A Few Minutes with the Mayor – June 2016

My wife kept reminding me about how I talked of writing a column on aging, in other words, growing older. I kept putting it off but finally came to the conclusion that I’d better write this now before she forgets to remind me. (She’s getting older, too.)

This idea came in large part because in May we ran a film about that very subject. It was a Hollywood motion picture which no one ever heard of, either when it was made or even today. The title said it all… Make Way For Tomorrow, a tale of an older couple losing their home and now dependent on their children to take care of them… children faced with their own problems and concerns in their daily lives. They are the next generation. They are tomorrow.

The parents in this story would have been born in what today is called the “New Worlder’s” generation… 1871 to 1899. However, the story could fit any generation, for today there are 3.5 million senior Americans in danger of losing their homes, people behind on their mortgage payments using up all the equity in their homes. They are people, for the large part, of my generation, the “Silent Generation,” sometimes called the “Lucky Few” generation, born from 1929 to 1943. They were called “silent” because they grew up during the depression with the understanding that only through their own personal labor could they advance in life, having learned that complaining about things never provides bread on the table. It was a generation that produced very few politicians. Not a single U.S. President came out of this group.

And again, they were lucky because they just missed World War II and they were the beneficiaries of one of the greatest economic booms in American history… the “golden fifties.” The only requirement for a job was a desire to work. It was a world full of opportunity waiting for them as they came-of-age.

The “Lucky Few” were much fewer in numbers than succeeding generations. The Great Depression and World War II discouraged people from having children. 41 million babies were born in the era of the “Lucky Few” whereas after the “Greatest Generation” returned home from the war, 78 million babies were born. These were the “Baby Boomers,” an astounding increase! That’s what happens when you bombard fighting men for four years with pictures of Betty Grable and Rita Hayworth.

The generational differences can be stark. My mother was born in the “Hard Timers” generation at the end of the 19th century. Though given the right to vote just as she came-of-age, she never did exercise her hard-won right under the 19th Amendment. Today, there are few who would understand this, but they are six generations removed from hers… a generation that never had much and didn’t expect much… especially living through the Great Depression. Named “Hard Timers,” they were tough because they had to be. Ginger Rogers’ mother was one of these. When Lela Rogers would hear poachers on Ginger’s Upper Rogue River property, she would pick up her shotgun, track them down, and personally deliver them to the sheriff.

I must add these women were not weak. They would never fit the mold of the “oppressed” woman so popular with the politically correct genre of today. I can describe my mother this way—woe to the poor American Indian that would attack HER in a wagon train on the way to Oregon! As for Lela Rogers, her battles with male Hollywood executives almost always left them on the losing end. That’s what happens when mothers battle for their daughters.

Since creation, the world has spun on its axis year after year… and while it has, men and women with constantly changing beliefs adapt to ever-changing conditions. In the end, the older generation makes way for the next… and that one for the next. Still it’s odd how some ideas never seem to change. To quote the great Will Rogers,

I would love to see Mr. (Henry) Ford in there, really. I don’t know who started the idea that a President must be a Politician instead of a Businessman. A Politician can’t run any other kind of business. So there is no reason why he can run the U.S. That’s the biggest single business in the world.

Now where have I heard that recently?