The Happening
The Influence
The Impact
Who are the Baby Boomers?
by Dr. Ellen K. Rudolph
Baby Boomer's Flashback
I am one of them. Yes, I am a 'baby boomer' on the brink of aging. I was born in the mid-forties to parents who were celebrating the end of a horrible war. And so are you if you were born between 1946 and 1964. That's when U.S. births jumped from 2.6 million births in 1940 to 3.4 million in 1946 ­- and as high as 4.3 million births in 1957. After 1964 the US birth rate started dropping again. Because of their sheer numbers, the generation born during this period has had a profound impact on society and the economy ­- and they will continue to exert this influence throughout all the stages of their lives.
A boomer turns 50 every 7 seconds in this country -- 3.9 million of us turned 50 in 2003 alone! ­ and we are a whopping 75.8 million strong as we approach the end of 2003.

What Was Happening Back Then?

It was World War II and the word finally came that we had won. Ike at the time commanded 85 divisions of 4 million allied forces. Men rushed home from war to make babies in celebration of heroism and bravery and victory. And they made those babies madly for the next eighteen years. Nostalgia for a simpler era of romance and unity punctuated the air. A reverence for monuments and relics stirred in us. Personal income rose from $72 billion in 1939 to a whopping $172 billion in 1945. And, despite the fact that the Veterans Administration had suddenly become the leading social welfare institution and the economy a "military-industrial complex" dependent on government defense programs, we had a lot to celebrate at the time.

The Events That Shaped Us

Baby Boomer's Flashback
In 1946, Dr. Benjamin Spock's Baby and Child Care influenced millions of new and expectant parents including my own; Britain's Princess Elizabeth married the Duke of Edinburgh; the "New Look" of long, full skirts became the rage of female fashion; and inventor Earl Tupper invented Tupperware. Drive-in theatres became a booming industry.
In 1948 Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in India; popcorn sold on a mass scale for the first time; and Orville Wright and our beloved Babe Ruth died. A year later the Soviet Union detonated its first atomic bomb and Senator Joseph McCarthy warned of communist infiltration of the State Department. 14 million television sets (heralding Arthur Godfrey and Friends) were sold in U.S that year.
Mass production of penicillin and streptomycin also reached record highs and electricity was generated from nuclear power for the first time. 1952 books of note included The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemmingway; East of Eden, John Steinbeck; The Grass Harp, Truman Capote; and The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale.
In 1953 James Watson and Francis Crick determined the structure of DNA and the sales of comic books skyrocketed to 20 million copies a month. The phrase "under God" was also added to the Pledge.
Two years later Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. lead the first major event of the U.S. civil rights movement and Albert Einstein died. Rudolph Flesch also published Why Johnny Can't Read, a stinging criticism of the U.S. educational system. By 1956 we early boomers were celebrating our tenth birthday, only to bear witness to even more remarkable events: Nikita Khrushchev warned, 'We will bury you!' Then the Russians launched Sputnik I and II at the same time that re- elected President Eisenhower sent the first troops into Arkansas to enforce desegregation. 'Barbie' was born during those years (sigh). Castro took over Cuba. And Chubby Checker introduced us to the TWIST as the Soviets shot down a US spy plane. President Kennedy took office in 1960 as the Berlin wall went up. In 1962 the first Wal-Mart opened and Russian warheads brought the world to the brink of another war. President Kennedy was assassinated.
At the same time that Martin Luther King declared, "I have a dream," President Johnson declared his own 'war on poverty' and shortly thereafter he began planning a huge escalation of a war that ushered us into the controversial Vietnam era.

The Beatles invaded the US and huge civil disturbances ensued over the Vietnam War and race and President's Johnson's so-called 'Great Society.' King and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated; President Johnson pulled out of the Presidential race and Nixon won. In 1969 the US landed its first man on the moon.

By that time most of us boomers were nearly middle aged and we had suffered through Kent State, the Beatles breakup, the Pentagon papers, Nikon's visit to China and his ill-fated re-election which ended in Watergate ­- followed in short order by the Court's legalization of abortion and the end of the military draft. In 1975 'JAWS' scared the living daylights out of us.

The Impact

The '60s remain too vibrant a memory to be erased for those of us who experienced them. And it has left an indelible mark on us. The political landscape is surely going to be changed by the aging of the baby boomers, the generation that has persistently challenged conventional behavior patterns. A significant number of us backed movements such as anti-racism, women's liberation and environmentalism, and we were in the vanguard of the sexual revolution. We also had a healthy disrespect for authority and conservative values.
Unlike previous generations before us, however, we will not respond as placidly as our parents and grandparents did to being sidelined after retirement into possible poverty and a sense of powerlessness. We boomers plan to grow older very differently from our parents and, because of our sheer numbers, we have the potential to rewrite this country's political agenda.
Will we move into a new phase of radicalism, pushing for wider social change? You bet we will! We already are. And we speak with a wisdom all our own.
Humorous Videos and Links of Interest
Watch more fun video animations from Walt Handelsman

Turn Your Speakers On... Really Funny!
60's Flashback
Take Me Back to the 60's

Aging Hipsters

Baby Boomers Headquarters

Hippy Roots in the 20th Century

What Happened When You Were Born?

Tree of Life

Videos: A plant that could save us all!

Read Alice's Restaurant Lyrics

©1966,1967 (Renewed) by Appleseed Music Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Tule Tree

(tree of life)
oldest living tree
©Copyright 2001 Mardi's Funpagez™ All rights reserved. No duplication permitted
~ Credits ~
Who are the Baby Boomers?
by Dr. Ellen K. Rudolph

Video animations by Walt Handelsman