The Hulking Generation Gap

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I were playing a trivia board game with our fifteen year old son.  Our son is a bit competitive and usually beats us when it comes to geography and presidential history, but he wasn’t so happy when he pulled this card:


Name a character from Hogan’s Heroes.


“Come on,” he said sounding annoyed.  “I don’t watch this reality TV stuff . . .ugh, okay fine, Hulk Hogan.”


An American TV show featuring spandex clad wrestler, Hulk Hogan, in charge of  a crew of Allied prisoners in a POW camp?


My husband and I laughed, but it was an honest mistake considering Hogan’s Heroes started airing before we were all born. But the next time we played that game, this card came up:


Name a comic character Johnny Carson played on The Tonight Show.


My son’s response?

“Who’s Johnny Carson?”

It was a little astonishing that he didn’t have any reference for the thirty year host of The Tonight Show.  Johnny Carson was such a fixture in my house from the time I was a kid until right before I got married.


Generation Gap:  A chasm, amorphously situated in time and space, that separates those who have grown up absurd from those who will, with luck, grow up absurd. 

~Bernard Rosenberg, Dictionary for the Disenchanted, 1972


You know what else is absurd?  My kids don’t know what a library card catalog is . . .


 The card catalog and paper–the two things I needed to do a school report when I was a kid.  No Google.


And (*sigh*) they don’t even know how to use a cassette tape, the pain of it unraveling, or the power of a pencil in that respect.


Both my kids do however know the 17th century stockade:


Captive in Colonial Williamsburg

 This is one way to bridge the generation gap.


However, I am grateful that my kids know not only what a library is, but the feel and smell of actual books.  That even though they listen to their music via iPods, I am happy that they know the power of music.

So they may not know the once famous fixtures of bygone decades,  but I am glad that they find some significance in their family–at least enough to sit down with them and play a game.


 There is nothing wrong with today’s teenager that twenty years won’t cure.  ~Author Unknown


What gaps do you see in the generation before or after you?


28 thoughts on “The Hulking Generation Gap

  1. Ho my, how many times did I wish for stocks when my kids were growing up. sigh tee hee You make a great point. Kids today are aghast when you tele them a phone used to be fastened to the wall, or that you remember life before the internet. was there life before the internet? I’m not sure anymore…. 🙂


    1. The internet is the great divide. I try to explain to my kids what life was like before and they cannot even grasp it. At least all the info from decades past can be found somewhere on the internet–probably on wikipedia. Ha ha.


  2. Even though I know who Johnny Carson is and what Hogans Heroes is, I would not have been able to answer those questions. One of my favorite generation gap moments was when my mom asked for Oleo in a restaurant and the waitress was totally baffled!


  3. My kids were worried about the delay of a flight they were taking and were flummoxed when the airline’s internet site was down! We all laughed when I suggested the phone – it hadn’t occurred to them. And I still have a book I bought in 1990: All the Sites on the Internet. It was a ‘For Dummies’ publication. to think i have more power in my smart phone than we had in our first 5 computers combined.

    big change i think is technology. I can’t imagine what the world will be like in 20 years.


  4. I’m still waiting for the flying car! To me it’s truly amazing to look at my great grandmother’s generation and realize she came to Texas on a covered wagon. Truly. And before she died she left it on a plane. THAT is amazing. I wonder, when we have great grandkids, will we be able to say something similar. Beam me up Scotty! 😀


  5. My daughter is 7. She didn’t have to learn to tie shoes, and I don’t think she could if she had to. All her shoes are velcro.

    Once, she asked me if I had a computer when I was her age (b/c she has her own laptop by default). I told her, not until I was about 12. And it was giant with a blue screen. She looked at me from the couch, laptop on her lap, and her jaw literally dropped.

    She’ll never know what a card catalogue is either.

    I know who Johnny Carson is, and I could make a guess at one of his guests, but I did not see any of his shows . 🙂


  6. Too funny! I often feel on the lesser end of the situation at my critique class. They are always mentioning movies and music that I have never heard of, mostly because the starts are long since dead. But, then they have no idea about 90’s pop culture. They’re like who is TLC? So, the older generation and the younger generation are in the same boat, as if they just missed my generation all together.


  7. I would never have got them right either. And absurd is a very poignant word for me this week lol. Have a great week!


  8. There are only four years between hubby and I but it happens all the time. Likely because I grew up in the country and my parents didn’t really dig TV. Hubby will mention some TV show he grew up watching and I’ll go blank – never heard of it. It drives him batty. LOL!


  9. Hard to keep up with the changes. I started writing a book with the MC “flipping his cell phone closed.” Had to edit to read “clicked off his Droid/iPhone.” I better finish this thing before technology takes another leap.


  10. Oh Colleen – what a fabulous post! I was laughing my head off. I don’t have any children of my own but I do have nieces and nephews who always amaze me with questions they ask.

    The card catalogue – that goes back a ways, and I loved the card catalogue. I wish my library still used it. I can never figure out those computer programs to try to find books. Sheesh! Why did they have to mess with a good thing that wasn’t broke to begin with? (sigh)

    I smiled to know that you play board games with your kids. That is fantastic! I wish more families spent that kind of time together. And that your children read and appreciate music.

    Very nice post! Thanks for sharing.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt


  11. Every once in a while, I receive an email from my brother with a list of things that happened before my birth or before my boys’ births. It’s so cool to make that connection and learn about something that went out of existence before our (or our kids) time. My kids don’t know what a manual typewriter feels like to type on.


  12. I have a running list of things that I think my son will never “know” about — negatives from film tops my list. I have a card catalog sitting behind my desk. Years ago, the library I used as a kid auctioned off several. My sister and I bid $102. It was two-sided, so we split the top piece and each took half. It has moved several times and across the country. Plus, served me in multiple ways for storage and for the memories.


  13. Sergeant Schultz. Colonel Klink. And Hogan. Sheesh. I feel old. I could go on, but will pretend I don’t remember more than that. 🙂

    Anyone remember when there were no microwaves?

    Thanks for a good laugh, Coleen.


    1. We didn’t have a microwave (or color TV) in our house until I was 15. I remember my mom borrowed a microwave for a party once a few years before that–it was definitely a Jetsons moment for us! Ha ha.
      And I recognize all those character names from Hogan’s Heroes–my dad said I used to like to march to the theme song in front of the TV when I was a toddler. 🙂


  14. All of these made me laugh until the card catalog – that made me cry. 😦


    Here’s my story:

    While teaching rising 9th graders summer school grammar, one of them asked, “Who sings that song that goes ‘You spin me right round baby, right round…” and another said: “Flo Rida.”

    the 80s just died


  15. I’ve had several incidents just like that with my own children. Scary and amazing at the same time. Scary because we’re getting old (and yes, I do remember Hogan’s Heroes and Johnny Carson) and amazing because of all the wonderful innovations that have come along. Great post!


  16. I used to be so annoyed when my parents would smile and say about something I didn’t get – “oh, that was before your time” – I thought they were condescending. Now I realize, as I say this to my own kids, that it’s just a sort of nostalgic sadness.


  17. My kids think it’s funny that my mom used to think the microwave would explode and take out the entire block. I try to tell them that the first wave of microwaves were pretty darn scary, but not atom bomb scary. Still, they just have no idea, do they? Ah, Hogan’s Heroes. Did they ever make it out of that camp? I can’t remember.

    What a fun post!


  18. Since when did they start selling JUST the pajama pants. And what am I supposed to wear with them? Life was much simpler when pajamas came as matching sets. And you know, I heard that some day phones will have pictures when we talk to people.


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