Daily Archives: February 28, 2011

Generation “?”

Quilly asked me recently if I knew what a transistor radio was…  LOL, I am very familiar with transistor radios. As a child, I would slip my own little transistor radio under my pillow; after the lights were out, I would lay my ear over the speaker and listen to music until I was sleepy.

My dad bought a really cheap car (Plymouth Horizon Miser) when I was a young teen. The “Miser” edition — and yes, it was really called that! — didn’t come with a radio. Instead, he set a little transistor radio in the passenger seat, which would go flying off onto the floorboard every time he took a sharp corner.

Yes, I am old enough to remember transistor radios. I’m also old enough to have dialed a rotary phone through much of my childhood. In addition, I wore bell-bottoms (granted, they were hand-me-downs and slightly out of fashion) and learned to type on an actual typewriter (with carbon copies and liquid white-out).   If you’ve never had to use carbon copies, you don’t know how good you have it!
I have a somewhat sketchy memory but I do remember watching the first man on the moon — pretty impressive on our black-and-white TV!  My family owned a newer television set in time for Watergate, and I watched Nixon resign in color.
However, I was not yet alive when Kennedy was assassinated. To me, that is the marking of the end of the baby boomer generation. If you do not have that memory, you don’t really fit in with most Baby Boomers.  (Back in the mid-to-late ’80’s, there was an sure-fire way to make a Baby Boomer feel old: go out for drinks,  let them all talk about where they were when Kennedy was shot, and then tell them you weren’t born yet.)

Gen X-ers follow the Baby Boomers, so by definition, I am supposedly part of Generation X. I have read that Generation X ends with the last people to remember the Cold War, the Challenger disaster, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the death of Kurt Cobain — and to have those things all mean something personally.

Cold War, check (I no longer think Russia will wipe us out with WWIII).
Challenger, check (I was at college, eating breakfast in front of the big screen TV to watch happy history being made… and then watched in horror).
Berlin Wall, check (you couldn’t pull me away from the TV – I watched the live images with tears streaming down my cheeks).
Kurt Cobain, ….  I didn’t even know the name until all of the publicity surrounding his death. To write this, I had to google him. So I feel a little lost with that last descriptor.  It makes me feel like I don’t really fit in with Generation X any more than I fit in with the Baby Boomers.   I didn’t rage against the machine. Grunge music* came into being after I went to college and was working to support myself. While I did wear flannel shirts in high school, they weren’t popular yet, just comfortable.  I had to buy them in the boys department at non-trendy shops because they weren’t sold everywhere.   It’s true, I wore flannel before it was popular and bell bottoms after they went out of style. I’m perpetually “off” fashion.

I guess that makes me part of a “lost generation” or something like that… those couple of years where we don’t really fit in either generation. There are probably some people born between Gen X and Gen Y that feel the same way.

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*Small claim to fame: I graduated with someone who went on to become a member of Pearl Jam.

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Where do you fit in? Tell me about your generation.

Thank you, Hilary!