The rugged group of Americans who survived the Great Depression and won World War II is often referred to as the “Greatest Generation.” They were immediately followed by my generation, the Baby Boomers. I asked a fellow Boomer if chronologically coming on the heels of the Greatest Generation made us the second greatest. His reply was, “Not even close.”

OK, so we didn’t fight the Civil War with one hand, while building the transatlantic railroad with the other. I’m still proud of our accomplishments, though. We started transforming society at a young age by spending the Greatest Generation’s money, creating the most prosperous economy in history.

We relaxed America’s dress code. If it wasn’t for us, there would be no casual Fridays. We changed America’s radio station to rock ‘n’ roll. Some of us still wait in the car to hear the end of a song by The Who.

We helped make America less color-conscious. We fought discrimination against women, while easing prejudice against gays.

But enough about our glorious past, already. These days we can carry on face-to-face conversations, without glancing down at our phones. We call rather than text and use complete sentences in our e-mails.

We begin conversations with quaint expressions like: “I heard on the radio . . . I saw in the paper … In this book I’m reading …” We still get photographs printed. We look up words in the dictionary. We know how to read maps. We take longhand notes. When it comes to reading, we prefer paper to plastic.

We started a jogging fad that continues to grow in popularity. We invented touch football, Wiffle Ball and Ultimate Frisbee. We sparked a short-lived tennis boom – until we found out how difficult the sport was. We embraced soccer, instead.

If it wasn’t for us, there’d be no relaxed-fit jeans. There would be no four-dollar cups of burnt-tasting coffee.  We also came up with fast food, drive-thru windows and diet pop.

Do you like listening to guitars in church? How about the convenience of Saturday masses? You have Boomers to thank.  At the other end of the spectrum, we made “R” rated movies acceptable.

We can push a stroller or hang with our kids at the park, without gabbing on the phone. We don’t text and drive. Some of us still mail letters.

We rejected materialism in our youth – with many refusing to sell out to “The Man” for an entire summer. We were the first generation in ages to care about the environment.  We were the first to “Occupy” Grant Park. 

We only had 2.1 children per family, so we didn’t start our own Baby Boom. But we made sure that our kids had good self-esteem and a strong sense of entitlement. Sorry about that last one.


John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.