January 2, 2024 at 12:05 a.m.
Guest Columnist

Ready Or Not, Here Come The Mid-20s

The third decade of the 21st century is no longer “new.”


TAMMY WILSON | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment
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It’s 2024 already. The third decade of the 21st century is no longer “new.”

I’m trying to absorb the fact that today’s 18-year-olds were born in 2006. They have no memory of life before the iPhone or Facebook or any president before Barack Obama.

They’ve always written current dates with a “20” prefix, or should I say, typed. Who writes longhand anymore?

The year 2024 will bring some notable anniversaries. The Normandy Invasion was 80 years ago, for anyone who can remember it. Seems only yesterday we were observing the 50th anniversary.

Now ponder this: It’s been 60 years since 1964, the year of the Civil Rights Act and the Beatles. We were still grieving the death of President Kennedy, though mystery shrouds the assassination to this day. You would have to be retirement age to remember Kennedy in real time.

2024 marks 50 years since the invention of the Rubix cube, release of the novel, “Jaws” and the resignation of President Nixon.  And a group called ABBA recorded “Waterloo,” an apt title for a year in which a lot of things went sour.

Believe it or not, it has been 30 years since we were introduced to Forrest Gump and Amazon, then a virtual bookstore operated from Jeff Bezos’ garage.  

Ten years ago, 2014, Russian-backed fighters moved into Crimea, a place most

considered part of Ukraine. A deadly conflict ensued. Sound familiar?

To add to the déjà vu, the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens, resulting in an Israeli offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, which goes to show how yesterday’s headlines are today’s news.

Today’s 30-somethings might remember what life was like before personal computers and cell phones were common, but they probably don’t.

The year I turned 30, my employer offered early retirement to those 55 and older. I looked around and saw these gleeful people signing up for a pension and thought they were pretty darned old.  Now, the youngest Baby Boomers are 60, and I’m not sure how this happened. Time keeps accelerating, it seems.

It brings to mind a talk by the late N.C. author Reynolds Price. When he was born in 1933, his 65-year-old grandparents knew some ex-slaves.

I scratched my head at the time, but quickly I realized that of course he was right. When I was born in the 1950s, a handful of Civil War veterans were still living. The last confirmed veteran from either side was a man named Albert Woolson who died in 1956. I didn’t know him, but my toddler self could have if we had lived in Duluth, MN.

History touches us from all sides. Growing up I often heard that my grandparents saw more change than I would ever see in my lifetime. Why they had gone from horse and buggy to Man on the Moon! Yet NASA sent Neil Armstrong to the moon using less computing power than can be found in today’s average automobile.

Over the years, I’ve thought of my parents who died in 1999 and 2002. Neither ever took their shoes off to board a plane. Neither one ever heard of Smartphones or Satellite radio or would have considered it preposterous to buy water in plastic bottles.

My mother, who grew up ordering clothes and household items from the Sears & Roebuck catalog, loved receiving packages in the mail or picking up her order at the Sears store in our small town. Eventually the catalog agencies were considered old-fashioned. Big box stores and the mall were the thing. And major retailers such as Sears ceased publishing their once-popular catalogs.

Fast forward to the 2000s.

These days, brick-and-mortar stores are closing in droves. Hickory’s Sears store closed in 2020. As of last month, only 13 full-line Sears/Kmart stores remained open, down from about 3,500 of them when the two retailers merged in 2005.

Change, like time, waits for no man…or woman.

---Tammy Wilson is a writer who lives near Newton. Her books include “Going Plaid in a Solid Gray World” (Redhawk Publications), a compilation from this column.



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