Ode to the Silent Generation

Mom in the background, Me with the Smokey Bear, Dad, and brother Bob. Lower Pecos District Ranger Station, Santa Fe National Forest. Part of a photo shoot by Forest Service.

My mom and dad and their contemporaries were members of the Silent Generation.

My mother in the Forest Service camp 1947 plus or minus.

Born between the mid 1920’s and the mid 1940’s. They grew up during the Great Depression and World War II (which many fought in) and it marked their generation. Dad was a US Army MP at the War Crimes Trials in Japan during the Occupation after the war.

No idea who these guys are

Traditional values, financial prudence (boy howdy my parents had that!) interpersonal respect, determination, resilience, work ethic, self sacrfice, define this generation according to Indeed.com. They were also social on steroids. You don’t find too many “Silents” hunched over the phone updating their status.

Dad took lots of photos of people.

They formed clubs and had parties and celebrated a lot. When I was a kid it was nothing for us to just load up in a car and “drop in” unannounced on another family and often stay for hours. Can you imagine that happening today?


The black and white photos are from negatives that my sister gave me recently of photos my dad shot in a forest service camp in northern Idaho.


My parents met at such a camp. I think they spent most of their time socializing and not as much time doing blister rust control projects (blister rust is a fungus that kills white pine trees.)

A bus stuck in the snow out in the middle of nowhere., 1947, Northern Idaho.

Everybody looks exuberent and happy. Living in tents for months at a time. Nowadays there would be congressional investigations of the living conditions.


After his time in the camp, dad graduated with a forestry degreee from the University of Idaho and accepted a Junior Forest Ranger job in Happy Jack, Arizona near Flagstaff. He wrote mom a letter with a marriage proposal. She accepted by telegram and in short order quit her job at Gonzaga University and took a bus from Washington State to Flagstaff. Dad met her at the bus station and took her to a friend’s house where a justice of the peace married them. Dad then drove them out to Happy Jack where they lived in the house above.


Eventually they moved to New Mexico where I was born, and we lived in the Pecos Ranger Station where the first photo of this post and moved is from to the little village of Coyote. No public schools, so brother Bob stayed with a family in Santa Fe and attended school there. And then we moved to Payson, Arizona. Neat thing was, see the government house we lived in Coyote. We moved into an exact copy of it in Payson. Forest Service housing!! I got lots of memories of Coyote. Dad was out of state fighting forest fires one time and mom put a sewing machine needle through a fingernail. Pulled the needle out herself with a pair of pliers. That was something to remember.


Nobody cared, at least my brother and I didn’t. I’m sure my parents worried plenty but they kept it from us.

I have no idea where this photo was taken.

Later on our sister Ellen joined the family. We moved around little towns a few more times and then dad got transferred to Albuquerque. Whew!! I knew from when I was about six years old that I was a city kid. Sure, it was neat having a dad who was a Forest Ranger and we saw and did lots of neat stuff but give me the city to live in anytime.

Anyway, the Silent Generation is disappearing. Go hug a Silent if you can find one.

10 thoughts on “Ode to the Silent Generation

  1. Ellen

    Great post! I’m so glad you took the time to go through these photos! No telling the good times those young adults had at that camp in Idaho. Could that photo in front of the red house be the trip we took to Connecticut for Christmas when I was about five or six?

  2. Amy

    Your parents were a bit older than mine who were born in the mid to late 1940s. It’s good to have a look through family photos with good memories of how we were raised.

  3. Jim Sullivan

    Lots of truth in here, insofar as there being investigations and such today if some of this happened. Values were different then; better, for the most part. Thanks for sharing the great photos!

  4. Sallie

    That is really a lovely and interesting tribute to your parents Alan! My dad, born in 1912, was one of the older people to enlist (in the Navy) during WWII even though with two children he would probably never have been drafted. Some of my earliest memories are my mother’s joy when a letter came from him while he was overseas. .. I’ve always thought of them as members of the greatest generation, but guess they were both too old officially. They sure shared the same traits however. Thanks for sharing the memories.

  5. Vicki

    I love this post! My mom was born in ’25 and my dad in ’21 and I love looking at their old photos. I think I would have enjoyed living back then. Times were easier, slower, less complicated, and everyone was a lot nicer and caring!

    Thanks for sharing this, it is a great “feel good” post!

  6. Angie

    Alan – how could you possibly label this “Boring Personal History”? These are fabulous photos with the memories to match! My parents were born in the mid 1920’s, and they shared many of the characteristics that you shared from Indeed. Some social activity but not much – I think the financial prudence had some bearing on that!

  7. Veronica Lee

    My parents were both born in ’25.

    Life was so much simpler then. Values too.

    I enjoyed seeing the photos of your beautiful parents and cute little you!

  8. Gaelyn

    This is fantastic in so many ways. I never thought of my parent’s generation as silent but there was a lot of socializing. Growing up in the suburbs turned me away from cities.

  9. Penelope Notes

    These are fantastic informative photographs from long ago and a beautiful Valentine celebrating your family, the resiliency of your roots and a generation of people that we will never see the likes of again.

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