I was born in the ’40’s; I was not raised with a sense of entitlement; I was raised with obligation and expectation. My mother was a homemaker and my stepfather was the breadwinner and disciplinarian. I grew up in the generation when men were bosses and women were expected to respect those positions when in truth, our ideas were more inventive, creative, intuitive and expressive. Generally, women can “bottom line” a controversy in 3 minutes after careful listening without interruption. It required courage to speak up. Can you imagine?
I took home economics in high school and learned to make button holes, attach collars, zippers, pockets, gathering, smocking, hemming, cutting patterns, ironing and steaming. I owned a Singer sewing machine. My daughters don’t sew. Can you imagine?
I had school shoes and church shoes. I walked to and from Thomas Jefferson Junior High School in Arlington, Va. I was in ninth grade when the family purchased our first TV — 12-inches in black-and-white — placed in my parents’ bedroom where I did my homework watching “American Bandstand” with Dick Clark. In mid-ninth grade, my Air Force stepfather was transferred to Ramstein AFB in Germany. In mid-11th grade he was transferred to Wiesbaden. There was no easy communication from those I left behind. Can you imagine?
I was expected to graduate from college on time, four years after high school while my mother and father moved around the country and dropped me off at state colleges; nursing or teaching were my choices. I wanted to be an airline stewardess and see the world. TWA turned me down; I was 4 pounds overweight. Can you imagine?
I graduated and married. I taught school for 42 years: elementary, middle, ninth grade, international, college, and never made $40,000. My older daughter commented, “I wouldn’t get out of bed for $40,000.” Can you imagine?
In 50 years, I have owned six Farberware four-cup coffee pots. My daughters drink morning coffee; the younger one owns a Keurig and a 6-year-old mastered its operation; I, however, need help. The older daughter has never plugged in a coffee pot. Starbucks suffices. Can you imagine?
Today, birthdays are celebrated at venues. I grew up when birthdays were celebrated in the family kitchen with eight friends, pineapple upside down cake and vanilla ice cream, followed by a backyard jump rope contest. My seventh birthday was celebrated in a Quonset hut on the island of Kwajalein with seven classmates.
In the present generation, 18 to 30 guests are Ubered to a party destination and greeted by a perky party planner, dressed in theme garb. The destination ranges from dude ranch, bowling alley, go-cart track, jumping gym, yoga studio, water park, rock climbing site, bumper car track or a party center palindrome, rented for the duration. Employees range from nail/makeup artists to personal trainers to college recruiters to career counselors to fortune tellers to voice coaches, etc. The professionally baked cake reflects the theme and arrives by decorated vehicle.
These social functions have become contests of entertainment: over the top, big top. I have never attended one of these extravaganzas and certainly won’t receive an invite now. It’s a generational thing. Parents, make sure thank you notes are worthy of the monogrammed stationery. Can you imagine?
Personally I’m thinking of a sky diving arena or the wave pool option for my July affair. I have always believed that where I am now is where I need to be.
“B, if you don’t have your phone, you can’t hear the ring.”
Dear, I’m just a ding-a-ling away.
Knowles is a resident of James City County