“It’s my Birthday!”
Before any of the ribbing or jokes begins, I’ll admit it . . . as of Saturday I will be 60 years old. Six decades! Happy to be here and happy to celebrate.
When my grandfather turned 60, I was 16 years old. He already had one grandson in college and another that was a senior in high school. Of course, he married at 18 and I married at 23 so that was part of the difference.
My father was just out of the Army; I was almost born in Oklahoma. We lived in a tiny house that I have no memory of but that still stands in Cottonwood.
Movies still captured America’s attention and On the Waterfront won many of that year’s Academy Awards. The perennial Christmas favorite White Christmas was shown for the very first time.
President Dwight Eisenhower dedicated the Iwo Jima Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery in 1954, only nine years removed from the horrific times of World War II. Peace didn’t last very long and my father found himself in Korea in the years just before I was born.
The very first Burger King was opened that same year I was born, with McDonald’s opening in 1955. It would be seven more years before Hardee’s opened its first restaurant. I was in the tenth grade when Wendy’s came along.
Romance beyond my parents existed in 1954 as Marilyn Monroe married Joe DiMaggio. The first color television was invented by RCA. Its twelve inch screen cost just over $1,000. Radio was already beginning its demise as the last program of The Lone Ranger radio show was broadcast after 2,956 episodes spanning 21 years.
The words “under God” were added to the Pledge of Allegiance. The New York City Ballet performed The Nutcracker for the very first time. To this day it remains an annual tradition around the world.
The TV dinner was introduced by Gerry Thomas. Who my age doesn’t remember the Salisbury Steak entree with mashed potatoes?
The controversial novel Lord of the Flies was first published. The first hydrogen bomb was tested. Joe McCarthy accused the military of being “soft” on communism. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Brown vs. Board of Education that segregation in schools was unconstitutional.
“Sh-Boom” by the Crew Cuts was the #1 song the day I was born. My children and grandchildren have absolutely no idea what a transistor radio, invented that year, is or was. John Wayne was the most popular box office draw.
Saturday I will have been alive 21,911 days and will have seen 741 full moons. I share those facts in common with the 318,000 babies born on September 13, 1954. I am not sure I know any of them.
My heart has beat over two billion times already in my lifetime and I hope for another billion or so. My step is slower, my sight is nearer, and my hearing fading.
I thought my grandfather had seen the most changes in any person’s lifetime, but I have seen so much more. Each decade, every single one of them has been better than the one before. I can’t play the game as well, but I can enjoy it more than ever.
To all my many friends that have turned 60 this year, I believe the best is yet to come. If by chance life isn’t as long as I would like it to be, I can rejoice in knowing that the six decades thus far have been wonderful.
Dan Ponder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org