Sixty something: Reflecting on what baby boomers experienced in our teens 123



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Hello sixty somethings. Recently a friend suggested I write a little article on what it has been like for us growing up. You know, when we were in our teens and early adulthood, if we can remember back that far, wink wink. What we have seen and experienced, what it was like then to what it is like now, that sort of thing. 

I am in my early 60s. When I started going out without a parent, the rage was the movies and local dances. I lived in Alice Springs and we only had a drive-in theatre, except for the occasional “outdoor” movies held in the shopping centre and deck chairs were the seating of choice. Everybody all around the country loved going to the drive-in back then. Families went, car loads of boys went and couples went. For couples who had been dating a long time it was a place to snuggle under the blanket and kiss and cuddle til you all piled in to the canteen at half time. Then the girls would go off giggling and discuss the boys with each other. It was fun, it was a happy time and the Sandman came into vogue. It was a panel van which sometime seemed to sway at the drive-in to the sounds of the speaker which was attached to the window.  

The older you got, the less you went to the movies. The local pub was usually your place of entertainment on a Friday and Saturday night. If you were lucky, as I thought we were at the time, you got a rock band playing one night and country the next. In Alice Springs there was no public transport so most of us walked to where we wanted to go. We would end up with 20 or 30 people on a long table all laughing and dancing the night away. Some of us would then head off to the coffee shop at the local motel to discuss the night’s events and drink coffee which had just become the fashion, shall we say for young adults to do. There was the odd fight at the pub, but nothing like today’s fights where someone gets seriously hurt on a regular basis.  

Of course we didn’t go out much during the week. By the time we were 15, if we had no intention of going to university, most of us had jobs. If you presented yourself well, you usually could walk into most places and ask if there was any work going and eight out of 10 times you would get a job. You stuck to one job and most people worked 40 plus hours in those days. That was the norm. You didn’t complain but just kept working.

Now I’m not saying that the male of the species were perfect, but there seemed to be fewer men disrespecting women. The men mostly asked you out so paid for you to go, or if you were in a long term relationship, you paid for the occasional outing. I had the car door, the house door and any other door held open for me more often than not. I was always ushered in, in front of the male as a sign of respect. I was walked to the door of my house when I was taken home at the end of a date. I would say we had a lot of respect for each other in those days and the boys were very aware that a girl’s dad might hunt you down if you did anything that wasn’t nice. All in all the late 60s and 70s, even the 80s were fun and special.

The girls wore mini skirts, bright colours and chunky heeled shoes, progressing from wide skirted dresses and stilettos. The boys wore jeans or flared trousers and and progressed from velvet or cord pants and boots and long coats. There were knee length boots and hot pants for the girls and frilled silky shirts for the boys. The girls started to get their hair cut shorter while the boys let theirs grow long or had it styled like the Beatles.  

We didn’t worry too much about politics in those days except when the hippies of the seventies wanted to smoke dope and live on communes. The rest of us didn’t judge them, live and let live was the saying back then.

We have seen at least 15 prime ministers come and go from all walks of life. Some, like Bob Hawke, colourful characters and Harold Holt who went missing in the 60s. We have seen prime ministers sacked, we have seen them resign and voted out. We have seen their own parties turn on them, seen them get more excited over Australia winning a yacht race or the cricket than the political state of our country and we have seen Australia’s first female prime minister.

We have seen the Fj Holden come and go and who remembers “Hey, Charger”? The car that all the nice young Italaian boys loved to own. Then, the nice young Italian boys didn’t care, in fact, liked it, when we called them wogs. We have seen political correctness go haywire.

We have seen the first man walking on the moon and space shuttle Challenger blow up before our eyes. We have seen terrorism at an all time high with the twin towers in New York being blown apart by planes flying into them and terrorism becoming part of our everyday life. We have seen America elect its first black president. How far this country has come is amazing.  

