'... Got the T-shirt'

Life in the Pedestrian Lane

I was going to ignore the Beloit Mindset List for the Class of 2015. It is pretty unexciting this time. Lots of computer and internet things they'll 'always know about' and very few things listed that they will never know which to me is always the most revealing. I don't really care that 'dial-up is sooooo last century" or that 'they won't go near a retailer without a website.' But on a second reading, I did find it surprising that if you refer to 'LBJ' they think LeBron James rather than the former president and an interesting fact that Woolworth's is "as antique to them as 'talking machines' were to us."


The class of 2015, born in 1993, could also have the Dilley Sextuplets as classmates. If you remember, those babies were the first surviving sextuples born in the United States. They were the product of fertility drugs, but nevertheless, a miracle of survival. .

I remember the Dionne Quints. Five identical girls born in Canada in the thirties: Emilie, Cecile, Marie, Annette and Yvonne. Their images were everywhere: calendars, magazines, paper dolls, spoons. They were heavily exploited when they were children, even being removed from their home and raised by their doctor and the Canadian government until they were about ten.  The Quints, as they were popularly known, were a social phenomenon when I was a child, and everyone knew their names and recognized their faces.  Only Annette and Cecile are still alive and nearly 80 years old. 

I didn't know the names of the Dilley Sextuplets until I looked them up: Brenna, Julian, Quinn, Claire, Ian and Adrian. Except for occasional visits by Dianne Sawyer and a t.v. crew, the family has not been too publicized as opposed to the Gosselin Sextuplets (plus 2) and the Octomom and her brood.  I remember a couple of sets of twins all the time I was going to school. One identical set: two girls, and a fraternal set, brother and sister. My grandfather was a twin, and coincidentally, Hubby's grandfather was also a twin, but no twins appeared anywhere in the succeeding generations in either family. In the days of 'spontaneous conception' (which I think means no reproductive technology help) more than two babies at a time being born was rare. Twins occur in one in eighty natural births, while triplets are one in eight thousand natural births. Several sets of triplets have been known to survive since the 1920s, however. The infant Harry Potter was portrayed by identical triplets in "The Sorceror's Stone" movie and a set of three identical girls were Playmates in the December 1998 Playboy.

The Dionnes were the first set of Quintuplets to survive infancy, although there was a surviving set of Quadruplets born in 1915, the last of whom died in August this year at 96. Eighteen sets of sextuplets have been born in the United States since the Dilleys, two sets this year. Worldwide, surviving multiple births are becoming more and more common as fertility drugs and in-vitro fertilization make multiple babies less rare and medical science has made strides in aiding their survival.  In 2002, two sets of identical twins were born as quadruplets to a North Carolina couple, the result of in-vitro fertilization, but nevertheless a statistical anomaly, according to doctors and mathematicians. In my opinion, if your birth catches the attention of mathematicians you already have a burden to surmount in life.

Another thing that caught me on the Beloit list was that the Class of 2015 will never have the opportunity to order anything from Sears' Big book, or make a door stop from the old one. Remember? First you had to receive the new catalog in the mail so you could use the old one to make the door stop.  You folded the pages vertically, then brought the top corner across to make a point on top. Magically, as you folded pages the thick book made a cylinder. By the time you got to the last page you had a silo-shaped piece good for only one thing...a doorstop. Actually, two things...making it kept a kid busy for an hour or so, depending on the interruptions by other siblings. And it developed patience. About half-way through, I usually started folding pages together just to finish the blasted thing.

But it is too bad that the kids since 1993 won't know the pleasure of leafing through a catalog daydreaming about new toys or clothes. Ordering from an online dealer or thirty seconds on t.v. does not a wish list make and their brain might be fried from all the obnoxious stuff between commercials besides.

So the mindset of the class of 2015 is pretty mundane, as we might have guessed from watching a generation that prefers to text their friends rather than face them. They are content to believe that "Life is like a box of chocolates" and would never think to  poke each one to find the one they like.  But what else can we expect from a group who grew up laughing at Bart Simpson?

You can access the entire "Mindset List" at www.beloit.edu/mindset/2015.
Virginia Walters lives in Kenai.


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