1949 and the Calendar Page Opens to a New Year

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January 1 – UN sponsored ceasefire brings an end to the Indo-Pakistan War of 1947. The war results in a stalemate and the division of Kashmir, which is still continuing as of 2014.  (In compiling these events, I find it astounding how many things continue to this day!)

January 5 – U.S. President Harry S. Truman unveils his Fair Deal program.

January 17 – The first VW Type 1 to arrive in the United States, a 1948 model, is brought to New York by Dutch businessman Ben Pon. Unable to interest dealers or importers in the Volkswagen, Pon sells the sample car to pay his travel expenses. Only two 1949 models were sold in America that year, convincing Volkswagen chairman Heinrich Nordhoff the car had no future in the U.S. (The Type 1 went on to become an automotive phenomenon.)

January 25 – In the first Israeli election, David Ben-Gurion becomes Prime Minister.

March 25 – Operation Priboi: An extensive deportation campaign begins in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The Soviet authorities deport more than 92,000 people from the Baltic states to remote areas of the Soviet Union.

March 28 -  English astronomer Fred Hoyle coins the term Big Bang during a BBC Third Programme radio broadcast

April 4 – twelve nations sign the North Atlantic Treaty establishing NATO

May 5 – The Council of Europe is founded by the signing of the Treaty of London.

May 6 – EDSAC, the first practicable stored-program computer, runs its first program at Cambridge University

May 20 – The AFSA (predecessor of the NSA) is established.

May 31 – First trial of Alger Hiss for perjury begins in New York with Whittaker Chambers as principal witness for the prosecution, but would end in a jury deadlock (8 for, 4 against)

June 2 – Transjordan becomes the Kingdom of Jordan

June 8-

Red Scare: Celebrities including Helen Keller, Dorothy Parker, Danny Kaye, Fredric March, John Garfield, Paul Muni and Edward G. Robinson are named in an FBI report as Communist Party members.

George Orwell‘s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four is published in London by Secker & Warburg. (rather ironic that 1984 was published at the same time that the “Red Scare” was at its height in the U.S.

June 14 – Albert II, a rhesus monkey, becomes the first primate to enter space, on U.S. Hermes project V-2 rocket Blossom IVB, but is killed on impact at return.

June 19 – Glenn Dunaway wins the inaugural NASCAR race at Charlotte Speedway, a 3/4 mile oval in Charlotte, North Carolina, but is disqualified due to illegal springs. Jim Roper is declared the official winner. (and the sports world dominates to this day, with similar stories of illegal whatevers whenevers)

June 24 – The first television western, Hopalong Cassidy, airs on NBC.

June 29 - Apartheid become official in S. Africa: The South African Citizenship Act suspends the granting of citizenship to British Commonwealth immigrants after 5 years and imposes a ban on mixed marriage.

August 5 – A 6.75 Richter scale earthquake in Ecuador kills 6,000 and destroys 50 towns. 

August 8 -   Bhutan becomes independent

August 12 -The Fourth Geneva Convention is agreed to.

August 14 -

The Salvatore Giuliano Gang explodes mines under a police barracks outside Palermo, Sicily

A military coup in Syria ousts the president.

August 28 – The last 6 surviving veterans of the American Civil War meet in Indianapolis. (wow!)

August 29

The Council of Europe meets for the first time.

The Soviet Union tests its first atomic bomb, code named “Joe 1“. Its design imitates the American plutonium bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan in 1945.

August 31 – The retreat of the Greek Democratic Army in Albania after its defeat at Mount Grammos marks the end of the Greek Civil War.

September 6 - Howard Unruh, a World War II veteran, kills thirteen neighbors in Camden, New Jersey with a souvenir Parabellum P.08 pistol to become America’s first single-episode mass murderer. (and so it began and the NRA is still screaming “2nd amendment!”

September 19 – The United Kingdom government devalues the pound sterling from $4.03 to $2.80, leading to many other currencies being devalued.

Sept. 21 – German Federal Republic (West Germany) established

Oct. 1 – Communist People’s Republic of China formally proclaimed by Chairman Mao Zedong

October 2 – The Soviet Union recognizes the People’s Republic of China.

October 7 – The Democratic Republic of Germany DDR is officially established. (the other side).

November 17-  Second trial of Alger Hiss begins in New York, again with Whittaker Chambers as principal witness

November 24 – The ski resort in Squaw Valley, California officially opens.

November 26 – The Indian Constituent Assembly adopts India‘s constitution [1].

November 27 – Indonesia is recognized.

November 28 – Winston Churchill makes a landmark speech in support of the idea of a European Union at Kingsway Hall, London

December 16 – Sukarno is elected president of the Republic of Indonesia.

and some more events of 1949:

The Vatican announces that bones uncovered in its subterranean catacombs could be the apostle Peter; 19 years later, Pope Paul VI announces confirmation that the bones belong to this first pope.[6]

The first 20 mm M61 Vulcan Gatling gun prototypes are completed.

1949 was the first year in which no African-American was reported lynched in the USA.[7]

Joseph Stalin launches a savage attack on Soviet Jews, accusing them of being pro-Western and antisocialist.

Samuel Putnam publishes his new translation of Don Quixote, the first in what we would consider modern English. It is instantly acclaimed and, in 2008, is still in print.

This also seems to be the year that pinup pictures with focus on breasts became mainstream.

1948

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And so now we move into a New Year: 1948 and as in previous years, many events which continue to have their effects on our world to this day.

January 30 – Mahatma Gandhi is assassinated.

February 23-25 – Communists seize Czechoslovakia

Apr. 30, 1948:  Organization of American States (OAS), international organization, created , at Bogotá, Colombia, by agreement of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Another 15 nations have subsequently joined.  The OAS is a regional agency designed to work with the United Nations to promote peace, justice, and hemispheric solidarity; to foster economic development (especially during the 1960s; see Alliance for Progress); and to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the signatory nations. The general secretariat, formerly the Pan-American Union, located in Washington, D.C, is the permanent body of the OAS.

May 14, 1948  Israel becomes a recognized country and the State of Israel is born.  The next day, Arab forces from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq invaded the new nation. By the cease-fire on Jan. 7, 1949, Israel had increased its original territory by 50%, taking western Galilee, a broad corridor through central Palestine to Jerusalem, and part of modern Jerusalem. Chaim Weizmann and David Ben-Gurion became Israel’s first president and prime minister. The new government was admitted to the UN on May 11, 1949.

Berlin airlift, 1948–49, supply of vital necessities to West Berlin by air transport primarily under U.S. auspices. It was initiated in response to a land and water blockade of the city that had been instituted by the Soviet Union in the hope that the Allies would be forced to abandon West Berlin. The massive effort to supply the 2 million West Berliners with food and fuel for heating began in June, 1948, and lasted until Sept., 1949, although the Russians lifted the blockade in May of that year.

