Tag Archives: greatest generation

How the Heck Did We Get Here: Blame it on the Baby Boomers??

I am sitting in my office scratching my head about the upcoming election.  How did we get to this place where neither candidate is trusted or believed, and a large number of citizens are considering a third party candidate just to avoid voting for the two primary party candidates.  Our country has become a country of entitlements, political correctness, and media manipulation.  I certainly don’t have all of the answers, but I think my generation contributed to this mess.

I am a baby boomer.  Most of the time, I am proud of being a ‘seasoned senior citizen.’  We baby boomers were born between the years of 1946 and 1964.  That would make the oldest of us 70 years old, and the youngest would be 52 years old.  In some respects, the younger generations would consider us ‘overly seasoned’ or perhaps, ‘fossilized.’

Our generation was the first that had a name.  We were those people born immediately after WWII. Take a bunch of war veterans and mix them with a bunch of women that haven’t had a real date in years, and BOOM, the world experienced an explosion of births.  Our parents were a tough bunch. They all lived through the Great Depression.  Then, as teenagers and 20 somethings, they fought and won WWII.   Tom Brokaw later referred to them as the ‘Greatest Generation.’  They knew of, and sometimes experienced the atrocities of WWII.  Immediately after WWII, we were back in Asia fighting a war in Korea.  It became apparent that not all countries wanted world-wide peace.  At the same time, numerous countries were conducting nuclear bomb tests.  That warm relationship between the US and Russia during WWII was not all that warm.  The possibility of a nuclear war hung over us for most of our childhood years.

This made our parents a rather tough bunch.  We were taught the difference between winning and losing.  We did not receive any ‘participation’ trophies.  We were instructed in ‘bomb drills,’ in the event of a nuclear attack.  Our teachers were always right and were always respected.  Any deviation from good behavior resulted in punishment.  In my case, I got spankings by my mom and five ‘beltings’ by big Daddy G.  I deserved every one of them.  This was not considered child abuse, it was considered parenting.  There was no pretense that our parents were going to be your ‘best friends.’  They were going to be disciplinarians, and they filled that role marvelously.  (My dad was not my friend until I was in my 30s.)  We were taught to be independent and to work hard.  Being blue collar was not a stigma.  It was instilled in us that if we wanted something bad enough, we could obtain it through hard work and diligence.  Anything was possible!

Every school day was started with the Pledge of Allegiance.  We sang our national anthem with fervor. Then, as we got older, we were called upon to represent our country in another war….the Viet Nam conflict.  Many volunteered or were drafted and performed their duty to fight in a war without a genuine purpose.  To this day, the best explanation for fighting this war was the ‘domino theory.’  That theory was the belief that if one country fell to Communism, then others will fall to Communism.  But Lyndon Johnson took this to the extreme by committing over 500K troops to Viet Nam.  He made Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) the 23rd largest American populated city in the world.  Over 57,000 Americans were killed in this war, with hundreds of thousands more suffering psychologically from what they had experienced and from the way they were treated once they returned home.  Americans believing they had served their country were now being spit upon and called ‘baby killers.’  Many lives were lost, and many more minds were destroyed because of this war.

So there you have it.  A very brief description of what formed and what affected the lives of the baby boomer generation.  What was my purpose for relating this information?  Well, because of the way we were reared, we, as a generation, decided not to be as strict and structured as our parents on our children and our grandchildren.  We became adherents of the ‘live and let live’ theory.  We became more concerned about ourselves and our families to the point of missing the gradual changes to our society.  And now, as I look back at the way our country has evolved since my childhood, I want to publicly apologize to Generation X, Generation Y (Millennials), and Generation Z as to how the Baby Boomers have failed you.

We Boomers need to apologize for the level of entertainment on our televisions and our movies. In our youth, all movies and TV programs were appropriate for all ages.  We did not need a rating system designating P, PG, R or anything else.  I am not a wilting flower, but it is difficult for me to believe the amount of profanity, sexual innuendo, sex, violence and gore that has permeated our entertainment.  Parents of today need to realize that your children are seeing this garbage and they are being affected by it.  How could they not see it?  It is on at prime time on numerous channels. Instead of having three good TV channels like when I was young, we now have hundreds of bad channels.  Look at how few good comedies we have today.  We had many while growing up.  Reality shows and cop shows seem to be the general format of TV today.   Garbage entertainment really began in the late 60s and early 70s.  TV was still somewhat regulated, but the movie industry had taken a definite turn for the worse.

