|Courtesy photo. Flower power youth have an exchange with National Guardsmen. Pamela Morgan of Cottonwood went to Fort Hunt High School in Alexandria, Va., and recalled skipping school and jumping on a bus to Washington, D.C., to demonstrate against the Vietnam war on the White House lawn. “Hundreds of people there, and Peter, Paul and Mary. Peace, Love, Dove. Took a bus back before the parents came home. They never knew.”|
|From a yearbook.|
How did you feel the first day of your freshman year? Some people say this is the most confusing day of their lives. Among thoughts that run through their heads as they walk through the halls:
1. Confusion and despair as they try to navigate a strange new building.
2. Fear of upperclassmen, teachers, coaches, administration.
3. Anxiety – Will they succeed in this larger, institutional environment?
4. Anticipation of new activities including sports, music, art, and social clubs.
5. Separation from parents and family as they enter their first semi-adult environment.
No doubt about it. High school is significant. And, somebody famous once said, “It’s the one uniquely American rite of passage nearly all of us share.”
Today, three-plus decades after graduation, most Boomers remember it as “a time of confusion. I didn’t know who I was, “one guy moaned, “and I considered my problems to be totally unique, so I didn’t share them with anyone. If I had, I would have discovered nearly all of us were feeling the same way.”
You and I had different high school experiences. Most of us belonged to some sort of social group – either school-sponsored or informal – during those years. Did you participate in any of the following?
1. Football/basketball/baseball – These major sports were predominantly male during our years. Today, of course, basketball and softball are also major girls’ sports.
2. Tennis/volleyball/track – While these sports didn’t draw as many spectators, they attracted a number of good athletes of both genders.
3. Band/orchestra/chorus – Those of us with musical talents may have participated here.
4. ROTC – Some have told me their high school experience helped them in college ROTC, and later in the military.
5. Newspaper/yearbook – For many students this was a prestigious group. They could write about their friends, and gather great school gossip.
6. Art – A few people told me their participation in art and design forged a future career path.
7. Distributive education – If you participated here, you likely went to school for one-half day and worked the other half. Many used these classes to obtain state certification as hairstylists, barbers, mechanics, draftsmen, and several other specialties.
8. Future Homemakers, Future Business Leaders, etc. – These clubs attracted students who wanted to learn more about specific careers. Often, professionals in that career field would visit the students to tell them more about their professions.
9. Social clubs – These were often sort of pre-college fraternities or sororities. Many were not sanctioned by schools. Many were not allowed to meet on campus. They were, however, powerful social mechanisms.
Mary, a mid-50s Boomer, says she also recalls that the women of this age group were “caught between two societies. The women of our parents’ generation mostly believed that ladies stayed at home, cared for their children, and put the priorities of the husband first.
“However, the age group 10 to 15 years ahead of us was redefining females. They wanted traditionally male careers to be available to them. They wanted equal pay for equal work. They wanted to decide if they wanted children or not.
“What were we – the Baby Boom generation – to do? As it turned out, some of us took both paths. It’s really different for our daughters. They live in a much more accepting society.”