June 28:  Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia breaks relations with Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union.

December 27:  United States of Indonesia established as Dutch and Indonesians settle conflict.

Summer Olympics 1948: First summer Olympics in a dozen years and following World War II.  In London.

Winter Olympics 1948: Also the first Olympics after World War II receded from the landscape.  In St. Moritz, Switzerland.

The Hollywood Ten, a group of writers, producers and directors called as witnesses in the House Committee’s Investigation of Un-American Activities, are jailed for contempt of Congress when they refuse to disclose if they were or were not Communists.

Harry S. Truman ends racial segregation in the U.S. military.

Alger Hiss, former U.S. State Department official, indicted on perjury charges after denying passing secret documents to communist spy ring; convicted in second trial (1950) and sentenced to five-year prison term.

Read more: 1940 – 1949 World History | Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005249.html#ixzz2n6pZldN8

Margaret Sanger founds the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

Alfred Kinsey publishes Sexual Behavior in the Human Male.

Columbia Records introduces the 33 1/3 LP (“long playing”) record at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. It allows listeners to enjoy an unprecedented 25 minutes of music per side, compared to the four minutes per side of the standard 78 rpm record.

It was a year of a lot of good literature as seen in the following publications:

And  a lot of breakthroughs in science and technology:

and the Nobel Prizes in Science went to the following individuals:

Chemistry: Arne Tiselius (Sweden), for biochemical discoveries and isolation of mouse paralysis virus

Physics: Patrick M. S. Blackett (UK), for improvement on Wilson chamber and discoveries in cosmic radiation

Physiology or Medicine: Paul Mueller (Switzerland), for discovery of insect-killing properties of DDT

This last entry, on hindsight, may have done more to harm our planet and us than to benefit it.  Certainly we learned twenty years later of the devastating affects DDT had on our environment and ourselves.  But back in the late ’40′s and early ’50′s this was a miracle element and children used to chase the mosquito spraying trucks on hot summer days.

Some years ago, I came across an article that my father had written for a travel magazine lauding the miracle of DDT and its effectiveness in killing mosquitoes.  He wrote: “If you are in a tent and those pesky mosquitoes start to attack, take that can of DD&T and spray them into oblivion.”  My father died of complications from Parkinson’s Disease.  Since finding that article, I have wondered whether my father’s apparent enthusiastic spraying of DDT as a young man may have played a role.  I also have a friend whose father was an avid gardner who died from complications of Parkinson’s.  I asked her if he sprayed his garden against insects.  She replied, “liberally.”

Tennessee Williams‘s A Streetcar Named Desire wins Pulitzer.

And that’s it, folks, for 1948.  I am sure there is much not included, but hopefully this catches most of the major events.

Read more: Top News Stories from 1948 | Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/year/1948.html#ixzz2n6k4teh2

1947….and the baby boom continues…..

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And so the U.S. continues to develop its international personality while other countries around the world continue their march towards freedom.

January 1st.  WTTG TV channel 5 begins broadcasting

January 2: Mahatma Gandhi begins march for peace in East Bengali/

January 3 – 1st opening session of Congress televised.

William Dawson becomes 1st Black to head a congressional committee.

January 8: General George Marshall becomes first Secretary of State.

January 10: British stop ships Independence and In-Gathering from landing in Israel.

January 20th Brigadier General Edwin K. Wright, becomes Deputy Director of the CIA

January 22nd  1st commercial TV station west of the Mississippi opens in Hollywood, CA

January 24th NFL adds 5th official and allows sudden death in playoffs.

February 3rd 1st Black reporter in Congressional press gallery (Percival Prattis)

February 7th: Arabs and Jews reject British proposal to split Palestine.

February 10th: WWII peace treaties signed

February 12th: Daytime fireball & meteorite fall seen in Eastern Siberia

Record 100.5 KG sailfish caught off Galapagos Islands

February 17th: Voice of America begins broadcasting to USSR

February 20th: Chemical mixing error causes explosion that destroys 42 blocks in LA

Lord Mountbatten appointed as last viceroy of India

State of Prussia ceases to exist.

February 21: First broadcast of TV soap opera.

February 21: First instant developing camera demonstrated in NYC.

February 23: General Eisenhower opens drive to rais $170 million in aid for European Jews.

February 28: Taiwan civil disorder is put down the the loss of 30,000 civilian lives.

March 1st: International Monetary Fund begins operation.

March 4th:  WWJ TV, channel 4 (NBC) begins broadcasting in Detroit.

March 6th: XB-45, 1st US 4-engine jet bomber makes 1st test flight, Muroc, CA

March 12th: President Harry Truman introduces Truman-doctrine to fight communism.

March 15th: John Lee appointed 1st Black commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy.

March 20th: 180 metric ton blue whale (record) caught in South Atlantic.

March 21st: President Harry Truman signs Executive Order 9835 requiring all Federal employees to have allegiance to the United States.

March 24th: John D. Rockefeller Jr. donates NYC East River site to the UN.

April 1st: First Jewish immigrants to Israel disembark at Port of Eliat.

April 8th Largest recorded sunspots observed (7,000).

April 9th: Atomic Energy Commission confirmed

April 10th: Jackie Robinson becomes 1st Black in major league baseball (Dodgers)

April 16th: Lens to provide zoom effect demonstrated (NYC).

May 1st:Lt. General Hoyt S. Vandenberg ends term as 2nd head of CIA

Rear Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter, USN becomes 3rd Director of CIA

May 3rd: Japan forms a constitutional democracy.  New Post-war Japanese constitution goes into effect.

May 7th: Paraguayian government unleashes contra revolt.

May 13th: Senate approves the Taft-Hartley Act limiting the power of unions.

May 22nd: “Truman Doctrine” goes into effect, aiding Turkey & Greece

1st US ballistic missile fired

May 31st: Communists grab power in Hungary

June 1st Photosensitive glass developed

June 4th House of Representatives approves Taft-Hartley Act

June 5th  Secretary of State George C. Marshall outlines “Marshall Plan”

June 6th: Treaty drawn for establishment of International Patent Institute

June 16th: First network News – Dumont’s “News from Washington”

Pravda denounces Marshall Plan

June 17th:  Pan Am Airways chartered as 1st worldwide passenger airline

June 19th: 1st plane (F-80) exceeds 600 m.p.h.

June 20th: President Truman vetoes Taft-Hartley Act

June 23rd: Truman’s veto of Taft-Hartley Act overridden by Congress

June 24th: Flying saucers sighted over Mount Rainier by Pilot Ken Arnold

Jackie Robinson hits his first of 19 home runs.