Our Boomer generation invented the computer.  This led to the popularity of PC’s and laptops in every home. Technology is marvelous for all it can do.  But as one pundant has surmised, home computers have become a ‘pipeline for pornography.’  Do you think people are being affected by that?  Coupled up with violent video games, do you think our children are being affected by it?  I am not quite sure how we could have stopped this garbage, but I will apologize anyway.

I apologize that we appointed a Supreme Court that overturned term limits on federally elected officials.  Yes.  Legislation was actually passed during the Clinton administration limiting term limits, only to be overturned by the only organization without them…the Supreme Court.   Now we have career politicians and all the graft, corruption and personal enrichment that are a result of it. Decisions are being made every day by our elected officials for personal gain without regard for what is best for the country.

Our newspapers, magazines and TV news at least attempted to appear impartial during elections held in the past.  This year?  The gloves have come off with such notable organizations like the New York Times and the Washington Post not even attempting to hide their support of Hillary Clinton.  In previous elections, news organizations would show their support for a particular candidate in an editorial.  Not now.  They show their support by smearing their candidate’s opponent.  The latest is the release by the New York Times of Donald Trump’s 1995 tax returns which show a loss of over $900 million being carried into following years to reduce any future tax burden.  The crime here is not Trump’s taxes and carry-over as that is perfectly legal and by IRS statute allowed.  The real crime is the publishing of his taxes by the New York Times.  They claim that they received them in the mail. Yeah. Right.  Any CPA doing such a thing would lose their license to operate.  I believe the IRS themselves did it.  This is the same group that targeted conservative groups prior to the 2010 mid term election.  In particular, the Tea Party movement.  Who would investigate this matter?  Well, the FBI.  That same group that let Hillary off the hook for emails even though the FBI director’s brother provides legal services to the Clinton Foundation.  Sound fishy?

Isn’t it a shame that most of our printed media has reduced itself to the level of the National Enquirer?  In some instances, the National Enquirer is more believable.

Do you trust the government?  During the 60s, when the unemployment rate was reported, it actually meant the number of people who were without jobs that wanted them.  Today’s unemployment rate has been reported at less than 5%.  I assure you, this is for purely political purposes in an attempt to show how wonderful our economy is faring before this election.   In fact, the real unemployment rate is just under 10%.  Why?  Because so many people have quit attempting to find work.  But wait….there’s more.  Do you know how many households in America do not have anyone working?  Over 22%!  Yes.  Over 22% of the households do not have a breadwinner.  How are they surviving?  Working for cash?  Welfare?  How wonderful does our economic picture appear now?

Do you like our current policy of allowing anyone to use any bathroom depending on what sex they feel like on that particular day?

So, as I look back on my life, the goal I have always had is that I leave the world a better place than when I entered it.  My generation of Boomers has failed.  We have made mistakes.  We allowed the country to become so liberal, so politically correct, so dependent on the government and so militarily weak that it is not the same country of our youth.  We have taken free speech to such an extreme that we now have public disrespect for our flag and our national anthem being considered heroic. Yet, only 1% of our citizenry has served in the military to protect our country and our freedoms.  We now have groups of people attacking and killing our police because they think they are ‘entitled’ to do so. We have had deadly Islamic terrorist attacks on our people.  We allow people of unknown origin to enter this country every day without having any idea of their true purpose in coming here.  Many times, it is not to assimilate like previous immigrants.

I want to make a plea.  I know many people who are not enamored by either candidate.  For their personal beliefs, they are going to vote for a third party candidate.  That has been tried before with disastrous results.  Rather than giving George H.W. Bush a second term, Ross Perot siphoned off  enough conservative votes to give Bill Clinton the presidency without having received a plurality.  Do you want to vote for the Libertarian candidate who did not know what an ‘Aleppo’ is, or could not name his favorite foreign leader?  If you like the policies instituted by the present administration, by all means you should vote for Hillary Clinton.  If you truly believe that the country is heading in the wrong direction, then do not waste your vote on a third party candidate, hold your nose and vote for Donald Trump.

I am considerably older than those members of Gen X, Y, and Z and here I am apologizing for the direction our country has taken in the last 60 years.  My fervent hope is that in 30 or 40 years, you will not be writing a blog apologizing for the bad decisions your generation has made and suffering from the consequences of bad decisions.

