MAY THE FORTH BE WITH YOU
I guess if you're one of the three people in the world that didn't watch Star Wars, I'll briefly explain that title. In the series of Star Wars movies, their was an all-powerful, unexplainable capability called The Force. It was mainly available to the “good guy” Jedi Knights, but occasionally got grabbed by the “bad guy” Dark Side. The very popular expression “May The Force Be With You”, sort of like Star Trek's “Live Long and Prosper” (I'm not going to explain that one), was a greeting, a “good luck” wish to someone going off to battle, etc.
Why is it my title? Because my birthday was May 4,1941, seven months before the World War II Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Every year, several people greet me with “May The Fourth Be With You”, then laugh hilariously. I generally laugh along, even though I've probably heard it about 100 times. I actually find it cute/funny even after all those repetitions. If you're any kind of Mathematician, you've already figured out that makes me 79 years old – now that's really O-o-o-old.
In Chapter 9 of my book "Retire and Travel - 20 Years Later", I take you down memory lane, telling you why being born in the 40s is (IMHO) the best time to start your life. The chapter starts below and contains the entire chapter from the book.
When I wrote the book in 2004, I was only 63 and still felt like I'd been living a "charmed" life Subsequently, I wrote the 3 articles listed below. (If you go to read them, this wndow will remain open to make it easier to get bac)
9. Born in the ‘40s (E)
Well, I guess I'm not done blogging yet. This is actually Chapter 9 of my book “Retire and Travel – 20 Years Later”. About every few years, I find myself searching for it for some reason or another. I usually look here first, so decided to put a copy here to simplify future reference. Also put a copy on my Facebook page and in my Travel Log (with pictures). It's May 4, 2020 and I just turned 79. I reread several of the articles that I wrote about my life and decided I needed to add more current info at the end of this, which was written in 2004. You can read through it all or CLICK HERE to scroll down to the new stuff.
NOTE: I just read something on a website that relates to this chapter. As you may or may not know, those born from 1946-1964 are Baby-Boomers. Now, there appears to be some disagreement on the exact years, but apparently those that followed the Boomers are Generation X. I’ve heard that one, but what I hadn’t heard was that those that preceded Boomers (like me) are part of the Silent Generation. Ever heard that one? Well, since I don’t have a better name for us, I guess I’ll use that one. Not sure what’s silent about us … LOL.
I was born in 1941. So what, you say? Well, let me tell you. If you were born in the 1940s, as I was, you probably already know, but let me call your attention to a few things in case they haven’t occurred to you. I feel like those born in the ‘40s have lived in the best decades for everything, starting with the optimism of the post-war years. After winning the war, many people felt like anything could be accomplished with the right attitude and dedication. That’s the attitude that I picked up very early in life and one that I still have.
When was the best time to be a teenager? Why, in the 1950s, when Rock and Roll was born and cars were king! I remember the first time I heard Elvis singing Hound Dog on the radio – I was 15 and driving my first car – a 1951 Studebaker. Of course, I had no idea what Rock and Roll was, but I knew that I really liked the beat of the song and the way Elvis sang it. You can hear him sing it now at http://www.elvis.com. I was an Elvis fan then, through his whole career, and even today. I went to an “Elvis Concert” in 1997 in Memphis, the 20th anniversary of his death. They had huge movie screens on-stage, showing Elvis as he was in concert, with live backup singers – the same backups he’d had in life. It was amazing! I felt like I’d actually seen him on-stage that night. At the end of the show, Priscilla came on and introduced a video that Lisa Marie had made, in which she sang Daddy, Daddy in “duet” with Elvis and with his father in the background. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house! Elvis even came back for a couple of encores in response to the cheers of the crowd – as close to a real concert as anything I could have imagined.
The 1950s were also a time when the drive-in theaters were really popular. Best place ever to party, with a date or with a bunch of friends. Great, cheap entertainment! In Tallahassee, Florida, where I spent my teenage years, we also had two drive-in theaters and several great drive-in restaurants. No McDonald’s or Wendy’s, but little local places with car-hops and hamburgers and beer and always a bunch of friends around. If you recall Al’s Drive-In on Happy Days, that’s exactly how some of our drive-ins were, except we spent more time in our cars than we did inside the drive-in. They also weren’t really family places, like today’s fast-food restaurants, but were more like hangouts for the 15-25 crowd. I don’t think there’s anything like them around today.