June 25th: Tennis shoe introduced.

June 27th: NBC, channel 4 begins broadcasting

July 6th: the AK-47 goes into production in the Soviet Union

July 7-8: Reports that a UFO has crash landed in Roswell New Mexico are broadcast and disputed.

July 9th: Princess Elizabeth and Lt. Philip Mountbatten are engaged.

Spain votes for Franco monarchy

July 18th:  British seize “Exodus 1947″ ship of Jewish immigrants to Palestine

King George VI signs Indian Independence Bill

President Truman signs Presidential Succession Act

US beings administering Trust Territory of Pacific Islands

July 19th: Prime Minister of shadow Burma Government, six cabinet members, and two non-cabinet members assassinated by the British, causing political chaos that continues to this day.

July 23rd: First (U.S. Navy) Air squadron of jets flown

July 25th:  US Air Force, Navy & War department form U.S. Department of Defense

US Department of Army created

July 26th: National Security Act establishes CIA

August 15th: India declares independence from Britain.  Islamic part becomes Pakistan

Sept. 29: Record World Series crowd of 73,365 at Yankee Stadium.

Oct. 1: US control of Haitian customs & governmental revenue ends.

Oct 2: revised International Telecommunication Convention adopted

Oct. 3: 1st telescope lens 200″ in diameter completed.

Channel 7 ABC begins

Oct 5: First presidential television address televised from White House

Oct. 9: First telephone conversation between a moving car and an airplane.

Oct. 11: Brazil and Chile break diplomatic relations with USSR

Oct. 14th: Chuck Yeager makes 1st supersonic flight.

Oct. 19th: Charles de Gaulle wins French elections

Oct. 23rd: NAACP petition on racism presented to the UN

Oct. 26th: British military occupation of Iraq ends

Oct. 27th: Channel 2, NBC begins broadcasting

Oct. 30th: 23 countries sign GATT agreement in Geneva

Nov. 17th:  The U.S. Screen Actors Guild implements an anti-Communist loyalty oath.

15,000 demonstrate in Brussels against mild sentence of nazis

Nov. 20th: 1st permanent TV installed on seagoing vessel (New Jersey)

Nov. 24th: Un-American Activities Committee finds “Hollywood 10″ in contempt because of their refusal to reveal whether they were communists.

Nov. 29th: UN General Assembly partitions Palestine between Arabs and Jews.

and the reign of terrorism begins in that part of the world

Dec. 10th: USSR & Czechoslovakia sign trade agreement

Dec. 12th: United Mine Workers union withdraws from AFL

Dec. 13th Maine Turnpike opens to traffic

Dec. 14th: The National Association for Stock Car Automobiles (NASCAR) opens on Daytona Beach, FL

Dec. 23rd: Transistor invented by Bardeen, Brattain & Shockley of Bell Labs

Dec. 25th: The Constitution of the Republic of China goes into effect.

Dec. 26th: Heavy snow blankets Northeast, burying NYC under 25.8″ of snow in 16 hours and LA sets a record high of 84 degrees.

Dec. 27th: First “Howdy Doody Show”

Dec. 29th: Ship carrying Jewish immigrants driven away from Palestine

Dec. 30th:  King Michael of Romania, forced by Communists to abdicate his throne.  Romanian Republic declared.

1946, The First Year of the Baby Boom

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As a boomer, I have decided that I am going to post events that happened every year from 1946-1964, the years that have been coined the Baby Boomer Years.  Each new post will take the next year up until the last year of the boomer years.

As it turns out, 1946 was an incredibly crucial year in which many events formed or helped create scenarios which have continued to be the backdrop of the world that we Boomers have lived in.  As a few: the Cold War and the CIA came into existence; the first computer was completed; the Zionist were making forays into creating a Jewish state in Palestine; the Nuclear weapons race begins; the United Nations was created; Ho Chi Minh and Vietnam entered the world stage; many new governments were created and a very definite line was drawn between the Eastern and Western blocs; many colonies were demanding their freedom, some of which were granted in 1946.  Television as a source of entertainment began; the issues of racism start to be acknowledged politically in the United States; the NFL is formed; the first commercially designed helicopter is introduced; the bikini bathing suit is introduced; the first Cannes Film Festival is held; Nehru forms a government in India; George Orwell publishes “Animal Farm”; Dr. Spock publishes his book on rearing babies, the bible used to bring all us boomers up.

Domestically,

President Harry Truman was President of the United States.  Within the country, much upheaval and change was being felt.  According to Wikipedia:

The end of World War II was followed by an uneasy transition from war to a peacetime economy. The costs of the war effort were enormous, and Truman was intent on decreasing government expenditures on the military as quickly as possible. Demobilizing the military and reducing the size of the various services was a cost-saving priority. The effect of demobilization on the economy was unknown, but fears existed that the nation would slide back into a depression. A great deal of work had to be done to plan how best to transition to peacetime production of goods while avoiding mass unemployment for returning veterans. There was no consensus among government officials as to what economic course the postwar U.S. should steer. In addition, Roosevelt had not paid attention to Congress in his final years, and Truman faced a body where a combination of Republicans and conservative southern Democrats formed a powerful voting bloc.[68]

The president was faced with the reawakening of labor-management conflicts that had lain dormant during the war years, severe shortages in housing and consumer products, and widespread dissatisfaction with inflation, which at one point hit 6% in a single month.[69] Added to this polarized environment was a wave of destabilizing strikes in major industries, and Truman’s response to them was generally seen as ineffective.[69] A rapid increase in costs was fueled by the release of price controls on most items, and labor sought wage increases. A serious steel strike in January 1946 involving 800,000 workers—the largest in the nation’s history—was followed by a coal strike in April and a rail strike in May. The public was angry, with a majority in polls favoring a ban on strikes by public service workers and a year’s moratorium on labor actions. Truman proposed legislation to draft striking workers into the Armed Forces, and in a dramatic personal appearance before Congress, was able to announce settlement of the rail strike. His proposal passed the House of Representatives, but failed in the Senate.[70][71]For commodities where price controls remained, producers were often unwilling to sell at artificially low prices: Farmers refused to sell grain for months in 1945 and 1946 until payments were significantly increased, even though grain was desperately needed, not only for domestic use, but to stave off starvation in Europe.[72]

Although labor strife was muted after the settlement of the railway strike, it continued through Truman’s presidency. The President’s approval rating dropped from 82% in the polls in January 1946 to 52% by June.[73] This dissatisfaction with the Truman administration’s policies led to large Democratic losses in the 1946 midterm elections, when Republicans took control of Congress for the first time since 1930. The 80th Congress included Republican freshmen who would become prominent in the years to come, including Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy and California Congressman Richard Nixon. When Truman dropped to 32% in the polls, Democratic Arkansas Senator William Fulbright suggested that Truman resign; the President in response indicated that he did not care what Senator “Halfbright” said.[74][75]

When I was looking at what was happening in 1946, I was a little surprised at how familiar many of the entries sounded to our world today.  I did leave out a lot of references to sport events, Broadway events, and music premiers, since, although influences, I was wanting to focus more on events that caused major changes in our outlook as a society and influenced our perception of the world around us, clearly to this day.

