Boomers tell it like it is (was)

With baby boomers seeming to be the new favourite punching bag for everything from global warming to a super-sized welfare bill, YourLifeChoices member Dianne Motton decided enough was enough. It was time to address the OK boomer meme.

She wrote OK millennials, you should know this in which she shared the facts of life back then, that it wasn’t the cruisey ride that many subsequent generations believe it was.

It sparked a huge response from our members – so much so that we decided we had to share your comments with a wider audience. Here is some of your feedback and reminiscences.


Kaz: I’m sorry for stuffing the climate but I’m trying to make up for that now. We used the remainder of the bread packet as wrapping for a jam sandwich, must have been before payday. If all the notebook wasn’t used, you turned it around and started on the back page. Mum made my uniforms. I remember my knickers losing their elastic and waiting for more! Sometimes being quiet when the milkman or breadman came to be paid. Stews, porridge, no sweets. No phone. I think we were poor! We were happy and dad worked hard to make things better, and now hubby and I have a house that we worked for and paid for through the years and I am not going to feel guilty about it.

Heyyybob: OK Boomers, we know ‘they’ won’t get it or believe it BUT I remember it [growing up] well, was not scarred by it, was poor but, unbelievably, happy as a child AND I had a childhood unlike many children nowadays are allowed to. One comment only, when sent to the headmaster’s office by our class teacher, as a result of misbehaviour, to receive punishment for same, a couple of us devised a great strategy. Knowing we would be in for a couple of ‘the cuts’, which was two or four belts across open hands held out to receive the cane. I would leave the classroom contrite and head for the coat racks, and after 10 minutes or so I would ‘hang’ from two coat hooks for a while until I achieved some impressive markings and colouration on the palms of my hands. Then I would shuffle, sniffling, back into the classroom and let my teacher see how I had suffered and ‘learnt my lesson’ 🙂 Hah!! Once Again Good Triumphed Over Evil and I got away with it. There obviously was no communication between class teacher and headmaster in these matters.

KSS: And don’t forget, if you went home and told your mum and dad you had been punished at school, you would get another lot from them because you probably deserved it.

Mark: Going to school in Queensland had its own special mystique. Turning up the air-conditioning meant opening the windows as far as possible. On some days it would be so hot that the bitumen on the parade ground would literally melt and get stuck to your shoes (if, of course, you were wearing any).

Oldchick: Same here in Adelaide. In summer you melted and in winter you froze. Even by the time I’d started full-time employment there was no aircon. We were luckier than most. I worked for an oil company and we had a system of pipes running the perimeter of the office that pumped out (some) warm air from the boiler in the blending area. We also had no calculators, only Sumlock machines for adding up (a fancy abacus), a Ledger machine, Telex, and printing was done on a Gestetner, so you went home ‘inked’ but in a different way to today’s version of ‘ink’.

Billv: Leaving the schoolyard for a sec, I vividly remember the toys we had. No such things as computer consoles. My dad used to make wooden toys for Christmas gifts. My dad was very clever in that he purchased an electronic magazine and built our first TV. Rather rough looking, all the parts placed neatly in a box made of wood. Yep, we had it real good in our day. I believe it was called poverty in those days also.

Dabbydoos: Grew up in the UK but a similar upbringing, apart from the heat. Adults were always addressed as Mr or Mrs, if close Auntie or Uncle. Always told to play outside, escaped to the woods with friends all day with not a thought of stranger danger. Walked for miles and thought nothing of it. Every child in the street at the only neighbour with a television for Watch with Mother. Boys and girls received the cane or ruler at school for bad behaviour. All clothes handmade or hand-me-downs. Best days of my life.

Angelique: I grew up in the UK too, so similar memories. As you say, all clothes handmade or hand-me-downs including hand-knitted jumpers. I remember sitting round the fire on a winter’s evening preparing for my little brother’s arrival. Mum making baby clothes, Nan knitting baby bootees and my contribution was hemming cot blankets that were cut down from old double blankets. Nothing was ever wasted. I always had to walk to school and would play outside unless the weather was really bad. No double-glazing and sometimes the frosts were on the insides of the windows. Still the best memories of my life.

rtrish: Year Two, the boy in the seat kept pinching and punching me. If I tried to retaliate, he was always prepared. I asked the teacher to move me, but she wouldn’t let me. So, I waited. When he was not expecting it, I suddenly smashed his head onto the desk. There may have been some tooth damage. The teacher finally let me move. I don’t recall any punishment, or the reaction of boy’s parents. It was almost the Wild West, back in those days!