The Dixieland Drive-In was a former drive-in theater, so had the speakers for ordering the food and had plenty of area to cruise around. The Corral Drive-In was across the street, was much smaller, had a sand drive instead of paved, but was just as popular. Many an evening was spent cruising first the Dixieland, then the Corral, to see who was there and what was happening. If I didn’t find anyone interesting, it was up the main street and back down again, looking for something to get into. One of our favorite things to get into was the drag-racing on the old Tram Road. It was way out in the country and had a quarter-mile marked on the pavement. I was there many times, both as a racer and as an observer. I never saw anyone have an accident there. Of course, in the ‘50s there were fewer innocent bystanders driving the backroads and the cars we raced seldom got to any really high speeds in the quarter mile. But then there were the top-end races out on the Wakulla Road. Even farther out of town and more secluded, this was a stretch of road about 10 miles long where we went to race at full speed until one driver out-distanced the other or the end of the road came into sight. I only went out there a couple of times, probably because it was somewhat dangerous despite the fact that it was secluded. When you’ve got two cars, side-by-side, at speeds over 120, I guess you’re an accident looking for a place to happen. But we loved our cars, the speed, and the competition – just lucky nobody ever got hurt.
On the other end of town was Mutt & Jeff’s – closest to the High School and the most popular for lunch. It was more like Happy Days’ Al’s Drive-In than any of the others in town. For about an hour around noon every day, it was a challenge just to get in and out of the place, much less to get food and still return to school on time. There was a daily battle to see who could get there first, eat, and then return to school in time for the fourth period class. Some of us were usually able to escape from class early enough to be able to beat most of the crowd over there – but the real challenge was choosing a route that avoided the red lights and stop signs.
Did I mention that cars were king in the 1950s? I sure thought so, anyway. My car through High School was the 1951 Studebaker, which I spent many hours on – painting, repainting, “customizing” by removing chrome, door handles, trunk handle, replacing the grille with chrome bars, etc. It had dual exhausts, made a lot of noise, but wouldn’t do much over 80 mph. I think I probably put 10 or 20 thousand miles on it, just running paper routes during those years. I’m not too sure about that, since the odometer quit soon after I got it and I don’t think I ever got that fixed. In those days, I never really cared how far I’d gone and all the travel was just around Tallahassee anyway. After High School, I put in a year of college, then quit and went to work as a mailman. With my newfound wealth (Post Office was paying $7 an hour then), I fairly quickly went through two 1956 Fords, a 1959 Pontiac, a 1959 Oldsmobile, and a 1962 Volvo.
The Volvo took me on my first trip around the USA in 1962. With its fold-down seats to provide me with a bed, I went from coast-to-coast without ever spending a night in a hotel. I ate mostly cheeseburgers, cokes, and peanuts and had a ball! In 27 days and for $300, I covered parts of Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington DC, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York (slept at a parking meter in Greenwich Village), across Canada to Detroit, through Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington (went to 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle), Oregon, and Nevada. Stopped in Elko, Nevada and won $400 on a 50-cent slot machine – paid for the entire trip! From there, I went to Utah, Colorado, Arizona, where I lived in Phoenix for 3 months. Then homeward bound through New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and back to Florida. That’s 25 states and somewhere over 10,000 miles for less than $400 – I didn’t know how fortunate I was to be able to do it then. That same trip now would cost what? Around $4000? Of course, now I’ve graduated from folding down the seats to sleep, to sliding out the slideouts and connecting the electricity and water, but the scenery is still just as amazing and the travel just as exciting!
The 1960s were a time of tumultuous protesting, the anti-war movement, the peace movement, flower children, and beatniks. Best place to be in the ‘60s? College! I spent a couple of years in the Air Force, got out before getting sucked into the Viet Nam war, then returned to Tallahassee in 1965 to finish college. I had already spent my time as a sort of beatnik, growing a semblance of a goatee and going to coffee houses, etc. I also figured that spending a night in Greenwich Village in 1962 had qualified me as at least a junior-level beatnik. By the time I got out of the service and back into college, I was intent on finishing school and starting a career, so kind of watched the beatniks and movements and protests from the fringe. I graduated in 1968. On my birthday that year, May 4th, the terrible Kent State confrontation with the National Guard happened. Made me glad I’d stayed on the fringe.