Tomorrow Can Learn From Yesterday: A Lesson For Today’s Americans

Both my Houston ‘nefoo’ and my Cajun editor say they prefer my blogs which tie in my adolescent experiences with a current topic.  Considering what is happening in the world, I have decided to author a  blog that only relates to my experiences growing up as a Midwestern kid in the 1950s.

Here are the current world events trending as I am typing away:  ISIS is being bombed, a policeman was shot in Ferguson, Missouri, and the Americans are having their hats (this is a G rated blog, so I won’t say asses) handed to them in the Ryder Cup.  A volcano has just erupted in Japan, and a man has been arrested in Oklahoma for a beheading.  Egads!  After all of that, my recollections are not just a ray of sunshine, they are a beam of nostalgic bliss!

The biggest differences between today and the 1950s are undoubtedly the unbelievable technological advances in nearly all aspects of daily living.

I can still remember when neither of my sets of grandparents had electricity nor indoor plumbing.  One set of my grandparents remedied this shortfall before the end of the 50s.  My other pair of grandparents passed away in the late 70s, never having embraced these eventual neccesities in their home.  Those grandparents had both an outhouse and an outdoor pump-handled well.  Their illumination was made available with kerosene lamps, and their heat was obtained through use of a wood stove that was also used for cooking.  When my aunt needed to iron her clothes, she heated metal pieces on the stove that clipped into a handle.  It looked like a modern iron except that the business side of the iron was removable so it could be heated.  They had two or three of these removable ‘iron bottoms’ so that when one got cold, she placed it back on the stove and replaced it with a hot bottom.  You would only find these in an antique store today, and I admit I have not seen one for years.

I loved staying with those grandparents and I did so often.  They lived near the railroad, so many times in the middle of the night, my bed would tremble with the passing of a train.  I loved it!  There was nothing quite so comforting as feeling the house cooling in the winter as the stove fire was dying, while I was buried under a warm mountain of blankets and quilts.  I do have to admit that going to the outhouse was a challenge, especially in winter.  Not only did you face the prospect of wading through snow on a very cold, windy night, but then you had to put your butt down on a very cold piece of wood.

My grandmother was a magician with that wood stove.  The best pies, cakes, rolls and roasted meats came out of that oven.  She did everything on that stove that anyone could do with a modern stove.

Most people today could not fathom living in a house such as my grandparents had.  They lived there for decades and raised three children in that house.  They lived well in that cozy home and died happy and fulfilled.  It never occurred to them to live any other way.  I enjoyed staying in that house more than any other place outside my own childhood home.

Another big technological advancement was television.  We had a black and white 19″ console TV in 1952.  We were ahead of 90% of my hometown in that regard.  We had three channels which were the big three networks, ABC, CBS and NBC.  About 10 years later, we had a fourth independent channel.  That was huge!  It was particularly huge because we now could get American Bandstand on that channel hosted by Dick Clark and originating from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania!  I was in my preteen years and if you did not watch American Bandstand with the music and the dancing, you were a nobody and a hick. (You did not want to be considered a hick in an agricultural community!)  At the time, I thought Philadelphia, wherever that was, had to be comparable to Oz!  I vowed I would one day go there.  It had to be beyond cool!  (I have yet to do so!)

In 1963 we got a 19″ color console TV.  We were the third family in town to own one!  It cost my dad $750 to buy that TV.  That was a princely sum and equaled about six weeks’ net pay for him.  I instantly became popular with my classmates.  The first shows we watched in color?  Bonanza and the Wonderful World of Disney.  Both were great family-oriented shows.

We got our first phone when I was in the third grade.  I can still remember how I proudly reported to my teacher that we now had a phone and that our phone number was 349-R2.  (Yes, this really was our first phone number!)   What does the R2 stand for?  We were on a party line.  Our neighbor, who had a phone before us, would  be notified of a phone call by the very personable operator with one ring.  We would be notified of a call with two rings.  Thus the party line.  Our neighbor could pick up the phone at any time and listen to our conversations.  We could do the same.

There is one advantage to not having every person in the US carrying a cell phone.  Parents would always know who their children were associating with, because they answered the phone.  “Ring-Ring.  Hello?   Is little Grandpa T at home?  Who may I say is calling?  It’s little Johnny, the local smoking and drinking teenager.  I’m sorry little Johnny, little Grandpa T is at his grandmother’s house, and they don’t have a phone.”  Of course, I am at home, but you get the picture.

