Have you ever had a conversation with someone younger than you and realized that the references you were making to him or her were completely lost in translation? This happened to me about two months ago with my high school volleyball team I coach. We competed in a tournament in the Chicago suburbs, and one of the players on a team we competed against was the daughter of former Chicago Bulls great Scottie Pippen.
Since I grew up a Bulls fan I was pretty excited when I mentioned it to my team. But my excitement was replaced by astonishment when I realized their vacant expressions meant they had no idea who I was talking about. I was shocked. In the early 1990s Scottie Pippen was a household name in my neck of the woods because of his success with the Chicago Bulls. Only with the help of Internet sites like Google and YouTube did my players have any clue who he was.
I can’t really fault them. I didn’t realize that I was referencing an athlete who peaked some 15 years ago, well before any of my players were even out of diapers. It was just another instance that revealed the generation gap between them and me. It happens to us all. The older we get, the harder it is for us to relate to the younger generation, who don’t necessarily place the same significance on events or people as we do.
But every now and again you’ll run into a history buff whose knowledge of past events, people, or technology will blow you away. Meet Joshua Shaw, a relative youngster at age 34 and the focus of our cover story (“Where the rubber meets the road). Shaw has made a career out of preserving history. As a restorer of vintage Sprint cars, he relies on the past to ensure that the repairs he makes maintain the integrity of the car.
Shaw doesn’t thoughtlessly rip through cars simply to make them pretty. He pours over photos, asks questions, and studies each component and each weld to determine the best way to move forward. Some projects are more difficult than others, like the KK 2000 he is currently working on. The car dates back to the 1940s and is one of the just 12 made. Only six had been found, which meant this car was one of the other six not yet identified. After spending about a year researching its origins, Shaw finally tracked down which car it was based on its bumper. It required multiple trips to the library.
“As frustrating as it is at times, it’s like searching for treasure. It’s cool, I like it,” Shaw said.
All of us, whether young or old, could stand to look at history as treasure.
In the meantime I’ll be dusting off my 1993 NBA World Championship highlights video and scheduling a mandatory film session with my players.