What Formed Me: a Child of the 40s

I’m a child of the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. I’m not a Baby Boomer, I came just after the U.S. declared their entrance into World War II, and before the Boomer babies were born.

I was raised by parents who had lived through the Great Depression, influenced by post war optimism, and entertained with music and movies from those changing decades.

“This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie, “My Prayer” by the Platters, “Wake Up Little Susie” by The Everly Brothers, Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven”, Elvis’ (of course) “Hound Dog”, “Crazy” sung by Patsy Cline, and the Mamas and the Papas crooning “California Dreamin”. Just a short list of the hundreds of songs that shaped my teenage years. 

I learned to dance to Roger Williams’ rendition of “Autumn Leaves”, and spent hours in my dorm room trying to get my hips in sync with my legs so I wouldn’t embarrass myself at an upcoming “Twistin” gala in the fall of 1961.

But it wasn’t just music that moved my soul. I was entertained by the movies of those 3 decades. Humphrey Bogart was in his prime starring in what seemed like dozens of films. Bud Abbott and Lou Costello kept us laughing and the big screen continued to flourish in the fifties with musicals like “The King and I”, “South Pacific”, “Oklahoma”, “Gigi”, and the hilarious romantic comedy “Some Like it Hot”. 

Films in the 1960’s brought us a more varied movie selection, including the Alfred Hitchcock hit “Psycho”, and musicals “The Sound of Music”, “South Pacific”, “West Side Story”, and the delightful “Chilly Chilly Bang Bang”.

Our entertainment came right into our homes moving from radio dramas and comedies to the great invention of television. 

Kids in my age group were mesmerized by Howdy Doody and Claribelle the Clown, Kukla, Fran and Ollie, I Love Lucy, Leave it to Beaver, Lassie, the George Burns and Gracie Allen Show. The next couple of decades brought new talent and what was considered the ‘all American family’ in such shows as “Father Knows Best”, Leave it to Beaver”, “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet”, and “Make Room for Daddy”.

But real adventure was showcased in our living rooms when we became addicted to Dr. Spock and “Star Trek”. Carol Burnett kept us laughing with her weekly show, and we would stay awake another hour after bedtime to catch comedian Johnny Carson on the “Tonight Show”.  

This is not to say great music, theatre, television and movies aren’t being produced today. Of course, more classics are brought to the screen, stage, and record albums daily, but what we watched and listened to during our formative years did help to make us who we are, as much as our parents tried to shield us from our changing world.

It is no wonder we turned out the way we did. Trying to balance “Don’t Fence Me In’ and Jerry Lee Lewis’ performance of “Great Balls of Fire”, while coming to grips with “Man With the Golden Arm” and the Beatles “A Hard Day’s Night” would make any of us a bit batty, don’t you think? 

6 thoughts on “What Formed Me: a Child of the 40s

  1. Omigosh! You just brought back so many memories from my life, because we are the same age and I was born just before Pearl Harbor. Did your parents also listen to The Mills Brothers? Elvis created a problem for my family when I got married (at too young an age) – it was all about who gets the Elvis records.


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