Archive for Thursday, July 27, 2006

As LHS’s 1st baby boomers turn 60, changes seen in city

July 27, 2006

After 40 years, Larry Foster finally found the person who egged his car on Halloween night many years ago.

While visiting with Loren Russell, a fellow classmate from the Lansing High Class of 1964, Foster learned that Russell, who had joined some friends in some traditional Oct. 31 mayhem, had mistaken his car for someone else's.

"We used to have rotten egg fights on Halloween," Foster said. "He (Russell) thought it was Frank Bolden's car, but he didn't have a car back then.

"Loren must have thought it was Frank's, but it was definitely my car."

Foster and Russell were members of the LHS Class of 1964, one of the very first of the baby boomers' graduating classes. 42 years later, as they are now among the first boomers to turn 60 years old, a lot has changed in the world - and in Lansing.

"Back in '64 all you wanted to do was have some fun, and then of course you get out of school and you realize 'fun time' is over," Foster said.

"It was tougher back then, there wasn't a lot of money out there."

To find opportunity, Foster joined the Air Force, which took him away from Lansing until last year, when he moved back from Las Vegas. The city has a different face than it did in 1964, but despite the growth, Foster sees Lansing as a respite from the frenzy of Las Vegas.

"After 27 years in Las Vegas, the pace is, needless to say, somewhat slower," he said. "It's a relief."

But other boomers from his class are disappointed to see Lansing become "too big."

Mary Kay Pape is one. Like Foster - and many Lansing natives - Pape believes Lansing reached its peak as a small town during those early years and has since lost some what made it so great.

Pape, who has lived in Lansing nearly all her life, remembers the days of Kendall's Grocery and Green Haven Cafe. It's the feelings of familiarity and security that she misses the most.

"I just miss our little city that we had," Pape said. "We all knew each other. We all pitched in and worked with each other on different events and all.

"You wouldn't even lock your door at night."

Though not completely happy with how the city has aged, Pape can't complain about turning 60.

"(I feel) wonderful; age doesn't bother me. Your attitude has a lot to do with it," she said. "I feel good and grateful for being at the age of 60."

Russell has seen Lansing change over the years as well, and though there are advantages and disadvantages to every change, Russell has "no regrets" that he's made Lansing his home - and place of business - for so long.

"I've lived here all my life and I remember when the community was a lot smaller," he said. "I've sat here and stared at this highway (Kansas Highway 7) for 31 years.

"Being somebody that's been here all his life, I don't regret it at all."

And while the city has changed, Russell feels he hasn't personally had any dramatic changes through the decades. He does note, with a sense of irony, that his mind is occupied with different matters now, then they were when he was graduating high school.

"At that time I was more futuristic. Now I'm just the opposite," Russell said, explaining that as a graduate he was commonly preoccupied with thinking about what lay ahead of him, whereas he now devotes more time to genealogy and history.

Russell said he disproved many common stereotypes laid on the baby boomers.

"President Clinton said he never inhaled. Well I never even put it in my mouth - I've never even seen one," Russell said. "We were supposedly the generation that started all that."

Though Lansing has changed, Russell thinks one common factor bridges Lansing's future and past: active citizenship. Involvement in the community builds friendship, camaraderie and above all, a stronger Lansing.

"I encourage everybody to get involved with the community," Russell said. "In fact I think it's imperative for people to get involved with the community."


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