There is a status update that recently made the rounds on FaceBook that goes like this:
“If you grew up on home-cooked meals, you rode a bike with no helmet, your parents’ house was not ‘child-proof,’ you got a spankin’when you misbehaved, you had 3 TV channels you got up to change or went outside to turn the antenna, school started with the Pledge of Allegiance, stores were closed on Sunday, you drank water out of a water hose and still turned out okay, repost this and show that you survived.”
And it was like, “Wow, yes I did survive all that.” And then, “Wow, look how much has changed.”
When I was a kid, I used to marvel at how my grandparents had lived through so many significant changes in the world during the course of their lives. My father’s mother, born in 1898, still called automobiles “machines” when I was growing up and she had an old-fashioned ringer washing machine in her house.
During her lifetime, San Francisco was leveled by an earthquake and fire, cars replaced horses as the primary means of transportation, airplanes replaced ocean liners for travel, men walked on the moon. There were two World Wars, the Korean Conflict and Viet Nam. The Catholic Church went through 7 popes.
And now I find myself looking back and thinking, “Damn…things are moving so fast now that before we know it we’re going to be racing ahead of ourselves.”
I grew up eating home-cooked meals. I rode a blue Schwinn bike with no helmet on my head. Our house was not “child-proofed” — we KNEW what we could and couldn’t touch. If one of fell and scraped a knee, our Mom would wash it off and spray Bactine on it.
My brother and I did get some spankings, but it wasn’t “child abuse.” The TV was big and boxy and yep, we had to get up to change the channel. The screen images were in black and white and there was an outdoor antenna on the roof. My Dad used to replace tubes in the back of the TV to keep it working.
We recited the Pledge of Allegiance at school and there was no argument about the “under God” part since we attended Catholic school. Stores really were closed on Sundays!! There were no indoor mega-malls.
And I still remember how the water used to taste when it came out of the hose.
There are all kinds of modern technological gewgaws now that are supposed to make our lives simpler, but still, it seems to me that it was simpler back in the day when there were no cell phones, personal computers or endless things that you have to plug in to “charge” before using.
The home phone was black with a rotary dial and there was no answering machine. If you needed to call home for a ride, you stuck a dime in a payphone. If you didn’t want anyone to know where you were, it was a piece of cake.
Nowadays, it seems like NOTHING is left to chance. Kids HAVE to wear bicycle helmets. Motorcycle riders used to be able to choose whether to protect their brains or not. Now they can’t. (Imagine the movie “Easy Rider” being filmed NOW (not that I really want to imagine that)…no dirty pony-tailed hippie hair blowing in the breeze in the 21st century…nuh-uh….)
We didn’t HAVE to wear seat belts. Babies and toddlers didn’t have to be strapped into armored car seats. The family dog could sit wherever he wanted. If he got in the way, you just stopped the car and moved him.
Politically Correct mothers weren’t running around buying electric-socket protectors or sticky-backed bumper guards for the coffee table. Moms walked their babies in a stroller or buggy, not a mini-Humvee.
There was no such thing as “No Smoking” — smoking cigarettes was a choice. If somebody’s second-hand smoke was bothering you, you moved or you politely asked the smoker to move. My grandfather smoked Raleighs and my mother smoked Chesterfields with us kids in the car…and we lived.
It used to be that if you accidentally ran a red light, you breathed a sigh of relief that there was no cop around to see it happen. Now there are cameras at intersections monitoring your every freakin’ move.
Camping used to be an escape from the “civilized world” — a chance to be in the presence of Nature, to hike, smell pine trees, sleep in a tent or under the stars, to tell stories around the campfire, to maybe get a little peace and quiet.
Now, “campers” bring their whole dadgum house with them, complete with TV, hookups for electricity and kitchenette facilities in a big, gas guzzling $100,000 motorhome. So much for simplicity out in the wilderness.
There are all the other changes, of course, that have happened since I was young. Pharmaceutical companies invent dis-eases to create more pills for (whereas Jonas Salk created his vaccine for a real disease for free). GPs no longer simply say, “Take two aspirin and call me in the morning”…they hand the patient samples of Big Pharma designer drugs.
It used to be that houses were homes, not “McMansions.” There were no “Homeowners’ Associations” telling your Dad precisely where he could plant a daffodil bulb or what color he had to paint his fence.
Airlines would let you bring as much crap on a plane as you wanted and there were no extra fees. Believe it or not, it actually used to be fun to fly. You never HAD to take your shoes off for any part of the adventure.
The main thing, however, is…we may have more “stuff” now, but at the same time, we have less freedoms. We are treated like children who can’t take care of ourselves. Follow the rules…get a gold star or die and go to heaven, I guess.
But when we really WERE children, we survived WITHOUT all the legal restrictions and constant monitoring.
And we still can.
I’m thirsty…I think I’ll go find a garden hose…. It won’t kill me!
©April 2011 by Phyllis J. Hanniver