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The Top 10 Influences that Made the Baby Boomers Who They Are

Both the sublime and the ridiculous...

by
Don Sucher

Bio

June 21, 2014 - 8:00 am
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10. Howdy Doody

I can hear you… “What? Are you nuts? How can you put a puppet on a list of the greatest influences on our nation’s largest, and presently most influential, generation?”

Well, ignoring the fact that Howdy Doody was not a” puppet” (he was a marionette), having Howdy Doody on the list makes perfect sense. The baby boomers are what sociologists call “a cohort group” — i.e., a group of people who share, and are bound together by, a common set of experiences during a defined period.

What was the first shared experience that the boomers – the cohort group born between 1946 and 1964 – uniquely had in common? Watching TV. And what was their earliest shared favorite television program? Howdy Doody. I rest my case.

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Top Rated Comments   
Sorry, this piece is tripe.

You wanna know the single biggest influence on we Baby Boomers? Easy.

It was our parents.

We mostly turned out as products of how our parents raised us, had values they instilled in us and, while surely every group sees things their parents could have done differently, by the time we hit our mid 20s we all appreciated our parents and their beliefs and generally did much the same.

OK, so our parents probably didn't drop LSD - but neither did most of us. Our parents probably stuck to alcoholo - which of course their parents thought was so evil they passed Prohibition to stop it. Our parents - contrary to public opinion - actually committed sex on a regular basis, and used the F word (how many people know that the most celebrated military expression in WWII was FUBAR, and know what it means?). So our parents sowed their wild oats when young, then settled down and raised families, just as we baby boomers eventually did.

The mythology associated with baby boomers is both relentless and wrong.

I'll give you one good example - the myth of the 60s/early 70s was that the boomer kids were all free-loving, drug crazed anti war hippies, living in Haight-Ashbury, tuning in/dropping out, spacing out, invading deans offices and protesting the Viet Nam War ... well, that was a media myth that no doubt fit the same bubble-induced expectations of the major media back then just as the media today thinks all young people today are trying to Occupy Wall Street.

No - actually, the maximum population of Haigh Ashbury at its peak, in the 1967 Summer of Love was just a few tens of thousands ... on the other hand. Eleven Million of us (including yours truly) served in the uniform of our country, emulating our parents' service in WWII.

Also contrary to myth, most of us volunteered during the Viet Nam era (1964-1972), and draft doging wasn't a major occupation. Less than 2 million out of 11 million men in service during VN were drafted - proportionally far more of our generation enlisted voluntarily than did during the so-called "greatest generation"in WWII, where more than 10 million were drafted out of 17 million total who served.

Most of us who went to college actually attended classes and didn't storm the deans office. Most of us got married, just like our parents, and raised families ... maybe the average family size was less, and there was no equivalent to the post-WWII "baby boom", but yes, we got married. The number of divorces was higher, but that's mainly due to "no fault divorce laws" that our parents passed in states, and the fact that the social stigma of divorce had disappeared by the 60s and 70s.

I can go on and on.

There is also truth to the fact that social change took place during the 60s and 70s - but then, social change took place throughout the entire history of our nation. What do you think the parents of the 20s flappers and jazzers and speak-easy patrons, with raised hemlines, and women smoking and drinking, etc. etc. thought of their children's lifestyle choices?