Anyway, have a look below.

On the very first day of 1946, January 1,  the first computer was completed by Mauchley/Eckert.  How about that!

January 10: we make first radar contact with the moon and the U.N. General Assembly meets for the first time in London, England.

January 17:  United Nations Security Council holds its 1st meeting

January 22: US president sets up the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  How about that!  And Rear Admiral Sidney W Souers, USNR, becomes 1st Director of CIA.

February 16: 1st commercially designed helicopter tested, Bridgeport Ct

In between January and February of 1946, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Albania form their dictatorships with Communism as their mantel.  Salazar in Portugal forms his dictatorship independently of the communist mantel.  And Franco continues his dictatorship of Spain.

February 14-15: Bank of England is nationalized

February 21: Anti-British demonstrations by Egyptians

February 24: Juan Peron elected president of Argentina

February 26: 2 killed & 10 wounded in race riot in Columbia Tenn

Mar 1st - Panama accepts its new Constitution

Mar 2nd - Ho Chi Minh elected president of North Vietnam; Kingman Douglass, becomes deputy director of CIA

Mar 5th - Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech (Fulton Missouri)

Mar 9th - Ted Williams is offered $500,000 to play in Mexican Baseball League.  He refuses

Mar 12th - Part of Petsamo province ceded by Soviet Union to Finland

Mar 14th - Belgian creates several governments over the course of the year, beginning with Spaak.  Until then, Belgian was ruled by a monarchy.
Mar 15th - British premier Attlee agrees with India’s right to independence

Mar 22nd - Britain signs treaty granting independence to Jordan

Mar 28th - Cold War: The United States State Department releases the Acheson-Lilienthal Report, outlining a plan for the international control of nuclear power.

Mar 31st - The first election is held in Greece after World War II.
Apr 1st - 400,000 US mine workers strike
Apr 1st - Tsunamis generated by a quake in Aleutian Trench strike Hilo Hawaii;  Weight Watchers forms; Formation of the Malayan Union.

Apr 3rd - Netherland-German postal relations resume

Apr 7th - Part of East Prussia incorporated into Russian SFSR; Syria’s independence from France is officially recognised.
Apr 8th - League of Nations assembles for last time

Apr 13th - Eddie Klepp, a white pitcher signed by defending Negro League champ Cleveland Buckeyes, is barred from field in Birmingham Alabama

Apr 18th - Jackie Robinson debuts as 2nd baseman for the Montreal Royals;  US recognizes Tito’s Yugoslavia government

Apr 20th - 1st baseball broadcast in Chicago, Cards vs Cubs

Apr 21st - SED, Socialistic Einheitspartei Germany forms in East Germany (another dictatorship forms under the mantel of Communism)

Apr 27th - 1st radar installation aboard a commercial ship.
Apr 29th - 28 former Japanese leaders indicted in Tokyo as war criminals

May 1st - Start of 3 year Pilbara strike of Indigenous Australians; The Paris Peace Conference concludes that the islands of the Dodecanese should be returned to Greece by Italy; Fieldmarshal Montgomery appointed British supreme commander

May 2nd - Prisoners revolt at Alcatraz.  The revolt lasts two days.  Two guards and three inmates are killed.

May 7th - William H Hastie inaugurated as 1st black governor of Virgin Islands; Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering (later renamed Sony) is founded with around 20 employees.

May 8th: The Estonian school girls Aili Jõgi and Ageeda Paavel blow up the Soviet memorial that preceded the Bronze Soldier in Tallinn.  Aili was 14 years old at the time and very active in the resistance movement.  She was finally caught and found guilty as an under-aged terrorist and sent to a Gulag labor camp,  west of the Ural mountains. She was exiled from the Estonian SSR for eight years.

May 9th - 1st hour long entertainment TV show, “NBC’s Hour Glass” premieres

May 10th - Umberto II succeeds Victor Emmanuel III as king of Italy; Red Sox win 15th straight beat Yanks 5-4, DiMaggio hits Grand Slam

May 11: The United Malays National Organisation, (UMNO) founded and  is  presently Malaysia’s largest political part and a founding member of the National Front coalition

May 13th - US convicts 58 camp guard of Mauthausen concentration camp to death

May 25th - Abdullah ibn Hussein becomes king of Jordan

May 26th - Klement Gottwald becomes premier of Czechoslovakia.  He was a founding father of the Communist party in Czechoslovakia; Patent filed in US for H-Bomb.

Jun 2nd - Italian plebiscite chooses republic over monarchy (National Day)
Jun 3rd - US Supreme court rules race separation on buses, unconstitutional;  1st bikini bathing suit displayed (Paris)

Jun 6th - The Basketball Association of America is formed in New York City

Jun 7th - US Supreme Court bans discrimination in interstate travel

Jun 8th - Sukarno calls for anti colonial defiance in Indonesia

Jun 9th - Bhumibol Adulyadej, becomes king of Thailand; Joe Louis KOs Billy Conn in 8 for heavyweight boxing title

Jun 10th - Italian Republic established; Rear Admiral Sidney W Souers, USNR, ends term as 1st director of CIA Lieutenant General Hoyt S Vandenberg, USA, becomes 2nd director of CIA
Jun 13th - 1st transcontinental round-trip flight in 1-day, California-Maryland; King Umberto II of Italy abdicates

Jun 29th - British mandatory government of Palestine arrests 100 leaders of Yishnuv
Jul 1st - Rajah cedes Sarawak to British crown; US drops atom bomb on Bikini atoll (4th atomic explosion)

Jul 3rd - 1st Dutch government of Beel forms

Jul 4th - Philippines gains independence from US

Jul 14th - Dr Ben Spock’s “Common Sense Book of Baby & Child Care” published; Mass murder of Jews in Kielce Poland

Jul 15th - British North Borneo Co transfers rights to British crown
Jul 16th - US court martials 46 SS to death (Battle of Bulge crimes) in Dachau

Jul 22nd - Menachen Begin’s opposition group surprise attack on King David hotel
Jul 23rd - Menachem Begins opposition group bombs King David Hotel

Jul 24th - US performs atmospheric nuclear Test at Bikini Island; US detonates underwater A-bomb at Bikini (5th atomic explosion)
Jul 25th - At Club 500 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis stage their first show as a comedy team.
Jul 26th - President Harry Truman orders desegregation of all US forces
Jul 26th - Aloha Airlines began service from Honolulu International Airport

Aug 1st - Pres Harry Truman establishes Atomic Energy Commission (AEC)

Aug 6th - US officially submits to jurisdiction of World Court
Aug 7th - 1st coin bearing portrait of Negro authorized
Aug 8th - India agrees to give Bhutan 32 sq miles

Aug 13th - Britain transfers illegal immigrants bound to Palestine, to Cyprus
Aug 16th - Great Calcutta blood bath – Moslem/Hindu riot (3-4,000 die)

Aug 17th - George Orwell publishes “Animal Farm” in the United Kingdom

Sep 1st - Greece votes for monarchy

Sep 2nd - Nehru forms government in India

Sep 8th - Bulgaria ends monarchy

Sep 20th - Churchill argues for a ‘United States of Europe’; The first Cannes Film Festival is held.

