BOOMERBROADcast

Enjoy, laugh, disagree or simply empathize with those who lived life in THE sixties and are now rockin' life in THEIR sixties, and beyond.


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Is there really a Santa Claus?


Boomer gals looked to Helen Gurley Brown for divine guidance in the sixties.

Every boomer gal worth her salt in the sixties read the best-seller Sex and The Single Girl by Helen Gurley Brown. Our lives were modeled around the latest COSMO decrees as our entire generation was creating a new world order. We also read Coffee, Tea or Me? about two high-flying stewardesses (as they were called in ancient times) living the swinging single life. There was even a movie and television series made of the book. We aspired to live exciting lives as modern gals enjoying beginning careers and the freedom of the sexual revolution—just like Helen Gurley Brown, Trudy Baker and Rachel Jones. Reading about Trudy and Rachel’s escapades as they flew the friendly skies in search of adventure was enough to make this boomer high-tail it to an Air Canada recruiting (cattle) call in their old Toronto head office on Bloor Street in 1971. Although I was turned down, a friend of mine was deemed to have the requisite ‘sex appeal’ and was hired. Fortunately, my life eventually turned out OK despite the rejection by Air Canada.

Last week, to my everlasting horror, I learned that Trudy and Rachel were totally fictional characters created by ghost writer Donald Bain. I thought the original Coffee, Tea or Me book was non-fiction. It was Bain’s obituary in the newspaper that alerted me to the fact my role models were neither real nor particularly authorly. Bain, who was an airline publicist and pilot himself, based the book on stories from conversations with a couple of Eastern Airline flight attendants, but they were inspiration only. Donald Bain, who was eighty-two years old when he passed away also authored all forty-six of the Murder She Wrote mystery novels, which were turned into the popular television series starring Jessica Fletcher, his alter-ego played by Angela Lansbury. He’s what is known in the biz as a ghost writer. We all know they exist and routinely pen autobiographies for semi-literate celebs and famous people who lack the wherewithal to compose their own story. Mr. Bain was so prolific writing for others, that it was fifty years before he finally had a book published under his own name. At least HGB wrote her own material so I’m somewhat mollified.

Imagine my shock when a major totem of my swinging sixties days suddenly came crashing down. The problem this bit of information has created is profound. It has undermined my entire belief system. For fifty years I actually thought Trudy Baker and Rachel Jones were real people, role models I could aspire to. I’m now considering the possibility that there might be further deception in what I read on a daily basis. What if those long-ago stunning magazine shots of Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy had been air-brushed and they really weren’t that drop-dead gorgeous? Was I bowing down to false idols? Perhaps Resdan really didn’t cure dandruff and Bonne Belle’s 1006 Lotion wasn’t the solution to my acne problems? Here are some other sixties’ assumptions that have been called into question as a result of that bit of revealing news about Coffee, Tea or Me:

  • “I’ll still respect you in the morning.”
  • Men prefer to marry virgins.
  • Your engagement ring should cost the equivalent of three months’ wages of your beloved (I rather liked this one although it meant he’d be so far in hock you’d never be able to scrape together the down payment on a house.)
  • A woman’s place is in the home.
  • Marriage is forever.
  • Smoking makes you look sexy.

The end of innocence

The possibilities and implications of those decisions based on standard assumptions in the sixties have influenced my entire life. Where would I be today if Air Canada had deemed me sexy enough to hire? Are my wrinkles now the result of applying tank trucks full of harsh astringent to my face to combat acne fifty years ago? Boomer gals were raised to do as we were told, not question authority and to be patient; the rewards will come to those who are deserving. We have all since learned those premises are total bull crap. I know for sure that being a good girl who doesn’t rock the boat in business did not serve me well. In retrospect, I wish I’d been a whole lot more assertive in insisting on equal pay and recognition for work performed. I did well enough, but I could have done better if I’d cast aside so many of those standards of behaviour baby boomer gals were raised with. Self-promotion, equal rights, speaking up were issues we were just starting to dip our toes into. By the time we realized these traits were assets in business not liabilities, we were often past our career prime and nearing retirement. We got the ball rolling but there’s still a lot of work to do. You’re welcome, Xers, Y’s and millennials who think feminism is passé.