Mac: Yes – great memories. No credit cards then. So, saved up for everything or paid it off in instalments. I remember going to the furniture shop to pay off instalments for my parents after they came from England a few years after the war. No fancy lunches, basic cooking, no exotic ingredients and we all survived. Homemade clothes, which I continued making when I was married and had children. Clothes were more expensive to buy than buying the material and pattern. Good quality material was available then. I remember one of my mother’s friends telling her that during the war when clothes rationing was severe her favourite suit was showing bad signs of wear, so she unpicked it and made it up again with the wrong side out. Mending socks and other garments, which I still do, was the vogue. No expensive jeans with holes already in them available in the shops. Everyone dressed neatly and modestly. No piercings and the only tattoos that I saw were on sailors’ arms.

Times tables recited continually. Spelling tests, too, and we were taught grammar and good handwriting also. Bad behaviour resulted in teacher using the cane. Ink wells to fill and milk at morning recess, which was ice cold in winter and very warm in summer. Walked to school.

My father mended our shoes when the soles and heels showed signs of wear and also any appliances that he could. He also built cupboards and wardrobes without any power tools, grew vegetables and occasionally took us for drives to Tassie’s beautiful countryside and frequent walks down to Hobart’s wharves to look at any warships or ocean liners that were still bringing emigrants to Tassie. It was great to grow up in Tassie.

Lyn: I remember my father tacking a new sole to my shoes to cover the hole to keep the water out. Left school at 14 to work a six-day week in Woolworths variety store (not like today’s Big W). Had to write every purchase a customer made onto a pad and add it up! No computer to do it. Had to give part of my small earnings to my parents for board as you did back then. Tough times but learnt to cope.

aussiehero: I found this a very interesting article as it helped me remember the past, and realise that we had a life, probably made more interesting BECAUSE we were poor.

Do you remember … things like:

  • Slates with the alphabet embossed all round. (modern equivalent to the iPad, I suppose).
  • Those docket and money carriers that whizzed over your head in a ‘department store’. Later to be replaced by vacuum tubes. The carriers were powered by somebody pulling a cord, very much like flushing the old toilets (also known as lavatories or the WC).
  • The X-ray machine at the shoe shop where three people could look at your foot bones to see if your shoes were fitting.
  • The dolls and dolls’ clothes, tea sets, skipping ropes, nurses kits or outfits, etc for girls.
  • The trough to boil the laundry, (probably using Reckitt’s Blue).
  • The meat safe hanging on the verandah.
  • Chopping wood to feed the stove/laundry ‘copper’/water tank/fireplaces.
  • Reading the torn-up newspapers in the ‘dunny’.
  • Castor oil (ugh!!)
  • Washing boards (equivalent, I suppose, to the modern washing machine).
  • The Phantom Ring (with glow-in-the-dark eyes).
  • The laundry wringer.
  • Reading comics.

GregH: I grew up in Qld and remember the ‘lumpy’ milk for morning tea at school, and we were forced to drink it! Mum made our clothes and dad made toys and furniture out of wood. I remember having to sit at the table and finish everything on my plate before being allowed to leave. I hated pumpkin and my brother hated peas, so as soon as mum and dad moved into the lounge room, we’d swap plates and soon there was a call of “finished!” We played in the bush and played cricket on the road; walked to school or rode our bikes. I got threatened with the cane a few times, but my brother kept score on the cuts he received. Reciting multiplication tables has helped me all my life. As a teacher, I’ve had kids ask me how come I know the multiplication of numbers so well when showing them how to work out a problem. If you did something wrong at school or in the neighbourhood, you’d get punished by whoever caught you and then cop it again when you got home from your parents. There were no play centres or play dates with parents supervising the whole time. We left home after breakfast and had to be home again before dark! In my first year teaching, I had 43 Year 2s and we had a ball.

Intellego: OK, Moanennials. I’m sick and tired of your endless whingeing, your attitude, and your non-achievement. Shut the hell up until you actually accomplish something – even a 10th of what baby boomers have contributed to the world.

Are you a boomer loud and proud? Did the OK boomer meme get up your nose?

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