From January 1, 1946 forward,the first of 78 million post-world War II American baby boomer babies began life during the next 19 years. Market researcher, Florence Skelly, coined the term "baby boom" to describe this phenomenon sometime in the 1960's.
Now there isn't enough room on most birthday cakes to put all the candles celebrating our latest milestone - the first baby boomers' 65th birthdays!
And there aren't enough bakers to create almost 10,000 birthday cakes daily to honor those kids who've always refused to grow up on anyone else's terms, including their own parents and grandparents.
As always, the baby boomers are mavericks, redefining modern history individually to serve their own needs; Creating new visions and versions of what it means to live through six and one half decades and still counting...
We've re-invented the term "new beginnings" time and again.
What Did the First Baby Boomer Years Look Like?
As World War II soldiers returned to America in 1945 and 1946, they began or expanded their traditional families. Typically, the first baby boomers were born to mothers in "twilight sleep" - knocked out on medications to forget the horrific pains of long hours of childbirth.
Fathers waited for the physician's birth announcement in calm, pristine rooms far apart from the messiness and moaning of mothers-to-be. For many years afterward, fathers were immune to the daily complications of family life, children and household chores as they worked to make a decent living for their growing families.
Our fathers and mothers aspired to give us our own slice of American soil; determined to move us out from the crowded cities or desolate rural areas to bring us the ultimate American dream: a home of our own in the new suburbs cropping up close by big cities.
In the suburbs, millions of us moved to look-alike developments of ranches and split-levels. The streets were as much a part of our recreation as the sidewalks and backyards (where we did cartwheels and climbed neighborhood trees). Our "go-to" destinations at home were our basements, "rec" rooms and bedrooms, which our parents closely monitored. We played all kinds of ball games in the streets, jumped ropes and played potsy, raced our bikes through surrounding neighborhoods, listened and danced to the rock tunes from our transistor radios, played with hula hoops and later toyed with Spin the Bottle and our own versions of Postman. Before computers, email and instant messages, before video games and cd's, before Prozac, before the Civil Rights Movement, the Equal Rights Movement, and Gay Pride, and around the same time television was born, so were we.
WHAT DOES 65 LOOK LIKE TODAY?
Let's not call ourselves young anymore. After all, we've skipped through one century (20th) into the next (21st). Our family structures have changed, either dwindling or expanding without our control. As one of the (formerly) richest countries in the world, America still falls far short among many countries in academic excellence, financial savings, and clear choices for retirement or secure future careers. We've endured the Cold War, Viet Nam, Korea, the Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan - and continue to be the supposed savior for many countries throughout the world. As a nation, we have unfortunately gotten used to civil turmoil, reckless weather, human destruction and danger in the streets.
Still, we may continue to be young at heart and yearn for rich dreams to be fulfilled. With or without a mirror, we may feel 10 -15 years younger than we chronologically are, but leading-edge baby boomers are in Act II or the Second Chapter of our lives.
It's a time to reckon with the time we have left, although no one knows our destiny for sure.
Depending on whom you listen to or read, baby boomers are caught between satisfaction and dissatisfaction with their lives today. We have Social Security and Medicare on our side, which may not always be available for tomorrow's seniors.
But we have many concerns. Here is a smidgeon of topics today's 65-year-olds contemplate:
* According to AARP, we've "saved too little, eaten too much and borrowed beyond (our) means."
* We continue to worry about the deep national economic recession as well as job security for ourselves, our children and other loved ones.
* Can we keep up with modern technology as well as the young kids who are developing each new invention?
* How long will each of us live? Is it better to have quality, quantity or both?
* The fear of disease or onset of Alzheimer's.
* Will we have a voice in the future of our country? Will we be valued for the wisdom that comes with age and experience?
As the late and very funny comedian, George Burns, said, "With a little luck, there's no reason why you can't make it to be 100. Once you've done that, you've got it made, because very few people die over 100."
Let's prove George Burns and all the naysayers wrong. If 65 is the beginning of our Chapter II, why don't we all strive for a happy ending?
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Pew Research Center, New York Times, NPR News
From the Upcoming Book: Once Upon Our Times „¢ © 65 Years of Growing Up Baby Boomer
Volume I Publishing mid-2011