I can remember reading in a Popular Mechanic’s magazine article, as a teenager, about the future use of automated teller machines that would dispense money in lieu of having to go into a bank to receive cash.  ‘Are you kidding me?  It will never happen!  Crooks will crack those machines like a cheap, defective walnut!’  Now we can’t live without ATMs, and we seldom go into our bank.

So much can be said for the technological advances between the 50s and today.  The differences are comparable to the difference between a kite and an airplane.

It appalls me that over 15% of Americans are dependent on food stamps.  Both of my grandmothers had gardens.  Both sets of my grandparents lived through the Great Depression.  Out of necessity, they both took gardening to a science.  My local grandmother, the one without electricity, had a garden at her house, and a bigger one on our farm.  We grew everything with everyone in our family contributing to the welfare of that garden.  Being that my grandmother had survived the Depression, it made for interesting eating habits.  For instance, peas mature and ripen for 2-3 weeks.  When they would ripen, you could expect to eat peas for two meals a day for those three weeks.  (My grandmother made our meals as my mother was working.)  The same thing happened with every vegetable that we raised.  Once it ripened, you could expect to be inundated with it until the growing season ended.  In the mind of a Depression survivor, nothing was to be wasted.  If it could not be canned or frozen, it was, by God, going to be eaten!  That garden regularly fed eleven members of our family and any friends or family that visited.

It does not take acres of land to plant a garden.  A 10′ x 12′ plot could supply lots of food for a family of four.  Carrots, onions, tomatoes, green peppers, peas, lettuce, radishes, cabbages and many other vegetables can all be grown with minimal space.  Some of those vegetables can be grown in pots, thus eliminating the need for any garden space.  Gardening has become a ‘lost science.’  It should be revived in light of the number of people dependent on food stamps.  Maybe we should have fewer food stamps distributed along with vegetable seeds.  If I were underfed or undernourished, you can be sure I would have a garden.  Let’s plant that idea amongst the hungry.

One of my grandparents had Polish heritage and the other had German heritage.  All four of my grandparents were born in the US, but most of my great-grandparents came from the ‘old country.’

My Polish grandparents would speak Polish in the house.  In particular, they would discuss what I would get for Christmas in Polish.  I eventually caught on, and eventually figured out what I was getting.  They never, ever spoke Polish outside the home.  They were Americans through and through.  My grandfather served in WWI, and his two sons served in WWII.

My other grandmother grew up in the US, speaking only German.  She did not learn English until she was 10 or 11 years old.  Once she became an adult, she never allowed German to be spoken in her house.  My mother and her siblings never learned any German because Grandma became all-American and wanted her children to be the same.  Grandma’s siblings felt the same way, and so I never heard any of them speak a word of German.

The purpose of this?  My relatives, all from European countries, could not wait to assimilate into American culture.  In their own minds, they could not assimilate quickly enough.  There was not going to be any ‘press 2 for Polish’ or ‘press 3 for German’ as far as they were concerned.  They would have been appalled and embarrassed by the suggestion.  Without question, all of my ancestors came here to be independent, to be free, and to have the opportunity to be a part of the great American society.  They embraced their country of residence and the future it offered both them.

Our education was also different than today.  We said the Pledge of Allegiance every day.  It was the first thing we did every morning from first grade through high school graduation.

Teachers had absolute authority.  If one of my teachers decided to ‘drop a dime’ about my behavior  to my dad, I could expect my dad to ‘drop a dollar’ on me.  My parents, like most parents, would do this without fail and without questioning the teacher.  This would not end well for me.  The husbands of three of my first six teachers worked with my dad.  He knew about everything I did.

Parent-teacher conferences occurred after the first nine weeks of school.  This was considered a social event in our small town.  I had 60 classmates.  All 60 of their mothers would attend these conferences.  Most of the mothers would buy a new dress for the occasion.  My mother attended all twelve in my childhood, even if she had to change her work schedule, which she had to do often.

All I can say about typical Baby Boomer education is that it was good enough to invent computers, mobile phones and all the technological advances that young people enjoy today.   Having said that, I want to point out that a select few of the Baby Boomer generation actually invented these items.  The rest of us are still trying to figure out how to use them.  Where are the grandkids when you need them?

