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A Talk with The Greatest Generation: “I Would Like To Go Dancing Again”

Posted By Alejandra Owens On April 30, 2012 @ 6:10 am In Notebook | Comments Disabled

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on Borderstan.com, a Washington, DC news site that covers several popular neighborhoods in the city. Full disclosure, I contribute to Borderstan myself as a food writer and editor. When I saw this post from fellow contributor Scott Thompson, 29, it warmed my heart and just had to share it with you. I hope you love it as much as we did here! Thanks to Matt Rhoades and Luis Gomez, co-founders of the site, for granting us permission to republish excerpts. 

On June 25, 1949, Robert Thompson married Juliette (Judy) Hance married 63 years. (Photo from Scott Thompson)

This past weekend, I watched the film, The Iron Lady.

I had seen the film once previously, back in January during Oscar nomination season. At the time, I was awed by Meryl Streep’s performance, but I found the overall tone of the film flat - undeserving of the complex political life on which it was based. This time, however, the point of the film resonated with me in a new way - the way I believe its filmmakers had intended.

Rather than an in-depth analysis of political events, “The Iron Lady” focused on something that affects each of our lives:  the reality of memory, of looking back. Regardless of whether we are Prime Minister or pauper, 90-years-old or 30-years-old, each of us goes to bed at night in the same manner - alone with our thoughts, alone with the memories, the faces, the regrets, and the joys that define our lives.

As I watched the film, I immediately thought of my grandparents Robert and Judy, of the “movie” they must experience as they look back on 60 years of marriage, and 90 and 88 respective years of life. What memories stand out most to them? Most importantly, what have they learned - what lessons could they share?

It’s easy for those of us living in big cities to forget that the greatest lessons available to us often lie within the memories of grandparents, parents, aunts, and uncles - the people that we forget to call as we bury our noses in books, music or the internet to find meaning and direction.

This week, I took that realization to heart and called my grandparents - not simply to ask about their day, but to ask about their lives.  They are members of what is known as “The Greatest Generation” - children of the Great Depression and the Americans who won World War II.  Will our generation carry the baton?

Editor’s Note: To read full text of this heartwarming interview, click here. Some of our favorite nuggets of wisdom included:

Robert (on falling in love with Judy): I wanted to go steady with your Grandma because we laughed and had fun wherever we went. It didn’t hurt that she was a good looking, sexy gal, too!

Robert (on optimism, having children after WWII): I don’t remember the bombs - I remember the baseball games, or the songs, or laughs on the ship. The good memories always rise to the surface if you let them.

Judy (on what she would do if she was 30 again for just one day): I always loved when your grandfather and I would go to our local club and go dancing. I would like to go dancing again.

Robert (on remembering his own mother): You’ll find, at some point, there comes a time when you end up taking care of the person who always took care of you. And you shouldn’t fear that day – you should appreciate it and look forward to it.

Judy (on Gen X and Gen Y always worrying about life): Life is fun. Be yourself, enjoy life, enjoy your friends - enjoy the moment.

Be sure to check out the rest of Scott’s interview with his grandparents – their advice on life, love, war, money and more is truly timeless.


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