Sep 26th - 1st edition of Tintin (Kuifje), publishes until June 1993

Sep 28th - Greek king George II returns to Athens from exile

Sep 29th - Los Angeles (previously Cleveland) Rams play 1st NFL game in LA
Sep 29th - NPS, Nationale Party Suriname, forms
Sep 30th - 22 Nazi leaders found guilty of war crimes at Nuremberg; Von Ribbentrop & Hermann Goering sentenced to death by Nuremberg trial
Oct 1st - 12 war criminals sentenced to death in Nuremberg

Oct 8th - Kwo-less-shrew selects Gen Chiang Kai-shek as president of China

Oct 27th - Georgi Domitrovs National Front wins Bulgaria elections (78%)

Oct 28th - German rocket engineers begin work in USSR
Nov 1st - Charles S Johnson becomes 1st black president of Fisk University

Nov 3rd - Emperor Hirohito proclaims new Japanese constitution

Nov 4th - UN Educational, Scientific, & Cultural Organization formed
Nov 5th - John F Kennedy (D-Mass) elected to House of Representatives

Nov 9th - Pres Harry Truman ends wage/price freeze

Nov 12th - A branch of the Exchange National Bank in Chicago, Illinois opens the first ten drive-up teller windows.

Nov 15th - House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) interrogates astronomer Harlow Shapley

Nov 21st - Georgi Dimitrov, a communist,  elected premier of Bulgaria

Nov 23rd - French Navy fire in Haiphong Vietnam, kills 6,000
Nov 23rd - The Workers Party of South Korea is founded.

Dec 3rd - US government asks UN to order dictator Franco out of Spain
Dec 5th - Pres Harry Truman creates Committee on Civil Rights by Exec Order #9808

Dec 11th - Spain suspended from UN; UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) established (Nobel 1965)

Dec 12th - Tide detergent introduced; UN accepts 6 Manhattan blocks as a gift from John D Rockefeller Jr
Dec 13th - Leon Blum elected French premier

Dec 14th - Togo made a trusteeship territory of UN; UN General Assembly votes to establish UN headquarters in NYC

Dec 19th - War breaks out in Indochina as Ho Chi Minh attacks French in Hanoi

Dec 23rd - U of Tenn refuses to play Duquesne U, because they may use a black player in their basketball game
Dec 24th - 4th French republic established
Dec 24th - US General MacNarney gives 800,000 “minor nazi’s” amnesty

Dec 25th - Constitution accepted in Taiwan

Dec 26th - Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas opens (start of an era)
Dec 31st - French troops leave Lebanon


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Multitasking Video Games that Stimulate the Brain

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Back in 2006, I was sitting at a dinner table with my husband, a friend of ours (to whom my husband was also a consultant), and a Scientist.  The Scientist, who had been involved in creating a computer program to help children with learning disabilities (a program our friend was using in her Rehabilitation Center) was excitedly sharing with us that the same group that had created this program for children with learning disabilities had just come up with a new program to help re-stimulate the aging brain.

My maternal grandmother had succumbed to dementia.  She had been living alone for many years and although she had been living in a small French town where she knew many people and she had had a livelihood as an artist, arthritis had set in, impeding her ability to go out and paint.   My father, diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, also developed memory loss.  My mother-in-law, a brilliant woman who was living with us at the time, in her 93rd year (albeit that is a nice old age) started to loose her mind.  It is not comfortable watching someone who was such a part of life fade into nothingness.  I suppose it will happen to many of us if something else does not get to us first, but…I digress.  Back to the dinner.

Needless to say, when I heard about this program, my ears pricked up and I recognized that this would be the next big step in extending the aging process.  I asked the Scientist how I could learn more about the program.  Our friend agreed that this program could be incorporated into her business, but that I would remain an independent representative of the company providing the Brain Fitness Program, Posit Science.

I loved the program and I loved introducing it to people.  Because it was the first of its kind, there were a lot of rough spots that the company kept tumbling over.  Some of it was proving the claims they were making, but most of it had to do with “meeting those profits.”  In the end, they never permitted their representatives to own a part of the company or even be a franchise, thus it could never develop into a business for me.  At around the same time that I recognized this, the company decided to only market via the internet.  Nevertheless, the concept is a sound one and since that time, other companies have developed their own programs.

Just recently, I came across an article that spoke about a Scientist who is using video games to the same effect.  In reading the article in The New York Times, I see that some of the same arguments are being put forth that were constantly surrounding the Brain Fitness Program: what are the positive effects; what are the negative effects; what are the long-term effects.  In spite of this, there seems to be positive responses for this new study:

The latest research was the product of a four-year $300,000 study done at the University of California, San Francisco. Neuroscientists there, led by Dr. Adam Gazzaley, worked with developers to create NeuroRacer,  a relatively simple video game in which players drive and try to identify specific road signs that pop up on the screen, while ignoring other signs deemed irrelevant.

Studies have shown that multi-tasking abilities diminish with age, starting in one’s ’20′s!  By the time people reach their ’60′s, the ability to multi-task has dropped by 64%.

But after the older adults trained at the game, they became more proficient than untrained people in their 20s. The performance levels were sustained for six months, even without additional training. Also, the older adults performed better at memory and attention tests outside the game.

“That is the most grabbing thing here,” Dr. Gazzaley said. “We transferred the benefits from inside the game to different cognitive abilities.”

In spite of these findings, the Scientists remain cautious.  It is not just playing video games that will re-stimulate one’s aging attention span and Dr. Gazzaley emphasizes the need to remain within the confines of scientific rigor. His study does include a further validation of the effectiveness of video games:

The researchers created a second layer of proof by monitoring the brain waves of participants using electroencephalography. What they found was that in older participants, in their 60s to 80s, there were increases in a brain wave called theta, a low-level frequency associated with attention. When older subjects trained on the game, they showed increased bursts of theta, the very types of bursts seen regularly in people in their 20s.