When was the best time to be starting a career in computers? I think it was the 1970s. When I graduated in 1968, I was working on a CDC 6500, one of the first really powerful computers that took a step past the wiring boards of the early IBMs. I got hired by a contractor on the NASA Apollo Project in Houston and really rode the crest of the high-tech wave that put men on the moon in 1969. I was there when the first interactive computers were introduced, when we began “talking” to computers over telephone lines, when we started to link many computers together to get big jobs done more quickly, and when we saw the first interactive color graphics. The ‘70s were THE decade for computer innovation and were the glory years for those of us lucky enough to have chosen hardware or software development as a career. It’s true that computers existed earlier in the 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s, and desktop innovations happened later in the 1980s, but it was the 1970s when the early inventions were first put to real use and when those applications provided the foundation for the many innovations that have followed. In the ‘70s, we took the computer from being an electronic brain that only appeared in science fiction books and movies, to a necessary, highly useful product that merited the expenditure of large amounts of dollars and hours to improve its speed, power, portability, and usability.
So, to recap, the 1940s were the best decade to start life in, the 1950s were the best decade to be a teenager in, the 1960s were the best decade to go to college in, and the 1970s were the best time to start a high tech career. Could things get any better? Yup.
Here I am, going along in the 1980s, happily advancing in my computer software career, when I get this great idea to retire and travel for awhile. Could I do it and still continue to advance my career? Sure, it’s the ‘80s! We can talk to computers over phone lines – all I need is a method to do it. Well, I was a couple of years too early for desktop computers. When I decided to travel in 1984, IBM was just putting together their first PC and the Apple boys were just hatching their Macintosh ideas. I didn’t know that, however, so I put together my own portable system using what was available to me at that time. Joyce and I had just gotten together in late 1983, had discussed the travel idea, and went out and bought a 1984 Allegro 23’ Class A motorhome. I had a computer terminal that only needed a phone connection to work with the VAX computers back at the office. So I got a 100’ phone cord and an acoustic coupler that would work on a payphone and off I went! I was retired and traveling! We’d stop near a payphone in the middle of nowhere, string out the phone line, hook up the modem, and I could communicate with the computers and the people back at the office for as long as I needed to get a job done. It wasn’t anything compared to what you can do today with the internet, but if I’d been a few years earlier, it
wouldn’t have been possible at all. Once again, it was the best decade – the best decade for retiring and jumping into an RV and traveling around, keeping in touch by computer to make a couple of bucks now and then.
In late 1984, I “unretired” and returned to work in Santa Barbara, California. I had learned enough about retirement to know that I needed a little more money, a retirement past-time, and a plan to get there. In 1985, I saw my first desktop Apple Macintosh computer and was fascinated. Here was the machine I needed to be able to stay computerized while I traveled in the RV. I quickly became a devout Apple follower and published my first book using the amazing Apple Macintosh computer. I ultimately moved over to a PC, as did most of the computing world, but I still have a place in my heart for the Macintosh. But I digress … what was so great about living and working in the ‘80s? Again, it was the innovation relative to computers. Here I was, a computer geek since the ‘60s, and computers were quickly becoming one of the world’s major tools for communication, calculation, entertainment, and many other purposes that hadn’t even been identified yet. I was on the ground floor of the greatest influence to the future of the world since the invention of the wheel – or at least I think it was/is. Every household is getting one or more desktop computers, every office in the world is depending on them, and I have the distinction of being one of the original computer geeks. What could be better? Answer – the internet!
The ‘80s might have been the best decade for jumping into an RV with a computer and the best time to be a geek who knows computers, but the ‘90s were even better. I had retired again in 1992, then decided to unretire in 1995 – just in time to learn all about the internet! And what came with the internet? – online access to the stock market! As we came to the close of the ‘90s, I thought once again how lucky I was to have lived when I did. The ‘90s were the perfect time for someone yearning for retirement and travel. By 1999, I had retired again, had been playing the market online and making some really good money, and was in the midst of creating websites, just knowing I was going to discover some great way to make bundles of cash off of the internet. As I celebrated New Years 2000 in Las Vegas (read about it in my Travel Log on the Retirement Tips website), I could see a great future – we had settled in a fantastic area of Florida, we had the RV paid for, traveling when we wanted to, IRA increasing nicely, what could go wrong .. go wrong .. go wrong? (phrase plagiarized from 2001 – A Space Odyssey) … read on.
The 1990s were indeed a great time for planning and implementing retirement. Although it took me a couple of times, I think I finally got it right in 1999. Except for one minor detail – I didn’t know we were going to have the longest Bear market in the history of Wall Street! Maybe the ‘00s aren’t going to be the best time to be starting a retirement that depends on IRA money – poppy-cock! Remember what I said back at the start of this chapter? Just about anything can be accomplished with the right attitude and dedication. Add to that the belief that humans thrive on challenges – well, now we’ve got a few. I weathered the Bear market largely due to being able to do much more consulting work than I had originally anticipated. This was possible for me largely due to the ready availability of the internet, my access to an RV, and some very accommodating employers. The internet makes it possible for me to do much of the consulting remotely out of my home or RV. The RV makes it very convenient to go park outside the office door whenever necessary. And, of course, the accommodating employers are necessary to allow me to work in this manner. Once again, if it wasn’t for the availability of the technology, it wouldn’t be possible. If it was the early ‘90s instead of the early ‘00s, I’d probably be stuck back in an office by now. As it is, I can get the work done while still enjoying most of the benefits of retirement.
