“Death of the Good Old Days”
You ask me, the Good Old Days were good because we didn’t know any better. If we had known what the Sam Hill was going on back then, we would’ve been every bit as angry and depressed as we are right now.
Today, little gets past us. Immediately and constantly we are bombarded with information both real and fabricated. Most of what we hear and read is bad, simply because good news doesn’t hold our attention as well.
In the Good Old Days we didn’t have that many choices. Let me take you on a short visit to the Hayter household back in The Day. -- Mom did all the grocery shopping for the family and she did it really fast. The reason I know that is because she would leave Dennis, Jill, Alan and me in the car with the windows down while she shopped; yet, she never lost any of us. If we had been accustomed to air conditioning, we would’ve moaned and groaned.
Mom wasn’t even afraid of us being kidnapped. If anyone walked by a car filled with sweaty kids, the notion of taking any of them home would be adverse to reason. Before heading into Weingarten’s, Mom would say something like, Den-Mark, take care of Jill and L’il Snothead. And, behave yourselves or when I get back I’ll wring your necks.
Fortunately, Mom never followed up on any of her horrific threats. -- I take that back. She did once come close to pulling my hair out. -- Unless a parent backs up a threat, it’s hard for a kid to remember what he’s not supposed to do. To this day, I’ve associated a door slamming with a hair yanking. And, there’s no counting how many times I cried until I was given something to cry about.
From all of that, you might be led to assume that Mom didn’t let us shop with her because we acted up in the grocery store. Truth be told, I don’t ever remember her letting us in the grocery store. Elsie always anticipated the worst when it came to child rearing. Everything she did was preemptive.
We missed out on a whole lot by not getting to shop with Mom. Had it not been for the cereal commercials on our 18 inch RCA, I would’ve thought that Grape Nut Flakes was the only cereal on the market. A decade or so later, when I got to eat my first bowl of Sugar Pops, I wept.
That’s why it never took Mom long to shop. There wasn’t all that much of a selection, and she knew exactly what she wanted. Today, there are way too many decisions to make while grocery shopping. Take crackers. Mom’s choice used to be between Saltines and Ritz. I am so glad she didn’t live to see the Trapezoid Flaxseed with Farro Bits Cracker.
When it came to sliced bread we got Mrs. Baird’s or Cookbook. When Sunbeam came out with thin-sliced bread, Mom jumped all over it. I believe it was Dad who made her go back to Baird.
I lived during a time before the twist-tie was invented. All bread was wrapped in paper with one end laced with an un-stickable glue. After closing the wrapper, you had to shove the end of the bread against the flour canister to keep it closed.
Picking out produce was a lot simpler back then. They apparently had not yet bred different varieties of tomatoes, because the only one I ever saw was the one called “tomatoe.” Now, I have to stand in the produce department and try to figure out if I want the tomatoes with the vines still on ‘em, or the container with the 56 grape-sized tomatoes. I’ve never cared for a tomato that exploded in my mouth. Kay apparently gets a bang out of ‘em.
The only lettuce of which I was aware was called “head lettuce” because it was in the shape of a soccer ball and no one played soccer back then. There are so many different varieties of lettuce, today, that if one variety carries a germ, there are still 34 other weird leafy things from which you can choose.
But that was all acceptable because, like I say, we didn’t know any better. As I look back, we were shielded from so much. Food selection was only one of the minor cover-ups. Practically all of the ills in today’s society have been with us since biblical times. I was raised during a time when the media, government, schools, churches, and, yes, our parents told us what they considered was best for us to know. In the words of Colonel Nathan R. Jessup in “A Few Good Men,” we couldn’t handle the truth.
Now, we have a so much grander opportunity to discard our blissful ignorance. It’s so much easier to check up on things. What we find out can really mess up our opinions about stuff, but that’s only a problem with those of us who worship opinion.
Perhaps children today will be able to look back to what they consider Good Old Days. For that to happen, we need to care enough to search for and learn the truth. But more than that, we will need to value it.