Thanks for allowing me to reminisce.

PS:  On September 14, 2014, Common Sense by Grandpa T surpassed 100,000 unique hits. Grandpa T’s goal is to educate people on the value of common sense in our ever-changing world, one impressionable mind at a time.

Waist versus Waste

Have you jumped on a scale lately?

Here we are, in that ‘tweener’ period between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It is the time of year when, confronted with vast servings of cookies, nuts and candies, we just seem to lose control of our ‘well-intended’ diet plans.

In the spirit of this caring and sharing time of year, friends and neighbors love to share homemade gifts – usually more  cookies, nuts and candies.  Grandma P partakes in this tradition.  It has created a vicious cycle of personal ‘weight turbulence.’  This is especially true when Grandma P bakes about 200 extra dozen cookies, with the direct order for me to try each type to assure they are friend and neighbor-worthy.  As she values my opinion, I am obligated to sample each type.  I usually taste each flavor  five or six times to make sure she got that cookie ‘just right.’  She helps me during this process by leaving said cookies exposed on the kitchen counter for easy access.  This is the same concept as the check-out lines in Walmart that are stocked with items for your ‘impulse’ purchase.  I impulsively eat more cookies.

Friends, family and neighbors also want to socialize during this time of the year.  (My opinion is this is done so they get their ticket punched, and do not have to do it again for the New Year!)  These gatherings usually entail adult beverages, cookies, nuts, candies and other assorted desserts to ensure that cardiac care centers remain in business!

Taking all of these items into consideration and combining them with my recent exposure to a twenty-eight day ‘all you can eat’ bacon buffet, you begin to understand my weight gain dilemma and  challenges.

But, just when the world appears its darkest and gloomiest, it is human nature to look at those less fortunate and say, “I guess I don’t have it so bad.”

And therein lies the light at the end of the tunnel!  Just when I thought that my pending weight gain was unstoppable and incorrigible, that magical, inevitable  “I guess I don’t have it so bad” epiphany. (What Oprah Winfrey calls “an ah-ha moment.”)  Even though I may put on a few pounds, this organization has virtually increased its ‘weight’ almost five times during my lifetime!

What is it, you ask?  The size of the President’s Cabinet, and the Cabinet level staff! 

An explanation is necessary.  I researched the material for this post on December 7, Pearl Harbor Day.  The bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 was the prelude to the largest single event to affect the United States and the world in the last 100 years, World War II.  (If you disagree, just imagine the ramifications to the world and the U.S. if we would have lost!)

I was curious as to how many members there were in Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1940 cabinet.  This would have been the cabinet that was responsible for America’s large contribution to winning that war.  Have a guess?  The number of members of the 1940 FDR cabinet was eleven.  This 1940 cabinet was comprised of:  Vice President, Secretary of State, Secretary of War, Attorney General, Postmaster General, Secretary of the Navy, Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of Labor.

FDR was a smart guy.  He foresaw the events in Europe unfolding in the late 30s, and  he surmised that America, regardless of her isolationist sentiment, would eventually get involved.  He selected his cabinet members wisely.  He valued experience.  Two of his cabinet members served all thirteen years of his term as President.

His most interesting choice and his most remarkable choice was Henry L. Stimson as Secretary of War.  Firstly, Stimson was a Republican.  No harm in that, as the current Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel is also a Republican serving a Democrat POTUS.  Stimson was appointed Secretary of War in July of 1940 at the age of 73!  Why Stimson?  ( A question for my trivia team!)  He was selected because he was the Secretary of War during World War I in the Taft administration!  During WWII, Stimson directed the expansion of the military, managing the conscription and training of 13 million soldiers and airmen.  He also was responsible for the purchase and transportation to battlefields of 30% of the nation’s industrial output.

What a patriot!  At the time in his life when most retired, Henry Stimson stepped up to the plate to help his country.  He did this at an age that was greater than the average life expectancy of a male at that time.  He lived to the age of 83.

Harold Ickes, the Secretary of the Interior, and Frances Perkins, the Secretary of Labor, served the entire time of the FDR presidency.  Secretary of State Cordell Hull and Secretary of Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr. both served eleven years.  One FDR cabinet member had four years experience.  The remainder of the cabinet had five or more years.

In retrospect, FDR and his Cabinet could be called the ‘gang of twelve.’  Fortunately for us and the world, they were educated, experienced and dedicated.  They must have been remarkable to shoulder so much responsibility,  as we won the war.

