For the past 12 years, Beloit College has produced an annual list of things we take for granted but which are alien to incoming college freshmen. It is an enjoyable way to feel really old. This year's list, for example, reminds us that Shrek is the only Green Giant that this year's college freshmen know, that they have never used a card catalog and that the phrase "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up" means nothing to them (and neither does Steve Urkel).
[See America Turns Inward in Tough Times.] Of course, there also are trends that some of us might want to forget. The list says today's freshmen think tattoos have always been very chic and highly visible; rap music has always been mainstream; condoms have always been advertised on television; everyone has always known what the evening news was before the Evening News came on, and, "womyn" and "waitperson" have always been in the dictionary.
Blue Jell-O has always been a flavor for this year's freshman class, and I suppose that's no worse than Tang (but it is far inferior to Pez ). Trends come and go. But there are a lot of things that continue to be important to seniors that today's kids have never known. And the folks at Classic Residence by Hyatt, which has 19 senior-living communities in 10 states, have created a program called "The American Century" to let residents reminisce about historical and cultural highlights of the 20th century. It's designed as a social activity and often accompanied with period-specific culinary offerings. And while I know that tattoos and blue Jell-O are really valuable additions to our culture, the program might just provide some valuable reinforcement for memories that, like us, are too young to die.
Here are program topics for the first seven decades of the century just past.
I bet there are others you would add. Let me know what they are!
[See also 6 Money Lessons of the Great Recession.]