|Boomers remember childhood world events.
Send us your memories. Here are some memory joggers: Ike, Sputnik, Kennedy assassination, the Korean War, sitting in the school hallway watching NASA launches, air raid drills and fall-out shelters...
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Click the Mail-a-Memory button above to send your memories. Be sure you include your first name, city, state/province, and year of birth.
POWs Return Home
P.O.W.'s return home: I was in the fourth grade and living in Scottsdale, Arizona, when our super cool teacher, Ellie Smith, taught us about who the M.I.A.'s and P.O.W.'s were. Our class feild trip was to a local airport to greet P.O.W.'s returning home. We made a big poster for them and our class was on the local news for a few seconds. Ellie Smith also taught us about recycling, international foods and Watergate. --- Dolores, San Diego, CA 1963
1965 New York City Blackout
I remember driving with my mother to the "train restaurant" in Bellerose, NY (it was one of those that delivered your food via locomotive, the food was bad, the train was great --- and it never stopped) and going home there were no traffic lights and all the cars couldn't figure out what to do. (Neither could my mother) ---- We finally got home and there were no lights (no television!!!!!) and we had to light the house with candles. My father ended up spending the night in Manhattan (where he worked) and my grandmother's (where she lived). He had to walk since there were no subways. And there was no looting (unlike the one in 1977) --- Evan, New York, NY 1957
Metro New York and Hurricane Donna
I remember being in the first grade in Sept 1960 and hurricane Donna hit the metropolitan NY area. The school buses wouldn't run so we were all stuck at school. We were terrified little 6 yr olds. My mom didn't drive so she had to get a neighbor in the court (we lived in Queens in garden apartments) to pick some of the kids up, including me. I will always remember being frightened and alone. --- Roberta Schwartz-Israelsky, Cherry Hill, NJ, 1954
The World as viewed from Ohio
I was born in August of 1955, I have many wonderful memories of growing up a Baby boomer. There were weekend camping trips and boating at Seneca Lake, there was Girl Scout camp for two weeks every summer and there was growing up Catholic during the Vatican Council II changes, Mass was started in Latin and before long was said in English. In third grade, my cousin came to every classroom to announce President Kennedy's assassination, the whole school quietly prayed for his family. In January of the following year we assembled in the gymnasium to celebrate the Feast of the Magi with a huge cake baked at our onetime only local pizzeria. The next big thrill was The Beatles arrival on Ed Sullivan and getting to stay up late to watch them. In 1968, when our Girl Scout troop went to Washington DC there were itinerary changes due to civil rights movements. In 1969 again the whole school assembled in the gym to watch the landing of the spaceship on the moon. By 1970, my Dad had retired from the National Guard, fortunately before his unit was called to go to Kent State and in 1971, I wore my POW bracelet with so much pride, although I personally felt strongly against the Vietnam War. When I graduated from high school in 1973, my POW had been released and returned to his family, the reunification was photographed and carried in the Columbus Dispatch. Archie Bunker was my favorite television program and leaving home for college that year seemed to have arrived too quickly. Being a babyboomer has been awesome but these common experiences are only the backdrop to the really meaningful people, places and experiences in my life. --- Shelley, Coshocton, Oh 1955
South Texans Moon Landing Memories
Thanks for the reminder of the moon landing. I watched it with my uncle, a farmer in South Texas. We were in my grandmother's living room. I was a college senior, and I knew everything--certainly a lot more than my hick uncle did. While we watched I gave a running commentary on trajectory, landing sceharios, etc. Finally, my uncle asked me--You know quite a lot, don't you. Why, yes, I do. Well, he said, maybe you can explain something to me. I've got some cows, and when they eat the grass, it goes thru them and comes out in flat, wet, pies. I've got a horse, and when he eats the grass, it comes out like apples. Then, my sheep eat the grass and it comes out like grapes. Can you explain that to me? I was surprised at the question, and said No. Then he said--If you don't know s - - - , then how can you think you know about space? My uncle gave me the greatest lesson I have ever learned in life--humility. --- Sylvia, Austin, TX 1947
