Baby Boomer echoes

by Teresa R. Zaverl

Most Boomers remember the ’60s well. It had to be the decade of things gone awry, one foreign to our folks, but really one that proclaimed a message. <BR><BR>I don’t believe there’s been one generation alive seeing so much turmoil and unrest. Were you supposed to believe war was the way to go? Should you be a dove or a hawk? Should you burn your bra or flee to Canada? <BR><BR>They say lasting impressions of many life altering experiences happen in the very early years of life, and many of us were pre-teens witnessing a decade filled with unexplainable concepts, even ones our parents never witnessed, nor could they come up with logical explanations as of what was going on. <BR><BR>The whole country was on tilt, and luckily we lived up here, signing off to ice fishing, skiing or skating - living in the tundra part of the year. But we still received newspapers and had TV news. We knew the country wasn’t quite right. Too much unrest, too much polarization, especially between race and gender. <BR><BR>And if the old folks at home started questioning the politics, the school made sure we kept up with current events. Remember all of us taking our turn in Mr. Braun’s geography class and Mr. Marolt’s civics class delivering our early morning version of the headlines? <BR><BR>Most of us copied that assignment off the run (thank God for early paper deliveries) before class commenced. We thought we were brilliant taking the first paragraph, reading it aloud to the class. Did we get the gist? I doubt it, but years later I wish we had. <BR><BR>As one ages, you find reading all the facts you can an important priority. For some reason youthful fancy and lack of life experience gets thrown away and news becomes an obsession - at least for those who still read the daily print, view talking head shows or Blog, etc. <BR><BR>Where does that head me? The recent funeral of Mrs. Coretta Scott King. The Boomer kid, and I hope many of you viewed a tribute to what the news was all about in the ’60s. It was a wake-up call to all the things we took as a task during our high school current events. <BR><BR>The history of the civil rights movement, and all that went along with it politically, was a great lesson. Most teenagers wouldn’t get much out of the speeches and old timers who came to the funeral to honor her. But those of us old enough to remember those days, even though we couldn’t picture all of it, put it together. <BR><BR>Now I understand the importance of Martin Luther King Day. I can envision the fright and horror black families suffered. I see the need for what they desperately needed by someone with a message. Boomers, especially growing up in Ely never were exposed to racism and prejudice. <BR><BR>Well, maybe that’s not all true, especially if you sided-up with certain locations or Finns versus Slovenians and that type of rivalry. It could even be Lincoln School against Ely Elementary. <BR><BR>The first time I saw a black person was when a carnival came to Ely. The guy was in charge of the carousel. I remember him taking my ticket and helping me onto the horse of my choice. I didn’t think much about it, I just thought his face looked as though he had some grease on it. He was kind and friendly and I was four years old. <BR><BR>Mrs. King’s funeral opened the Boomer kid’s mind. I remember her, a new widow, leading the striking garbage workers’ march. It’s been said she could’ve stayed home, and that would be acceptable, but she chose to lead on. <BR><BR>It was the most beautiful and meaningful ceremony for a woman well worth her tributes. It was a history lesson and a half. I loved her friends, especially the well-spoken ladies, donned in their best hats recalling times they chatted on the phone, talking the politics, exchanging cards and letters - in good times and bad. <BR><BR>I thought of the young people today - would they understand all the tributes to this honorable woman? We’ve come a long way, but not far enough. It’s about equality and justice whether you’re black, blue, white, pink or spotted with polka dots. <BR><BR>Thank you Mrs. King for your dignified role, keeping the torch lit in a world that needs the message. My hope is that we all could learn a lot from you, keep the message going - you earned all your tributes and you went out with style.