Do you know how many members there currently are in the 2012 Obama Cabinet?  There are twenty-two members.  That is double what FDR had in his Cabinet just 73 years ago.  Just like my weight, it gets bigger; and just like the commercials on TV….but wait, there’s more!  There are an additional twenty-nine Czars, many of them with Cabinet-level standing.  This adds up to fifty-one Cabinet members and Czars.   That is over five times the number of people FDR had to win World War II!  Now who has put on the weight?

Most of these current Cabinet members have been appointed recently.  Most were appointed following the 2012 election, but there are some that have been appointed after 2012, as their predecessors resigned.  John Kerry replacing Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State would be an example.  Suffice it to say that the eleven members of the FDR administration would far and away exceed the existing twenty-two Cabinet members in experience. It appears that Cabinet membership has become a revolving door to ‘get one’s ticket punched’ on the way to a better position.  The dedication is not as apparent.

There is no doubt that the largest problem for our country is the continuing inability to present a budget, much less make an attempt to balance a budget.  We have not had a budget since this POTUS took office.    Our government is still operating on ‘appropriation bills.’  The next one expires on January 15.  We have another possible government shutdown looming in less than six weeks.  Happy New Year!

The existence of all these Cabinet members and Czars is creating a financial hardship on this country.  How so?  Have the Departments of Education and Energy run their course?  Do we need them?  Do we need twenty-nine Czars?  With the existence of all these Cabinets and Czars, we have people competing for monies to justify their existence and expand their particular agencies.  We are funding people we don’t need and programs we don’t need.  They are doing this with our money!  (We could eliminate a boatload of IRS agents by repealing Obamacare!)

Here is a partial list of the Czars that are currently in this administration:  Energy and Environment Czar, Faith-based Czar, Domestic Violence Czar, Aids Czar, Climate Czar, Central Region Czar, Auto Recovery Czar (Yup, I’m serious.  I could not make this up!), California Water Czar, Car Czar, Government Performance Czar (How would you like to present that report to the POTUS?), Great Lakes Czar, Green Jobs Czar, Guantanamo Closure Czar, Information Czar, Pay Czar, Regulatory Czar, WMD Policy Czar, Tarp Czar, and last but surely not least – Sudan Czar.

I am not exactly sure of the responsibilities of each Czar, but Common Sense tells me we can put the Federal Government on a diet and eliminate a bunch of them.  There appears to be overlap between Czar responsibilities and Cabinet responsibilities.  Do we need both?

FDR and his cabinet were masterful in their ability to shape our country and the world.  They did it with a cabinet of eleven and a President.  There were no Czars.  They were the ‘gang of twelve.’

The fact is, our government is too large and has ballooned in size.  We, as a nation have become much too dependent on the government, at the expense of individual responsibility.  This  ‘plus size’ government is the result.  The people of the United States need to decrease their reliance on the government, and the government needs to be put on a ‘diet.’

As a role model for our government, I, Grandpa T am going to get on a treadmill to reverse the misfortunes of weight gain.  (Right after I am done with my milk and cookies.)

The Media and Cowardice – Contributing Factors for Mass Shootings

I am a baby boomer. Baby boomers are the generation that are now grandpas and grandmas. We are an easily recognizable bunch. The gray thinning hair, wrinkles in places you never knew could wrinkle; well, you get the picture. We are never mistaken for Gen X’ers, Y’ers, or any other generation. We are also the generation from whom kids expect to receive large birthday and Chrismas presents.

I am proud to say that, in recent history, no mass killings have been committed in the United States by baby boomers. That is not to say we did not have our usual assortment of “nut cases” and murderers. It is the younger generation committing these heinous crimes, such as shooting grade school children, innocent moviegoers, or people in Washington, D.C.

My theory about why these tragic events are occurring today is based on cowardice and the media. Let me explain.

When growing up in the small town of Soft Rock, (population 969) we had a movie theater. As a matter of fact, the name of the theater was the Soft Rock Family Theater. Our little theater had about 200 seats. Movies were 25 cents, and popcorn and a soda were a dime each. The theater ran two different movies each week. One movie ran Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The second movie would run Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. So, in the early 60s when my parents wanted the kids out of the house, we would use our weekly allowance of fifty cents. We would be dropped off at the door of the theater. Now here is how life was very different from today. My parents would drop me off without even looking at the marquee to see what movie was playing. They knew that no movie would be shown at the Soft Rock Family Theater that was inappropriate for children. There wasn’t any PG, PG-13, R, or any other designation. There weren’t any warnings regarding language, nudity, sexually explicitness, extreme violence, etc. Warnings were not needed.