“We made the activity in older adults’ prefrontal cortex look like the activity in younger adults’ prefrontal cortex,” said Dr. Gazzaley, referring to a part of the brain heavily involved with attention.

All of this sounds very positive to me.  I still believe in the benefits of re-stimulating our neurons through interactive technology.  But I also appreciate that the brain is a sensitive organ which we are still in the process of understanding and, thus,  understand the Scientists’ caution.  In the meanwhile, just in case, I will buy myself some video games…..

 

© Yvonne Behrens, M.Ed  2013

 

Fifty Years Ago

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Last night, several friends and I went to see “The Butler.”  The Movie is powerful and painful in its unapologetic portrayal of the racism and, in turn, the discrimination [and all the ugliness that such discrimination entails] that exist(ed) in our country.  The movie, as you may know, focusses mostly on that period of time when the Civil Rights Movement gained momentum and successfully overturned the Jim Crow laws of the South and made integration of the the school systems the law of the land.  Watching what the young people had to endure, those who chose to be at the forefront of the non-violent battle Martin Luther King led, was unbearable.  The amount of courage it required to “break” the “law” and accept whatever consequences this might bring about was deeply moving.

It has been fifty years since Martin Luther King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and gave his “I Have A Dream” speech.  Although I was only a kid, the significance of the moment and the speech was not lost on me.  I came from a liberal family and my parents took great care to instill in us that all “men” were created equal and that the racism, the apartheid that existed in the U.S. at the time was not to be tolerated.  We even had our own little run in with the nastiness of racism.  We had just recently returned from having lived in the Congo.  My parents had invited a Black colleague over for dinner.  The next morning, we found paint sprayed on our walkway “Behren Go Back to the Congo” (the misspelling of our last name made my parents certain that the sign had been spray painted by our neighbor, but we had no way of proving his culpability.  Another indication that our neighbor was the guilty party was that when we applied to become members of the club around the corner from where we lived, we were denied entry.  Our neighbor sat on the board.)  Certainly these small incidents do not even touch the hatred and discrimination that Blacks confronted at the time, but it did bring home to me just how volatile the question of race was in our country.

It is no secret that Malcolm X felt that Martin Luther King was an “Uncle Tom.”  Malcolm X, another brilliant orator in the cause of freedom of the Black wo/man in our society was considered more radical than Martin Luther King because he preached total separation from the White man.

When I was thirteen, I became very drawn to Malcolm X.  I believe this was right after he had been assassinated and the whites and the media had been portraying him as dangerous because he preached anger and separation.  I wanted to find out why this person was causing such a reaction in [sic:"my"] community.  My research showed that not only did Malcolm X speak “truth,” but also made sense.  Charismatic rather than dangerous would be how I would have described him and do so to this day.  But his stance was more militant than Martin Luther King’s stance.  Malcolm X was not shy in preaching “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life” rhetoric, which is why the white community, ever guilty of its treatment of the Blacks but, oh so not being able to let go of the power it gave them, shuddered in their shoes.**

When an interviewer asked Martin Luther King what he thought of Malcolm X’s accusation of the former’s approach toward the white man, the Reverend King gave a beautiful answer:

In the end, I think our country needed both leaders and both approaches in order to shift the paradigm because, as Malcolm X pointed out in a marvelous speech he gave on the difference between a house slave and a field slave [see below], when things are more comfortable, the human tendency is to sit back and allow things to remain the way they are, even if it undermines the individual adversely affected.

Although in this speech Malcolm X was specifically referring to the Blacks and their relationship with the Whites, I can easily translate this analogy in more general terms to where our country is today in its response to the way big corporations and Wall Street continue to gut our economic base.  I.e., “We still have food on the table, a roof over our head, a means of getting around, sure “they” have more, but that’s the way things are.”  This not to diminish the fact that the racist undertones that plague our country continue to raise their ugly heads.

Maybe this disparity continues to exist because, in spite of the uplifting belief that we had broken the race glass ceiling, so beautifully summarized in a communication individuals were texting, “Rosa sat, so Martin could walk, so Obama could run” the night Barak Obama won the presidency of the United States, that race glass ceiling continues to cover our nation.  Until we truly reflect and try to incorporate the following fact stated by the Reverend Martin Luther King during his “I have a Dream” speech:

“…. many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny.They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone [author's emphasis].”       Martin Luther King, “I have a Dream” Speech, August 28th, 1963.

Until we are willing to display the courage that the African American youth did during the Civil Rights movement, until we truly say, “enough!” and mean it with our actions, until we come together in a United state, we will continue to live in a world of discrimination and inequality, whether based on race or wealth.

 

© Yvonne Behrens, M.Ed  2013

** We really do not know how Malcolm X’s position would have evolved over time since he was gunned down before he was able to come into full expression.  We do know that he went on Hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca and one of the requirements for Muslims) and that the experience profoundly affected his outlook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Room With A Grim View: The ‘Ambient Despair’ That Marks Life In Assisted Living

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[Note: I am putting this article in the boomer section of my blog because we are at that stage when we can still do something to instigate change.  But we will only put the time and energy that is required to implement the change if we look at the problem squarely in the face, something our generation does not have the tendency to do.]

I am not a proponent of “retirement” communities although I do understand that certain circumstances do require it.  One might be getting on in years and can no longer do for oneself.  One’s mental or physical self starts to become frail and so one’s needs for assistance might increase.  If one has no family or one’s family lives in another state and one can no longer maintain one’s home, the institutional care is an option.  On a more positive note, “retirement” communities might be a place where one’s recreational and social activities might increase.  And one has the security of knowing that there is 24/hr nursing care.

Our society and the advertisers certainly do everything to encourage us into believing that this is an attractive alternative to staying at home.

One of the more glaring disadvantages of the retirement home is its segregation: the “old” people’s home where n’ery a person under a certain age lives.   Everywhere you turn, you see someone your age or older; except for the bouncy activities coordinator, urging you to participate in musical chairs or something.  Also, as you become more and more frail, the individuals with whom you interact most often are those caring for your daily needs.  These are the individuals within this community who get the least compensation for what they do and so, in turn, are the least constant.  Thus you are continuously being handled by strangers.  And, because of anti-discrimination laws, now there are male CNAs.  Imagine being a frail 90 year old Southern woman (to really make for the extreme case) and having a large African American male CNA enter your room telling you it is time for you to take your shower.  The cultural disconnect that this scenario entails is truly unfortunate and although not necessarily common, has occurred.

Also, for the most part, once one enters a “retirement” community, one’s sense of self starts to become eroded as one confronts choices made for oneself without being involved in the decisions.  This can be children making decisions about their parents and dropping them off at the facility or it can be experienced after arriving at the facility.

