Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Baby boomer reflections and reunions

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Reunions and baby boomer reflections
By Ray Hanania

I attended four high schools, but two of them got most of my classroom attention and time.

I spent Freshman and most of Sophomore year at Bowen High school. Moved out of the Southeast side during the White Flight era, and land at Bogan High school where I barely lasted a few months. I was "too dark." I nested at Little Flower, a Catholic high school, until we moved again to Burbank where I graduated from Reavis High school.

It sounds like too many changes but I learned much for each school. Of course, that means I also get invited to several high school reunions and I am pushing 40 years this week.

I attended the Bowen High school reunion last week and attend the Reavis High school reunion Saturday (Sept. 24).

High school was fun but it was a blur at Bowen. Most of my ties were with students who spend years with me at Hoyne and later Warren Elementary schools. By the time I got to Reavis, my brain was functioning better, although I still couldn't really get good grades.

I was passable. My English teacher helped the most, of course, when I was flunking Composition 101 and she intervened. Through her magic, she encouraged me to engage in writing, and the next year I became editor of the Reavis Blueprint. (I also published, two issues) of a Reavis underground newspaper that got me in some trouble, although then school administrator and Burbank Mayor John Fitzgerald thought it was creative and funny. (He was a great guy.)

But all the reunions make me think of how times really flies. I'm my dad's age now. Would he have been as funny as I think I am? It was a simpler life back them. Today, everything is about computers.

Growing up on the Southwest Side of Chicago, we enjoyed a simpler life: Granny Glasses, Gant Shirts, lucky loops (on the backs of our shirts that the girls snapped off and collected), Penny Loafers, Troll Dolls, slot car racing, hula hoops, TV shows that had just moved in to color like Batman.

Now, all that has been replaced by high technology, and high cost bills to pay for it all. Gasoline, once only 35 cents a gallon is now pushing $5. I worked at Burger King for 95 cents an hour and a Whopper only cost the price of a gallon of gas. Now, I make, well, a lot, and most of it goes to ridiculously high expenses.

TV isn't free any more. We pay Comcast Cable a fortune. I have a cell phone that drains my income and my time, and it really doesn't work that well.

Computers are amazing, and productive and fun, making it easier for us to communicate. Thanks to Facebook, I can remember who all my friends were 40 years ago, and who my friends are today. It's a memory supplement!

And I wear glasses as a necessity to read and not just as a fashion statement; that I have to hang the glasses on my shirt because my mind is drifting and I might forget where I put them.

Forty years of drinking pop -- Pepsi and Diet Coke -- hasn't given me cancer, although I really have to work to watch my weight.

And I take more prescription pills than I can even remember. I'm losing hair on the front and back of my head, and growing it in places I don't even want to say -- my ears, folks!

And my memory is going.

What are we talking about? I know you? Who?

(Ray Hanania is a media consultant and award winning columnist. Reach him at www.hanania.com.)

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