How A Generation Is Defined

© Cindy Lee - (A Class Assignment)

Not too long ago I took my nieces, Briana (9 years old) and Rachel (6 years old), on a walk through my old neighborhood. On they way, Briana grabbed an orange off of a tree in someone's yard. In some places, this would be considered theft, (actually, it is there too!). In other places, it would mean absolutely nothing. But in my old neighborhood, essentially a giant orange grove, it was a rite of passage to steal oranges.

Later as the girls walked on the hundred year old stone walls in people's yards, we came to a house where an older woman was standing outside. I thought it best to ask her if it was o.k. for the girls to be walking on her wall. She smiled and told me that she had walked along those very same walls when she was a little girl. I smiled back and told her about how I also used to walk on those walls on the way to and from my piano teacher's house every week.

My nieces had no clue what the old woman and I were talking about. It made me realize how much has changed in just one generation, especially in a town that prides itself on its cultural history. I think if I had to choose a point when my childhood ended, it would be that moment when we lost those old traditions-not just my generation, but the whole town. My age group was the last to grow up in orange groves. We are the last to understand the rich unwritten history of our hometown. And even if I was to try to teach that history to the children now, they wouldn't understand it because they live in a completely different era.

I am first generation Sesame Street, one of Mr. Rogers' original neighbors. I was part of the target audience for the brand new MTV. I am part of the last generation to know safety and security-gangs and drugs, to us, were something in Los Angeles or on the "bad side of town," and children only got kidnapped if they played in the orange groves like they were told not to. My age group has a completely different perspective from all other groups. I guess that's how you would define a generation but I will always think of mine as the last one that got to steal oranges.