What is funny is the mindless stereotyping of "baby boomers" - such as in this post, and how wrong it is.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Margaret Sanger was actually an evil woman who advocated eugenics. She advocated the euthanization of blacks. She spoke on several occasions at KKK rallies. I would list some of her quotes here but they are so racially biased that they would get my comment banned. Hitler actually thought her ideas were good and useful.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well,let's see....in Doodyville,we had the Mayor...Phineas T. Bluster....and his brother...Buster B. Bluster...reputedly "6 months older than Phineas"....Chief Thunderthud,Princess Summerfall Winterspring, Buffalo Bob...and Bison Bill who filled in for him when he had his heart attack,Clarabelle...played splendidly by Bob Keeshan who was later to be Captain Kangaroo......Howdy,his twin brother,Double Doody,his sister Heidi Doody,his fat brother Heavy Doody...Dilly Dally who could wiggle his ears.....Captain Scuttlebutt.....Flub-a-Dub....and John J. Fadoozle....."America's #1 (booooiiiinnnnnggg) private eye!"....all of it sponsored by the likes of Royal Gelatin Desserts,Luden's Wild Cherry Cough Drops,and Hostess Cupcakes.....how's that for a true Howdy fan?...I'll leave the other 9 to the more mundane and banal among my fellow boomers
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (66)
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I am invariably pigeonholed as a "boomer" due to my birthdate. Yet I feel that I am closer to an "X-er." This list explains a lot ... none of these puppets/persons ever meant diddly to me ... people 10 years older than me probably reveled in it, but it does squat for me. Yup, I'm no boomer.

17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Elvis.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
You make many good points, and it was always a stupid idea to try and clump a vast number of people into a single mold. What's more, that's what the left does; they see us all as groups instead of individuals. I daresay that fewer than 5% of the boomer generation fit the mold that is used as an explanation for all, but that small percentage includes a very large proportion of today's movers and shakers in America. Which is one reason why the 95% who don't deserve it get tarred by the same brush.

Fact is, we each make our own decisions, and votes are not always based on well-reasoned, rational readings of the issues. I would wager that chance plays a greater role in elections than generation, but so long as we live and die by statistics, many will continue to genuflect in the direction of non-scientific but scientific-sounding guesswork.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Again, nice words, whether sincerely sung at Lennon’s 72 acre Surrey Estate with its splendid gardens and manmade lake, or in any of the five apartments he and his second wife... "

Nice? Well, if you like pure Marxist dogma set to music and imbibed by several generations of Americans, yes, it's nice.

17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Way to chop out the middle of a generation to label the whole. I expect we'd find many of the first boomers who paid little attention to your Woodstocker influences. I know, I as a late boomer ('62) had little influence from this list.

No, the attempt is to define the Boomers by those from the early '50s. The misguided who were eagerly told what to do by the red-diaper babies of the late '30s and '40s. Don't believe me, look up the birth years of the leaders of the "Boomers", the war protests, and the early bombers.

But I do thank you, I've always known I wasn't a Boomer no matter what the demographers said. Nothing in common with the Woodstockers, just as many of my age who did spend the summer of '69 near naked in the mud, but in the backyard. Or like the older ones who spend '69 in the mud, with a SE Asian flavor.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
That is true. However history says that fully a third of the American colonials were paying no attention to events in Boston and another third actually favored the British monarchy.

It has been said that "history belongs to the winners." For better or worse (and most here would side with the later) the left and their influences largely won over the 'boomers.'

I was a 1946 edition living in New England. I avoided Woodstock, but more for the crowds and scene then the libertine lifestyle. It took years -- until Reagan -- for me to see the other side.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
This site is reminding me more and more of those ads we click on at the bottom of a page, the 'human interest' pieces. We know that the publisher is trying to generate 'clicks' for advertising revenue so they run ten bullet points that all must be clicked to run the number up for the site. The only difference with PJM is you have the 'choice' of seeing all ten points at once by choosing, display as a single page. You are running this site like a ladies
magazine from the sixties. There's my insight into your popular culture.

17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
What? Maynard G. Krebs, but not the Beatles? Really, now!
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Was including John Lennon not good enough? ;-)
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
... if they grew up to be Lefties.

And he forgot Davy Crockett and the Lone Ranger.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
"...the Lone Ranger"

Oh yeah, forgot that one.

Tonto...there was a role model.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah, before Iger ruined him and really screwed up his film.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Alas, most did.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
This list is pathetic.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Pretty much NAILED all my childhood influences EXCEPT Dr. Spook & Dobie Gillis. The JFK assassination (when I was 11), marked THE END of my childhood!!
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
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