Before World War II, most American families lived in a single room, often without running water, let alone electricity. Millions were plunged into such conditions by the Great Depression, and this scarred people for life. It was reflected in their attitude toward living, toward money, and toward pleasure. It is the nearly universal experience of this nation’s immigrants.
My American baby boom generation is a product of those attitudes. We grew up in rooms as big as many of our parents’ houses, surrounded by luxuries they could not have imagined when they were kids. We took what was needed for granted, and grabbed for what we wanted. Our parents gladly indulged us, living vicariously, conscious that life is short, that time is fleeting, and hoping it would render us generous, grateful, and loving in our turn.