Recently, one of my Facebook friends posted the following on her wall (which was copied from somewhere else):
The way I remember it, too.
I grew up in Ohio and never once questioned my Dads income, it was never a discussion. We drank Kool-Aid made from water that came from our kitchen sink with real sugar. We ate fried egg sandwiches, or even tuna (which was in a can not a pouch), PB&J & grilled cheese sandwiches, hot dogs, but mostly homemade meals consisting of meat, potatoes, and vegetables, and meat loaf or fried chicken on Sunday’s.
We grew up during a time when we mowed lawns, pulled weeds, babysat, helped neighbors with chores to be able to earn our own money. We by no means were given everything we wanted.
We went outside a lot to play, ride bikes, run with friends, play hide and seek, or went swimming. We rarely just sat inside. We drank tap water from the water hose outside, bottled water was unheard of. If we had a coke, it was in a glass bottle, and we didn’t break the bottle when finished. We saved it and cashed it back in at the store for a refund.
We watched TV shows like Leave It To Beaver, Gilligan’s Island, Happy Days, Bewitched, The Brady Bunch, Looney Tunes, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Sanford and Son, Disney on Sunday night, McHales Navy, Andy Griffith, and I Love Lucy. Mom decided everything we watched or didn’t watch. After school, we came home and did homework and chores, before going outside or having friends over. We would ride our bikes for hours.I had to tell our Mom where we were going, who we were going with, and be home when the street lights came on!
You LEARNED from your Mom instead of disrespecting her and treating her as if she knew absolutely nothing. What she said was LAW, and you did not question it, and you had better know it!
We watched what we said around our elders because we knew if we DISRESPECTED any grown-up we would get our behinds whipped, it wasn’t called abuse, it was called discipline! We held doors, carried groceries, and gave up our seat for an older person without being asked. You didn’t hear curse words on the radio in songs or TV, and if you cursed and got caught you had a bar of soap stuck in your mouth.
“Please, Thank you, yes please, no thank you, yes ma’am, no ma’am yes sir, and no sir were part of our daily vocabulary!
The world we live in now is just so full of crooked people, hate and disrespect for others.
Consider re-posting if you’re thankful for your childhood. I will never forget where I came from and only wish children nowadays had half the chance at the fun and respect for real life we grew up with! And we were never bored!
The woman who posted this is in her late seventies. Born in the late 40s, her “world” was very different from the world of today. I can say the same thing myself. I was born in 1957. My childhood was very different from that of my grandchildren. Polly and I married in 1978. We will celebrate our forty-fifth anniversary in July. When we married, we owned a car that cost $200. Our rent was $225. We had a black dial telephone, a record player, an eight-track tape player, an RCA AM radio, a 13-inch black and white TV with a metal clothes hangar as an antenna, a toolbox of tools, a few games, clothing, shoes, jewelry, used furniture, and home furnishings. That’s it. We had no cable bill, no Internet bill, and no cellphone bill — though we did pay twenty-five cents a minute to make long-distance phone calls on our home phone. Simple times, to be sure. However, were these times “better” than today?
Baby boomers are known for romanticizing the “good old days,” much like their Great Generation parents before them. We seem to forget that the good old days were not, at times, “good.” Vietnam; the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr, Malcolm X, and Medgar Evers; the Birmingham church bombing; the KKK; Jim Crow; race riots; AIDS, and countless other things that happened in the good old days.
Polly and I have evolved with the times. We have embraced change, even when there are days when we want to sell everything and live off the land. Many older baby boomers don’t use computers, and if they have a cell phone, it flips. I chose to embrace computers, buying my first DOS PC in 1991. Polly had no interest in computers, but in the late 2000s decided to finally join the technology revolution. Today, she uses a computer at work, owns an iPad and iPhone, and still says, “Hey, Bruce, something is wrong. Please fix it.” 🙂
I quickly fell in love with modern technology. I even owned my own computer service and repair business for a few years. I still devotedly read Maximum PC. At one time, I received four other computer magazines, including Computer Shopper. I would scan its pages of BBS (bulletin board service) listings, looking for new local connections.
Today, we have a $40,000 automobile, a cellphone bill, an Internet bill, streaming services bills, expensive medical, home, and auto insurance, all sorts of modern kitchen appliances and gadgets, lots of books, a 65-inch TV, a DVD player (which we rarely use), a ROKU box, an AV receiver, awesome speakers, clothing, shoes, and all sorts of other stuff. Polly and I are “rich” compared the young Bruce and his bride when they first married. (Yet, we feel less financially secure than we did in the 70s; always worried about the next big health crisis. We just surpassed our $3,050 annual medical insurance deductible this week. Woo Hoo, right? Sure, but that means we have already spent over $3,000 on medical costs, in addition to the $68 we pay every week for the insurance. So, forgive me if I am not in a Woo Hoo mood.)