We have seen the Bali bombing and seen a country divided in the disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain and the execution of two young Australian men convicted in Bali of drug smuggling. We have seen Steve Irwin, perhaps the world’s best wild animal handler, killed by a stingray, while he was doing what he loved best. We have seen a world of technical gadgets take over with computers, tablets and mobile phones and the internet. Social media in Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

We as baby boomers have seen more in our lifetime than perhaps any other generation will see ever again. Some has been amazing, some has been sad and some has improved our world. Just like some of this has been heartbreaking, some has made life so much harder and some has made the next generation so self absorbed.  

Will we live to see other changes in our world that will impact greatly on our lives? I don’t know, but when a politician thinks we aren’t important or a burden on our country, when the younger generation think they can do a better job or show us little respect, perhaps we should tell them to read this. Perhaps then they may understand our importance on this earth. Perhaps then someone will listen to us or ask our advice or want to learn from our knowledge. Perhaps then we will all strive for our world to be better and people to be less selfish or brutal. Will our world and they way we act in it ever be better than it is today? 

Share your thoughts on these memories in the comments below.

Fran Spears

Born in 1953. Came to Hobart from the north west coast of Tassie to be closer to my son as I have mild chronic bronchitis. Mild and chronic in same sentence – even that makes me laugh. Have just completed and passed my diploma in Public Relations. Love to write and have lead a reasonably interesting life. My motto: "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn!"

  1. Nice article. I have been thinking along theseblines a lot lately.
    The changes have been incredible. The age if technology has certainly arrived and it seems it will take us places I cant even imagine.
    Aside from this. How will the future generations survive this world of conflict and the war of belief and terrorism?
    A different world is constantly in the making, constantly evolving through forces of nature and man.

  2. yes we have seen so much, the collapse of the Berlin Wall was an another important event we witnessed, we were going to change the world and make it a better place, make love not war was our mantra, but I sadly we never succeeded in that area. Great article Fran , it is certainly thought provoking and very well written

    1 REPLY
  3. While we lived through a lot, I also think today’s teens are living through tough times. Terrorism for one. The comment that the next generation is self absorbed is very wrong, I personally know many many fantastic young adults who contribute back to society and the community.

    4 REPLY
    • Oh yes, there are lots of wonderful young ones. Scratch them a little deeply and the self absorbedness often surfaces. We still love them nonetheless. It is a wonderful changing world in which we live. We have to enjoy it despite the faults.

    • yes I do too, but drugs are rife nowadays world wide and that is affecting the changing world… Those that chose the right and good path are truly wonderful, those that don’t, well we just have to watch unable to do anything personally. The only way we were better off I would say would be we were resilient most of us and never gave up.

    • I agree Dawn, I think oldies are just as self absorbed as younger generations, you just have to read the comments on here each day with the constant complaints, I think we have such a better lifestyle than generations before us & I can’t ever remember hearing them complain like we do now, perhaps we should be thankful for everything we have today & stop disrespecting younger generations constantly, I think to a certain extent every generation is self absorbed.

  4. Yes I have been through all that and we have experienced some amazing times – enjoyed your article.

  5. And for us it was so easy to get jobs when young they struggle with so many oldies hanging on to theirs when our parents retired at 60 and many mums didn’t work.I may not be able to retire at 65 might have to do another year or two.

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    • Well said, and most of us had the privilege of having our mum s at home and oh those family Sunday roasts. I think it is very hard for our young today. Unless you have lots of $ you cannot retire, this means for many it is 65 plus, and yes you maybe well but you tire easier and sometimes just over all the hype. I love my work but life is getting shorter and 4 of my friends are gone.

    • Beri Vera me too i’m real fit but are getting tired and some of my friends have passed already it would be horrid to keep working til the end .I’m just going to be real careful and are making everything now and have been learning as much as i can about living off back yards etc.I go round and turn all power off over night except hot water and fridge and are very interested in surviving as cheap as possibel.We do have great op shops now that weren’t around when we were young so thats an advantage for looking great on a budget.I also colour my hair with a henna paste costs about $1 .50 and looks like foils so doing well there.

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