The last of the Baby Boomers are turning 50 this year and I find that sad.
Sad that people so young are considered Baby Boomers.
The 50th anniversary of The Beatles appearing on Ed Sullivan was just noted. I’m sorry, but to me you cannot be considered a Baby Boomer if you were still in diapers, or worse still in the womb when The Lads broke into “All My Lovin’” that Sunday night in 1964.
My brother Bobby, born in 1960, was four and probably in bed as I lay on the floor in front of the TV and had my life changed forever. Years later when he was in high school, Bobby asked me one day if I had heard the new Elton John song, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”
“The Beatles version was better,” I said, to which Bobby responded, “The Beatles sang it?”
“The Beatles wrote it,” I said.
It was on the Sgt. Pepper’s album which came out in 1967, also known as The Summer of Love. It was the year I graduated high school.
I handed Bobby my Sgt. Pepper’s album that day and, to his credit, he loved it. But that kid is no Boomer. Not even close.
Unless you talk to the sociologists. To them anyone born between 1946 and 1964 is a Baby Boomer. Now, far be it for me to tell the experts they’re wrong. But they’re wrong.
To be a Baby Boomer, if you ask me, you have to remember exactly where you were when you heard JFK had been assassinated. The answer “not born yet” is unacceptable.
An article in the Sunday Styles section of The New York Times on January 12 addressed this very thing but from a slightly different point of view. The author, Richard Perez-Pena, who just turned 50, wasn’t ready to renounce his Boomer status, but did make the claim that Boomers can, and should be divided into two categories that he labels Boomer Classic and Boomer Reboot.
He cites the year 1973 as a reasonable dividing line. That’s the year the Vietnam War ended … and I exhaled. I was 23, my 2-S college deferment had ended, I had passed my physical and was tagged the next person to be drafted from my town. That never happened.
My kid brother, for the record, was 13 then. He learned about the Vietnam War in his history books.
He falls in the Reboot category, but I am more concerned with we Classics.
For the record, that’s a term I used in a column back in the late ’80s: Classic Boomers.
Classic Baby Boomers, I’d estimate, were born between 1946 and 1956, and they meet certain criteria.
Aside from The Beatles and JFK references above, you’re a Classic Boomer if you ever used Butch hair wax on your flattop or Brylcream on your D.A.
You’re a Classic Boomer if you ever carried a comb that stuck out of your pocket a little, rolled up a pack of smokes in your T-shirt sleeve, or wore pegged pants.
Or if you wore your watch with the face on the inside of your wrist because you were going steady or buckled your belt on the side.
Or rolled up your jeans on the bottom and didn’t even call them jeans but dungarees, or even overalls.
You’re a Classic Boomer if you ever wore or begged your mom to buy you a pair of shoes with Cuban heels. Or loafers with a white lightning bolt on the side. Or Chubby Checker twist shoes. Or Beatle boots.
You’re a Classic boomer if you remember when white socks with black shoes defined cool.
As did a black trench coat with a white silk scarf. And pegged pants.
If you know what bleeding madras is, you’re a Classic Boomer.
Same for pedal pushers.
You’re a Classic Boomer if as a kid you either had or wished you had a coonskin cap.
Or a pair of six-shooters.
You’re a Classic Boomer if a school chum’s name is on the Vietnam Memorial.
If you stood in line to get into A Hard Day’s Night, you’re a Classic Boomer.
Or if you twisted in the aisled of the movie theatre during Rock around the Clock.
Or if you ever danced with the refrigerator they way my sister used to do during American Bandstand.
Or if you never missed Shindig or Hullaballoo.
If you ever danced the mashed potato, you’re a Classic Boomer.
Or if you remember listening to the World Series on a transistor radio in school. Or when there was no such thing as The Super Bowl.
You’re a Classic Boomer if you were forbidden to read the book Peyton Place but read it anyway.
You’re a Classic Boomer if you ever chipped in for gas.
Or drove or wanted to drive a car with a continental.
If you remember drooling over those tail fins on a ‘59 Caddy, you’re a Classic Boomer.
Or seeing your first Mustang or Camaro or Firebird.
You’re a Classic Boomer if you read Superman or Archie comics in the barber shop.
Or if you ever got a razor cut.
Most of this list applies to guys, because, you know, I am one. But having had two sisters, one born in ‘46 and one in ‘48, I know what makes a gal a Classic Boomer too.
If you ever rolled up your skirt at the waistband to make it shorter, you’re a Classic Boomer.
Or if you teaser your hair.
Or set it in the tubes from toilet paper because your store-bought rollers just weren’t big enough.
If you wore or wished could could wear a Villager dress, you are a Classic Boomer.
Or if you saved every penny to buy Bobby Brooks slacks.
You’re a Classic boomer if you ever wore a bunny fur to the prom.
Or had a Shirley Temple doll. Or played with cutouts.
Or decorated the high school gym for the prom.
And went bowling afterwards.
Those last two applies to guys as well.
Note: This list is hardly complete. Send me your thoughts about what makes a Classic Boomer. firstname.lastname@example.org