The Not So Silent Generation: Part One

A series that gives an inside look into the extraordinary lives of ten humans over 75


Series Content Editor, Talin Hakopyan

Every single person on this planet has a story. The older you get, the more experiences you have to share, but when it comes to our elders, we often shut a blind eye. The Silent Generation consists of men and women born between 1925 and 1945. They are your grandparents or great-grandparents, your aunts and uncles, your neighbors and friends. They are the people that may have helped your parents raise you, the wise ones to turn to when life doesn’t make sense. The ones with the strong arms and warm laps.

Fifteen millennials sat down and had a conversation with ten silents to discuss their lives and their experiences. Some even offered their advice.

Rosa Flores, 96, El Salvador

Video and interviews by Melody N. Waintal/ Photos by Luis Olguin

“At least here you have help. You live better than over there. You work Monday through Friday and on Saturday you go pick up the cents you earned all week.”

With 96 years and still counting, Rosa doesn’t have a single bad bone in her body, literally and metaphorically. This incredible woman has her own little apartment she cleans every day and cooks for herself, even though her daughter-in-law and son live right next door. She takes life like a grain of sand, but enjoys every single pebble. She smiles at the universe and everything its given her. It’s amazing to think a woman like Rosa went through the experiences she did and still stands so strong.

James Mason , 80, California

By Sonia Cepeda/ Photos by Luis Olguin

“I don’t like to go back and think, ‘What if I’d done this?’ There’s no point because it would change so many things that I enjoy. I just live and enjoy what I have.”

From San Diego to Tokyo, Japan, James Mason says he grew up “all over the place.” With a father was a “career military person,” Mason didn’t know where he would live next. While living in Tokyo as a young boy, Mason was selected by an American tutor who believed the best way for American boys to learn the culture was to interface with boys the same age. One Japanese boy’s father had an interesting job — Emperor Akihito of Japan. Whole

“You just never know who you’re going to meet,” Mason said.

Mason remembered a time when he was four and living in San Diego. His father had to leave again and his mother was worried about the war. She kept the windows closed with blackout curtains, because there was a fear of the Japanese attacking the military headquarters where they lived.

“We were concerned about the war. [My father] was leaving us so he explained why and what was happening. He told us what happened in Pearl Harbor,” Mason said. “I think it was difficult on my mother…taking care of three kids. Unfortunately, certain food products were rationed so she was constantly going around trying to find out where she could get proper food.”

Mason described his father as strict.

“He was not a loving type person necessarily, very strict disciplinary. Part of the military background. So we were a little apprehensive about doing things and getting in trouble,” Mason said. “If we misbehaved, he told us not to and if we continued we learned what it meant to be whomped on the behind.”

Mason said when the Korean war broke out he thought he would be going to Korea but they sent his father to Japan. His father became the cop troller for all the military in Northern Japan.

Mason followed in his father’s footsteps and entered the voluntary draft after he graduated high school. He spent two years in active duty with 16 months spent in Korea. He stayed with the reserves for the next 38 years and is now a retired Army sergeant major.

After coming home from active duty, Mason started school at UCLA and in March of 1960, while crossing campus, a man approached him and shook his hand. He then said, “I’m running for president. I’d appreciate your vote.” The man was John F. Kennedy.

His message to young people is to be obedient to their parents and to get the best education possible.