With more than 450 years of combined wisdom, life experience and age among them, five Ohio Valley residents offer their views about America's "Greatest Generation" and the values it provided then, those values that have been lost and those that have endured.
They lived through the Great Depression and several wars. They worked and enjoyed the fruits of their labors. They watched a man walk on the moon. They witnessed the advent of technology unimagined in their youth - and marvel at it still.
Today these five individuals - Henry Hupp, Eleanor Peyton, Rose Saines, John R. Williams and John Ginter - all reside at Elmhurst, The House of Friendship in Wheeling. They are active members of the senior set and share the same values they were raised with despite being born in various parts of the country - from the Midwest, the South and Northeast.
Photo by Heather Ziegler
Members of the “Greatest Generations” residing at Elmhurst-House of Friendship, include from left seated, John R. Williams and John Ginter; standing, Henry Hupp, Rose Saines and Eleanor Peyton.
Hupp, 91, a World War II veteran, said personal responsibility and respect were taught and expected out of his generation, something he sees lacking in today's world.
"Our values then were established by our parents. Now they are established by the media - TV - and on the computer," Hupp said. "The Greatest Generation had respect for the government then, and now that respect is waning. The Greatest Generation served the federal government and now more people look to the government for financial aid for their existence."
Peyton 84, agrees.
Q: What values did America's 'Greatest Generation' have that have been lost among today's youth?
A: Respect, and many seniors also believe love of country. During their day, the five residents interviewed said they took pride in their work and served the federal government. Today, they believe more people look to the government for financial aid for their existence.
"We had love of God and country. Marriage used to be sacred, now it's not as strong. And when we wanted something, we saved for it. We didn't just go out and charge it." Peyton, a widow, was married for 62 years.
Saines, 85, also is a widow who was married for 56 years. She said many of those she grew up with had parents who were immigrants "who treasured freedom" and did not take the United States for granted.
"I think we were more patriotic and a lot of those values are gone. I think modesty is gone and the bad language used today is awful," she said.
Both women remembered "going without" during the Depression, but said they had family values that got them through it. They said they knew how to entertain themselves without the trappings of the today's modern, high-tech world.
Williams, the oldest in the group at age 99, said World War II had a significant impact on forming his generation and that of his children. A native of Richmond, Va., Williams said his war-time work was in the supply end. He said everyone in the country had a job that was important to the war effort. He said people simply understood the importance of working together and those who endured the Great Depression tend to understand what is truly valuable in life.
"We were raised without TV in a time when families did things together. We were lucky to be raised with chickens and cows," Williams quipped.
Ginter, 95, said he spent the first 26 years of his life in New York City. From the window of his high school classroom he said he watched the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building being constructed. He said there was a competition between the two buildings to see which could be completed first. He said the construction work was fascinating to watch and showed the skills and dedication of workers in that time in history. The Chrysler Building was completed first, however the Empire State Building was taller.
"There was a race on to see who could complete their building first," Ginter remarked. "That was a different time, when people took pride in their work. Men all wore hats, and you tipped your hat when you passed the Roman Catholic Church."
Ginter said he worked to pay for his college. He took a year off school to work as a machinist in order to pay his way through Virginia Tech.
"There weren't any scholarships, no free rides. But when I finished, I didn't owe anyone anything. It's not like that today and that's sad," he said.
Hupp added that today's generation has different priorities.
"They put sports before education ... and it's too easy to get credit. Drugs are more prevalent now than during the war. I think we had more respect for others."
As for what the younger generation needs to do, they should dress better and be more respectful - especially when in church or at school.
Three other Elmhurst residents - Helen "Bridget" Morrison, 96; Naomi Hupp, 92; and Janet Carenbauer, 88, were asked what advice they would give the next generation.
"They should dress better, be neater, and be more respectful of their elders," Hupp said. "I know I don't like tattoos - but that's something personal, I guess."
Carenbauer agreed youths should pay more attention to their appearance.
"Good manners are important, and so are family values," she commented. "I know I came from a strict family."
Morrison added she would especially like to see men be dressed more properly when they go out in public, and for women to take pride in their appearance.
"I think people should dress better in church," Carenbauer said. "People go in tank tops, and sometimes have their midriffs showing.
"We always dressed up when we went to church. We wore hats and long gloves."
Hupp said she didn't think it was as important for people to dress up in public as it is for them to not be disheveled, and maybe people sometimes can't afford dress clothes.
"I think it's more important for people to go to church," Morrison continued.
"I would go to church dressed properly, but if it keeps them away ... that's not a good thing."
Morrison and Hupp are both retired teachers and former working mothers. They noted while they were the exception in their day, it is all but necessary for women to earn a living in today's society.
Hupp said she remembers having the opportunity to teach her son John's second-grade class, and asking him how he would feel about that.
"He told me, 'I would rather you be my mommy,'" she said.
"He felt that."
She advises working mothers to "plan your working time well."
"If you are a single mother, if you have a backup with grandparents, that is good," Hupp continued.
"You need a good sitter to help you. Without that, it would be very difficult."
Morrison said she was married and had her children before becoming a biology teacher.
"If you have children, they should be your primary concern," she noted. "But I know to get along most women do have to work. They need the extra income."
Carenbauer said women of her generation typically didn't work, though she did much volunteer work. They would instead get married and have children.
"Now they have children, and maybe get married," she said.
"The times are so different. The people of our generation put a stigma on that."