SURRATT: My life as a ‘Boomer’

Published 8:00 am Friday, August 11, 2023

I am a child of the post-World War II baby boom that ran from about 1945 to 1959.

We “Boomers” grew up in the 1950s and 60s. We lived under the fear of a nuclear holocaust as the United States and Russia built their nuclear arsenals and postured politically and militarily over the world. The U.S., South Korea and North Korea and China fought it out on the Korean Peninsula in the Korean War, or the Korean Conflict, according to some.

To the south, the Vietnam war was just getting underway with the French Army fully involved. U.S. troops would get involved later.

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But those of us who were children at the time were unaffected by all that, unless we had a family member involved. 

We spent our time going to school and playing in parks or our backyards. We had our own little worlds to deal with and our own routines.

Our parents told us to play outside. When we were thirsty, we drank from the water hose or the nearest water fountain if we were at a park. When it was hot in the summer, we played in the shade; home air conditioners were few and far between in my neighborhood. We stayed cool with open windows and fans.

I was 13 when we got our first air conditioner and it was installed in the living room. When we went to bed, the AC went off and we opened the windows and turned on the fans. I thought I was in heaven when my parents bought a house with window air conditioners in each room.

In school, the three Rs were supplemented by D and C, or in other words, “duck and cover;” the move that was supposed to save our lives along with getting under our desks if we were in school when “bombs” hit.

In later years, some of us, I’m sure, questioned duck and cover. The training film always showed a boy and girl walking along when a flash of light broke on the screen and a voice said, “An atomic bomb! Duck and cover!” The problem was, when you saw the flash of an atomic bomb, it was too late to duck and cover.

We survived the Cold War and we grew up without computers, cell phones, video games and bottled water.

If we fell and broke a bone or cut ourselves, our parents didn’t call for the ambulance; they put us in the car and drove to the emergency room — not exactly the best action but it got us the help we needed. They didn’t call the police when we misbehaved. They dealt with the problem themselves unless the child was manageable.

As I told a sheriff’s deputy once, “My parents were my probation officer.”

We survived and thrived and though we get criticized by more recent generations, we’ve got some lessons they might learn from. 

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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