I recently read an article by a gentleman, Martin Bayne (mkbayne@alum.mit.edu), who wrote about his own personal experience in such an environment.  He has early onset Parkinson’s disease and so has found himself in a home at slightly a younger age than most.  However, following was one experience he had:

During the first few weeks in my new surroundings, I requested a meeting with the facility’s senior management. I’ve been both a journalist and a Zen monk in my day, making me someone who likes to make sure we all understand one another and communicate well.

The three executives and I met in my room, and the meeting soon turned fractious. I don’t remember exactly what the chair of the housing board said, but I challenged it. “That’s not fair,” I told him. “You get to go home every day at five o’clock, but this is my home.” He stood up, pointed his finger at me, and roared, “This is NOT your home. You just lease an apartment here like everybody else.”

I realized right then that the residents of “their” assisted living facility, among whom I now numbered, didn’t have a voice. Those of us there, and in many other such facilities, arrive in this, our new society, alone, possibly ill, often without the comfort and support of a spouse we’d been married to for decades.

Besides having one’s ability to make decisions or play an active role in the decision making process of one’s environment removed, you enter into an environment where more than likely you do not know anyone.  More eerily, although no one knows each other, everyone recognizes that this is the last stop, so to speak.  Both of these factors have got to take their toll on one’s psyche.  Mr. Bayne chose to move into a facility, knowing that those surrounding him would be much older than he.  Again, quoting Mr. Bayne:

  1. People my age—I’m now sixty-two—might go to an assisted living facility every now and then to visit an older family member. Facilitated aging is a way of life for a growing number of Americans, more than one million of whom now live in roughly 40,000 such facilities across the country.

But few people in my age group actually live in an assisted living facility. I do.

Eight years ago, while still in my fifties, in a wheelchair and after nearly a decade of living at home with young-onset Parkinson’s disease, I decided to move into an assisted living facility. I knew what my decision meant. I’d be moving into a place where the average resident was thirty-two years older than I was, and the average levels of disability, depression, dementia, and death were dramatically higher than those in the general population.

What I hadn’t calculated, however, was what it’s like to watch a friend—someone you’ve eaten breakfast with every morning for several years—waste away and die. And just as you’re recovering from that friend’s death, another friend begins to waste away. I can say with certainty that the prospect of watching dozens (at my young age, perhaps hundreds), of my friends and neighbors in assisted living die is a sadness beyond words.

Mr. Bayne continues with the saddest part of his evaluation:
We eat meals in a dining room filled with strangers and, for perhaps the first time in a half-century, sleep alone in an unfamiliar bed. We then usually find ourselves silenced by, and subjected to, a top-down management team whose initial goal seems to be to strip us of our autonomy. And it is in this environment that most of us will die.

Most residents in assisted living facilities, by necessity, live secret lives. On the outside, there might be a calm, even peaceful veneer. But beneath the surface, all of us are susceptible to the ambient despair that is a permanent component of life in this type of facility.

This despair is as real as the landscaping or the food—only more deeply and widely prevalent. It’s the result of months or years of loneliness and isolation and of a lack of true social interaction among residents. It’s also the result of burying our feelings and emotions about the exceptionally high numbers of demented and disabled neighbors around us and being surrounded by frequent death.

To read more of Mr. Bayne’s article about his experiences in an assisted living facility, please go to

1Martin Bayne (mkbayne@alum.mit.edu) is an advocate, author, and publisher who lives in an assisted living facility in Center Valley, Pennsylvania.

But Mr. Bayne doesn’t stop at just describing the realities of living in an Assisted Living Facility.  He wants to try and change the realities of assisted living life.  And so he continues:

Living with Parkinson’s disease has led me to realize that the quality of my life depends on the future viability of the long-term care system in the United States. So, too, does the quality of life for the millions who are similarly situated—the chronically ill, disabled, frail, and elderly individuals who are unable to accomplish those defined activities of daily living. We need better, more humane places to live in that allow us to preserve whatever health and happiness we have left. We also need to be surrounded with more compassionate, higher-quality, yet still affordable care.

To create genuine long-term care reform, we as a nation need to perform a series of activities. We must understand the full nature and scope of the problem, including knowing the benefits that are and aren’t available under skilled, custodial, and intermediate long-term care. We have to acknowledge the full range of policy options that exist and create a workable way to finance care using a mix of public- and private-sector support. People will also have to acknowledge their personal responsibility for leading purposeful lives, a part of which means considering the costs of long-term care and planning ahead for how to pay for them. In short, we must all be held accountable for ourselves and for the whole.

Until the totality of that approach is under way, we’re in trouble. I’m tackling the part that I can. Difficult as it sometimes is, I’m actively trying to be accountable for myself, my fellow residents, and everyone who lives in assisted living facilities.

Earlier this year, I became the publisher—Paul Soderberg in Arizona is the editor—of the first literary journal to showcase the work of people in their sixties and older. Published online and without charge, it’s named The Feathered Flounder. You can read a copy at http://thefeatheredflounder.com. As I explained in my first publisher’s note, the literary journal “is born in the imagination of those with the benefit of having accepted the unexpectedness of aging…. It is the nature of creativity.”

I hope others—especially policy makers—also will call on the nature of creativity as they wrestle with the realities of assisted living facilities and of aging in general. I’ll keep doing what I can: being active in my community, publishing, and writing about the view from my wheelchair from inside an assisted living facility. Others need to go about tackling the systemic and looming issues for an aging nation.

I applaud Mr. Bayne’s initiative.  He is still at an age when he can work for change, unlike many of those with whom he shares a space.  The fact that he is trying is commendable.  Hopefully, we will all do our part.

© Yvonne Behrens, M.Ed  2013

 

 

 

Staying Put

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When I was in my late teens, I couldn’t wait to set out on my own.  I [erroneously] believed that I would “find” myself “out there.”  This idea seemed to prevail with “my” generation.   A large number of us ended up in college, totally clueless as to how to approach the next chapter in our lives.  In fact, probably to cover our feelings of insecurity, we developed an attitude towards those of our classmates who seemed to have an idea of where they wanted to go.

Apparently, according to a recent article in AARP, this trend towards setting out on one’s own was extremely common among boomers.  Furthermore, that trend has undergone a shift in the opposite direction with youths wishing to remain in their family home.  According to the AARP article, boomers have developed closer relations with their children than their parents had with them.