So here we are – the 1940s generation have lived in the best of all times because:
• 1940s: Best decade to start life in
• 1950s: Best decade to be a teenager in
• 1960s: Best decade to go to college in
• 1970s: Best decade to start a high tech computer career in
• 1980s: Best decade for jumping into an RV, traveling around staying in touch by computer, best for being a computer geek, and starting retirement planning
• 1990s: Best decade for planning and implementing retirement
• 2000s: Who knows?
Now I’m in my 60s and it’s the first decade of the 21st century. What can I possibly come up with that makes this the best decade to be in? Well, if things continue as they are, there may be some great medical innovations coming along that allow us to live longer and healthier -- innovations that wouldn’t have been available a decade ago. We appear to be coming out of the long Bear market, there appear to be health care reforms on the horizon, the senior generation continues to gain political clout, and drug manufacturers continue to invent new pills for all kinds of maladies, including an improved version of Viagra and various health-enhancing drugs. And we’re not even halfway through the decade yet. I guess we’ll see – maybe I’ll ramble a little more about that in my next book, 20 years from now … LOL. Speaking of Rambling, check out the next chapter of that 20-years book.
Well, I was 63 when I wrote the above article and now I'm79. Not quite the 20 years promised above, but 7 is good as it's the end of the 2nd decade of the 2000's. Note that the 1990s above are mentioned as “Best decade for planning and implementing retirement” - and I did. My final retirement was in 1999 and I've managed to stay retired for 21 years – well, sort of semi-retired. I still do websites for about 70 people, but I refer to it a a “hobby” for tax purposes. Due to a very astute accountant and close management of expenses, I've managed to pay zero income taxes since 1999. One of my “goals in life for a long time”.
The 00s started off great! I was doing a lot of computer consulting for a lot of money requiring (I thought) very little effort. Thanks to my employer and my accountant, we were able to buy the best house that I ever owned in 2002 – 3BR, 2BATH, 1800 sq. ft.with big yard and nice screened pool in the back yard, a new 36' Damon Class A RV in 2003, and a 2003 Mitsubishi convertible. Living well and enjoying life! We continued to check out mountain homes on the internet and in 2010, bought a 1927 log cabin on the main street in Mentone, Alabama, the highest town in Alabama on Lookout Mountain. For two years, we kept the Rockedge home and traveled to Mentone now and then. When we weren't there, we had a realtor handle rental of the cabin. When there, we'd just move in for however long we wanted to stay. Then, In 2012, we got a real good offer on the house, so we sold it and moved to Mentone. Opened a weekend art gallery in the cabin and showed works from Joyce and others. In 2015, we decided that shopping, doctors, etc. were just to far away, so we sold the cabin and moved to a condo in Boynton Beach, Florida – our last move? And, by the way, all of our transactions were completed over the internet, with no face-to-face needed.
So, now I have a recliner with automatic controls to raise and lower it, my 47” flat-screen across the room houses both my TV and my computer, and I'm pretty much happy as a lark. From there, I can watch TV, Netflix and Amazon Prime movies, play online poker, and build websites.
AND, definitely the most significant innovation in the 10s decade and perhaps in all history was the introduction of the smart phone. I'm in my 70s and the old memory isn't what it once was. However, my phone can remember almost anything I need, from the nearest pizza restaurant to any trivia that I'm interested in, with very little effort. For example, I saw a picture that I thought looked like an old movie star and couldn't think of his name. Without the phone, that would have bothered me until I remembered the guy's name. Simple with the phone - I asked “what was the TV show with 3 ladies running a design company in Atlanta? (Designing Women)”, who were the stars of Designing Women? (Delta Burke and two others), who was Delta Burke married to? (Gerald McRaney) – so, that's the guy I was looking for! .. LOL :) Without that phone, I'd be lost ...
So, I guess the add-ons are:
• 2000s: Best time to explore retirement options using online capabilities; travel and have fun while you're able, as health and financial problems may be on the horizon; learn to use the internet
• 2010s: The flat-screen and all that goes with it are great, but I think the best innovation in this decade was the phone that knows all the answers;
Maybe more later – one never knows ...