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May 21, 2002

Another reader provides the amusing stuff that follows for today’s column. You might find some of your own experiences in a few of these. At any rate, they should bring a chuckle or two. The title is “We Are Survivors. Consider the changes we have witnessed.” (Name of the author is not given.)

We were born before television, before penicillin, before polio shots, frozen food, Xerox, plastic, contact lenses, Frisbees and the Pill.

We were born before radar, credit cards, split atoms, laser beams and ball-point pens. Before panty hose, dishwashers, clothes dryers, electric blankets, air conditioners, drip-dry clothes and before man walked on the moon.

We got married first and then lived together. How quaint can you be?

In our time, closets were for clothes, not for “coming out of.” Bunnies were small rabbits and rabbits were not Volkswagens. Designer Jeans were scheming girls named Jean or Jeanne, and having a meaningful relationship meant getting along with your cousins.

We thought fast food was what you ate during Lent, and outer space was the back of the Roxy or Annex Theatre.

We were born before house-husbands, gay rights, computer dating, dual careers and computer marriages. We were born before day-care centers, group therapy and nursing homes. We never heard of FM radio, tape decks, electric typewriters, artificial hearts, word processors, yogurt and guys wearing earrings. For us, time-sharing meant togetherness – not computers or condominiums, a “chip” meant a piece of wood, hardware meant hardware and software wasn’t even a word.

In 1940, “made in Japan” meant junk and the term “making out” referred to how you did on your exam. Pizzas, McDonald’s and instant coffee were unheard of.

We hit the scene when there were 5-cent and 10-cent stores, where you bought things for a nickel or a dime. You could buy an ice cream cone for 5 or 10 cents. For one nickel you could ride a streetcar, make a phone call, buy a Pepsi, a Coke or enough stamps to mail one letter and two postcards. You could buy a new Chevy coupe for $600, but who could afford one? A pity, too, because gas was only 11 cents a gallon.

In our day, cigarette smoking was fashionable, grass was mowed, Coke was a drink and pot was something you cooked in. Rock music was a grandma’s lullaby and AIDS were helpers in the principal’s office. We were certainly not born before the difference between the sexes was discovered but we were surely born before the sex change. We made do with what we had and we were the last generation that was so dumb as to think you needed a husband to have a baby. No wonder we are so confused and there is such a generation gap today.

But we survived. What better reason to celebrate?