A booming 60 years

February 19, 2006|By KRISTIN WILSON

In 1946, when Margaret and Charles Lewis brought their daughter, Laura, into the world, they knew they were having a baby at the end of a devastating war, when the power of the atomic bomb was a real threat, and when the economy was struggling to shift from wartime to peacetime.

When Jackie and Dave Brice delivered their twin son and daughter on Nov. 14, 2005, they knew they were bringing children into a nation grappling with war and the threat of religious extremism. With world economies rapidly growing and shifting, the new parents have concerns about what America's future economy might look like.

What separates these parents is 60 years, but the hope that comes with the birth of children and a new generation has stayed the same.


In 1946, America was going back to work, shifting the nation's emphasis away from World War II and toward the family. Millions of babies were born, marking the beginning of America's baby boom.

This year an estimated 2.9 million Americans will turn 60, according to projections from the U.S. Census Bureau. While most baby boomers talk about how different the world is today, The Herald-Mail found that the hopes and dreams of baby boomers' parents in 1946 were not so different from what parents today hope for their newborn babies.

The Herald-Mail talked to a smattering of boomers who grew up in the Tri-State area. They tell of a simpler time, when neighbors banded together to help each other and when everyone cried over the news President John F. Kennedy had been shot. They remember bomb drills in elementary school classrooms, and they remember, with a smile, when their families bought their first color television sets.

What lies ahead in the next 60 years is surely as unknown as it was in 1946. The only guarantee, say both the Lewis and Brice families, is raising children with the morals and principals their parents taught them.

Here's a look at the past 60 years through the eyes of baby boomers and their parents and a glimpse at the next 60, through the aspirations of today's newest parents.

The Lewis family

Young Margaret and Charles Lewis of Hagerstown lived in Margaret's parents' house from the year they were married in 1936 until 1959. It was the way things were back then. Social Security was a fledgling program, and children were expected to take care of their parents. In the trying years during the Great Depression and afterward, a home seemed an improbable goal for a young couple just starting out. Living together under one roof worked for everyone, Margaret Lewis remembers. She and her husband helped her mother, Bertha Snyder, in the senior years of her life, and Snyder helped raise her two small grandchildren.

By 1959 the Lewises had saved enough money to afford the $15,000 it would take to purchase a lot and build their home out in the country - on Jefferson Boulevard near Eastern Boulevard. Both parents worked. Margaret had her own beauty shop on North Cannon Avenue, and Charles, now 89, had a steady job for 45 years in Potomac Edison's meter department.

The couple's daughter, Laura, fondly remembers walking through downtown Hagerstown as a child, doing her Christmas shopping with $25 "and coming out with some nice gifts," she says. She remembers her grandmother teaching her how to cook. Elderly neighbors in Laura's first neighborhood were like grandparents to her, she remembers. She even called one "Nannie."

Margaret and Charles had simple goals for their daughters, they remember.

"I wanted them to do their best," Margaret Lewis, 88, says. "You always want more for your kids than what you were able to do for yourself."

The young Laura that loved playing pickup games of kickball with the neighborhood boys, grew up to be Laura Shindle. She followed in her mother's footsteps and became a hairdresser - although she always promised she wouldn't and later focused on her love of painting. Shindle, who will turn 60 this year, now smiles proudly while talking about her three grandsons who live in Upton, Pa. She is amazed by how much they learn in elementary school, working with computers every day. She is also proud that her daughter, Jana Egolf, is raising her three boys the same way Laura was raised.

"I was raised eating together as a family," Shindle says. "They eat as a family. I cooked. My daughter cooks." And the canning Laura learned from her grandmother and mother in the 1950s - that's been passed on to Egolf as well.

The Brice family

When Jackie and Dave Brice found out they were finally going to have the family they had dreamed of, they stopped thinking of the present and started planning for the future.

"You want to give (your kids) more than you had," Jackie Brice, 30, says. While the couple were thrilled they would be having twins, they had some concerns about the world their children would grow up in.

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