BABY BOOMER BABBLE
1948. That's the year I was born. My mother was due April 1, but she held off, for obvious reasons. I'm not so sure it helped.
Nineteen forty-eight marked the third year of the baby boom. The birth rate was accelerating beyond anything ever seen before or since. Those WWII vets were just getting warmed up. In a couple of years, the rate would exceed 4 million births per year, and would remain that way for the next ten years. By 1960, baby boomers would become the largest generation in our history. The population had moved up from 141 million in 1946 to 182.5 million in 1960. We had become the "Population Bomb" Paul Ehrlich described in his 1968 book of the same title.
Here are some of the highlights from 1948:
¥ The biggest highlight for me was my birth, although I don't remember much about it. I was born in a hospital, which was different from my parents, who were both born at home. I ended up being an only child due to my parents having the "rh factor," which could lead to serious physical problems for a second child. They were unwilling to take another chance, so they stopped after having me. That decision was for the most part a beneficial one. An only child manages to get spoiled pretty bad, and I was no exception. But as I've gotten older, I've missed not having any siblings.
¥ One of the most unique things to happen in 1948 was Harry Truman beating Dewey in the Presidential election. Truman had been in office about three years, having replaced Franklin D. Roosevelt at his death. In 1948, Truman was running for his first elected term. Dewey was heavily favored to win, so much so that the Chicago Tribune jumped the gun and printed an edition with big headlines claiming Dewey the winner. Ends up Truman won. That paper became an instant collectorÕs item. Truman went on to have some major problems, and Eisenhower was elected in 1952. I obviously was way too young to notice, or care, about any of that.
¥ Mohandas Gandhi was assassinated on January 30, 1948. Gandhi is best known for leading India to independence from Britain by using non-violent social change strategies. Gandhi would become one of my favorite persons, whom I have feebly tried to pattern my life after. My favorite Gandhi quote is, "I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent." A million people lined the streets to watch his body transported to the Ganges River, where he was cremated and his ashes spread on the river, a Hindu custom.
¥ The U.S. Supreme Court, by an 8-1 majority, declared that public schools could not teach religion. That began a church and state debate that continues to this day. In the fifty-eight years that I have lived with this decision, I have always thought that both sides have taken up polarized and mistaken positions.
¥ Israel proclaims itself a sovereign state. The United States gives Israel its diplomatic support, which quickly grew to military and financial help. Today, Israel is the number one benefactor of U.S. foreign aid. And the two principals, Israel and Palestine, remain locked in deadly combat.
To give you an idea about the cost of things in 1948, here are a few examples: Coca-cola, 5 cents; milk, 22 cents a quart; butter, 90 cents a pound; a loaf of bread, 14 cents; the average price of a new car, $1250; an average new home, $7700. Unfortunately, the average salary was only $2933. So things were not quite as inexpensive as they seem. Money was hard to come by. By the time I was ten, when I could put together 15 cents, I headed to the drug store for a two-dip, chocolate and marshmallow sundae, with nuts, whipped cream, and a cherry on top. I remember that as being a real treat.
I liked 1948. It was a good year, especially for me. But I'm not so sure about my parents.
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