Several years ago, I was complaining to my therapist about something one of my children was doing discipline-wise with their kiddos. I framed my complaint as old people often do; that the way we did it raising our children was better. He replied, “better, or just different?” As I pondered his words, I thought, “he’s right. What we often consider “better” is just different. Who’s to say which way of doing things is better?
When I find myself carping about the behaviors of Gen-Z, Millennials, or Gen-X, I try to remind myself of what my counselor tried to teach me: that just because there’s a difference between A and B, doesn’t mean that one or the other is better. Learning this allows me to see my children and grandchildren as they are: people whom I love trying to make their way in life. While I still interject stories and advice now and again, I try to give them the freedom to make mistakes and carve out new paths just as Polly and I did so many years ago. That’s how we learn.
A year from now, two of our granddaughters will be headed off to prestigious universities. Not Bible colleges; not looking to marry a preacher or be a missionary. Almost perfect grades throughout high school will likely give them numerous colleges to choose from. On that day, I will definitely say “better.” When we see the curse of mind-numbing Christian Fundamentalism broken with our children and grandchildren, both Polly and I will say “better.” And then we will say, “Dammit, can’t our boys buy their girls pants without holes in them?”
We’re old . . . 🙂
Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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Yes, I have seen similar posts on FB. Being born in 1968, today I do see “growing up” is much different than the late 70’s and early 80’s of my youth. And, culture is different. The political world is really different as is the religious world. It’s still amazing to see that the IFB is basically a shadow of its one self as once the largest church in every state in the USA was IFB. Just look at Emmanuel and Temple in Michigan. No Malones, No AV Hendersons. I never thought I would see the political landscape as it is today. However, I can imagine every generation adapts to “growth” and advancement. I often wonder what my Mom who passed in 2000 or my Dad who passed in 2008 would think of things today as so much has changed in the short time they have been gone.
Most of us remember our childhoods fondly, but the temptation then is to over sentimentalise the way we think we remember them. They weren’t like that. They were our living reality at the time and living reality never matches nostalgia. Putting on my ‘reality’ hat I recall
String vests, and other horrible feeling clothing.
On the walk to school I had to watch out to avoid the big boys.
We weren’t taught to clean our teeth properly, and ended up with tooth decay (I have several implants).
Municipal buildings were black from coal fires.
Kids used to go out ‘gay bashing’ on a Friday night, encouraged by their parents.
There were no sugar free soft drinks.
I could, quite literally, go on for ages. The moral is the old days were the old days and now is now. The best we can do is work for a better future without looking back too much, because things really are better than they were by a long way.
I remember my great grandmother (born in 1895) going on about the “good old days” and how everything was better. My mom (silent generation born 1943) would roll her eyes and tell me that Grandma F didn’t even love in a house with electricity or toilets until well into adulthood, couldn’t vote until she was 25, talked about lynchings and still called black people the C and N words, wasn’t educated, and surely those were NOT the good old days. My mom said that every generation has people who look at the past and romanticize it, and that I shouldn’t worry about that. She said every era has its share of good and bad things. My mom was a smart woman. It makes me sad that in middle age she got heavily into right-wing politics, but in my early years she was more progressive, and I remember a lot of things she said that made sense and shaped me beyond my surroundings in the Bible Belt.
I am older Gen X born at the end of 1969. While we are known as the “latch-key kids” my reality was far from that growing up in a 4 generation home where I wasn’t allowed to leave the yard or cross the street (but on days I was feeling adventurous I would sneak off across the street into the woods). These were the days of the Satanic Panic and all sorts of fear about child abductions. I lived less than half a mile from elementary school and wasn’t allowed to walk to school, even though I was passing my cousin’s house and my great-grandmother’s house along the way – nope, little ObstacleChick might get abducted. My husband and his brothers, though, were those latch-key kids gone all the time while both parents worked. They figured out how to get themselves to and from school and various sports practices and games. Their parents rarely attended their games. Their mom, however, paints an idyllic picture of her omnipresent motherhood that her sons say is a pure fabrication. When we were clearing her house last summer to prepare it for sake, she mentioned how awful that some moms locked their kids out of the house and made them stay outside and how she’d NEVER do that, and all 3 sons said, “Mom, you ALWAYS did that and even made us pee in the woods – we could only come inside to poop.”
