My daughter was recently asked by her teacher to interview my grandfather for her seventh grade class. The teacher was interested in getting some insight into the rapidly disappearing GI Generation, those that served during World War II. One of the questions that my daughter asked my grandfather was what he liked most about living through the 1940s and 1950s. His response: “I liked that the population was smaller.”
I was really taken by this response, as I grew up at the very edge of the metropolitan Denver area in the 1980s and returning there now, I am always struck by how crazily busy my little suburb has grown. It really isn’t “at the very edge” now—at all. The US population has grown to its current size of over 310 million people, but it was only about half that size in the decades that my grandfather was in his 20s and 30s. I imagine that, to him, the whole US looks a heck of a lot more crazily busy than my little suburb now looks to me.