Songs of Innocence: Cultural Memories that First-years Just Can't Remember

No matter how young you are, there's always someone else who will make you feel old--even if you're just 21 and a Harvard senior.

Adults got a jolt when Beloit College in Wisconsin released a "Class of 2003 Mindset List" last month, which named 43 news events and bits of popular culture that today's college first-years do not remember.

The Beloit list notes that first-years never saw Walter Cronkite say, "That's the way it is," have always known a woman on the Supreme Court, and have no idea what a "churchkey" is. (It's a type of can opener.)

"Today's 18-year-olds have had a narrow experience with popular culture," Beloit English professor Tom McBride told USA Today. "They can't be counted on to understand certain references that are second nature to us."


But baby boomers aren't the only ones who may start to feel that shock. Some members of Harvard's Class of 2003 were born as late as 1982, a full half-decade after the oldest seniors--who were born in 1977.

To seniors' chagrin, some events and images that shaped their childhoods are just history to first-years.

"I was just saying to a friend, 'Oh my God, you were born in 1981," says Roxanne D. Lanzot '99-'00. "You just don't get it."

Material Boys and Girls

The early '80s were a veritable cornucopia of classic kids' movies. In 1984 alone, studios released "Footloose," "Romancing the Stone," "Gremlins," "Ghostbusters" and "Sixteen Candles"--movies that most first-years don't remember in their full-screen glory.

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