People remember what they want to remember. They remember what makes them feel good. And every generation craps on the next. Except Generation X – we want to be left the fuck alone. Just kidding!
“Except Generation X – we want to be left the fuck alone. “
Our oldest son, age 44, is Generation X — on the other end of the age bracket from you. He most certainly concurs with your sentiment above. 🤣
Lol that’s just how we are!
Arguing with my Android phone the other day, I declared, “Godammit, I hate my operating system not being transparent to me!” It is a comment I apply equally to the Windows 10 that runs on my computer. And yet, having powerful machines that do things with a tap or click on my part, that originally required a least a sequence of UNIX command lines or more likely, hours writing and debugging code, is actually a real blessing in my life. I haven’t needed to be a “real techie” in decades, and that’s freed me to do far more creative things with the computing tools in my life. (Which in no way is meant to denigrate the modern “real techies”–engineers and others–who actually do the work of creating all those complex tools that I use; for them, that IS an ultimately creative achievement.)
I think that example can serve as a summary of how one can appreciate change while still remembering the best parts of the past ways fondly…as long as we remember that the memories are filtered, sometimes heavily filtered. That life “back then”–whenever “then” was–was invariably based on a smaller community/collective knowledge base, often a different economic environment, different social connection tech, and so on. The true ills of Western society (I can’t presume to speak for any other) were not poofed into existence by technology, nor were they created by a modern understanding of human psychology. They can and have been exacerbated by these things, but the same things have also given us tools to solve them, and the key ingredient in both the creation and solution to societal issues is human collective will.
Back in “the good old days,” I was sexually abused by a priest and a family friend. I didn’t talk about either until I was into middle age.
Ah, the good old days.
When girls were girls and men were men and boys could be boys—unless they wanted to be girls.
Ah, the good old days.
A boy became a man when he beat up a guy. A man wasn’t a man when he loved another man. And he became an “it’ or “thing” when he became a woman.
Ah, the good old days.
When friends and family members loved you for being what they wanted you to be.
They’ve “ghosted” me for becoming what I am.
Oh, how I miss the good old days. The closet was so cozy!
Reminds me of that song Kids! (From the 1960 musical “Bye bye birdie)
Who could guess the they would turn out that way!
Why can’t they be like we were,
Perfect in every way?
Of course your Facebook friend born around 1950 would have been a kid when the tongue in cheek song was published. Every generation forgets their own antics. There’s also a bit of Dana Carvy’s grumpy old man in there. “We didn’t have no hair dryers… if you wanted to dry your hair you went out in a hurricane, and we liked it we loved it!”
The things that I’m nostalgic about are economic. The good jobs and manufacturing coming back to America. Food without additives and GMO. The cost of living returning to what it is before the inflation that arrived on Reagan’s watch. Renting and owning a home,banking and insurance with the consumer protection we had before 1980. Enough housing in balance what the population, so that there’d no housing shortage causing homelessness. I do recall growing up in Los Angeles, and it’s cost of living was reasonable enough that you didn’t have homeless people living a hellish existence outdoors. There were as many rentals as there were people- up to 1980. There were places in bad conditions that needed repairs though. Only now, the slumlords have the same conditions,and charge $2,000 a month for a one bedroom apartment. They get away with it,thanks to low vacancy rates. Now this debt celiing crisis. The Republican Party has been infiltrated by open Fascists. That scares me a lot. They want the country to collapse,so they can declare Martial Law,as Trump almost did ! ….If there was a time machine I could get to, I’d go to through it. The instability is one reason why the person in the Facebook page was ranting about the good old days. When I was a kid, there WERE serial killers even then. I dodged a couple of them. Cold cases for that era don’t interest the cops here. I asked. I can’t help but think, if we had addressed child abuse as we do now, a hundred years ago, among other issues,that we wouldn’t be experiencing all these problems now !! Including Jim Crow and and all. Technology can control and track everyone these days. Searching everyday for that Hot Tub Time Machine !🤩☢️
You can’t blame Reagan for everything, certainly not the end of the post WWII economic boom where the U.S. was the only economic power that hadn’t been decimated by the war. A lot of MAGA is the desire to go back to the 1950s during this unicorn economic period along when white males were still ascendant. All the fascism, socialism, or any other ism isn’t going to bring this back. (I’d also mention that California’s problems with this are much worse than in other parts of the country. Seriously, I saw an HBO documentary about homeless living in motels near Disneyland, their income wasn’t much different than my own.)
That romanticizing of yesteryears your friend posted is much the same I see out of fellow Gen X’ers too. I was born in 1969 like another commenter here and I also remember things very differently. I wonder if it’s because we would have had Silent Gen parents instead of Boomer parents like the younger X’ers have? Oddly when I was a toddler growing up in the country I was allowed to roam from daylight till dark at age 3 walking alone down the road to visit elderly couples and eating supper with them then coming home and having a 2nd or 3rd supper, but when we moved to town when I was 6 that all changed and I was not allowed to leave the yard let alone ride bikes around neighborhood with other kids. My parents were always afraid of girls being abducted and it’s still the same way for parents of today.
I also remember many a high school classmate that was having sexual relationships with adults including several with teachers! That is nothing new. I was sexually molested at age 7 on the school bus by a 16 yr old boy and I recall in middle school a boy who was probably gay was raped by a redneck bully and stripped of his pants on the back of the school bus while all the boys watched. I was sexually harassed from 1st grade through middle school and this at 3 different schools. Awww… the good ol days where nothing bad happened.
And all this reminiscing over the food we ate… yeah we ate all that crap and even though some of us are still living that crappy chemical laden food may be the reason so many are in bad health. It sure couldn’t have helped anyone’s health so I don’t think we should romanticize kool-aid and hotdogs and bologna, nor could drinking out of water hose have been that good for us. Though I don’t recall drinking out of the hose that many times. Maybe a dozen or so. What I remember is an entire childhood whether at home or school or church being deprived of water or drinks other than 3 sups of water from the fountain at school every 3 hours or so and the teacher scolded you if you drank more. And at bible school, which I loathed with a passion, we were given a generous 3 oz Dixie cup of kool-aid and 1 oreo for “lunch”. I was talking to a family member about this, who has kidney failure, how I suspected this deprivation of water/fluids back in the “good ol days” could be why so many older people I know have died of kidney failure. That sort of mentality of not drinking anything except at meals carried on into their entire life even into many factory and industrial jobs. One of the latest medical studies is now saying dementia is caused by frequent dehydration. Also not being allowed to use the bathroom for the entire school day in elementary school probably didn’t help one’s health either. I’ve heard school kids today are actually allowed to carry a water bottle in class and drink when they like. If that’s true, it seems unbelievable after the way we were treated back in the 70’s. The whole concept of schools and church seems the same insisting that it be used to instill “discipline” but it’s really a means for control over other’s minds and bodies and getting them used to it at a young age.
Every generation complains about their descendants. Plato recorded Socrates basically declaiming “Kids these days!” Just about everyone alive today in the western world (exceptions do apply), had a pretty care-free childhood compared to the responsibilities of adulthood, regardless of their generation. It makes for a lot of rose-colored glasses.
It is sort of funny in a way. Anyone younger than their 60s (in about half the world) totally grew up with access to computers and video games. My father, a life-long public servant born during the sequel of the War To End All Wars, bought “the family” one those Pong-knockoff, electronic tennis, and light gun combos in the mid-seventies. He really bought it for himself. Atari consoles started showing up in houses in the late seventies, bought by Boomers. Video arcades became popular when GenX was in its infancy, preying on the money of younger Boomers.
I see kids running around my neighborhood all the time, though their parents seem to be a little more aware of what those kids are up to than mine were. And the number of sports kids are involved in these days is mind-boggling compared to my childhood. Lot’s of kids are plenty busy….maybe too busy (oops, that’s me starting to insert my personal experience into someone else’s life).
We all live in the world our parents and grandparents made for us. Our kids live in the world we make for them. Anyone sneering at younger generations needs to glance in the mirror to see whose to blame. However, it is a time-honored tradition. I acknowledge that older folks have earned the right to be a little cranky. I look forward to it myself. Indulge a little. Those damn kids!!!
Yeah that’s part of the irony… how much sports and activities kids are in today and how busy they are… because their parents are super involved in their lives and want their kids to get to experience different activities to make them happy. While Gen X and Boomers like to gloat how much our parents cared the truth of the matter is back then kids were suppose to stay out of sight, out of mind and don’t speak unless you are spoken to. Mom wanted us outside and out of the house so she could get her house work done. Dad worked all day. There was no time to shuttle kids to different activities. No one cared if the kids were “happy” or “well adjusted” or “properly socialized”. Just like my Silent Gen parents’ lives were not idyllic childhoods. My mother’s brothers were expected from the age of 7 to plow the fields with an old mule and help gather crops. My dad was both mowing yards and delivering papers to earn a living from the age of 7. And my mother’s mother was from the age of 5 in charge of babysitting/raising her 3 younger sisters all day while her mom worked. She would take the babies/toddlers out in the woods to gather blackberries so they would have something more to eat because they nearly starved growing up. The good ol’ days…
Ah, yes, the good old days. Or, as I like to describe them, “the good old days that never were.”
