The Boomer Club
You belong to the Boomer Club if you were born between 1946 and 1965 – that post-war period of time when our parents’ generation optimistically hoped for a peaceful and prosperous future.
Unlike our parents who knew serious economic hardship during the depression and war and learned to save and deny today’s wants for greater security tomorrow, Boomers were confident progress and prosperity would never end.
With the notion that the future was secure, we felt free to focus on ourselves.
Consequently, Boomers have been called the “me” generation in honour of our varying degrees of self-centeredness. One of our continuing (and often grating to others) attributes is to think of ourselves as unique and special. That’s probably why we’re still referred to as “babies.”
Even though Boomers are generally thought of as one mass, there are really three distinct parts to our generation (and, yes, there is some overlap).
- Leading edge Boomers were born between 1946 and 1953.
These early Boomers have largely done very well for themselves. They had the advantage of an expanding economy created by the mid- and end-boom generations following them – they got there first. They were the first to enter school, university, the job and housing market, and the first to retire. On average, they are financially better off than later Boomers at the same age and benefited the most from increasing home prices and investments.
- Vaccines developed that ended the serious diseases of polio and smallpox.
- The Cold War – in the US especially people built bomb shelters (in Canada too – you’ve heard of the Diefenbunker), school children practised “duck and cover,” the nuclear bomb drill of diving under their desks.
- World was shocked by the assassinations of US President John F. Kennedy, and civil rights leader Martin Luther King.
Television: Boomers were the first generation to be brought up in front of TV – originally broadcasts in black and white. We watched westerns and variety shows.
Music: Teens were at first still influenced by their parents’ faves such as crooners Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Dean Martin, then rock ‘n’ roll and Motown became popular – Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and Elvis had his first hit single. Paul Anka became Canada’s first pop superstar. We also had the Frankies – Avalon, Laine, Valli and the Bobbys – Curtola, Darin and Vinton, and the surfing sound of the Beach Boys. Beatlemania started the influx of British bands.
Movies: We went to drive-ins and watched radioactive Japanese monsters and beach party musicals.
2. Mid-Boomers born between 1954 and 1959
This period was the peak of births. Class sizes were larger and they faced more peer-group competition for careers.
- Viet Nam war and Civil Rights activism – protesters everywhere who also opposed nuclear weapons and advocated world peace (The Age of Aquarius).
- Beginning of short-lived hippie culture.
- Feminist movement and the surge in females in post secondary schools and the labour force.
- Trudeaumania (the first Trudeau).
- Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon.
- Formation of OPEC caused the oil crisis and gas prices quadrupled.
- In Canada, the FLQ crisis and War Measures Act.
Television: Colour TVs started to catch on. Westerns were still strong. There were goofy sitcoms – Beverly Hillbillies, Gilligan’s Island, My Favorite Martian. But some popular comedies such as All in the Family also pushed the limits of what was considered acceptable with such “adult” themes as race, gender equality and abortion.
Music: More variety – hard and soft rock, R & B, Soul, a rebooted British invasion (Black Sabbath, The Who, Led Zeppelin) and the Bee Gees bring on disco. Current events became a major influence in music. Protest songs encouraged social activism opposing the Viet Nam war and supporting civil rights. Music from other cultures became popular – Carlos Santana, Ravi Shankar.
Movies: Blockbusters – the first Star Wars, Rocky, Jaws, the Godfather showcased lots of actors who are still popular today.
3. Late-Boomers born 1960 – 1965
For these late boomer’s the economic recession resulted in a lack of viable career opportunities after graduation. They were more likely to have faced unemployment early on and shut out of the increasing housing prices.
- The western world went into a recession and suffered massive inflation.
- Technological advances brought us the first cell phone, home computers and video games. IBM introduced the bare bones IBM 5150. This 64kb computer with floppy drive and monitor sold for about $3000. Later on, the Commodore 64 was released, and at about $600, became the best-selling PC of all time. Atari’s first video game to have commercial success was – Pong.
Television: Animation started to get more advanced. MTV became the first music station. The introduction of cable TV brought us hundreds of channels.
Music: Heavy metal, punk rock, glam rock and over-digitized music. Hip-hop was gaining popularity. The biggest stars were Michael Jackson and Madonna.
Movies: With the introduction of cable TV and video stores, the movie industry struggled. There were some exceptions, however: Star Wars – The Empire Strikes Back, Airplane, and Friday the 13th were very popular.
The bottom line
Baby Boomers are healthier and better educated than their parents. And, their life expectancy is higher. They have been big consumers throughout the decades and represent huge buying power.
We are now changing the face of retirement in our own ever unique ways. Some boomers have already retired, some are not quite there yet, and some never want to retire and are starting their whole new “second act.”
Some are fortunate to have good pension plans and large savings, and others are determined to live a reasonable lifestyle while struggling with health problems and lower incomes.
In the corporate world, mentorship is one of the best ways those in the know pass on their knowledge, and we can learn a lot about retirement from those who have done it well.
- How’s it going?
- What do you like about your retirement?
- What do you recommend doing?
- What do you wish you had done differently in your retirement right from the start?
It is my goal with this blog to have us share thoughts and life experiences and learn from each other. There’s lots to look back on, lots to look forward to. We face a lot of big choices. We might as well do it right.