Some things never change. Buyer beware.

The upshot of this experience is that I’m going to be a lot more discriminating about everything I read and am told from now on. From now on I’m going to be a lot more skeptical about the claims made by the cosmetics companies about the efficacy of their ‘anti-aging’ potions. It’s entirely possible they could be selling me a bill of goods. A shocking prospect to consider. Do you suppose food conglomerates are not being totally honest with us as well? Can I really lose weight and stay regular on fat-free yogurt? We learned too late that chewing Dentyne gum does not replace brushing. The ramifications of questioning all those early assumptions are mind-boggling.

My brain’s straining from the implications of the simple discovery that a book I read in sixties and considered to be non-fiction was in fact a total fabrication. I’ve always put all my faith in media being unbiased, just like in the days of Walter Cronkite. Now I’m forced to consider that my entire value system is flawed and now I’m too old to ‘be anything I want to be’. I should have clued in when Air Canada didn’t think so and chose to reject me. Next thing you know someone will be trying to tell me there’s no Santa Claus. If that proves to be another deception, then that definitely proves there’s no advantage in being a good girl. It’s taken me awhile to catch on but from now on, I’m my own boss living by my own rules. It’s about time.

To order Coffee, Tea or Me from Amazon click here.

To order Sex and the Single Girl from Amazon click here.

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I’ve hit an existential wall. Am I the only one?


Do you ever get the feeling that everything is just too much? Too much bad news. Too much media. Too much poverty and abuse in the world. Too much crime, conflict and consumerism. Too much Trump. The wars are unending. Cancer is rampant and still impacting far too many lives. I’m personally spending too much time on Facebook, too much time reading newspapers and not enough time being productive, whatever that is. So many issues are pressing on me to take a moral position—the new niqab laws in Quebec, political rhetoric, women’s issues, saving the environment and bettering humanity. Are our politicians ever going to actually represent the interests of the people and not just their own political interests? And now, O.J. Simpson is back out on the dating scene, living the high life. Are we on the eve of destruction or have things always been this bad? And, as a baby boomer, I remember the protest riots against the Vietnam war, racism and threats of nuclear war we experienced in the fifties and sixties.

The irony is that I am happier than I’ve ever been in my life. I’m retired with a comfortable home, a great husband and financial security. But television commercials, billboard and magazine advertising are always reminding me that I should be better, do better and generally live my life better. Despite my best efforts to the contrary, I still fall far short of the best me. I still drink Diet Coke from time to time. I do not practise yoga or lift weights to build bone density. I do not volunteer time to help my community and I should probably give more of my time and energy to worthy causes. I’m now about three months into my latest television news sabbatical which spares me listening to some of the wretchedness of the world. And reading the newspaper with my morning pot of tea allows me to skip over the parts that cause me stress.

Am I a bad person?

I never miss Real Time With Bill Maher on HBO on Friday night. His liberal (to be clear, that’s a small “l”) perspective is interesting and thought-provoking. But last week he wacked me upside the head with his final comments at the end of the show slamming our obsession with digital media—Facebook in particular (YouTube link below). It was a reminder that FB can and has been a dangerous tool in mind-control for political purposes. It’s largely an exercise in vanity and ego inflation. He suggests it has moved away from its original purpose of sharing—in a good way. Ouch! I know I spend too much time on Facebook. I use it to extend the reach of my blog and post little to no personal content. I also enjoy keeping track of people I have little other contact with, scoring great recipes from time to time and seeing what friends and acquaintances are up to on FB. I can’t disagree with him but I still love Facebook and the internet. Does that make me a loser? Am I part of the problem?

What does one have to do for a living to be able to afford this kind of disposable income.

