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BBHQ Boomer Essays:

The Lost Art of Conversation

Our Boomer-In-Charge at BBHQ, Hershel Chicowitz, writes about boomer memories and current events... from a boomer’s perspective. He is sometimes funny, sometimes provocative, some-
times a little of each. We hope you get a kick out of our Boomer Essays.

Webster defines “converse” as “to engage in conversation; to talk informally.” The key word here is “engage.” When I was a kid, as a family, we had real conversations. We related to each other, looked into each others’ eyes and had an exchange of ideas, thoughts, and feelings. We learned about each other, and made our feelings and thoughts known. We developed empathy and compassion. We learned to effectively communicate our ideas. It was good preparation for life; it was good for the family.


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A while back I watched a re-run of Tom Snyder’s “Late Late Show.” Tom’s first guest was actress Jacqueline Bissett. I really enjoyed Mr. Snyder when he had on someone like Robert Blake, Bonnie Hunt, David Milch, Stan Freberg, or Dennis Prager.

Now, Ms. Bissett is a nice, refined lady, and she looked terrific in “The Deep”; but that was ages ago, and I just wasn’t interested in anything she might have to say. Nonetheless, I listened with one ear while I graded some of the Official Baby Boomer Qualifying exams. And when the interview was over, I thought to myself, “That was extremely pleasant; I enjoyed that.”

Why? Why did I find it enjoyable? It was not because of anything they discussed. The interview did not include any salacious Hollywood gossip or a clip from an upcoming movie. (I could do without those anyway.) After thinking for a minute or two, I could sum it up in one word: conversation. They had... a conversation.

Listen to an interview on virtually any of the current interview/entertainment shows, and you’ll find that they don’t actually have conversations. They have four-minute entertainment segments: a couple laughs; some prepared, benign banter; a film clip or other plug; and they’re out of there. Next. It’s cheap entertainment; but it is not conversation.

And that is what we’re missing these days: real, live, stimulating conversation. I remember when I was growing up, we had a family conversation every week. We usually held it on Sunday afternoon or evening. We sat down in the living room and conversed for the better part of an hour. No guests, no television, no radio, no interruptions... just the four of us. Everyone had to participate, sometimes with a prepared topic, sometimes just a response to someone else; often there was no prepared topic at all. We just conversed. It was not complicated; it didn’t cost a thing; we didn’t need a grant from the government or a social worker to oversee us. Anybody could have done it; anybody could do it today. But those conversations are one of the things I remember most and most fondly about my childhood. It was part of our “family values.” We even did it three days after my father died. It was a part of our life.

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