Reprinted from March 1999
Those entering college today never heard of “Win the war in ‘44” or “I shall return,” or “The shuttle has exploded.”
Today, someone sent me a fax about how many of our citizens have no recollection of past events such as the shooting of President Reagan, Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show and Larry Bird. When they go surfing, they don’t think about Jaws and have no memory of WWI, WWII and have no idea Americans were ever held hostage in Iran. They never heard the slogans, “Lucky Strike Green,” “has gone to war,” “where’s the beef?” “I’d walk a mile for a Camel.”
There has always been TV for them. They never heard of only 13 channels and there has always been cable or satellite TV for them. They have absolutely no idea what Beta means. (Even though they are exposed to VCR’s). This generation never heard of Grapette, Burger Chef, The Globe Democrat, Pan Am Airlines and King Cola.
They have no recollection of Mork and who he was or where he came from. They believe postage stamps for first class always cost $0.32. Roller-skating has always been inline. They never heard of JR Ewing or the Dallas series. They view Star Trek as poorly animated and boring. They have no idea FDR is short for Franklin Delano Roosevelt and do not realized he served as president while being badly crippled and unable to walk. They have no idea about the hard feelings which arose over the burning out and killing of Americans wanting government assistance in getting jobs when President Hoover ordered a young Lieutenant, Douglas McArthur, to fire on and burn out poor farmers in a make shift camp across from the Whitehouse.
They don’t know why older people snicker when the phrase “There you go again” is mentioned in relationships with Ronald Reagan. They have never heard of “The Great Society” nor have they ever considered LBJ thought nothing of doing interviews in his underwear, or that Lady Bird was responsible for planting flowers across Texas hill country. They wouldn’t know who Lady Bird is!
Jewelry wise, children entering college this year would have never lived in the age where a wind-up or automatic watch was all that was available, they know nothing except quartz time. They think nothing of paying $15 to $20 for a fashion watch and throwing it out when it stops or they become tired of the style. Once a watch was considered a treasure and expensive. When they enter a jewelry store, jewelry has always been expensive and their class rings are made of stainless steel or the like to keep the price down. They never lived in an era of $35 gold where a wedding band would sell for $50 and last a lifetime. Watch and jewelry repairs have always been high by our standards of several years ago, but not by theirs, they have no cost guidelines.
Watchbands and jewelry have either been karat gold or plated and they are unfamiliar with the old gold filled term and usage. They believe 60% off should be expected of all jewelry sales. They differ from their parents and grandparents in that old folks realize that to some extent you don’t get something for nothing and if it sounds too good to be true it likely is.
They have lived through an era of toxic waste clean up. They do not recognize Abdul-Jabbar as a famous basketball player. They don’t recall flying by commercial airliner without going through screening of some sort.
They did not live in an era where the word “illegitimate” carried a powerful scorn by society and show no shock reactions if folks live together and have children without the benefit of a clergy.
To this generation, Michael Jackson has always been white. For the sports minded, they can’t remember the Cardinals ever winning a World Series, or even being in one. Chicago, Kansas, Boston, America and Alabama are places, not groups. McDonald’s take out never came in Styrofoam containers. The Taco Bell Chihuahua did not talk, and frogs did not croak out beer sales pitches. Popcorn was always prepared in a microwave.
What will this new generation of college entry age produce for our country? Probably good things. What we already see is a carry over on the ban fur campaign and while I personally have a couple of furs, I have discontinued wearing them because of the pressure. We see national trends of forgiveness and understanding, not apparent in the more rigid societies of yesteryear. Kids have grown up in an era of not tolerating certain things like smoking in public (and even private) and not treating wildlife with respect and not littering.
When RB was of the age to be entering his senior year in high school, he went into the Navy instead. Those entering college today never heard of the GI Bill or the word, Kamikaze. They could never imagine being in the Navy and never seeing land for over a year or hearing from a loved one maybe once or twice a year and still remaining faithful!
Just before RB died, he dragged out a bunch of dead stock, which consisted of old automatic Seiko’s etc., and when these young folks came in he’d pull one out and tell them this was a new concept. The watch did not require batteries and would just run by moving your arm. He sold every one of those watches.
Too bad RB isn’t around today to present to this young buying generation the things of yesteryear that were the very latest things going. I have to mention here my mother drove the first motorcar brought into the state of Oklahoma. Think back, way back. What had just passed by before you were born? What did you learn from experience and what from schooling? Probably everything that is called antique today was the ‘in’ thing then. I guess this makes most of us antiques!
Cheer up, antiques are cherished!