Consumerism is superseding community

I love to follow blogs for baby boomer women and in the course of my searching have come across a few sites that are shockingly materialistic. In particular, one blog resells designer purses, shoes and accessories and quite frankly following the postings is one of those guilty pleasures I can’t resist. When I read that someone is selling a $1,200.00 pair of Valentino cage heels because she’s bored with them after one or two wearings, I’m practically apoplectic. Or what about the top half of a teeny tiny boring little Gucci bikini (she lost the bottom half!!!) that cost more than a thousand dollars for a few square inches of boring navy fabric. The other day there was a $12,000.00 Rolex watch for resale (not sure what the original price was). My posted comment “What on earth do you have to do for a living to afford accessories like this?” was removed by the moderator. I feel ashamed to even read these postings but my indignation keeps my blood pressure surging. There are obviously people out there with problems that do not involve global warming or worrying about whether Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee are going to nuke us off the face of the earth.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, there are the advocates of minimalism and much as I admire their ethic, it’s not something I could ever achieve. While it’s lovely and virtuous to imagine living with one good jacket, the perfect pair of jeans and a few tee shirts, it’s not going to happen in this household. And for that I feel guilty. I feel guilty that there are clothes in my closet that are never worn but for a variety of reasons (you know what I’m talking about) cannot part with them. I feel helpless when I see the endless ads on television asking for money for children living in poverty overseas. I know there are so many people in the world who have miserable lives and I’m so blessed.

The more I hear, see and read about, the more stressed and depressed I get. This is despite the fact I’m retired and no longer facing daily workplace stress, sexual or gender discrimination, financial difficulties or serious health problems. But because so many others are, I cannot clear my head and find a way of living with peacefully with my blessings. At the same time, I don’t want to isolate myself from what’s happening in the world by eschewing media completely. Perhaps it’s time to dig out my gratitude journal and start making daily entries again. Am I alone in feeling this way? How do you cope with the wall of bad news we encounter every day?

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Breaking up is still hard to do


As more of our generation is retiring, accepting early golden parachute offers or even sadly, being made redundant through restructuring, I thought I would republish a piece I wrote a couple of years ago. The message endures.

Bette Davis is famously quoted as saying, “Getting old ain’t for sissies”. Retirement is a natural by-product of getting old and requires attention. For some, it’s wonderful; for others, not so much. I definitely fall into the former category but for those who are forced to retire before they’re psychologically or financially ready it can be devastating.

You’re out! You’re no longer part of the team.

At the risk of generalizing, I think it’s often more difficult for men than women to retire. The Boomer generation and our parents’ generation is characterized by men who devoted their entire adult lives to their work. Perhaps it was a family business, a demanding occupation like medicine or maybe it was a prestigious corporate position. Retirement means these individuals have lost not only something to do every day but their very identity. Gen X’ers and millennials watched their parents (us, Boomers) doing this, got the message and have flipped that psychology on its ear.

When you’re retired, people are no longer impressed by what you once did for a living. When you’re not Mr. Big, President of ABC International Corporation it can create a huge vacuum. Because you no longer have the power to improve the lives of your former coworkers they drop you from their social and business circle. This alienation can be devastating. The 2002 movie About Schmidt with Jack Nicholson and Kathy Bates clearly illustrates the shock of transition. When Schmidt, played by Jack Nicholson attends his retirement party, the speeches and platitudes from his coworkers at the insurance company where he had dedicated his life were so cliché and familiar it was heartbreaking.

My friend David worked in the marketing department of a giant international corporation. The corporate culture was casual and creative with frequent product launches, brainstorming sessions, corporate retreats and big-budget product promotions . Co-workers often socialized outside of work hours going on skiing weekends and attending parties together.  When David retired he expected his former coworkers to keep him in the loop but the invitations stopped. He was understandably confused and hurt that people he had always considered friends as well as co-workers no longer wanted his company.

business lunch2

Business associates and friends are not the same thing, despite what it seems.

