Russ Gifford
Power To the People

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Power to the People - Prologue


PROLOGUE | In the Beginning - 1950s | The Trip - 1960's | Paying the Piper - 1970s |
The Right Turn - 1980s | Denial - 1990s | The Forever War - 2000s | Hope and ? - 2010s | EPILOGUE |

"Who can say where it all began..."
 - Billy Joel,
In No Man's Land 

PROLOGUE – Life, the Universe, and Everything: The Boomers

Marketing, music, and mayhem have always followed the Boomers. Join me as we set the Wayback Machine for the 1950s to follow the largest single cohort of kids as they come of age in the 1950s. Eventually, we will trace their path through the second half of the 20th century. We will watch the Boomers come of age, see what they see, hear what they hear, and try to understand how we reached the impasse we see in 2021.

This is the story of 'Power to the People.'

Change is Gonna Come

Forget the concept that Fifties were a time of calm - it was the beginning of a whirlwind of technical, social, and historic change that would sweep across America. The Baby Boomers, TV, and the new version of radio all grew up together. These changes in technology rapidly came to link all the citizens of the country. TV showed them all the same shows and the majority had similar experiences. It is no surprise that the majority saw the world the in a similar way. We had a shared history, and we were thrilled with it.
here for Mickey Mouse Club)

Technology zoomed past every expectation in the 1950s. It would evolve from radio to television. Phones and electricity became a basic staple in American households. The power of instant communication would soon change not only the type of work we do, but where we lived, and the methods of entertainment. As we know now, it would soon change the way we see and understand news, and thus, how we learn.

In that generational evolution, it would rapidly come into conflict with the long accepted 'rules of order' that defined society at that time. And those results would literally be explosive, and life changing. That conflict comes to light in the 1950s, as rock and roll commands attention, and the spotlight.

All that happened before the digital revolution we think of today! By the way - it is in the 1950s that the first computers were entering business - and rapidly changing how business is done by bringing more data to the decisions makers. Did you know the first people to actually interact with computers on a large scale were women? It required a keyboard to type the cards that computers could read, and precision was everything on those keypunch card systems. Since women were the ones who could type, and do so quickly and accurately, the job fell to women. In the earliest research era of computers, there were actually women programmers, too.   

(click here for computers in business)

Kids Everywhere

As we tuned into TV, TV tuned in on us. We saw ourselves in the shows, and we liked it. The focus on kids would lead the new medium of television to provide outlets for kids in the form of easy productions that attracted participants and viewers. (Below – early clip from Canyon Kid's corner, KVTV. Yes, that is who you think it is.)Jerry Mathers on Canyon Kid (with Jim Henry)

As there was generally only one TV set in most houses at this time, if the kids were watching a show, the parents were likely watching with them. And parents were no more immune to the new commercial pitches than the kids. It was a new world then, and the performers in the shows often took a commercial break and broke the '4th wall' of the performance studio to directly talk with the audience and pitch their sponsor's goods. It worked well on us kids. Of course, our parents were not immune to the impact, either. (click here for Ozzie and Harriet Commercial)

Not only did TV change the buying habits, but it changed how Americans saw each other - and how they saw themselves. TV showed us ourselves, and we didn't always like what we saw.

On some levels it was respectful. (click here for See It Now)

At times, it was showcasing the rustic rube in the rural areas.

And at others times, it showcased all too well the nasty nature of society.

(Below – early Sit-In protesting lunch counters refusal to seat or serve Blacks at lunch counters. People turned out to humiliate and abuse the protestors. This scene would escalate to one sided violence within moments.)

It is an important point, though: the Boomers will make their decisions on a stage where their choices - and their feelings - will be transmitted to everyone else. Indeed, the whole world is watching.

In this course we will follow this generation through their tumultuous struggle to take the reigns of power, and what that new version of the future looks like. Of course, we will also see the generations that will also take the stage as they mature. But this generation, the Boomers, will face the challenge of matching what they were taught with the reality of how things are. Their responses, and their reactions, will reverberate through the decades -- and influence those that follow.

The Baby Boomers face a tough time, as they refuse to flinch: They work to come to grips with 'making it real.' That was their mantra from the 1960s -- 'get real.' That meant a demand for honesty, for truth. Today, we would speak of transparency - and they still do -  as they were determined to carry that flag, that dedication to truth as they saw it forward into their adult years. They had been taught the Constitution said that ALL men (and presumably women) are created equal. They intended to hold it to its word. 

But sharing the vote would mean giving up some of the power. That becomes harder and harder as more and more groups with different viewpoints demand their share of the stage.

Well, sharing is only difficult because those different groups have different views. As they are surprised to find, women and minorities did not necessarily experience the same end results. They want to make a different choice, in hopes of a different outcome. Some will have trouble making that transition. 

Too, each decade that passes means new people participate in the vote, and their formative years seem to be much different than the Boomers. Challenges amass as the years mount.

But all of this lies ahead. Right now, grab an ice cold Coca Cola out of that new fangled refrigerator (click here for Ozzie and family and Coca Cola!) and let's step into the Wayback Machine! We are heading back to the 1950s, perhaps where it all started!

Join Russ Gifford for a trip through America from 1950 to 2020, as these stresses build, and technology continues to magnify the differences, rather than the shared history they once held as a given.

While the session titles use the Presidents as touchstones, the subtitles embrace the real story, as the singers and the poets of this new generation recount the journey of the largest single group of children from coming of age in 1965 to their pending retirement years later.

In those 50 event-filled years, we will follow the generation 'Born to Be Wild' as they transition from 'outsiders demanding change' to 'insiders in charge.'

NEXT CHAPTER -- In the Beginning - The 1950s - Click HERE

PROLOGUE | In the Beginning - 1950s | The Trip - 1960's | Paying the Piper - 1970s |
The Right Turn - 1980s | Denial - 1990s | The Forever War - 2000s | Hope and ? - 2010s | EPILOGUE |

       “His ratings were the highest for our entire season of 12 workshops, and far eclipsed those for the previous season. He created a fantastic class, and people left feeling empowered.” -- Dr. Lynn Barteck, Tri State Graduate Center

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