Living layer by layer


Boomer Blog - Shirley Scott



How does a girl celebrate her birth? With family photos, of course! Anna Joyce Passarelli was posing with Daddy David, Mommy Kelsey, and Brother Sam, when a bunch of Faulkners showed up. Grandma Zoe and Grandpa Lenny were all smiles, as was Aunt Shelby. Aunt Kirby brought the triplet cousins and their little sister. Each visitor in turn soloed photographically with the star of the moment. But most dearly, Great-grandmother Joyce cradled her namesake gently in her arms. Lots of generational layers at that first photo session – that’s just how it is in families!

TRUISM: “Generations remember the past, create the present, inspire the future.” (Kelly Tareski)

Members of any youngest generation probably do not understand the concept until an even younger group joins them in society. It is sometime later, when the kids we taught to think for themselves start thinking for themselves, that old heads start shaking and young eyes go rolling: surefire signs of generation gap.

Teaching at my alma mater for so many years, I watched various generational waves sweep through the halls of GHS. At first, I taught the siblings of my classmates before their children began to arrive. I was taken aback when Kelly Evans-Wilson became the first of many students to inform me I had had her mother as a student. And on the first day of my last teaching year a young man introduced himself as the great-grandson of one of my mother’s cousins. I knew right then I had made the proper retirement decision.

I also became colleagues with several former students, a few of whom delighted in emphasizing my transformation from rookie to grandmother figure with “back in your day.” Case in point: dearly-departed but ever-the-prankster Brent Parke gleefully reported that after joking with his math class about my prehistoric year of graduation, one student took him to task, “That’s not nice, Mr. Parke. Miss Scott went to school with my grandpa.” By the way, I also had Brent’s mother in my class: the ever-proper Cheryl Rose Parke!

TRUISM: “Parents wondering where the younger generation is going should remember where it came from.” (Sam Ewing)

Naming the generations began early in the 20th century to describe the effects of two world wars on the Lost Generation and the Silent Generation. Journalist Tom Brokaw most likely retroactively named the next group in his 1998 book, The Greatest Generation. But the 76 million of us born during the “Post War Baby Boom” became aptly-named Boomers as our parents needed houses for us to live in and suburbs for those houses, schools for us to learn in – and shopping malls!

We Boomers are not always appreciative of the Millennials, who seem to have crowded us out a bit – since we all survived Y2K to arrive unscathed in the 21st century. Of late, however, generational names have become confusing at best and definitely uninspiring. The mishmash of X-Y-Z means nothing to me, and everyone born since 2013 belongs to the Alpha Generation. I think the hurricane-naming people may have taken over!

My niece-in-law belongs to a Millennial sub-group: she is a Geriatric Millennial because she was born in the early years of that group. Sounds oxymoronic to me. I, too, was born in the early years of my generation, perhaps making me a Geriatric Boomer. No oxymoron there: – just a double-age-whammy!

TRUISM: “Each generation will reap what the former has sown.” (Chinese Proverb)

We often apply the word generation to situations other than groups born during specific years. Younger Boomers, of which I am not one, have been referred to as the Me Generation with their focus on self-involvement over civic responsibility. Many Boomers find themselves members of the Sandwich Generation, simultaneously caring for aging parents and their own offspring.

I have, however, run across two new terms: some generations are digital natives, others are digital immigrants. My Millennial niece-in-law, well-versed in the concept, explained that members of her generation are digital natives because they were born into and have grown up in a world based on technology. As a digital immigrant, I was born into a world of typewriters and rotary phones and began my trek through technology by depending on my toddler nephews to change TV stations with the remote whenever I babysat. Think about all those teeny-tiny Alpha kids nowadays already operating their parents’ Smartphones!

TRUISM: “Each generation imagines itself more intelligent than the one before it, and wiser than the one who follows.” (George Orwell)

I recently enjoyed another one of those four-generation photographs, although I was not really thinking about Boomers or Millennials or Alphas. I saw Rita Zerkle and wondered about the influences throughout her life that created the person she has become, so beloved by her family and community. Seated next to Rita was daughter Roxanne Shively, former-student-now-dear-friend. Roxanne has seen the world, including a few times with me. She and husband Bart mean so much to so many, helping folks navigate sad and difficult life events. Roxanne’s daughter was also present. Before she became Jessica McConville, she was also a student of mine. Since then, she and husband Cole have introduced their daughter Estella to life on the West Coast.

No one can definitively say what will shape Estella – and Anna Joyce – and all the other little Alphas, but from experience we know that a major influence will be living in layers with their families.

Boomer Blog

Shirley Scott

Shirley Scott, a 1966 graduate of Graham High School, is a native of Champaign County. After receiving degrees in English and German from Otterbein College, she returned to GHS in 1970 where she taught until retiring in 2010. From 1976-2001 she coordinated the German Exchange Program with the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Springe.

Shirley Scott, a 1966 graduate of Graham High School, is a native of Champaign County. After receiving degrees in English and German from Otterbein College, she returned to GHS in 1970 where she taught until retiring in 2010. From 1976-2001 she coordinated the German Exchange Program with the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Springe.