Another executive I know from the financial services sector was similarly affected when suddenly dropped by his circle of business friends when he retired. He felt abandoned and couldn’t understand why his calls weren’t returned and no one wanted to join him for lunch anymore. Once the unspoken message became clear, he was forced to accept the truth—he was no longer a somebody. His business friends were in fact not real friends at all but merely business associates and when he could no longer do anything for them they no longer needed or wanted his company.

This particular aspect of retirement can result in feelings similar to divorce. The entity that has been a huge part of your life is gone and no longer cares to associate with you. Like divorce where you lose being part of a couple, loss of some friends, probably your home and assets, you lose a large component of your life. A new strategy for moving on is required.  For some individuals it might take the form of part-time consulting work to keep a hand in the business world, albeit to a lesser degree. Others may prefer a more relaxed approach, taking time to enjoy all the activities that working did not allow for. This can include golf and other sports, taking courses, spending time with the grandkids, pursuing hobbies or perhaps a part-time job.

Retiring for me, however, meant total and utter freedom at last. Now I have the time to read voraciously, entertain at my leisure, get together with friends, take vacations whenever I please and do dozens of other things I’ve waited for my entire life. Fortunately, it was and is the best time of my life and just keeps getting better.

Over the years I have observed people approaching retirement with different attitudes. Some were looking forward to european travelhaving the time to travel and do things with friends. Others were bewildered and had no constructive plan for filling their time. Those who were not prepared were often the ones who developed health issues that may have contributed to an early demise. Interestingly, many of the retiring career women I have worked with were often the ones who had a Mediterranean cruise or a tour of Ireland scheduled for the week after they finished work. They had plans to volunteer at a library or hospital and hit the ground running. These are generally the people who live the longest and have the richest, most fulfilling retirement.

Enjoying retirement does not have to involve memberships in expensive golf clubs or Mediterranean cruises. The most simple things now give me enormous pleasure. There’s nothing better than enjoying a second cup of tea as I take my time over the morning paper.  The luxury of being able to go grocery shopping minus the crowds on a Tuesday morning or hanging sheets outside on the line to dry in the morning breezes still give me great pleasure. The novelty of enjoying a ladies lunch with a chilled glass of Pinot Grigio and not having to rush back to the office has still not worn off. Entertaining friends is much more pleasurable when you have the luxury of time to shop, cook and prepare for your guests.

Just like in a divorce, breaking up with your employer can be devastating or it can be yourhippie boomers2 “get out of jail free” card. When that door slams behind you, the outcome is entirely up to you. I say, crank up the 60s music and let’s rock n’ roll. As Boomer Broads we’re living our best years now.

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You know you’re a senior when . . .


Baby boomers came of age at a time when the mantra was never trust anyone over thirty. Ouch. Some of us now have grandchildren over thirty which means we’ve come a long way since then and have learned a thing or two along the way. We’re brutally aware of our age, particularly when we start doing or saying things that sound like they’re from another era or generation. Here are a few real-life examples experienced by baby boomers that drive this message home. You know you’re getting old when:

  1. We’d like doggie bags and separate cheques please.

    Closing a place means getting home from a Saturday night out on the town at 8:30 p.m. not a.m.

  2. We go out to lunch instead of dinner because a) it’s cheaper, and b) we don’t like to drive after dark.
  3. We take leftover restaurant food home in a doggie bag for dinner that night (see Item 2 above) or lunch the next day.
  4. Celebrating New Years’ Eve is iffy because we can’t stay up until midnight. Then, there’s the driving after dark issue.
  5. We prefer talk radio to rock radio.
  6. Out of our mouths pops, “Boy, when we were young . . . “ followed by comments about how spoiled, entitled and lazy so many young people are today and how terrible today’s music is .
  7. Sturdy arch supports beat out stiletto’s.
  8. Sourcing cheap booze is the result of having the time to price shop instead of having no money.
  9. We’re thrilled we qualify for seniors’ rates at the movies, on public transit and special days at Shoppers Drug Mart. That means extra money for Item 8.
  10. We opt for electrolysis on our upper lip and chin hairs instead of getting a Brazilian.
  11. Major chunks of the monthly budget are devoted to getting our colour done.
  12. Major chunks of time are devoted to hiding fashion and beauty maintenance costs from our life partner.
  13. You turn out the lights and hide in the den on Halloween instead of going to a crazy party.
  14. You’d rather just skip Christmas and head south.

