A Doug's Life: Maintaining a Bridge over the Generation Gap

As I write this, the Beatles' "Hey Jude" is playing on my iPod. That tune always takes me back to the eighth grade, when I would listen to it on cassette tape (remember those)?

Now, however, it is just a memory and nothing more. In fact, I'm tempted to fast forward a track or two until I get to something by Sons of the Pioneers. Or Gene Autry. A little Hank Williams, perhaps. Something with a banjo.

A lot changes in 45 years -- and I'm not talking only about my expanding waistline, which we discussed last time. No, it occurs to me that during that time, I have become my father. My grandfather, even.

I'm a grandpa myself, and I actually like Bluegrass music, Country tunes, the Big Band era -- all the stuff I used to laugh at my dad for listening to. Roger Miller's "King of the Road" is downright soothing. "Tumblin' Tumbleweeds" could be my theme song -- or anything with yodeling and a harmonica.

Yes, there is a generation gap. The thing is, eventually we all travel across it to the other side. I like to think I still have a foot on each side of the canyon. Maybe that's why I enjoy living here in Menifee.

This is a place where I can mingle with the kids at a Soap Box Derby one minute and chat with the senior citizens at Bingo the next. One night, I'm interviewing high school football players. The next day, I'm writing about a lady who just turned 100.

And the best part is, I'm never more than a minute or two away from an old cowboy, a horse trail, or somebody singing an old tune.

I still enjoy moments shared with the younger set. Heck, I teach college journalism part-time. I don't understand the lyrics of half the songs they listen to, but I still feel a connection. Yet more and more, I find myself at home on the other side of the "gap."

Give me an afternoon strolling around Tom Fuhrman's Wooden Nickel Ranch. Or patting the horses on Lynn Mattocks' ranch down the road. Or listening to Paul Burleson, aka Mr. Burley, performing Old West songs.

The other day, I wrote in a column that I'm starting to limp around like Walter Brennan in a John Wayne movie. Someone wrote me saying she loved that line, but wondered how many would know who Walter Brennan was.

Good question. But at least with celebrities, we have electronic means of turning back the clock. I have Riley, my 4-year-old granddaughter, hooked on a 1968 Disney movie called "The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band." In it, Brennan plays his familiar grandpa character -- dancing, singing and generally being ornery. His act wouldn't fly in today's entertainment world, but for some reason little Riley will sit there and watch it, fascinated.

I think it's up to all us "old folks" to find ways to walk back over that bridge and interact with the younger ones on the other side of the generation gap. We've found out for ourselves that traveling across the gap isn't so bad, but they haven't found that out yet. We must find ways to show them the good parts of our side, while being tolerant of the stuff they're into.

In our diverse community of Menifee, we're in the perfect place for it.


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