Chicago Democratic Convention
The [Democratic] National Convention in downtown Chicago. The riots that took place there and how long it took to get out of downtown. --- Elizabeth, Independent, KS 1946
I was born in December of 1946. I often look back, as most Baby Boomers do, with great affection for the time we were growing up. The roots of Rock & Roll, the great times we had at the sock hops, malt shops, high school football games and of course that first kiss in the back of your first car or behind the school bleachers. A portion of my life is devoted to keeping these memories alive and well. You see, I have been spinning Golden Oldies at lounge bars in the Cleveland area for over 30 years. Those songs represent an age of innocents for many of us. A time most of us look back at with fondness, and even at times, long for those days to return. I have always had a hard time understanding why some people of my generation have trouble remembering how great those days were or even want to admit that they were part of it. I think I might have found the answer Yesterday afternoon. While surfing the Internet I found a memory that chilled me to the bone. An image of what the late 50's and 60's were really about, at least from my parent's perspective. The image was from 1959. A photo taken from Cleveland's shore line with the Terminal Tower and Cleveland's skyline against an overcast, forbidden sky. In the center of the picture was a launching pad complete with a NIKE missile and warhead pointed toward the sky. A chill went down my spine as the memories of that missile site and the others scattered though out the Cleveland countryside came rushing back to me. This certainly wasn't an image of the Innocent time I remembered. Where are the 57 Chevy's, the poodle skirts, DA's, and other memories depicted in "Happy Days" and "American Graffiti". Those were our memories of the 50's. I am beginning to see why my parents had such different memories of what the 50's were all about. I imagine that years from now our memories of the 1990's and 2000's will be much different than those of our children and grand children remembering their "Happy Days". The picture I talked about is attached. I hope it will bring back the reality, to all that may see it, of how close we were to never making it to the year 2000. --- Bob H., 1946, Cleveland, Ohio, 1946
Fuzzy Childhood Memories
Times were interesting back then...new clear (? - nuclear) weapons being sent through a blockade to Cuba? Trying to figure out from the signs on store windows, how rich you could get for shaving Castro's beard. Where to get instructions on how to build a bomb shelter (who was Crew Shif?). Why were Army trucks and soldiers camping out in front of our houses (no houses on fire here). Why did they put that monkey in that rocket? Where is South East Asia? Is it by Rampart or the projects in Lomita? Why does my friend's big brother say he's going across the pond? What does Country Joe mean when he says, 'Be the first one on your block to have your son come home in a box'?
Nixon and Kennedy debates, what did they really mean? Discussions between that heavy eyebrowed shifty lookin guy and the cool dude who sails and had that neat chick. --- 'Danny' Wilmington, Ca. 1951
I remember Elvis, the King, the Beatles, the twist, all those other "funky" dances, dances after football games, wearing a boy's football jacket, when cheerleaders were still cheerleaders for fun and to cheer the team on, parking, not much TV, no school violence, the worst school problems were the "bad" boys smoking behind the gym, drive in movies, dating on Friday and Saturday night, BIG cars if a guy had one, school plays, family being the most important thing. Ahh! I remember so much! --- Carol, Purvis, Mississippi, 1948
Air Raid Drills
I lived on Hickam AFB in 1957-58 where my father was stationed. I remember going to school and having air raid drills where we all heard the sirens go off on the base and all the kids liined up and got on military transport buses and were driven around the base to the bomb shelters left over from WWII. Even that many years after Pearl Harbor we were still afraid the Japanese could do it again. --- Susan, Fairview, OR 1950