    We still know how to close a place but now it’s at 9:00 p.m.

  15. Your peers at the community centre sixties dances look so much older than you. They’re all old, fat and bald and they dance funny, like they don’t know they’re old, fat and bald.
  16. A good parking spot now means closest to the mall entrance rather than down a country road after dark doing things our parents wouldn’t approve of.
  17. The definition of an ideal mate is no longer cute and a good dancer. It’s healthy and a good RRSP.
  18. You get your political jollies sitting in your pyjama bottoms and reading the editorial page in the morning paper instead of marching in your bell bottoms and waving a placard.
  19. The criteria for a good bra are comfort and coverage not black lace and transparency.
  20. Grannie panties feel divine.

And the list goes on. But you get the picture. The bottom line is we’re lucky to be here celebrating the best years of our lives.

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Boomers are singin’ a different tune these days


When Jim Croce sang Time in a Bottle in 1973, he wanted to “save every day ’til eternity passes away just to spend them with you”. How I would dearly love to capture time in a bottle but now it’s for general living. As an early baby boomer, I turn seventy this year. It’s a big number and I’m now confronted with the horizon in ways I never anticipated. Remember when we were children and teenagers? We were always wanting to be older, bigger, further along the continuum of life; we were five and three-quarters years old, or nearly sixteen. As young adults we couldn’t wait to leave home and start our own lives, get our first apartment, get married and have children. Then, we found ourselves planning ahead to pay off the mortgage or even counting off the years or months until the kids left home and we were free again. I clearly remember during my working days that I could hardly wait for Friday, counting down the days until the weekend when my real life kicked in. Although we listened to those who warned, “Don’t wish your life away”, it has now taken on real meaning.

I’m a baby boomer who considers the current years as the best years of our lives. Since I retired, I’ve enjoyed good health, a comfortable lifestyle, the love and companionship of amazing friends and family and all the benefits of living in a safe, free country where we take care of each other. What more could any person want or need? Material goods have diminished in importance and value. Having the latest fashions, the most expensive jewelry or the fanciest toys no longer has the same appeal as it did when we were in our thirties and forties. We accept our personal shortcomings with good humour. I’ll never look like Christie Brinkley and I’m fine with that.

The fact that we have time at all is a gift not to be squandered.

In the Frank Sinatra song It Was A Very Good Year, he’s, “in the autumn of the years.” I would like to think of myself as more than vintage wine from fine old kegs. In fact, I feel every verse of that song is part of my existential life today. On some level I still feel like I’m in my twenties but relieved that I’m not. We’ve picked up the wisdom inherent in aging but kept our curiosity and vigor for learning and growing. It’s the best of both worlds—feeling content with the status quo while reaping the benefits of experience.

We need a new anthem

The Rolling Stones have gathered quite a bit of moss and taken heat about still being rockers at an age when they should be rocking on the front porch with a cup of hot cocoa. When Paul McCartney penned When I’m Sixty-Four he had a romantic, unrealized vision of life at that age. Boomers were under the assumption we would live forever, that we would always be young, hip and rockin’. Youth comes with a sense of invincibility but time’s now slip slidin’ away far too quickly. Perhaps it’s time for Mick Jagger to update “Time is on my side” to something closer to our reality. That may no longer be our truth and we need a new anthem. Time is no longer just about the love of our life but about the time we have and the love of life itself.

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Trump was right. Who knew it could be so complicated?


Sometimes, we just need the noise to stop. The Syrian crisis, the threat of nuclear war with North Korea, Putin’s crimes against humanity and the ongoing terrorist threats scare the crap out of me. Then, we have escalating trade wars, racism and climate change denial. Not to mention Trump’s lies and regressive new laws that completely disregard the ordinary person and the future of our planet. When the news starts I get a knot in my stomach so I turn off the television or radio. As I sit looking out my window into the yard watching the trees move gently in the breeze and the new flowers coming to life, listen to the birds, my mind melts into a more peaceful state.

