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Robert A. Mills

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Blogs by Robert A. Mills

58%
10/13/2012 5:16:58 AM
The other night I was dialing around on my Trans-Oceanic radio (actually it is a Time Magazine premium gift, battery-operated, and no more like a Trans-Oceanic than I to Hercules) when I came across a talk/show host from Los Angeles who was bellyaching because he was getting old. Ha! Tell me about it!

He said he was almost thirty-five, and he raved on about youngsters who had been born circa 1992 and were now twenty years old!

“They regard Bill Clinton,” he said, “as a relic, a senior statesman!”

He is right, of course; they know nothing of the Clinton presidency. They have never even heard of Monica Lewinsky, and Clinton’s impassioned speech at the Democrat Nominating Convention went right over their heads, if they were listening (which I am certain they were not).

We have a next-door neighbor for whom my own youngest daughter once baby-sat. At the start of this past fall semester, the gal next door began her freshman year at the University of Georgia. She is just a kid who probably knows nothing of World War II. She was six or seven when we invaded Iraq and Afghanastan to save the world from phantom weapons of mass destruction. We are still there (in Afghanastan, at least).

WWII is as alien to her as WWI and the Civil War were to us. In fact, to my generation, the War of 1812, the Boar War, the French Revolution, and our own Revolutionary War were prehistoric events we only thought about (vaguely) in school. Helen of Troy? Barrabas? Who were they?

Sports? Do not even ask about Joe Pepitone (NY Yankees, ’62-’69) or Bill Stern and Mel Allen (sportscasters ‘30s-‘60s) or Joe Ferguson (Buffalo Bills’ quarterback, ‘80s) or Scott Norwood, who with eight seconds left to play missed a 47-yard field goal attempt that would have given the Bills their only legitimate Super Bowl win (1991).

The Olympics? Ask a twenty-year-old if Buster Crabbe or Sonja Heine ring a bell? — or better still, try Bob Mathias or Bruce Jenner. Save your breath.

The kid next door takes air conditioning and automatic washers/dryers and ipads for granted. She listens to music but never on the radio — radio is just a tiny TV set that no longer shows pictures. News? That is what someone leaves her parents in the box at the end of the driveway; Mom and Dad call it “junk mail”.

Landline rhymes with land mine. Cell phones, a device parents use to keep tabs on their kids, are really instruments for taking pictures and sending messages while driving. Movies are something you go to when you want to be alone and hold hands in the dark. If you can spell ‘Tweet’ and ‘Facebook’, that is all you need in life.

Speaking of pictures, today’s college students have no clue what Kodachrome or a 35mm SLR were. They never heard of Eastman Kodak or Rochester, NY. I say I lived there forty-four years and am the only male member of my family who never worked at Kodak Park, and they merely shrug: “So? Whadda you want, a medal?”

Asked who Winston Churchill and FDR were will illicit little more than a blank stare. Do not bother with Prohibition, John Phillips Sousa, Remember the Maine, or the Rough Riders; it will make you sigh aloud that all you held dear has been replaced with Wall Street, Kid Rock, Netflix, and the Grammy Awards.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy of all is that only 58% of the Class of 2016 will actually get diplomas. The remaining 42% will have dropped out or otherwise have not made the grade, and they still have their student loans to repay — but no degree. And their parents will have shelled out thousands of dollars to see them fail.

Like the LA talk/show host I accidentally caught on the air, I too, like so many of my readers, am growing old. I still talk about, write about, read and think about World Wars, Charles Lindbergh, Lassie, the Algonquin Round Table, Morse Code, Abraham Lincoln, the Boy Scouts, the Marshall Plan, Deborah Kerr, Kim Novak, Los Alamos, Fidel Castro, Richard Nixon, The World According to Garp, JFK, The New York Times, the Yankees, Mark Twain, the Scoffield Bible, Teddy Roosevelt, Gone With the Wind, Citizen Kane, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Edison, the eleven years during Oliver Cromwell’s time when Britain had no king nor queen — the list does on and on, ad infinitim. And ad nauseum, too.

But, it suddenly occurs, what matter that? Perhaps they are right and we are wrong. To dwell on the past may be only to placate the present and ignore the future. Is that so? Truly?

If it is, what difference does it make? None, you say? But if not, then what will your tombstone say?

Nothing?

“Here Lies So-and-So, Who Never Thought Othello Was Much of a Fellow”

Is that okay by you? I bet it will not be for the 58% of the Class of 2016 who will be handed that sheepskin!


Copywrite©2012 by Robert A. Mills, all rights reserved


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