Oct 29, 2007

Taking the long view

I used to think it absolutely mind-boggling that my father was actually alive when Herbert Hoover was president. He was born in 1931. That seemed like such a long time ago, a time when people wore spats and the world was black and white, literally black and white like the movies.

Now 1931 doesn't seem that long ago. Hell, 1911, the year my grandfather was born, was just yesterday when you think about the course of human history. I've also begun thinking of anyone under the age of 60 as being young. Or at least in the prime of life.

Which brings me to this post by Terry Teachout, in which he muses about all that's occurred between now and 1900, the year his maternal grandfather was born.
I have, alas, no children to take pictures of, but I do have a nineteen-year-old niece, and I wonder whether her offspring (assuming that she has children and that my life overlaps with theirs) will be no less bemused to recall that they once met a man who was born in the same year that Elvis Presley recorded "Heartbreak Hotel." Somehow I doubt it, and it's by no means certain that they'll remember anything about me at all.
Actually, not getting this reaction to the year of one's birth is one of the few advantages that the childless have over the rest of us. Your children almost always see you as a dinosaur. In fact, I knew a woman whose son asked her if she played with dinosaurs when she was little. That's pretty cute when you're in your 20s. But such questions start to rankle in no time at all.

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