Has the world really become so much more complicated or is my memory failing me?  In the swinging sixties while we were wearing mini-skirts, dancing the night away to Creedence Clearwater or worrying about whether “he would call”, there were still serious issues. We had the the horribly escalating Vietnam War, Bay of Pigs, Khrushchev, and of course, Richard Nixon. We were convinced the world was constantly on the brink of nuclear attack. Later on, Bush Jr. baffled us with his stupidity, lied to the world about false threats and sent innocent young members of the military to their unnecessary early deaths.

Since the beginning of time the world has been in state of turmoil and seemingly on the brink of some war or another. Catastrophic economic depressions in the seventies and to a more serious degree in the nineties wiped out financial security for large segments of the population. AIDS, SARS and other chronic diseases were front page news. Every so often I have to take a sabbatical from the news. Electronic media can simply be turned off. Reading print media requires I just skip over the bits I find distressing. Talking about issues with friends sometimes means changing the subject when we get too frustrated and angry about current events. Despite his stratospheric ego, Donald Trump doesn’t know much which is truly frightening. But the world is a complicated place and the further away I get from his noise the less complicated it becomes. That’s one thing I can do to make the world a better place, at least for me.

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Boomer sex . . . what’s your position?


It was definitely the start of something big.

Remember the good old days when Boomers had sex like we were rewriting the Kama Sutra? During the sexual revolution in the sixties, we became convinced no one in the history of the world had enjoyed better sex than we did. In the days before worrying about Aids, herpes, HPV and other STDs, our mantra was “Make Love, Not War” and boy did we make our share of love, steaming up the inside of cars and enjoying the freedom of having our own apartment for the first time. Although we probably should have been more careful, our biggest worry was getting pregnant. The introduction of birth control pills eliminated that obstacle so we made the most of being young and free.

Then, we got married, had children or we may have divorced and changed partners, though not necessarily in that order. Life became more complicated. Many of us found ourselves dating again in middle age or even later. But the playing field had changed. We no longer had firm thighs and upper arms or just one chin. The days of freedom from self-consciousness were also gone. Lovemaking required pharmaceutical intervention and we needed our glasses to read the instructions. STDs have become a blight and a barrier to enjoyable sex for everyone, not just single boomers. As if those libido killers weren’t enough, we are also faced with . . . well, how to face it. We’re self-conscious about our backsides, unhappy with our muffin top middles and underarm jiggles. If we’re on top, gravity makes our face look like a basset hound. On the bottom, our boobs settle down under our arms like melting ice-cream.

But, it can be complicated.

Not that our partners fare much better. Oh dear, no. Although most males are completely oblivious. Remember the scene from the movie Terms of Endearment when Aurora and retired astronaut Garrett have their first intimate encounter? Shirley MacLaine’s no-longer-young character Aurora spends the entire afternoon prepping physically and psychologically. She experiments with negligees, hair and lighting, generally trying every trick in the book to present herself in the best possible light. Jack Nicholson’s character, on the other hand, spends the afternoon drinking without a thought to whether he’ll be able to rise to the occasion. When the big moment comes, she’s a bit nervous but ready. He prances in wearing a giant, lecherous smile and a dirty old bathrobe which he gallantly throws open to reveal a hairy beer belly. Men are so blessed with self-confidence.

So, what’s the best approach to boomer sex? Beats me.  Let’s try to recall the summer of love, 1967. Put on the oldies music, drink copious amounts of wine or other mood enhancers and relive the good old days. To paraphrase Timothy Leary’s famous quote in 1966, “Turn on, tune in and let the good times roll.” Put on some Everley Brothers, Roy Orbison or Tommy James and the Shondelles. Get lost in the fifties with Ronnie Milsap’s In the Still of the Night. Just turn out the lights and ignore the jiggles.

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