Our parents never had to worry about what was on nighttime television. It was appropriate for all ages. Sunday night was family night in front of the TV, a tradition that is sorely lacking today. Everyone was home. There were no acceptable excuses for not being home on Sunday night. The shows included Ed Sullivan, Bonanza, a host of variety shows, and my very favorite, the Wonderful World of Disney. Walt Disney provided some of the best programming anywhere and at any time. Today Disney is known for their theme parks, but their entertainment during the golden age of television was so much more impressive.

We also had Saturday morning television with shows featuring real people actors. Our shows had people like Roy Rogers (my personal favorite), Hoppalong Cassidy, Gene Autry, Zorro, The Lone Ranger, Sky King, Pinky Lee, Superman, Wild Bill Hickok, Annie Oakley, Buffalo Bob and Howdy Doody. We even had animal shows like Fury and Rin Tin Tin. I don’t know how they did it, but that horse and dog either saved a kid, or they assisted in capturing a bad guy in every episode. Amazing!

At 6:00AM on Saturdays, while the parents were sleeping, I would sneak downstairs and turn on that cherished 19″ black and white TV, wait for that baby to warm up (about 30-45 seconds), and watch an hour of cartoons before my real live heroes came on the air. And when they came on, I was excited. I knew that good was going to triumph over evil, and the world was going to be a safer place because of the efforts of my heroes. Never mind the fact that most of them were westerns taking place in the 1800s, I just knew that they made America safe for me today.

My heroes were my role models. The bad guys always got what they deserved. And, if one of my heroes had to pull out a gun to bring him to justice, he shot to “wing” him. The hero was always an excellent shot, only shooting the villians in the shoulder, and occasionally, a leg. No hero ever shot a “baddie” in the head or torso. Apparently in the Old West this was not allowed, either on purpose or by accident. My heroes were so considerate that even when they had to shoot the villian, my heroes would not let him bleed. Obviously, there was no blood in those bad guys.

You could say that our entertaiment was “white-washed.” Many people would argue that it was not realistic. But to us baby boomers, it was entertainment!

There is a reason why it was whitewashed. Our parents, what Tom Brokaw calls the “greatest generation”, were the responsible parties for this whitewashing. They had lived through the Depression, lived in houses without electricity and indoor plumbing, and had won World War II. They were a tough, hardworking generation that lived at a time when you really did “eat what you killed.” And, they saw, lived in, and experienced the horrors associated with World War II. The returning service members lived in the mud and saw the blood and the death that is inherent to warfare.

Now that the war was over, the returning servicemen made bowling the second most popular indoor sport. The baby boomer generation was the result. “And by God, no kid of mine was going to experience what I did during the Depression and during the War!” Thus, television and movies were entertaining, upbeat, and bloodless. And, as a result, there were no shortage of role models for any of us young boomers.

The “greatest generation” had WWII, and the baby boomers had a country and a war called Viet Nam.

Viet Nam. The first time in our history that television reporting could be reported instantaneously. And the media, particularly television, did not pass up that opportunity. For the first time, the horrors of warfare were brought to the American public. It was dubbed the “living room” war because pictures of dead and dying enemies, dead and wounded civilians, and the carnage of war were shown up front and personal. The opportunity to show a dying American serviceman drawing his last breath while medics and doctors were frantically attempting to save him was also not wasted.

At first, Americans were appalled. But as the war lingered, and the casualties and carnage increased, the American public became “desensitized” by the whole affair. After seeing so much blood, so many bodies, and cities and towns destroyed, it just did not affect the public as did the initial onset of the war. (I quit watching television news during the Viet Nam war. I was a young Army officer not in the war, who’d lost too many friends and quit watching. I currently read newspapers and peruse news sites on the internet, and I can choose what I want to read.)

The gloves came off of our media, particularly television and movies. Nothing was off-limits. The “whitewashing” done by the media in the 50s was gone in the 70s.

We needed rating systems not only for the movies, but also for television. These ratings were to warn of: sexually explicit language, nudity, adult situations, graphic violence, and any one of numerous other reasons. So much for “whitewashing.”

