Getting to know you

Editorial Notebook

September 02, 2006|By Ann LoLordo

Memo to: The Class of 2010

From: The Faculty

Re: Mindset

Since 1998, two members of Beloit College in Wisconsin have provided its faculty with a list of 75 items (factoids, if you will) to acquaint professors and staff with the cultural, social and historical perspective of its incoming freshmen. "Mindset" is the word they use.

Quite intuitive for a couple of Buccaneers.

But this getting-to-know-you business works both ways, and we felt it could be just as instructive for freshmen to have some perspective on the cultural, social and political mindset of the men and women who teach them. Faculties today are a diverse group, but many, if not most, are baby boomers whose collective frame of reference spans 50 years, nine presidents, three wars, a moon landing, the original Star Wars trilogy, ATMs and the Internet. Seventy may sound ancient, but it's the new 60. If you can get where we're coming from, you'll know what turns us on, and from there, a conversation about something other than the syllabus can ensue. And we'll learn from each other.

So, here's a sampling of our world; welcome to it:

Bob Dylan wouldn't be caught dead in a lingerie commercial.

People moved to split levels in the suburbs.

Prepared foods were sold from coin-operated machines in an automat.

A Russian satellite named Sputnik I launched the race to the moon.

Johnny U. was not a college but taught us everything we knew about football.

Diner guys existed before the movie, which, incidentally, was also before your time.

Braces came in only one color - chrome.

Elvis was live in Vegas.

Apollo 13 wasn't a movie.

The gas crisis of 1973 saw the price of oil quadruple - to $12 a barrel.

TV was our superhighway.

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy, who inspired a generation of idealists, made a powerful country feel vulnerable.

There were Dixie cups, not chicks.

Walkmans offered music on the go.

Coca-Cola was the real thing.

Sex had nothing to do with safety.

Honda made a car with a 2-cylinder lawnmower engine.

What's My Line? was the game show to watch.

"Made in Japan" was a euphemism for junk.

John, Paul, George and Ringo led the British invasion.

The world's first heart transplant made the unthinkable real.

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom drew 250,000 people to the nation's capital, then the largest demonstration of its kind.

Groovy was a feeling, not a sound bite from an Austin Powers movie.

Abortion was illegal until the 1973 Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade.

Charles Manson was the headline cult-killer.

Here's Johnny introduced the late-night talk-show host who defined the genre.

The twin towers were built.

TWA and Pan American World Airways dominated the U.S. international air market.

Yugoslavia was a country.

Keds were the sneakers of choice.

The Marlboro Man sold an image and cigarettes too.

Motown launched the Detroit sound and a teen prodigy named Little Stevie Wonder.

Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin headlined at Woodstock.

American men, ages 18 to 26, were drafted for the war in Vietnam through a lottery drawing.

Cher had Sonny.

A new virus was killing young gay men.

A burglary at the Watergate Hotel led to the downfall of a presidency and launched a new age of investigative journalism.

Pet rocks made a millionaire of a California advertising executive.

Richard J. Daley was the mayor of Chicago.

The Yankees were good, then they weren't, then they were again (sigh).

College students called home collect.

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