During the holidays I often have moments of melancholy when I wish today's young people could enjoy the type of life I had as a young boy. And yet, I wonder if they would. I savor memories of my "good ol' days", but I tend to wonder if they really were any better than any other era. Let me explain.
When I was a tike:
-We had black and white TV that usually only got three channels. No TiVo. No satellite dishes. No DVDs. No video games. We listened to a lot of radio and found other things to do with our time. Lives weren't centered around TV nearly as much as now.
-We could leave the doors to our house (and just about anything else)unlocked. People respected one another's property. There was little crime, or fear of it, at least where I lived.
-People were not all in a hurry. They couldn't be. Transportation was not nearly as efficient. You walked a lot. You rode bikes. The bus. You had one car, if that.
-The only mobile phones were in cartoons and movies. Telephonic communication was more a matter of necessity than convenience.
-Most, not all, but most families had stay-at-home moms. Usually, the mother's job was to raise the kids, teach them right from wrong, feed them, and keep them out of trouble. Most people lived a life not too far off from the old "Leave it to Beaver" or "Ozzie and Harriet" shows. (I realize young people reading this might not know what those shows were like either)
-People were more into the lives of other people. You knew about the neighbor's sick aunt. You were sorry when your cousin's, friend's dog died. You were excited to see an old friend in church. Parents seemed to be more like leaders and teachers than friends and admirers. Grandparents were more a part of the family. Family members usually all had the same last name.
-Being a sports fan was simpler. By that I mean the basketball hero in your life was more likely to be the kid down the street who starred on the high school team than Shaquille O'Neal. Your baseball hero was "Stan the Man" or Mickey Mantle, and you could expect them to play their whole career on the same team. You wouldn't miss the "big game" between the high-school football rivals. You showed up at a playground basketball game because it featured two guys who could "really play".
-There was a lot less gray area between right and wrong. And if you weren't sure about it, any convenient adult was more than willing to straighten you out.
-A best friend was a constant companion and you didn't do anything without each other knowing about it.
-Life was simpler, safer, slower, warmer, fuzzier, centered around family, friends, school, church and love.
-Special moments seemed to be fewer and farther between. But they were really special.
By now, you're probably thinking this sounds a lot like an Andy Rooney piece on "60 Minutes".
I tend to think this would be a life and time that everyone would want. But then, the more I think about it, I really don't know. Maybe I'm just thinking that way because it's part of my history, and so many fond memories of people and places that I have enjoyed are found there. So, I tend to think of it as idyllic.
Would someone born in the last twenty years really want to go back to that time? If they could, would they want to stay? A better question is, would I be willing to give up the many conveniences and interesting technological aspects of living today? Cell phones? Cars that rarely break down? Computers and the internet? Interstate highways? Air travel? High definition TV? Surround sound? Drive-up windows? Automatic dishwashers, clotheswashers and dryers? ATMs? Pay-at-the-pump? Cordless drills? Should I keep going? Of course, noone would want to give all these things up. But, I didn't miss them as a kid, because we didn't know any better. They didn't exist. We did just fine without them. Different, but fine.
One thing is for sure, there's no going back. I tend to think that today will be the "good ol' days" to my sons; which is kind of a scary thought. I don't know how much more things can advance. Will they be thinking of the days when you actually had to pay for gas? When cars only drove on the ground? When you didn't have retinal-scan on every bank transaction? When everyone needed insurance to fix their car or their broken leg? When you had less than a thousand channels on your TV? When you couldn't transport yourself to another place in less than 5 seconds?
Who knows what living 50 years from now will bring? But could today (with all it's crime, hustle and bustle, people seemingly not caring about each other, "instant gratification is everything"-mentality and political correctness) possibly be thought of as "the good ol' days"? I think not. But then, I wouldn't think of my dad's, or grandpa's, time as the "good ol' days" either.