Then, as technology advanced, we were subjected to computers and video games. The video games require a rating also. And one of the ratings is “not advised for people under 18.”

So here we are. With all of our technological advances we finally arrived at the “Freddy Kruger” generation. I know this is not the technical term, but it does signify that we left my Roy Rogers era and came to grips with a whole new era where the parents are not protecting their children from the crap that is now being pandered as entertainment. Now there is even a “Chain Saw Massacre” sequel. It astounds me that this stuff is both popular and profitable enough to continue with sequels.

It has also spilled into television. During my childhood, there was no lack of entertaining comedy. Now, it is difficult to find comedy that should really be seen by children. But there it is! There is no lack of blood and gore. Moreover, the plot takes a backseat to the gratuitous blood and gore.

I want to be entertained and relaxed while watching television. I do not want to see pedofilia on Criminal Minds, or 15 different ways to decompose a body on Bones. Have you seen the warnings preceding Bones? It baffles me that it can be shown during family prime time. Grandma and I quit watching both shows, because they went from educating to sensationalizing.

Now kids play video games loaded with violence.

Last weekend, a group whose objective is to clean up media, sent people to audit the violence shown in the 5 biggest box office drawing movies. Between these 5 movies, there were 185 incidents of violence, with many of them being murder. Apparently, this is what sells, and this is what the public wants.

My heroes used a six-shooter to bring the bad guys to justice. The modern protagonists (not heroes, by my standards) use a sixty shooter to eliminate the bad guys. Every person appears to have an assault rifle. My heroes were intelligent and attempted to minimize harm to everyone, including the villians. The modern protagonist is idolized for his strength and weaponry, and ability to cause mass destruction and carnage. In retrospect, I realize my heroes were actors playing a part. The characters being portrayed were good. In my young mind, they were real. I wanted to emulate them.

Who are the role models today? Cartoons do not qualify as a role model. Can you think of five people who are providing our youth with positive role models from the media? Someone a child can look up to and say,” I want to be like him.” And you would be proud.

The current crop movie and TV producers, as well as the video game makers, claim that they are in no way responsible for any of these mass killings. They may not be the “reapers” of their products, but common sense tells me that they have “sown” the seeds of heinous crimes with their products. When young, it is difficult to separate fact from fiction. My heroes were real to me. Some people do not mature past that level. They may be unbalanced. They are provided with many media “field manuals” to violent behavior. Our children have been desensitized by all the blood, gore, violence and killing from which they have been exposed. And as long as we, the public, keep buying it, they will continue to make it.

During the 50s, a school yard fight usually entailed two fifth-graders slugging it out. The damage done by these fisticuffs was minimal. It was just the way all disagreements were settled. In Medieval warfare, one combatant stood face to face with his foe.

Both of these scenarios have one thing in common; both combatants were within arms’ reach.

It takes a lot of “guts” to stand in a fist fight and fight within arms’ reach of your opponent. It takes a coward to gun down and murder unarmed, defenseless people.

I wondered why the Colorado theater shooter was not shot during his spree? The answer is that he picked a theater that did not allow guns. He passed two theaters that did allow guns to get to the theater that did not allow guns. Thus he was unmolested during his killing spree. If there were three or four guns in the theater, there would surely have been fewer innocent victims, and possibly one shooter victim. The coward went to a theater where he would be unmolested while committing his heinous act. (His trial has been delayed, because his attorneys are not prepared to enter a plea. Three hundred witnesses, and he has not stood trial.)

Do you think the Fort Hood psychiatrist would have had a chance if any of his soldier victims had their weapons? You can surmise that there may have been two or three victims, and he surely would have been one of them. But this coward also chose to shoot people who could not retaliate. His trial has not begun, even though the crime took place over a year ago.

It appears the Sandy Hook elementary school shooter was mentally unbalanced. His crime was the most vile and heinous of any, as he targeted elementary school children. Unfortunately, this is the crime that is causing knee jerk reactions in cities, in states, and in Washington D.C. Enough bad legislation cannot be written and passed quickly enough by our politicians. All of this done to convince their voting public that they are on top of the current situation.

These cowards would not have done their deeds, had they not thought they could get away with doing so.

And our media? They have provided these surviving killers, and any future copycats with more press coverage and television time than they could ever had hoped, yet they cleanse themselves of any responsibility.