How often we wax euphoric over the "simple, gentle country of our childhood."
Let's discuss that simple, gentle time a bit. On numerous occasions I have posted nostalgic pieces about my own childhood. They are often filled with the joys of kidhood, the games, the friends, the loving care of the parents, experiences that may be had only by the young. And the key is that we were children not yet saddled with the burdens and responsibilities of making a livelihood for ourselves or a family; not yet aware of the onus of political self-determination; and fully too young to be directly involved in the martial conflicts that eternally rage somewhere in this world.
The simple, gentle country of my own time was a place where I had the freedom to roam our town so long as I was home by suppertime. It was a time in which I did not have to concern myself with the intense struggle and long hours of hard work and worry that accompanied the parents' efforts to keep the family fed and clothed on an erratic and unstable income much too small to gain more than the rudimentary survival necessities. And yet my memories are of an abundant table laden with good things that Dad acquired and Mother prepared for our consumption. It was only as an adult that I came to understand the intensity of that struggle.
In that simple, gentle time when a child suffered illness, as I often did, the burden of doctor bills was borne by extra work, more stinting of their own needs by the parents. The doctor's advice to the parents to have pictures of the child made because he may not be long for this world was of no comfort to the parents and did nothing to alleviate the suffering of the child. The still-extant pictures that resulted, though, are a treasure even after nearly eight more decades added to the child's life.
In that simple, gentle time it was a given that your financial problems were your responsibility.
Since the War to End All Wars which occurred in the generation immediately prior to my own had failed spectacularly to end mankind's proclivity to belligerence, during my own time as a child there raged a second world-consuming conflict now known as WW II. I did have acquaintances and relatives a mere seven or eight years older than I who were off fighting in that conflict. Yet I could still play marbles, stomp in the mud puddles and generally create personal memories of a childhood, one in which the subject but barely understood the concern and worry and sacrifices his elders were making to provide him with the potential for a life of his own.
Next time you hear someone longing for the "good old days," smack him upside the head.
May the world treat you and your offspring in a kindly and gentle manner.