I was watching the show “House Hunters” on HGTV the other morning, and the young couple trying to select their new home ended up choosing what was referred to as a “mid-century house” because it had been built in the 1950s. Which is, of course, the exact same decade in which I was born. As soon as they bought the house, the couple began a full-scale rehab to bring the incredibly “old” house “up-to-date.” Needless to say, I turned off the TV.
I’m used to thinking of myself as middle-aged, and even as the tail-end of the Baby Boomer generation. But mid-century? That just sounds so old! Yet there’s no getting around the fact that I came into this world in the late 1950s, over half a century ago, and a completely different era.
When I was a young child, our family had only one car. We were luckier than most of our neighbors in that my father took the bus to work most days, thereby leaving my mother with a car to use when she needed to go somewhere. She spent a lot of her time driving not only my sisters and me around, but often the neighbors as well. I remember many trips to the zoo with my mother and her two friends, Peggy and Rosemary, in the front seat, each with a baby in her lap. The older children, and there were usually at least seven of us, were stuffed into the back seat. No one had ever heard of car seats or even seat belts for children back then.
When I was in first grade, the teacher once asked the class what we wanted to be when we grew up. The boys gave a variety of answers–policeman, doctor, lawyer, truck driver, etc.–but each of the girls answered either teacher or nurse. As far as we knew, those were the only two choices available to us. We also wore dresses or skirts to school each day. Girls weren’t allowed to wear pants, which always made swinging around the monkey bars at recess without showing off our underwear a bit of a challenge. Television sets were black and white, and had about four channels which only worked when the antennae on top were placed just so.
When I think back on my early years, I have to realize that it was indeed a long time ago and a very different world from the one I live in now. So maybe it isn’t such a mystery why I sometimes feel just a little bit like a stranger in a foreign land. Adjusting to change is a natural part of life, but dang! Women in my generation have adjusted to more than our fair share, even when most of the changes have been for the good. So I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a little patience and consideration as we cope with it all. And by the time we reach the full-century mark, we’re going to be needing a LOT of patience and consideration. Consider yourselves warned.