I recall a lot of cigarette ads back in the 50s and 60s, than there are today. It was a "smoking culture" back then, the tough guys (and even the smooth ones - and ladies) smoked. I found some old Ciggie ads while rummaging around in storage - Taryton's: "I'd rather fight than switch" ads. One for Winston that could have double meaning, especially today: "If it weren't for Winston, I wouldn't smoke!" Hmmm...could have used that line as evidence in the lawsuit against the tobacco companies! We boomers just saw the last gasp of smoking ads (pardon the pun) on tv and print. There are still ads for cigarettes, of course, but not like there used to be. --- Deborah L. Peeples, 1951
I don't know if this belongs in Food or World Events... Remember the radioactive milk. Everyone (U.S. Russia, Britain, and France) was testing bombs above ground. Strontium 90 was in our milk! A new flavor! --- Philip Morris, Lenox, LA 1951
Bay of Pigs
Bay of Pigs!!!! Everyone around my neighborhood thought sure that we were going to war. The thought of living in Florida (not that far from Cuba) made them think that we would be the first target for Castro. The whole neighborhood collectively built an underground bomb shelter. Every family started stock piling non perishable goods, kerosene lamps, flashlights and batteries and only God knows what else! We practiced bomb raids at school with drills at the unexpected drop of a hat. Us kids were really too young to understand it all, but we enjoyed the bomb drills and loved to play in the bomb shelter (until it eventually got took over by snakes and had to be bulldozed in). The next world event that comes to mind, is the day that I was playing on the front lawn of a neighbor kid while listening to the radio. All of a sudden a news flash came over the air waves, that President Kennedy had been shot and was presumed dead in Dallas! We were crushed! We all listened as if our lives depended on it, and then slowly left out to walk home without saying one word to each other. When I walked in, my mother was crying and my dad looked like someone had sucker punched him in the gut. --- Susan, Panama City, Florida, 1955
Man on the Moon!
I remember being on a trailer trip (Airstream - Wally Byam Caravan Club) with my grandparents to Eastern Canada when the guys were landing on the moon. Not many of us had televisions in our trailers, so we all sat in a quansa hut and watched the guys land on the moon. --- Tim, Shoreview, Minnesota, 1953
I distinctly remember seeing news on TV regarding the Korean War and asking my parents what it was. Also saw news about it in the newsreels in the movies. I also remember Eisenhower as being the guy who was always shown on TV playing golf. --- Mary, Little Neck, NY, 1950
I was in the fourth grade, but on this particular day I was home very sick with the flu and running a dreadful temperature. My English grandmother offered to stay at the house that day to take care of me, since both my parents taught school. I was wearing my bathrobe and drinking ginger ale. I remember Walter Cronkite breaking into early afternoon television (I believe we were watching a daytime quiz show) and taking his glasses on and off, telling us President Kennedy was dead.
I do remember the concern my grandmother and I felt at the danger that somebody might try to take advantage of the situation in some way until Lyndon Johnson could get sworn in. My parents and brother came home from school an hour or so later.
Over the following hours my temperature zigzagged and I would fade in and out of those delirious fever-dreams. As the announcers described unfolding events -- the plane flying Jackie and all the rest back to Washington, hand-wringing politicians and celebrities sharing their feelings and so on -- their descriptions and the accompanying black-and-white images seemed to combine with those dreams in a way that made me believe at times that I was part of them. This excruciating "montage" of mine went on way into the night, well past midnight as I recall. We had owned that satirical Vaughan Meader record "The First Family" and my recollections from some of those sketches ("Daddy, it's the Malayan ambassador for dinner...") also blended in with all of this. It must have been 2 AM before I finally got to sleep for the night. School was called off for several days.
