Baby Boom, Beatles, and Beyond

Patricia M. Snell

2019 General Nonfiction Honorable Mention

© Copyright 2019 by Patricia M. Snell

Photo of one of Patricia's children.

This is a story of my experience in the overpopulated baby boom generation. It is also a story of love; imagined love, and a mother’s real love.

My husband and I are members of the baby boom generation. I am a boomer simply because of the incidental timing of my birth in 1951. My husband is an authentic boomer according to the strict definition of why there was a boom in babies. His father, and many other war veterans, came home from World War ll and started growing a family. In the years following World War ll, children were multiplying like rabbits.

It’s been 55 years since I was in junior high school. My memory of everything in junior high is that it was crowded. The baby boom generation rolled in and filled the school to capacity. There was standing room only in the classrooms. When no more desks could be crammed in, students were seated on a wide window ledge. These days, that would be considered child abuse and in violation of a safety code. 

The cafeteria was bursting at the seams with students and their noise. It was not a welcome place for a quiet girl like me. I stepped into the noise and slipped into one of the few empty seats. The girls around me were engaged in a spirited discussion. The all-important topic of their debate was, “Which Beatle do you love?” It was 1964. The Beatles had arrived in America and Beatlemania was in full swing. It was the responsibility of every adolescent girl to pick her favorite Beatle. Most girls decided they were “in love” with Paul. He was the cute one and the obvious choice. Some girls picked John, and a few zany girls chose Ringo. Paul would have been my choice, but I’ve never been one to follow the crowd. I like an underdog. I chose George because I felt sorry for him. No one else at my cafeteria table picked George as their favorite. He was “the quiet Beatle”. George and I had a connection. We were the quiet ones in a world full of noise. I convinced myself I was in love with George Harrison. I wanted to hold his hand and send all my love to him. In spite of the love I conjured up for George, I carried a torch for Paul. It was hard to resist that cute little Paul McCartney smile. Those thoughts seem silly now, but such were the imaginings of my 13-year-old self. In 1964 I really believed George Harrison needed my love. 

My suppressed desire to pick Paul as my favorite may have unintentionally influenced an important choice later in my life. Fast-forwarding to 1989, I had a son and I named him Paul. Did I have Paul McCartney in mind when I named my son Paul? If that was my thinking, it was not a deliberate thought. By 1989, my infatuation with the Beatles was a crazy thing in my past; something I believed in yesterday. If I did have a latent desire for a son with the Paul McCartney 1964 smile, my son fit the bill perfectly. See for yourself!

It is presumptuous to compare my son to Sir Paul McCartney. My son is not famous, has never been knighted, and has no special musical talent. But he played an important role in my life. I probably would not be typing this story if Paul had not been born into our family. When Paul was very young he was having trouble learning to talk. My concern for him and my experience as an elementary teacher naturally took over, and I thought of ways to encourage him to talk. One of the ways was to make little books with him. The books were simple, with a big picture and one word on each page. Paul’s vocabulary increased as he “read” the words in the books. He was motivated to make the books because he enjoyed using our first home computer and printer. As time went on, and Paul learned to say more and more words, our homemade books had more words on each page. Then, the words became sentences that told a story. Eventually, Paul lost interest in making the books, but I continued to write stories. My enjoyment of writing was born, and Paul’s enjoyment of anything related to computers was born. I still have some of those simple books. They remind me of my progress as a writer. I started with writing one word on a page, and progressed to writing more than one thousand words in this story. The simple books also remind me of my son’s progress in life. He started with a severe speech and language delay, and progressed to earning a Master of Science Degree in Software Engineering. Today, he has a successful career as a software engineer. Who would have thought those simple books could have such an impact on our lives?

We still have the Apple llc computer and ImageWriter printer that were used to make the books. The old computer and printer are stored in our attic. They have been replaced by more modern technology. Unfortunately, my computer skills have not progressed along with the newer computer. I rely on my son (and my husband) for computer knowledge that I lack. My son’s computer expertise surpassed my own a long time ago. Truth be told, any 10-year-old probably has more computer skills than this old baby boomer. 

Some of the old homemade books are stored in a dresser drawer. Once in a while, I look through them and reminisce about the fun we had making them. The books include such intriguing titles as, “In My Pocket”, “In My Room”, and “Paul Likes Dogs”. They are not great literature, but they have great value as family keepsakes.

George Harrison died without ever knowing he had me as a fan - little old me, a quiet girl, crowded into a tiny space at my junior high cafeteria table, eating my tuna sandwich, and convincing myself I “loved” George. Perhaps I should have named a son after George in memory of my imagined love. 

Here’s some baby boomer wisdom for you, my son. I’ve learned that imagined love is fleeting, and a mother’s real love is lasting. 

 P.S., I Love You

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