Just a few more days and I will be closer to 70 than 40. Yikes (only guys my age would say "yikes"). The worst thing about being 55 is it puts you in your very last survey group. When survey research guys do studies, they break their subjects down by age group, 18-24,25-34,35-44,45-54, 55-64 and then , finally, the dreaded and nearly irrelevant "65 and over". I ran through those first four groups awfully fast. Now here I am, lumped in with guys that are already collecting early social security. Guys who qualify for early bird specials over at the cafeteria, guys who live in Florida and wear white belts and white shoes and look forward to a wild night at the bingo parlor. How did this happen to me ? I did not die.That's the good part. I was reminded recently that divorce is not so bad, sure 50% of all marriages end in divorce, but the other 50% end in death. What's so great about that ? I was thinking of all the changes over the 55 years I have been hanging around.It is amazing. When I was born:
1. There were 48 states in the U.S.
2. The man who was President was eligible to run for a third term
3. In my hometown, blacks and whites could not use the same bathroom or water fountain
4. There was no vacine against polio or just about anything else except for small pox
5. Air conditioning was a luxary, found in only the most expensive homes.
6. Cars did not have seat belts
7. When you pulled into a gas station, you paid 19 cents a gallon, and for your money, you got your windows washed, your engine fuly checked and serviced, your floor vacumed, your seats "whisked"and a set of glassses given to you for your patronage. all of this was accomplished by 2 to 4 men, depending on service station and time of say.
8. There was no such thing as "fast food"
9.people all thought that by the year 2000 we'd all have our own robots and have cars that flew us around to our houses in the sky.
10. No one ever got divorced (just about no one)
11. No one ever lived past about 75 (just about no one).
12. It should go without saying that there were no commercial jets, no space vehicles, less than 100 proto type color television sets, very few people had black and white television sets, no cable, no satellite, no cell phones, no computers smaller than a barn, no pro sports west of the Mississippi, no Super Bowl, no factory in-car airconditioners,no super markets larger than about 33% of todays average size. No liquor by the drink, no store openings on Sunday,no lotto, no horse racing, no microwaves in homes, no haircuts that cost over $1.00, few candy bars that cost over a nickle, no hamburgers for more than a quarter, no cup of coffee for more than a dime. a bottle of coke cost five cents, a bottle of Pepsi costs the same but was twice as big.A movie cost less than 50 cents and if you wanted to see a movie again you generally had to wait until the theatre rereleased it because you could not rent it or see it on T.V. for many years.
This blog could go on for days. For all the talk about the simple life, I don't know anyone my age who would go back to the way things were. We don't live in homes in the sky, but even the poorest of us can live in a home that would have been considered no worse than average in the year I was born. Traffic sucks (because everyone has a car), the airlines get bogged down (because everyone can afford to fly), people get jittery when the stock market goes down, because everyone can have a retirement plan and invest in the market. There is no reason to ever get the flu, the measles, the mumps,the chicken pox or any of the numerous childhood diseases that I had growing up. of course we've got a few new viruses that have come along and peniciln, which could cure anything when I was a kid, is becoming more and more ineffective.When I was born there was no alzheimers (just "hardening of the arteries for people who lived a very long time), there was no health care crisis, because people did not have or expect to get health care from their employer, so they just got better or died. Going to the hospital was not that helpful anyway in those days.
But for all of this, I'd not trade with anyone for any other time or place. Things have been pretty peachy the last 55 years. Virtually no one in the history of the world has had it any better.I look forward to 55. Hell, I look forward to 56. 55 is not the new 30, or even the new 40, but it is probably about the new 47. That sounds about right. I think it's time to redo those survey research categories, and drop me back a decade or so. Instead of 65 and older, we need to add 65-74 and maybe even 75-84 with 84 and younger being the final catch all category. That would make me feel a lot younger.