Cumberland Times-News

March 8, 2014

Beatles return us to what might have been

Maude McDaniel, Columnist
Cumberland Times-News

— Here’s a a free gift from Goldy (to your left), and it should get us going with a good laugh, that both my readers will approve of. Then, after that (fair warning) I am going to turn a little sour.

Do you remember the famous Olympic skier, Picabo (pronounced Peekaboo) Street? Well, she’s not just an athlete; she’s a nurse now working in the Intensive Care Unit of a large metropolitan hospital. She is not permitted to answer telephones any more It caused too much confusion when she would answer the phone and say, “Picabo, ICU.”

I really do hope that one is true.

Okay, now I’m just going to have to go ahead and be serious and a little ill-natured and nasty, my real self, for a change.

It’s the Beatles that did it. Seeing that Beatles celebration a couple weeks ago really got my goat. Because when I think of the Beatles, I think of something that no one else seems to think about. Or maybe it’s just because no one else really noticed at the time.

I think the Beatles did something really underhanded. (Although, I’ll admit, they probably didn’t realize what they were doing.) I believe that the Beatles began the process that helped their generation steal the future from my generation.

There! I said it! Never thought I would but I did!

And stop fussing! I haven’t even explained what I mean, and, already you’re fussing. Oh that’s right. One of the two of you is from the Beatles generation and you never thought of it this way before, did you?

Well, I have. For a long time, I have secretly accused the Baby Boomers of “Future Theft.”

Let me explain. My generation actually was the tail end of the one that won World War ll. sometimes called the Greatest Generation. So closely that we didn’t have a name of our own — we were just loosely bundled in with the World War ll era. And, indeed, we shared the mindset of that generation, because we lived in much of the same time. I was a young teenager when World War ll ended, and had grown up through the whole public experience of fighting for the right, and winning yet! After which our job was to rebuild a nation that was worthy of what the Greatest Generation had sacrificed itself for, the hard-won peace, accomplished in the American Way of justice and goodwill to all.

And I remember how sincerely my generation absorbed many of these lessons of World War II and prepared itself to take over from the GG, and prove itself faithful to them. The world’s future looked golden, with the United States in a position to implement what we had learned, and to continue to learn more of them that the GG had missed along the way, or else just didn’t have the time to put into practice. (Like the civil rights lesson, for instance.)

And, if I remember rightly, we couldn’t wait! There was a lot of hard work ahead, but we were up to it. Because, by the fifties and sixties, we were the very next generation — and we were in charge! And we were going to build on the last generation’s hard sacrifice, and work.

Yes, well, originally, we were.

Then the Beatles came along and jumped the line for everybody. They said “Niener, niener,” and started the country in a whole different direction. Suddenly my generation looked weak and snivelly, not up to being as adaptive as the Baby Boomers thought you had to be to change the world. We were too polite. We were too focused on run-of-the-mill, boring old morality. We were the end of the Greatest Generation, and all that outdated stuff.

We never planned to change the world, just get it to work as well as it could.

But the Beatles generation considered itself far more capable than we tail-enders were, the gentle nothings that brought up the rear of the Greatest Generation. What the world needed, said the Baby Boomers, was to be Modern. Never mind what kind of Modern. Modern manners. Modern muscle. Modern morals. Modern music. Modern military. Modern mountains. Modern molehills. Only Modern would do the trick.

And “modern” meant anything that didn’t sound like it was born before 1964.

The whole world changed, and would never be the same again. And we were robbed of our share in shaping it.

There. See? My face is red. I can still get really riled up about this and it was 50 years ago!

Anyway, the upshot was that they won, and we slunk into the past with our tails between our legs. The whole world changed, although not exactly in the ways we had modestly planned for it. And the Beatles marked the start of that different world.

No use crying over it. But the spilt milk was never cleaned up.

So you can see why the Beatles didn’t do a thing for me when they reappeared last week.

Maude McDaniel is a Cumberland freelance writer. Her column appears on alternate Sundays in the Times-News.