Thursday, April 28, 2011


The Good Ol' Days!

The latest AARP newspaper had a short piece telling it's readers not to act old, even though they are. The following points were what AARP considered most typical of a senior acting old. (1) Do not always talk about any chronic illness you have or any aches and pains. (2). Do not talk about the "good old days" as a main topic of a lot of your conversations. (3). Do not talk, or act depressed, about the death of a loved one or friend after 3 months.

I do not understand number 3 and do not see how you cannot talk about your deceased spouse if you survive them. When you are old and lose a spouse, the survivor, more often than not, also passes away within a year. I am writing this one off as pure bull. I can see number one. While a health problem YOU have is very important to you, it is not to anyone you are talking to and they cannot do anything about it. That leaves number 2, so I got to thinking, were the good old days better than today, and if so how?

I WOULD much rather grow up when I did rather than today. The pace of living was much slower and there were a lot fewer people. The population in 1950 was 150 million. I don't understand one major change in the national dialog about world population. There was a lot of discussion in the 50's and 60's about the need to control the world's population. Now, when the population has doubled, there is not any discussion about the problem. There is little doubt that we are stressing the planet's resources to feed the people now on earth. Crowding makes people edgy and angry, especially while driving. I don't think it was as dangerous for a child as it is today. Were there fewer child predators, percentage wise, in the good ol' days? I don't know. Maybe it wasn't as common because the occurrences were not covered by the media. I know I had a lot more freedom then the children do today. When I was Joelle's age, I was wondering off by myself down the railroad track picking up stray dogs. I doubt if Mom even knew where I was half the time. Now, Joelle is closely watched when she just crosses the street to play at a neighbor's house. I panic if either girl is ever out of my sight line. Drugs were not a problem through the mid 60's. I was never ever exposed to illegal prescription drugs and never knew anyone who ever took them. The Viet Nam war brought the drugs home with the returning soldiers. I guess it was bound to happen anyway. Another major change is the ethics of conducting business. There were always some crooks, but deceitful business practice is the norm today. You shouldn't conduct any business transaction, like cell phone service or cable TV service without a lawyer. The deceit is intentional and widespread.

We didn't have TV or electronic games, I cannot say I missed it. Food was a lot different. Meals were mostly prepared from what was grown seasonal and and grown nearby with the exception of citrus. We didn't use any pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers in our gardens. Vegetables were canned in the summer and eaten in the winter. There were no shopping malls and you went downtown to buy everything. Parking was not a problem. My Texas drivers' license number was less that 275,000 when I got it at 14. I had a commerical license when I was 16. There are now two zeros in front of my number. Erwin didn't even have a grocery super market, but we did have one in Kingsport and in Longview. The biggest negative I can think of was the war in Viet Nam. I was not very aware of the Korean war because I was too young and not effected. We did have the cold war. I cannot ever remember being very worried about it even though there were several buildings downtown that were designated as atomic fallout shelters. We had drills in school to get under our desk in case of atomic attack. Air raid warning test were conducted every Friday at noon. I often wondered, what if they attacked at noon? No one ever paid any attention to those siren blast that lasted a couple of minutes. It became white noise. We had a saying, better red than dead.

I do not think that the 40's, 50's and 60's were a great time to grow if you were female or Afro American. The only jobs for women were school teachers, nurses, secretaries or store clerks. The education and job opportunities for an Afro American were even more limited in the south. I cannot say about the rest of the country. Medical Science has been the area of biggest improvement. Penicillin was discovered during the second world war. Before the discovery of antibiotics, I believe that pneumonia was the biggest killer, not heart attacks or cancer. No joint replacement for arthritics, no drugs for high blood pressure or cholesterol. I believe that insulin shots were the only thing available for diabetics. Medical technology has come a long way, now if we could just decide that it should be available for all people regardless of income, age or existing medical conditions. In other words, health care is a requirement, not a privilege. This brings me to another big change from the "good Ol' Days" and the present. For the most part, people had empathy for other people that needed help. I believe that almost every county in East Tennessee had a "poor farm". That's the origin of the phrase of "I am going to end up on the poor farm". People who had nothing could move to a community farm, work as much as they were able and would be provided with meals and a place to sleep. I guess the reason people had more empathy was we had just come out of the great depression that destroyed the lives of about 25% of the population. Everyone knew some family that needed help to just survive. I believe that this country lost empathy starting with the post war baby boomers....the "Me" generation.

Another big change I can see is religion and religious values. I think just as many, maybe more, people were religious then, but they didn't get in your face about it, be judgemental, and use it as a politically tool. There was a little in the early 60's when they tried to use Kennedy's Catholic religion against him during the presidential race. Today, religious issues are a wedge issues used to determine elections. I wish someone would explain to me how recognizing civil unions is a threat to my marriage of 44 years. I don't see it. I do see the injustice of denying people of the sane sex who have lived together the legal rights needed for medical decisions.

I believe that the extended families were much closer back in the good ol' days. They were closer because they all lived near one another. I guess we started the trend in the 50's when we moved to Texas. In some ways, I regret that we moved away. We had no family in Texas and I am sure I could have used some help after my Dad died in 1956.

I maintain that I would rather grow up when I did that grown up in today's environment. The reasons are my childhood memories of roaming the railroad tracks, spending all summer at Uncle Ober's and Aunt Mary's farm and the cool summer nights and holidays in Erwin with all my Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents. I also think we like to think of the good old days because we were young, nothing hurt and when you got sick, you got well. So, I think that youth and health is what makes the old days good.

I am sure that when my grandchildren grow old, they will think of the early 2000's as the good old days. Your youth is what I think makes those long lost days good.

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