glamour and change. Hairstyles were a perfect to try something new and different.

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Influenced by movie and rock and roll stars, American teenagers led the charge, and were imitated throughout the world, especially in Europe. Long hair was in vogue for teenage girls, who frequently sported their hair worn back in a ponytail. Teenage boys drifted between flat tops and crew cuts to a long-haired “greaser” look, that required the boys to carry a comb in their back pocket so they could keep their hair managed all day. The ultimate was the ducktail a/k/a the D.A. Can you remember Edd Byrnes, who played “Kookie” in 77 Sunset Strip. He actually recorded “Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb.” Now that was a classic!

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In order to support these new tonsorial trends, the fashion industry produced a variety of hair-styling products for both genders, including sprays, oils, creams, and my two personal favorites, Dippity Do and Butch Wax. The well-coiffed teen also certainly needed brushes, dryers, rollers, and a whole host of other gimmicks, and they were available as well.

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The ‘60s brought the bouffant or the “bubble,” and The Beatles brought long hair and a new style of British rock. Black rock stars, like Jackie Wilson, Stevie Wonder and Chubby Checker, however, continued to maintain their own identities. By the mid-‘60s, ultra long hair was in vogue, possibly in support of the parallel women’s movement, but also possibly to imitate the fledgling hippie movement. As you can see from a few of the photos, some black women apparently wanted straight hair and some white women apparently wanted curly hair. The fashion industry brought forth a myriad of products and tools to help accommodate those needs and wants.

I’m including a photomontage of both movie and rock stars to show how they wore their hair in the ‘50s and ‘60s. See how many of them you can name.

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I’ve Got A Surprise For You Son … Let’s Go.

As a leading edge baby boomer, I was nine in 1955, when my Dad uttered those exciting words, but I still remember my excitement like it was yesterday. Dad had a surprise for me! A new bowling alley had opened in our town, and Dad wanted to take me bowling.

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I was a happy kid as Dad and I walked out to his car. I was quite surprised, though, when he parked it at a familiar spot, Dr. Ben’s house. We walked in to his medical office, located on the second floor of the house, and I was told that I needed to get an injection. Dr. Ben’s office smelled like a cigar parlor because he generally smoked a giant stogie while he examined you.  But why did I need a shot?  I wasn’t sick!  And, I absolutely, in no uncertain terms, hated, and feared shots.  The needles hurt!

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It was a new vaccine for Polio, a disease about which I knew absolutely nothing, and I was going to be one of the first kids in my town to get the shot. Shots, of any kind, were quite unpleasant, and I suddenly realized that going to the new bowling alley, had been a ruse, although we did, in fact, wind up there. I don’t remember anything about the bowling, however. My arm was too sore.

Polio was a very feared disease in the 50s. It struck in the summer months resulting in epidemics every few years. While most infected people recovered quickly, polio could result in both temporary and permanent paralysis, and in its worst case, it resulted in death. Treatment could include the Emerson iron lung, but that large machine was quite expensive. An iron lung could cost as much as an average home.

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Dr. Jonas Salk was the medical genius whom I will never forget, and the rest is history.  I wasn’t a good bowler, either.