A couple of years ago, I wrote about my Grandma Ann Hacker. She’s always been a special lady, and she’s on the cusp of a very special event – her 90th birthday!
Just stop and think about that – 90 years old! I’m nearly halfway there, but I’d consider it a minor miracle if I made it that long. Grandma is just incredible though. The summer after I wrote my column, she moved from her house to a senior community. She’s still able to do everything for herself and has been talking about buying a new car. It’ll be very exciting to see all her family and friends celebrate her special day this weekend.
So what does it mean to become a nonagenarian? Grandma was born in 1926, a year that might not stick out in our history books, but one that was chock full of interesting events. For example, Winnie-the-Pooh was first published. That’s right, the lovable bear of Christopher Robin made his debut the same year as my grandma! Even cooler to me, Harper Lee was born the day before my grandma! Lee, who recently died, was the author of the greatest novel of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird. Other famous people born in 1926 included Hugh Hefner, famous playboy; Marilyn Monroe, famous heartthrob; and Fidel Castro, famous dictator of Cuba. On the other end of the spectrum, famous escape artist Harry Houdini died in 1926.
The first demonstration of a television set was performed early in 1926. Wow – Grandma’s been around as long as TV! Just like our kids can say the Internet has always been around, Grandma can claim television and her were always tuned in.
It was a big year for automobiles. Route 66 was created, running from Chicago to Los Angeles. Pontiac cars were first produced. The Kelly Blue Book was first published with car values. And Henry Ford first started the 40-hour work week for his employees. It was just a year later, in 1927, that the final Model T car rolled off the assembly line and Ford really started to diversify. But I guess we have Ford to thank for what our typical working time looks like 90 years later.
A few other important occurrences happened the year my grandma was born. Hirohito was crowned emperor of Japan. Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim the English Channel. Robert Goddard fired off the first liquid fuel rocket, leading to all the space exploration we have today. Just think about that: As long as the first steps of flying into space have been happening, Grandma was taking her first steps in the world as well.
My readers all know how much I despise standardized testing. Well, it all started back in 1926 when the first SAT test was administered to students in the United States. I don’t think President Calvin Coolidge or the rest of the government was responsible for it though. I’m pretty sure Grandma never took the SAT, but her intelligence is unsurpassed. Who needs a test to be smart?
The population of the United States in 1926 was 115 million people, compared to about 323 million people 90 years later. In other words, our country’s population has nearly tripled in the past 90 years. What might it be like 90 years from now? And think about that: there are babies being born right now who might live that long and look back at 2016 and what was happening. What will we have left them?
I know one thing that won’t be the same: the work ethic that Grandma and others of her generation have. These are hard-working folks who had to battle for everything they got growing up. It wasn’t too long into Grandma’s illustrious career as a person that the Great Depression hit. How many of us in our padded lifestyles would have lasted long back then? Not many, I’d wager.
An incredible woman, an incredible life. I have so much respect for Grandma. I know she’s lived her life to its fullest and is someone to look up to and emulate. If I’m lucky enough to live as long, it will be in no small part due to her influence. But I’m not satisfied. I keep telling Grandma I expect to be there to celebrate when she becomes a centenarian! And if you still see my face in this paper in ten years, you’d best believe I’ll have something to say about Grandma Ann again! Happy birthday, Grandma! I love you and can’t wait to celebrate with you now and for many years to come!
Word of the Week: This week’s word is petrichor, which means the pleasant smell that accompanies the first rain after a dry spell, as in, “The petrichor in the air was welcome in April, just in time for Grandma’s birthday.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!