Archive for Monday, July 29, 2013

What seems like just yesterday is now ancient history for youths

July 29, 2013

Recently, I had had some lessons in how the younger generation views history as compared to those who may have lived through the event.

My son-in-law was going to Kansas City, Mo., and two of my grandsons were accompanying him. He told the youngest, Shane — who is a real sports enthusiast — that he would show him the site of old Municipal Stadium, where the Kansas City Athletics played baseball. We received an incredulous look. He wasn’t aware that the A’s once called Kansas City home. I think what really confused him was when I said I used to go to minor league games of the Kansas City Blues with my dad. Then it dawned on me that he was born in 2001, some 43 years after the A’s left. In fact, a whole generation has been born since the vicious, cowardly, sneak attack on the World Trade Center. All of the above events seem just like yesterday to me.

Earlier in the year, I was speaking to a middle school class about city government when a youngster asked me “have you always been mayor?” I told him that I was in my 10th year as mayor and that I used to be in the newspaper business and owned The Chieftain. The teacher pointed out that I regularly visited the school and took a lot of pictures. Of course, the students had no idea what she was talking about. Then I realized they were 11 years old and I had been retired for 12 years. Again, it only seems like yesterday to me.

Maybe it is because I have a good memory, but it doesn’t seem like it has been 70 years since World War II ended. Today’s students’ parents and probably many or their grandparents weren’t alive when the Japanese surrendered. The more I thought about it, many of their parents weren’t around during 
Vietnam.

People quickly forget some local events and history, too. I have been asked why the football field was named to honor David Jaynes. The young man, a local athlete, said he had never heard of Jaynes. I explained that he was an All-American quarterback at KU some 40 years ago in addition to being a successful businessman and football color analyst. I get the same blank stare when I explain about Henry Tiblow and the fact that what we now call Bonner Springs was once a Delaware Indian community.

Probably there are young folks out there who don’t know the Royals were once world champs or the Chiefs won a Super Bowl. I’m sure that a lot of people aren’t aware that there once was a time when there wasn’t a Super Bowl.

I believe the greatest lesson I learned about how young people think about time came after I had talked to a middle school class about city government. A young lady came up and said when she got older she would like to be involved in local government. I told her that was a great idea since cities always needed bright, dedicated young people.

She added she would like be the first Hispanic mayor of Bonner Springs. I said she could be first woman to serve as mayor, but she couldn’t be the first Hispanic mayor since my friend and mentor Al Ramirez had served from 1977 to 1983. After a minute she said, “well, I could be the first Hispanic mayor in ‘modern’ history.”

To a 14-year-old, 1983 is ancient history. To me, it’s only yesterday, and it makes me wonder where the past 77 years have gone and how quickly they have flown by.

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