A week or so later we all came back. Since the rest of my classmates had been at school on the 22nd, our teacher explained to all of us that the principal had asked her and her colleagues to dismiss their classes early but insisted that they not to tell any of us the actual reason for fear that the trauma might cause someone to get hurt or lost on the way home (most of us walked). This sounded like a peculiar, eerie scenario after the fact and I felt a bit left out at not having experienced it with the rest. --- Peter, Southwestern Michigan, 1954
!963...14 years old! A hard enough age to be, without wondering why anyone would want to kill the nicest president, and leave a precious family without a husband and father. I was in the Audio-Visual room at school, with, of all things, our history class. Our teacher was a real prankster; and even though it would have been a very morbid thing to do, some of us suspected it was him on the intercam, pulling another of his jokes. When he walked out onto the stage, all eyes became glued to him. He was not smiling...he was not laughing...he was not joking...and as it sunk swiftly in, everyone froze and listened. Too numb to cry, many of us were mere zombies, preforming the acts of movement. All was in slow motion, surrealistic. Then, finally, in the silence that followed the announcement: "The president of the United States is dead!" tears began to flow. Silently, at first...then desperately, no one wanting it to be real. No one wanting to ask the other, "Did he say what I think he said?" We were officially released from class; but for reasons GOD alone knows, our school did NOT let out. I will forever wonder what was in the minds of those adults who were in charge of making that decision. I went home, anyway; my boyfriend had found me and he left for my house with me. We spent the rest of the day watching the coverage, crying and hugging, and wondering what would happen to our world, now. Who was ever really safe? We had lost a great man, a guardian, the only person who'd had the guts to stand up to the dreaded communists. He was the only man I recall my dad standing up for, in spite of the fact of his being a 'democrat', whatever that was. So many people had been afraid he would let his religion rule for him. He wasn't the puppet everyone thought he would be. That he could not be controlled by anyone may have had a part in his death. He was his own man, and no one in the government seemed to like that. He kept his promises, too. I remember my dad being impressed with that. His death hurt everyone, the whole world around.
I ended up writing a letter of sorrow to Mrs. Kennedy, never dreaming it would not get there. Innocence is often bliss. She did get that letter...I will always believe that; because I received a letter edged in black, from her. I treasured that letter like it was worth the world's wealth. She will always remain in my heart as one of the most gracious Ladies who ever existed. --- Wanema (McCleskey) Lemons ; Carson, Washington ; 1949
I lived in Levittown, PA. I was a sophomore at Neshaminy H.S. In Langhorne. The news came over the intercom. In our typically noisy classroom of adolescents, you could cut the silence with a knife. They let us out early. Normally it was a very busy place when school let out. Not this day. We were all too stunned. I can't remember the size of the student body - I know there were over a thousand in my class alone and this was a four-year high school. You could hear a pin drop as we all filed off to catch our school busses home. And on the bus, again, silence. I remember it like it was yesterday. The one comment that will always stay with me was made by my friend, Mark. He softly said, "I can't even spit." Everybody remembers exactly where they were and what they were doing when John Kennedy was assassinated. Who knows where
history would have taken us had he lived. It might be that had he finished his term, many of us would have been disillusioned as the media (even of that day) took its toll on his life. As it is he will always be remembered as a truly charismatic leader. A man who made you proud to be an American. He was a leader people loved. A true Arthur to our Camelot. --- Carol, (Levittown, PA) Northridge, CA, 1947
I remember living on Otis AFB from 1960 -1964 when JFK was President. He landed at Otis every weekend and was flown by helicopter to Hyannisport to the Summer Whitehouse. I got to see all the family and the dogs and his rocking chair which traveled with him wherever he went and I also saw Jackie and JFK right after she had Patrick and he died. hey were very sad. And of course, the assassination haad a great impact on all of us because we saw him so much.
I remember my 8th grade science teacher coming into our classroom late and asking us how many of us were from Texas. There was one girl and myself and we shot our hands in the air and chorused, "we are" not realizing that our teacher was being pretty condemnatory about anyone from Texas in his implications. He then told us that the President had been shot and the radio came on over the loudspeaker and everyone started crying. They sent us home early and we didn't go to school for several days. All we did was watch the TV. It was a very sad time. --- Susan, Fairview, OR, 1950
I remember the Kennedy assasination, being in school and crying because it didn't make any sense, and my watching the TV that Saturday with my Dad,and seeing Oswald get shot on live TV. Who could ever forget any of that. --- Margie - Dallas, TX (previously Flushing, NY) 1951
I remember when President Kennedy was shot, they let everyone out of school early. I came home and watched it on T.V. My mom cried for days. It was
so sad. - Rick, Toledo, Ohio, 1956
The Kennedy assassination. I was in fifth grade, our teacher was a young, pretty woman. I remember the prinicpal coming into the room and whispering something into her ear. She immediately broke into tears. I think I was more disturbed by her crying than by the news of the assassination. The television news coverage of the event was unprecedented. - Steve, Dayton, Ohio, 1952