On December 21, 1967, the movie, “The Graduate” was released.
I was finishing final exams for the fall quarter of my sophomore year at Michigan State University.
I had decided that my relationship with my boyfriend was serious and I was in the process of transferring from Michigan State, where we’d met, to George Washington University, in Washington, DC, to be near him, a new hire at IBM in the DC area.
It was less than two weeks before he’d be drafted.
It was just slightly more than a month before we’d decide to get married, two days in advance of his entry into boot camp for the U.S. Army.
The angst of trying to decide what to do with your life and who to do it with as you were graduating from college fit my life perfectly.
For us, the answer was not “plastics,” but “computers.”
Computers were a profession that didn’t even exist when I was in high school, so wouldn’t have been on the radar for the author of the 1963 book the movie was based on.
The novel, “The Graduate,” was written by Charles Webb, based on his own life experiences, shortly after he graduated from Williams College. He had grown up in California, son of a wealthy doctor, paralleling the story he wrote in which the hero, Ben, played by Dustin Hoffman, returns home to California after college in New England.
Williams College, a liberal arts school in Williamstown, Massachusetts would have been near the heart of the plastics revolution.
In the upper northwest corner of Massachusetts, Williamstown is about two hours from the central Massachusetts town of Leominster, birthplace of Johnny Appleseed.
Leominster is a manufacturing city that introduced plastics to its comb manufacturers with the 1868 invention of celluloid, replacing their diminishing supply of animal horns.
Injection molding, invented in the 1920s, was brought to Leominster by the manufacturer, Samuel Foster. Later his company was to be known for its Foster Grant sunglasses.
In 1956, the plastic flamingo was invented in Leominster as a lawn ornament, eventually so pervasive as to be the kitschy sign of 1960s suburbia.
Ben’s father’s friend’s advice to the new graduate, “plastics,” made sense, at that time, in that place, for that young man. Click here to watch the YouTube video clip of that famous scene, “Plastics.”
If you’ve always wanted to have plastic flamingos in your yard, or just want to show them to your grandchildren, order a pair from amazon by clicking on “Bright Pink Flamingo Yard Ornament (2pack).”
Carol Covin, Granny-Guru