Legend has it the first baby boomer entered the world at exactly midnight on Jan. 1, 1946 Eastern Standard Time. So ready to get going on his life’s journey, he didn’t even wait for the shiny ball to touch down in Times Square.
He came out red-faced and wailing, some say admonishing the doctor for not bringing him into the world any faster than he did.
He grew up not needing a weatherman to tell him which way the wind was blowing.
Twinkies were his favorite snack and he ate them with a glass of milk while watching “Howdy Doody.”
He drew stick figures and images of fighter planes in those early years but later lost interest and, as an adult, seemed confused yet sentimental when shown pictures of the drawings.
In 1953 he sneaked in through the back door of the Ritz Theatre to get a sneak peek of Marlon Brando’s motorcycle movie “The Wild One.”
One of the townspeople asked Brando’s character, “Hey, Johnny, what are you rebelling against?” Smacking a piece of chewing gum, Brando responded with the iconic line: “Whaddya got?”
The next year in an unrelated event, the boomer’s daddy, still shell-shocked from WW II and living in fear over the persistent Cold War, had a bomb shelter built in the family’s backyard.
The family underwent mock training drills and the boomer snuck Twinkies and boxes of Barnum’s Animal Crackers into the dark shelter that always felt a little colder than the outside air.
The “Elvis cut”
In 1958, when Elvis Presley joined the military and was given an Army haircut, the boomer took $1.25 from his mother’s change purse without asking and told the local barber to give him the “Elvis cut.”
The story arc opens for debate regarding Vietnam. Some say the boomer served with valor and honor, earning a decorated record of combat. Others say he dodged the draft entirely through a student deferment.
On July 21, 1969, he watched TV with his family as Neil Alden Armstrong stepped to the surface of the moon and spoke the famous words “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Later that summer, though no one has verified his accounts, our baby boomer is among the reported five million people who claim to have been among the actual 500,000 hippies who whirled and twirled on Max Yasgur’s 600-acre farm near Woodstock, N.Y.
Married in the ‘70s, he was seen with a stylish mustache and often wore a suede jacket over a turtleneck. With small children underfoot, he went to church and worked in the telecommunications industry, selling telephone services to families just like his own.
The split up of the phone monopoly found him jobless in 1984. So he sold things—cars, houses, insurance. Over the next couple decades, whatever else happened in his life, and much did happen, much he’d like to remember, some he’d like to forget, he never stopped selling. He could always sell. Boy, could he ever sell.
These days, divorced and remarried and divorced again, he ponders retirement from his job as a mortgage broker, but generously gives himself a three-year plan to financial security when he’ll be 70.
Our baby boomer spends his mornings across the table from his ailing mother and boomerang son who has returned home after a divorce of his own at the age of 33.
Because of his current circumstances some people these days refer to the boomer as a member of the Sandwich Generation.
I call him brother, sister, neighbor. I call him one of us.
For more from Daniel Williams, see: