The other day I was shopping in a local natural food store when the cashier asked me if I wanted a plastic bag or a paper bag. I said I wanted a plastic bag because I used them at home for trash. She looked at me strangely and said that paper would be more environmentally friendly. I smiled and stuck with the plastic.
As I was leaving the store I flashed back on my childhood growing up in the 40s and 50s and smiled.
In those years milk was delivered to our home in bottles. When finished we would leave them on the back porch for the milkman to pick up where they were sent back to the milk company to be washed, sterilized, refilled and redelivered.
Back then stairs everywhere were the norm. Escalators were not in every store, and an elevator was run by an elevator guy that did more than just push a button and even department stores had stairs that took you up to the next floor.
If we needed groceries we would walk to the store instead of driving a couple of blocks and spending a fortune on gasoline.
Mothers used to wash diapers because throwaways had not been created yet.
After clothes came out of the washing machine, if you were affluent enough to own one, the clothes were hung on a clothes’ line to dry in the sun and wind instead of a super-powered dryer that created havoc on the electric bill. If you didn’t own a washing machine it was common to take a trip on a bicycle with a bag of laundry to wash at the Laundromat.
Families with more than one kid used to recycle clothes until the youngest couldn’t fit in them anymore. Then they were given to friends that had kids that could fit in them. To buy a new t-shirt or a new pair of jeans was a real treat and they were worn until they fell apart.
When televisions first came out I used to go upstairs to our neighbors to watch. When we finally got one we only had one. Not one in every room.
In our kitchen the only electric appliance was the refrigerator and all preparations were done by hand and cooked on the stove or in the oven, which ran on gas. Each room had one electrical outlet and we used extension cords like crazy.
To get exercise we played ball everyday or had a paper route that was facilitated by foot or bike and to get to school, walking a mile or two was matter-of-fact. And on a Saturday, if we wanted to go shopping downtown, we never thought twice about taking the bus.
Our moms were stay-at-home moms and were there everyday when we got home from school. And after football, swimming or track practice, as exhausted as we were, we simply walked home. And never once gave a thought to using our moms or dads as a “taxi” service, despite the fact that gas was only $.25 per gallon.
What I remember the most and the fondest was always respecting my parents and always listening to them. The two things that were never lacking were the sincerity and the love. It was what made family a family.
I came to Hawaii in the 70s with a backpack. Now, I have a home full of stuff and a storage locker full of stuff that I can’t find a place for in the house.
But, it doesn’t end here.
To all you peeps out there that survived the 30’s, 40’s 50’s 60’s and 70’s; this is our entry into Ripley’s history.
First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant.
They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn’t get tested for diabetes.
Then, after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints.
We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles and were not restricted from opening doors or cabinets.
When we rode our bikes we had no helmets, not to mention the risks we took hitchhiking.
As infants and children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, booster seats, seat belts or air bags and riding in the back of pick-up truck on a warm day was a special treat.
We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle and there was no such thing as fluoride.
We shared one soda with four friends, all drinking from the same bottle and no one died from this.
We ate Twinkies, Devil Dogs, Yankee Doodles, JUJUBES, jellybeans, red licorice sticks, Hostess creamed-filled cupcakes, white bread with butter and drank Kool-Aid, but were never over-weight because we were always playing outside.
We would leave home in the morning and play all day as long as we were back home when the streetlights came on and our parents never freaked out or called the cops despite not being able to reach us all day.
We would spend hours building go-carts out of old boxes and roller skates and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes, trees, cars and buildings, we figured it out.
We never had Playstations, Nintendo’s, X-boxes, or video games. We never had 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVD’s. We had no surround-sound, CD’s, cell phones, personal computers, Internet, or chat rooms.
We had friends and we went outside to find them.
We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and never, ever, was there a lawsuit from this. And doctors routinely made house calls.
We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms never lived in us forever.
We were given BB guns as a birthday gift and we played stickball on the sides of building by drawing a strike zone on the building and stoopball. And, despite being told it would happen, we never got our eyes poked out or hit by a car
We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell or just walked in and talked to them. And their mom’s always gave us milk and cookies.
If we didn’t make a Little League team, we dealt with the disappointment and moved on. Imagine that!
The idea of our parents bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of because they always sided with the law.
We never had GMO’s laden with pesticides and we had no Monsanto. When we saw the movie “Soylent Green” in 1973, which was a futuristic depiction of NYC in 2022, with a population of 40 million and where the food supply was the dead people being fed back to the living, we could not relate to 2022. Now it is a frightening 2 years away and the horror of what’s to come scares the crap out of us.
Those generations produced some of the best minds, risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever and the past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.
We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all. If you are one of them, I take my hat off to you.
You might want to share this with others who have had the good fortune to grow up as kids before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives for our own good!
And while you’re at it, let your kids know how brave, lucky and fortunate their parents were. Sure makes you want to a good look at today, doesn’t it?
And, in closing, with hurricanes, tornadoes, fires out of control, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, nuclear disasters, the threat of bird flu, Gardasil vaccines now being mandated for boys, every illness now is the corona virus, terrorist attacks, taxation out of control, genetically modified politicians, same sex marriage being legalized, riots and OCCUPY this and OCCUPY that and more of our Constitutional rights being stripped away from us on a daily basis, are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?