The decades of my life


When I talk to my children and their children, I often mentally review my own life and what I have seen and experienced. It all started in the second half of the 1940s after World War II. Incredibly talented babies were born, me. They also invented the first computer, slinkys, ballistic missiles, microwave ovens, Velcro, and the transistor.

By the time the 1950s arrived, babies started popping out everywhere. BABY BOOM gave 72 million new children. Things got hotter in Korea and there was a revolution in Cuba. The Russian Sputnik was launched in 1957, and the USSR and America launched a nuclear arms race. Elvis Presley entered the scene and over 4 million people bought televisions.

The 1960s, like the 1920s, were filled with incredible change. From the election of John F. Kennedy to the Kent State shooting. It was a mad rush. The Beatles are here and so is Bob Dylan. It was a time of culture and counter-culture with a revolution in clothing, music, sex and school.

Some have called it a decade of irresponsible excess. I called it college.

John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were all murdered and the civil rights movement took hold. We bought eight songs, then tapes, and we got touch-tone phones. Additionally, we saw the first man walk on the moon.

Due to the oil embargoes, the 1970s saw a lot of changes in the economy. It also became known as “ME DECADE” where Americans turned to individualism. With the Vietnam War, a new right emerged, endorsing political conservatism and traditional family roles and values. In the late 1970s, these divisions continued to fester, divisions that are still present today. Nixon had entered. Nixon was out.

The 1980s began with eight years of the Reagan administration, then the presidency of George HW Bush, the first Iraq war, and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The 1990s saw extreme technological advances, with the World Wide Web, the first trial of gene therapy, and the first designer baby. All of these advancements have been improved and developed throughout the decade.

The early 2000s saw the panic around Y-2K and the long-anticipated economic emergence of China. The genome has been mapped. Al Gore was in it. Al Gore was out. Then came September 11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan under the Bush / Cheney administration which ended in massive economic collapse. What fun we had in the first decade of 2000.

The decade of 2010 began in the midst of a global financial crisis and an international recession. The world has smart phones, but it looks like the world hasn’t gotten smarter. Then superheroes and automated movies became box office favorites.

Finally, came 2020 where 614,000+ died from COVID and our Capitol was overrun by our own US citizens. Who could have predicted these two things?

I used to marvel at the fact that during his 58 years my father observed the first flight and later a man on the moon. The marketing of radio and then television. The use of the telephone and then of communication satellites, but what did I experience?

Wow, I’ve been through a lot. What I didn’t mention was the in-car restaurants with car jumps that rolled skate to your car and hung them on the windows. Or did I mention that we used to hide under our wooden desks for atomic bomb air raid practices? How about socks where you weren’t allowed to wear your shoes on the hardwood floors of the gym or jukeboxes where you added the words “under the sheets” to every headline? The wild children kept their cigarette packs rolled up in their white T-shirt sleeves, and then they raced dragsters.

It was a time when facts were facts and the truth was the truth. Life was much simpler then and more confusing now.

Nick Jacobs of Windber is Senior Partner at Senior Management Resources and author of the blog

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