I can relate to this.  In my family, my parents lived in their world and we lived in ours.  Sometimes the paths crossed, usually around a behavioral infraction on our part.  Other areas where our paths crossed: attending church together, Sunday meals, “hanging out” together on a Sunday afternoon.  When we were younger, our father played with us on those Sunday afternoons.  As we got older, the hanging out took more of an “us sitting with our parents as ‘they’ relaxed waiting until we could excuse ourselves to go play with our friends.”  Did I ever consider speaking to either of my parents about my personal questions, fears, ideas, inspirations?  No.  Now I cannot speak for all my siblings.  My older sister once opined that she looked at our mother as her best friend.  So I have to assume that she felt totally comfortable sharing everything with my mother.  This, however, did not seem to have an effect on her decision to move out and onward.  In fact, we were expected to do so.

Not so children of boomers.  They enjoy being home, have no strong desire to move far away, feel a connection with their parents.  We always talk about the pendulum swinging one way and then swinging in the opposite direction.  This may be what is reflected, although, according to the article, boomers seem to have made more of an effort to interact with their children, in some extreme cases, treating them as equals or even their superiors.  And, of course, now all the pundits are wondering whether this trend of staying at home is “healthy.”

Since the beginning of the human race, families mostly remained together.  Of course, the restlessness of seeking the new does seem to be an inherent quality in human beings and thus there are many examples of individuals setting out.  Much of the mobility inherent in the definition of our society most probably has to do with the fact that we were the “New World”, a world yet to be fully explored.  It was because the United States was “the new world” which needed to be explored and “tamed” that this trend to separate out and move away was such a dominant feature of the American profile.  Now that our identity is starting to congeal, the restlessness of seeking something different seems to have tapered off.  Although many also look at the economy as a source of this trend.  Oh, and then there is technology in the form of television and computers…..where one can travel a thousand miles away and never leave the living room.

© Yvonne Behrens, M.Ed  2013

 

Fear and Loathing

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Am I afraid of getting old?  Hell yes! You might ask why it is, then, that I spend time working with the elderly and their caregivers and focusing on aging by writing many articles that deal with aging.    I work with the elderly because I want to try and change the dire landscape that exists today for the elderly.  What might that landscape be?  One where the “old” person is left to vegetate in a corner, where derogatory comments are made about getting old, where services are constantly being cut and tax monies are used for the young, in spite of the fact that the young make up a smaller percentage than the ever-growing older population.

As boomers, we really do not want to focus on the fact that we are aging, that we are moving into a period in our lives when we will be more vulnerable and needing to depend on others for our care (if death does not find us before then).  We were the generation that grew up with the Peter Pan song: “I won’t grow up.”  We could just as well sing it, “I won’t grow old.”  We do not want to confront our aging process and so we don’t.  By not acknowledging it, we believe it will go away.  We insist that by acknowledging it, we will somehow help it, affirm it in its manifestation.

Two years ago, I had a friend who truly believed that aging was an attitude.  This past year, she is noting changes in her capabilities and attributing it to age.  Yes, folks, it does happen.  The hardware does start to wear down, break, fall apart.

The reason I am afraid of getting old in this society is that we are not humane towards our elderly.  This might have something to do with the fact that we live in a mobile, youth oriented society that does not respect its elderly population.  Also, I happen to fit into the statistic of being a single, certain-aged female with no children or grandchildren.  I have to admit that the idea of finding myself in a nursing home being taken care of or ignored by poorly paid staff scares me.

We live in times where the technological developments of hospitals and the advancements in medication allow us to live longer.  But what has been overlooked is the quality of life our living longer affords us.  Is it really a great thing to live to be 90 years old but have no mind to speak of?  Or have only the choice of living in a potential hell hole wherein one lives a semi-comatose existence in some dark hallway by being fed psychotropic drugs to keep us quiet?

I would rather depart from this life in my ’70′s, when I still have some life in me than be kept alive with absolutely no life to speak of.  (A friend of mine who is in her ’70′s has told me that when I reach that age, I will probably have a different outlook.  I don’t doubt her wisdom on the matter, but I am also a firm believer that life should be lived fully and since we are all going to go at some point…..what is it the comedians say, “Leave them laughing”)  I also do not doubt that I will probably have what I call a “clutch” to life as I confront the fact that I will be departing it.  Ironically, part of what sustains the medical establishment’s focus on keeping individuals alive is something that I believe is a natural part of dying: the clutch to life.

Now maybe this topic seems morbid to those of you reading it, but the fact of the matter is, if we do not confront our aging process and our eventual demise, we will do nothing to change what happens to us as we age and we might find ourselves far outliving our usefulness in a state that we would never wish on anyone let alone ourselves.

© Yvonne Behrens, M.Ed  2013

 

 

Changing One’s Living Situation

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When it was clear that my father could no longer live alone, I found myself, by virtue of being the child who lived closest to him, in the position of having to  encourage him to consider living in a retirement facility.  At first he was resistant.  He did not want to live with a bunch of strangers, eating in an institutional dining room.  The way I talked him into considering it was to compare it to living in a college dorm. “Dad, you did this when you were attending college.  It is the same concept.”

Just recently, I read an article about a new trend among aging single women.  Four or five ban together à la Golden Girls in a group house.  More than any previous generation, boomers are single, either because they never married, they are divorced, they are part of the LGBT grouping, or they are widowed.  A larger number of aging people are women (57 percent make up the grouping 65 and older and 67 percent make up the group of 85 and older).

I know several women who share a home.  It is not always as easy as it may seem.  My friends told me that when they first moved in together, they all went about their own business.  They did not even sit down to dinner together.  But then one of the women needed to take care of her father and the household opted to allow him to move in with her.  This decision made their house become a home, as they all found themselves pitching in to help.  Although the father has since passed away, the pattern of doing things together within the household has remained.  And the women are very happy about this.

One structure that makes a marriage a marriage and a family a family is sharing meals.  Another structure is that everyone in the household pitches in to maintain the home.  Having and/or developing mutual interests also makes up a structure of a family.  These factors would seem important in the formation of a group home.

I like the idea.  I sit here in a house that has become too large for me — too empty.  I like the socialization that comes with sitting around a dinner table.  I always enjoyed doing things with my husband.  Presently, upkeep of home keeps me fairly busy.  It would be nice to share those tasks with someone else. Although I keep busy with many different projects and have an active social life,  coming home to someone has a very different feel.

Of course, one does have to consider that illness may settle on one or two or maybe even three of the housemates and then what happens?  Another thing to reflect on is that different people have different approaches to or definitions of cleanliness.  When in college, one’s sense of cleanliness may have been a little less stringent.  One might be a little more impatient with someone else’s habits when in their ’50′s or ’60′s than they were at eighteen or twenty-one.

However,  I do like the creative way that boomers are looking at the question of housing and how they want to spend their older years and I look forward to reading more about these innovative approaches towards aging.

© Yvonne Behrens, M.Ed  2013