A rerun - a post from November 8, 2009 with a different title. I'm working on my NaNoWriMo manuscript, so I apologize that not all of the links work. I am writing a memoir, so...time to remember. (My NaNoWriMo weekly check in, this week, will be Saturday.)
THE GOOD OLD DAYS THAT NEVER WILL
If you are the typical 50-something, you pass various joke emails back
and forth....about aging, weight gain, and "how good it was in the
1950's". (Or, maybe in 2013, you use Facebook.)
There are the pictures taken from old black and white TV programming.
There are the quizzes you pass only if you know about Black Jack gum, wringer washing machines, and The Lone Ranger.
There are the "we got raised fine despite (name hygienic measure of your choice that didn't exist in our childhood)" stories.
Ah, those good old days.
Like memory, nostalgia is selective.
And the 1950's weren't just Howdy Doody, skate keys and green Coke bottles. There's the stuff we forget. And the stuff we don't really want to think about.
I sure remember the always present sores on my nose from those heavy
glass framed glasses. How thankful I am for modern technology. And for
the blood pressure pills that save me from the fate of my grandmother.
My spouse remembers the boy next door, the one close to his age, the one
who had a heart defect and never made it to adulthood. As an adult I
found out how his mother carried him to school because he was too big
for a stroller, she didn't have a car and the school refused to provide
transportation for him. You see, there was no law protecting his rights
to a free and appropriate public education. That's just the way things
I remember when I was young, my parents (and me, indirectly) being
discriminated against in housing because of our religion. And how, as
an adult, I got to read the papers of a house I was purchasing in
Wichita, KS, and seeing how there was a pre-civil rights act "restrictive covenant" that would have prohibited a person of color, certain ethnic origins, or a Jewish person from purchasing it.
I remember how girlfriends interested in playing school sports were just plain out of luck.
I remember employment ads in the paper separated into "Help Wanted Male" and "Help Wanted Female".
I remember my father telling me about being stationed in Biloxi, MS
during World War II and seeing the colored drinking fountain signs and
I grew up knowing that my father, who suffered from epilepsy due to a
head injury suffered in service to his country, found himself time and
time again discriminated against
when trying to look for work. (Of course, this continues today, but at
least there are laws that intend to protect against this.) You see, in
the early 60's his job was moved 700 miles away and he didn't want to
uproot his family. Yes, that stuff happened even then.
I know now that, in certain states, he could have been sterilized (although perhaps not by the 1950's), and you would not be reading this blog today if this had happened to him.
I remember that a former co-worker lost her mother in childbirth due to a
health condition I was successfully treated for in my pregnancy, and my
son and I are both alive today. But her mother isn't.
I remember the man I met last month, alive because of a heart transplant. [2013 update-as of October, he was still alive.]
I won't even get into some of the "adventures" of my brother in law
growing up, because people then just didn't understand (or care) about
autism. Nope, that wouldn't have made it to Leave it to Beaver.
Yup, those good old days of black and white.
Do I sound bitter? If I do, I don't mean it. I will be the first to
admit there are things about the 50's that we would do well to still
practice. Like common courtesy to our fellow man. Like patience, like
not expecting things "instantly." Like respect. Like children being
able to explore on their own, being able to spend time just daydreaming,
not having every minute of their day planned and regimented by adults.
But, we should not live in a past that never existed.