Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Good Old Days

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.

4 comments:

Secondary Roads said...

Being somewhat younger, my earliest memories are of living with my mother and sister while Dad was in the Air Corp. Apart from that, my experience closely parallels your own.

vanilla said...

Chuck, much as I appreciated having those "innocent" days, I realize that today is the only day I have. If I am fortunate enough to have another day I want it to be better than today, not clouded with negativity.

Vee said...

I don't long to be back there, but I wish my great-grandchildren could enjoy the freedom we had to seek adventure. Building a "city" beneath a tree located next to a street might now lead to a child being snatched away from family.

If Mama had been sitting in the park watching us and yelling things like, "You're going to hurt yourself," or "Use the steps. Don't climb up the slide," the fun would have been spoiled. Plus, she would not have had time to cook all of those delicious meals. No McDonald's then, so bologna sandwiches would have ruled.

Our little city beneath the tree in Cańon was great. But now, even if given the freedom to explore and create, electronic devices would likely trump outdoor fun. Wonder what kind of creativeness is being fostered in this environment.

vanilla said...

Vee, there's a nostalgia bit that is fun to recall. As to creativity of the young just look at the tv and the internet. Oh, they are creative, and I shudder.