Here’s a fun fact for you. I was born on August 24, 1969. If I had a gestation period of exactly nine months, that means I was conceived on December 24, 1968….Christmas Eve. 12/24/68 wasn’t just Christmas Eve however, it was a pretty memorable day for humanity, which I think can explain my current path through academia.
That fun fact aside, with the passing of Reagan, it made me realize how many of the current crop of kids in high school are about as familiar with him as I was with LBJ. Love him or hate him, Reagan was president from the time I was 11 till my freshman year in college. I can still remember watching all the election results for both elections, watching the conventions (yeah, I did that stuff even at that age), him, John Lennon and the Pope all getting shot (I didn’t know who John Lennon was at the time. I knew who the Beatles were, but not that he was in the group. My mom had to tell me.) I was between classes my junior year in high school when the space shuttle blew up.
I had about $600 in a savings account that my parents had kept for me from when I was born. I spent the whole thing on an Apple IIc in high school. Not a bad investment actually. I had no modem, and only later did I even get a printer. No hard drive, one floppy drive (the 5.25″ ones), and a tiny monochrome green screen.
My parents and their siblings were borne right after WWII. They didn’t experience the depression or the war. The thing they remember is Kennedy being shot and man landing on the moon. My grandparents had the stories of the depression and the war. My great-grandfather, who died when I was 14, served in WWI, having been sent to France. I’m sure his parents were all worked up over the gold standard.
My dad purchased a calculator sometime in the 1970s. The display had red LCD’s. He still has it in fact. I had a solar power calculator that I got in high school that did basic arithmetic and some trig functions. I still have it. Kids today all have graphing calculators.
This isn’t some lament for the past. Just an acknowledgment that some events and things during your formative years serve as reference points for you, and if your younger or older, your going to have different reference points. Reagan was a reference point, as I’m sure Clinton or Bush is to the ones who came after, in a way they just aren’t to people who are older.