If you were asked to select a song that defined your youth, what song would you pick? If you said Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" (1958) or The Beatles' "Hey Jude" (1968), you'd probably be a member of Boomers I or the Leading-Edge Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1955). Now if you picked Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman" (1975) or Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" (1975), you'd probably be included in Boomers II or Trailing-Edge Baby Boomers (born 1956-1964).
Yes, the baby boomer generation is large enough to command two cohort groups. As a whole, baby boomers came of age during the early 1950s through the late 1970s. Let's take a glance at boomers' lives through a kaleidoscope of defining social moments.
The Golden Age (The 1950s)
In America, the 1950s was a period of unflagging optimism and economic robustness, following the dark days of the Great Depression and World War II. During this time, older boomers were youngsters and tweeners, most of whom were raised with traditional family values "as American as apple pie" and lived in family suburban homes with the proverbial white picket fence.
As kids, these boomers frequently congregated at a local soda fountain often housed in a drugstore like Walgreens. Going to the drive-in theater was a popular family pastime. The admission price was about one dollar per car, and popcorn sold for only 25 cents. Boomer kids were also transfixed by popular television programs of the day, such as Adventures of Superman, Lassie, and The Lone Ranger, which they watched on black-and-white TVs.
The Decade of Discontent (The 1960s)
You probably remember the 1967 movie The Graduate that captured boomers' zeitgeist of the time. In it, Dustin Hoffman played Ben, a rudderless college graduate. At Ben's graduation party, Mr. McGuire, a buttoned-down, middle-aged family friend, advises Ben on his future. Mr. McGuire said, "I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. Plastics." "Plastics" was a trigger word for Ben and boomers like him: it spoke to the phoniness in American society.
Many older boomers felt the same way as Ben. "Selling out" to the military-industrial complex, a broad term to include corporations and institutions that supported America's war machine, was not a future they could comfortably envision. Still, many dyed-in-the-wool hippies traded in their tunics for oxford cloth shirts and, ultimately, took jobs in Corporate America. (Continue Reading)
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The Milestone Moments In Every Boomer's Life