My father grew up in a tiny bungalow house with his parents and five siblings. He had to share a room with his brother, and the girls had to share another room. I guess they shared everything else, too, not to mention all the hand-me-downs, underwear that my grandmother made from flour sacks and my grandmother’s hand-repaired shoes. I got no sympathy from him when I complained after seeing my blouse on my sister or wailed about not having my own room.
“You kids have it good today,” was his mantra.
Living through the Great Depression and helping to fight World War II gave my father’s generation a certain perspective. He couldn’t relate to this girl who would have ripped the blouse off her sister’s back if she were not afraid of tearing it. The blouse, I mean.
My mother was a little more understanding, but she had been an only child and my sister was her favorite. Guess whose side she was on.
I was born right after the end of World War II, which makes me one of the first of the Baby Boomers. My generation has been praised or blamed for a lot of things, and we deserve it. We got a lot of attention, much of it from our parents, who couldn’t figure us out.
Take, for example, the emergence of The Beatles in the early 60s. All of a sudden, teenage boys wanted to grow their hair and get a real mop top haircut. After the initial shock wore off and they were able to speak, most parents reacted with various versions of “Over my dead body.” This worked to a limited extent for a couple of years. How well it worked in the long run can be seen by the progression of male hairstyles throughout the 60s and 70s. There were probably more young men with shoulder length hair in the late 60s than had been seen in all the years since medieval times.
Our parents were equally scandalized by some of the “mod” couture that girls were eager to try. Miniskirts appeared everywhere somewhere around 1964. Parents had apoplexy, of course, but the miniskirt is still around even now, thanks to all the “Boomer” girls who didn’t want to look like they were wearing their mothers’ clothes.
Those of us who didn’t have the right legs for a miniskirt could, instead, choose to wear Indian cotton skirts, bell bottom hip hugger pants, body suits that hugged our upper frames and other items that, when we look at the old pictures, make us wonder what we were thinking.
The girls’ equivalent of the mop top hairdo, in the early 60s, was the “beehive.” This required careful setting and preparation, a lot of teasing and loads of hairspray. Eventually, many of us got tired of this, dumped the rollers and the teasing combs and the hairspray and let our hair grow long and go natural. The only time you see anything resembling a beehive hairdo nowadays is on elderly women, who are either trying to hide bald spots that way or who think it makes them look younger.
I have to admit that I miss having long hair hanging almost down to my butt, parted in the middle. It was fun. You never had to set it or style it, and you could swing it around and feel really sexy. Actually, the much shorter haircut that I have now, at age 69, never has to be set, and I can swing it around, too, but it just isn’t the same.