My oldest granddaughter is in her senior year at high school and recently sent me some questions as part of a school project. I guess I showed my age with the answers.
1. How old are you?
My birthday is December 7th which is Pearl Harbor Day. I was born in 1950, so I am almost 56.
2.Do you find it hard to believe you are the age you are? Do you feel younger/older than your chronical age?
On occassion I shake my head and wonder where the time went, but most of the time I understand very clearly I am over 50. While I mentally still feel very youthful, there are a few aches and pains that take a lot longer to rub off then they used to.
3. Can you think of one or two things that age has had advantage over youth?
Memories and experience are both powerful advantages that age carries over youth. The memories of the past help avoid mistakes and experience helps to overcome recurring problems.
4. What frustrates you about your age? What do you find enjoyable?
Because I am part of the age group designated "The Baby Boom" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-WW2_baby_boom it is frustrating to be judged as part of that stereotype, and I have to share many things (ie, Social Security, VA benefits) with a much larger block of people than the generation before or after me. Understanding "the big picture" has become much more enjoyable with age, and as the spirit ripens it is easier to apply a few brush strokes of my own to the final masterpiece.
5. Do you find that you are treated differently on the basis of your age? Do you perceive things differently based on your age or timeframe in which you grew up?
Yes. Those older than me are more willing to accept me as part of their age group. I receive advertising promotions based on an older age group than before I was 55. There’s no doubt that I perceive things differently than those half my age or less. The three most influential inventions that have promoted personal liberty since the United States adopted the Bill of Rights over 200 years ago are the mass produced handgun (Colt 45) — also known as "the great equalizer" —; the mas produced automobile which allowed anyone with a minimum income freedom of movement over great distances in very short time; and finally: the internet — the one invention destined to bring personal liberty to anyone with access. Since I was born before the internet, DVDs, cable tv, humans in space, the Viet Nam war, or the assassination of Martin Luther King, and Bobby and John F Kennedy, I naturally perceive things with all those things having occured during my lifetime and not just reading about them in history books.
6. What are two or three of your most vivid childhood memories?
One clear memory that comes quickly to mind was when I was eight years old in the summer of 1959. Our family lived in Northern VA near Washington, DC. We drove into the nation’s capital early one morning and visited the Capitol Mall which includes the Lincoln Memorial, the Reflecting Pool, and the Washington Monument. We parked near the Lincoln Memorial and visited it first. Then we walked the path beside the Reflecting Pool to the Washington Monument. The obelisk stands about 555′ tall and is hollow inside, so people can either ride the elevator or walk the stairs. When you get to the tiny chamber at the top in the pyramid portion of the structure there are windows in each of the sides that you can look out of onto a complete panoramic view of Washington and the surrounding area. The line was long and the viewing time short, but we decided to walk down the stairs which ended up taking forever — at least to an eight-year-old.
A second vivid memory is from 1967 during the "summer of love." http://www.sftoday.com/enn2/summerlove.htm I was 16 and had just finished my junior year at Palmetto High School in South Miami. That school had over 3,500 students and high school there covered 10th – 12th grades. We had to go in three shifts, so I had to start first shift at 6:30 am and finished the day at 2:30 pm. During the middle three shifts every day the halls and schoolrooms were packed. After school closed for the summer my dad got rotated from the Miami office to Northern VA. Our family spent the next two months packing and moving. Labor Day came quickly that year, and I started my senior year at a new school in a completely different culture. At my new school there were grades 9 – 12 and only 1,450 students, so the change was very significant in all sorts of ways.
7.Are you a war veteran or spouse of a war veteran? Which war and how did that have an impact on your life?
I served in the US Navy from 1970 – 1978 onboard FBM submarines. We carried 16 nuclear missiles one compartment aft less than 10 feet from my work space in the Navigation Center. In October of 1973 I was on my third submarine patrol when there was a major flare-up in the Middle East. What was latter named the "Yom Kippur War" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yom_Kippur_War between Israel and some of their neighbors quickly involved the US and the Soviet Union. B-52 bombers, land based missile silos, and our crew along with about 10 others like ours in US subs all around the world went on a higher state of alert coincidental with an equal number of Soviet assets. The world was within 15 minutes of nuclear warfare, and we held that alert status for 10 days. Finally, President Nixon and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev were able to come to accomodation and that horror was averted; but, as we can see in the headlines every day; the problems in the Middle East persist.
8. What do you feel are some of the biggest changes taht have occurred in the world in your lifetime?
Adventuring into space is probably the biggest change. The advances in technology that have occured because humans made that a priority with the ultimate goal set forth by President Kennedy to put humans on the moon and bring them back safely by the end of the 60’s would have eventually been discovered but doubtfully at the rapid pace since May 1961 when J F Kennedy gave his "Man to the Moon" speech. http://www.homeofheroes.com/presidents/speeches/kennedy_space.html
9. Do you haev any current health problems that are due to or aggravated by your age?
Elevated blood pressure and fading eyesight. Now I have to take a daily pill and wear reading glasses for close work and reading. What a bummer.