Monday, September 29, 2014

The Sum Total of 75 Years

I spent this past weekend at the home of my mother, celebrating her 75th birthday. At this point, my mother doesn't mind if people know her age. She's 75, and it is what it is.

In Fall of 1939, in a red house, in the middle of a small prairie town, my mother came into the world, the second child of what would become five. Her older brother couldn't pronounce her name just right, and she became known as Deedie henceforth.

My mother came into the world on the heels of the Great Depression, and on the cusp of World War II. By the time my mother was three, her dad had enlisted in the U.S. Army, and the worry began. Her dad was stationed in Texas for basic training, and eventually shipped out to the enigmatic shores of "Over There." He served over there in the European Campaign, and in the African Campaign. As my mother grew older, she helped out around the house, as best as a small child can. I can't imagine what her thoughts might have been, wondering exactly where Daddy was, or when Daddy would come home. I think about this when I hear about kids who have parents serving in the military today. This forgotten generation of kids are the ones who truly understand the thoughts and feelings of kids today. [I use "forgotten," because they are the children of the Greatest Generation, and the older brothers and sisters of the baby boomers.]

Mom started school in 1944, or maybe it was 1945, I'm not really sure. She was a cute little girl, with blond pig-tails or braids, a neatly pressed blouse and dress, and shiny shoes. Grandma had been a teacher for several years before this, graduating from the "Normal School" in Minot. (Curious why they called it Normal School, but OK.) Grandma wasn't a stay-at-home mom, but she left teaching when she got married. Anyone want to give a guess why? (Answer: Those were the rules back then. Had to be unmarried, and no children.) Anyway, Grandma made sure her children looked respectable when they went to school.

In 1950, Mom watched a whole new world open up across the world. She experienced the introduction of the first credit card, the beginning of the Korean War, and even the first Peanuts comic strip. Who knew Charlie Brown is almost as old as my mother? In 1951, the first color TV hit the market, although Grandma and Grandpa didn't buy one until much later. The Polio vaccine was created, to the relief of people the world over, and to ice the cake on the year, the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth who was only 25.

1955, my mom is a sophomore in high school. Disney Land opens in California, and Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus. To the shock and horror of every teenage girl in the country, James Dean dies in a fiery car crash. This is also the year the first McDonald's opened.

1956, Junior year in high school, Elvis Presley bursts on the scene with his historic performance on the Ed Sullivan show. The forgotten generation is b-boppin' to the Big Bopper, and God only knows who else. I'm not a fan of the 1950s music. Don't judge me, I grew up in the 80s. Girls across the world are fascinated by the marriage of Grace Kelly to Prince Rainier III of Monaco. Prince charming really does exist.

1957, my mom graduates from high school, Dr. Seuss publishes "The Cat in the Hat," and Sputnik, the Soviet satellite, is launched into space.

After graduation, Mom traveled around some, living a short time in Fargo, and worked for a department store. She met my dad in the early 60s, I think. They lived in Oklahoma City, Spokane, and Tampa Bay.

During this time she experienced the Vietnam War, the Women's Rights Movement, and the cold war. She watched the age of information unfold in the 1980s, spurring the dot.com revolution, and the turn of a Millennium. She's watched the world explode in population, and grow smaller due to globalization. She's seen oil booms come and go around her small hometown, and worries some about the current boom.

I can't possibly include all the events that have changed the world since 1939, but I do know that the only event that matters to me, is the spectacular event that happened in a red house, in a small town on the prairie, way back in 1939.