|Back in our day . . .||
As I sit here on my well-worn overstuffed couch with an Xbox controller in hand and a teenage grandchild at my side, I have to wonder how I acquired grandchildren who are older than I am...
But of course, they aren't. I don't know how it is for others who are aging, but I don't feel a day over ten. How I came to have ulcers, dentures, reading glasses, and a host of other things that only old people are supposed to have is a mystery that I never expect to solve. But Bonnie thinks it would be a good idea to begin to run this blog as a form of memoir for the kids, the grandkids, close friends, and anyone else who can keep a civil tongue in their head. I fully agree, although it will force me to take a close look at who I am and how I got here.
Before you can begin to make sense of the events of which I will be writing, it will be necessary for you to understand that I grew up in a very different world from the one inhabited by my grandchildren, and even my children. For example, I have been reliably informed that my mother smoked, drank, ate tuna from the can, and had little or no prenatal care at all. I was put to sleep on my tummy in a baby crib covered with lead-based paint. There were no childproof caps on the medicine bottles nor locks on the kitchen cabinets, and later on, when I rode my bike, if anything was on my head, it was a baseball cap. The other kids would have made me wear a dress if I'd shown up on my bike with a helmet on!
I rode in a car without a car seat, a booster seat, seat belts, or air bags that had bald tires and marginal brakes. My favorite riding position when "shotgun" wasn't available was standing on the floor in back leaning on the front seat so I could see out the front window. Riding in the back of a pickup truck on a warm summer day was always a special treat. I drank water from a garden hose, and four of us routinely shared a Coke or Pepsi, and I don't remember one case of typhoid flaring up in my neighborhood.
We ate Twinkies, white bread, real butter, and bacon. We drank Kool-Aid made with real white sugar, but none of us were overweight. Why not? Because we were always outside playing, that's why not! On weekends, and especially during the summer, our folks would push us out the door after breakfast, and they didn't expect to see us again until the street lights came on. They only had the most general idea where we were, but we knew where they were if we needed adult intervention. We spent hours building soapbox racers out of junk, and rode them down the steepest hills we could find, only to discover that we had neglected to include brakes in our brilliant design. We fell out of trees, got cuts and scrapes, broke bones, chipped teeth, and yet somehow no lawsuits were ever brought over these accidents.
We didn't have Playstations, Nintendos, or XBoxes. There were no video games, nor 150 channels on cable, because there was no cable! There were no DVDs, no DVRs, no surround sound, no cell phones, no iPods, no MP3s, 4s, or 5s, no personal computers, no Internet, and no chat rooms. We had actual friends, and when we wanted to chat, we didn't look them up on Facebook, we went outside and found them. That's right, we rode our bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door.
Little League had tryouts, and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with the disappointment. Imagine that! And the idea of a parent bailing us out if we ran afoul of the law was unheard of; the parents actually sided with the law!
We were spanked with wooden spoons, switches, coat hangers, Ping-Pong paddles, and belts by parents, aunts and uncles, and schoolteachers, and no one ever called child services to report the abuse. We ate worms, dirt, and suspicious vegetation. We were given BB guns for our 10th birthday and made up games using baseball bats and golf balls, and contrary to what we were told, very few eyes were actually put out.
Our generation went on to produce some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers, and innovators in history. Today's kids master hand-held games that are more capable than the computers that put men on the moon, but if their fanbelt breaks halfway between L.A. and Vegas, do they know how to fix it using a pair of pantyhose? We had freedom and responsibility, experienced success and failure, and had to deal with it all, good and bad. If you are one of us, congratulations! You might want to share this with those less fortunate, those whose childhood came after the lawyers and politicians decided that being a child was far too lucrative to be left in the hands of children.
So now you have some idea of the perspective I bring to this project. I think the world seen through the eyes of today's child, despite all the electronics and wonder-toys, is nowhere near as interesting as the one I saw was. But that's just my opinion. Settle back for the ride, and don't hesitate to speak up if we strike a nerve...
All the best,
[Disclaimer: A good many versions of this "child of the fifties" thing has been going around the Internet for a good many years. I freely admit to have cherrypicked the points that spoke closely to my own childhood, and expanded them through the filter of my own experience. I don't want to take credit for anyone else's work, but why reinvent the wheel? Regardless of all that, I hope you had a good time! ~ J.T.
This is for the grandkids, the family, close friends, and anyone else who can keep a civil tongue in their heads! It amounts to an interactive book of memoirs, but only if you interact... so get to it!
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California has been my home since 1965. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I'm home to stay!
What is there to say about a ten-year old turning 65, besides, what the hell happened?!??