David Letterman’s retirement is an end for a generation

By now the whole world — well, at least the whole world that watches TV in the United States — knows that David Letterman is retiring. WOW. Excuse the pun, but it’s the end for a generation! As Kathy Mathews writes on ChicagoNow.com, for baby boomers, Letterman really was our guy.

I am a proud member of the baby boomer generation which is strictly classified as babies born between 1946 and 1964. That’s stretching it in my opinion, 18 years is too much for one generation, even one as terrific as mine. I think the true baby boomers were born in the 1950’s as the GI’s got home, got married and had kids. It was a great moment to be a child.

Our schools were overcrowded so they built new ones. Kids were everywhere so they created parks. Colleges were crowded so they built new dorms. By sheer numbers alone we were a force to be reckoned with and so we were the first generation to be given a name. Now they just give them letters, we had a two word moniker.

David Letterman

David Letterman

Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Oprah and Hillary Clinton were all baby boomers. Civil Rights, Rock and Roll, Informational Technology, Women’s rights, changes in politics and globalization were brought about by baby boomers. We thought we could change the world and in many ways we did

We left some tasks for the XYZ generations and it’s crazy to see how they complain about us. Like the peace love generation that we are, we brush it off.

In addition, we changed popular culture. We made blue jeans what they are today. Hair became more casual as did attire in general. Comedy changed as well and no one represented that better than David Letterman.

The David Letterman retirement and baby boomers are related. Across this country we are stepping down or aside. Or at the very least we are moving off center stage.

In our retirements many of us continue to work, produce and contribute. Take me for example. I taught for 35 years now I teach part time, blog and watch my granddaughter 3 days a week. I see myself as typical of my generation in some ways and different in others. It’s time to admit, I really don’t like jeans.

However, many Baby Boomers, like me, are really into their grandchildren. I see my generation being fully engaged in the grandparent role. We are down on the floor, at the recitals and providing the support system which we wished we had had.

David Letterman, the smirky former weatherman turned comedian turned talk show host, aged with his generation. He did things in a different way, like becoming a father late in life. He redefined comedy and talk shows and now he has announced that he’ll be gone in 2015. Gulp, we are getting old.

It’s a bit hard to see him move on. I felt edgy and cool watching Letterman. He was our guy, not the smooth Johnny Carson or cosmopolitan Dick Cavett but a regular Midwest person. He spoke to us and for us and now, he’s moving on.

Who knows what he will do next. I like to believe that it will be something his father didn’t do. It will be fun to see. Just a word to the wise, David, don’t start a quilting blog. We baby boomers have got that covered.

Sew happy!

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  1. I must be older than you. I remember watching Johnny Carson every night as a kid. That was part of my routine growing up. He was funny, but very smart. I guess I has stopped watching when Letterman came along. I know we boomers will stay active and I hope more of us start making our health a priority so that we age well. Thanks for the thoughtful post!

  2. Thank you for the post, it brought back so many fond memories. I was a Johnny Carson fan growing up. I liked his humor and watching him meant that I was up really late. I also remember the Steve Allen show as well. I personally do not care for the more acerbic and to me, almost mean spirited sense of humor that became Letterman’s trademark. Maybe the reason is that a number of years ago I went to one of his shows and found that I was more turned off seeing the difference between how he interacted with his guests on camera, than how he treated or ignored them during the commercial breaks. Many people however, did and do still enjoy his show. Regardless of my personal opinion, his retiring will be yet another milestone passed on this journey we call life.

  3. Good story. I think you pretty much nailed it! Though I would name SNL as the MOST representative of our generation’s funny bone, Letterman is right up there too. And no one should ever pigeon-hole our extremely diverse generation … some of us are retiring, some are still very much upwardly mobile; some are leaving center stage, others are still basking in the limelight; some are grandparents, some have small children. Like Letterman (and a host of other dads I see each day at my kid’s school), I became a dad after 50 and am enjoying my two kids (both are still under 10 years old) far more than my own father ever enjoyed his kids. Baby Boomers hear us roar!!

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