We tend to remember the good things and forget the bad things.
I remember that my mother spent many hours per week with hand laundry. I don’t think washing machines had been invented back then. And we did a lot of walking because few people had cars.
As a Gen X’er born in 1967, here is my take:
Outside world –
1. Played in a yard 2 blocks from a steel mill spewing smoke, soot, and other crap 24/7
Breathing air from mill and leaded gas
Halloween poisoned candy scare
Abusive teachers and classmates, not being allowed to use toilet or drink water
Being a latchkey kid
Fearing classmates, who by age 11, were drinking, smoking, drugging, and becoming sexually aggressive
In the 80’s, fearing nuclear war.
Home world –
Alcoholic home, sexually abusive dad
Physical neglect (no dinner, basic needs ignored)
Oh, and kool-aid. 8 cavities by age 10 😁
I don’t know what planet that Facebook post came from, but it sure wasn’t my hometown. Seriously, my life has had many good moments, too many to mention here. I try not to let the bad overwhelm the good, but I won’t sugar coat the past.
Missimontana, I got to grow up in the suburbs, free from nearby heavy industry, but I also wonder about the effects the environment had on my peers and I. The city I grew up in was nationally (US) known for poor air quality. It was pretty much blanketed by visible pollution all year long and air quality alerts were a common thing. As fellow GenX’ers, my wife and I were also small children, at the peak of brain development, right around the time now considered the worst of leaded gasoline exhaust contamination: ~1970-1974.
My wife and I are both considered pretty bright, getting STEM degrees and working in related fields; my wife is demonstrably smarter than I am. However, there is no question that our kids are smarter than both of us, probably a lot smarter. They just seem to ‘get’ stuff – math, science, language,…. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how much my generation may have been held back by chronic, low-level lead poisoning. Recent studies are now saying people born in the 1960s-1970s may have had their IQs stunted from 2-6 points from the constant exposure to leaded gasoline exhaust during brain development.
We will never know how much stuff like this held us back, or what our generation might have been capable of if we grew up in a cleaner environment. I also wonder what it means for cognitive impairment as we age – that scares me a lot. I’m so glad my kids didn’t grow up breathing in that crap.
If you want to know your lead levels there are blood tests and also treatments to reduce lead in the body. In some areas it’s still a major problem for developing children. There are several interesting videos on Youtube how they traced lead poisoning to crime and disruptive behavior several decades ago and how it has gone down since they have tried to reduce lead in the environment.
Not just exhaust. The run off into the water supply. The residue on crops. Just a few miles from the mill was farming country. When I see old photos of the smog filled skies of the 70’s, I still can’t believe it. And yet, despite my city’s now blue skies and fresh air, there are those who long for the “good ol’ days” of the steel mill, when jobs were plentiful and America was great. They are now trying to build a factory for windmills and maybe a wind farm for future power. But many of the nostalgic say no. Windmills are ugly, right? 🙄
The best reply to those rose colored glasses wearing “the old days were better” people comes from an old episode of the TV show Ironside. The title character was talking to his elderly aunt about a long time friend of the family who preferred the “good old days”. She grumbled that the “good old days” were not that good : the whole world smelled of horses! I mentioned that comment to my mother who said she remembered those days. I have seen photos of New York City from the 1920s, lots of horses. She never got nostalgic about her childhood; she was the youngest child in a large, poor family living in a tenement apartment. money was short, especially after her father died. One of her sisters was an excellent student, the City University was free to city residents, but the sister had to go to work to help support the family. My father had similar experience; he was born in Europe at the end of world War 1, lots of lingering trouble. His family immigrated in 1930. They came by ship, cheap tickets. Him, his two brothers and and their mother. Mother and one brother got seasick, and hardly ate, so the other two got double rations. that might have been the only time they had a lot of food. I remember the 1950s as being very confining. One odd example: men were expected to wear suits with white shirts and matching ties. My father could not match his ties. Turns out he was colorblind and could not distinguish the “correct” colors. For all the problems these days, the old times were harder.
“She grumbled that the “good old days” were not that good : the whole world smelled of horses!”
It probably smelled of horse manure.
My remembrance of the 1970’s is walking into stores and you smelled tons of cigarette smoke and lots of people’s body odor. (I guess people didn’t bathe or use deodorant daily then because a lot of people flat out stank, men and women alike.) Then I remember holding my breath running down the detergent aisle because all the detergents were perfumey powders back then that you could smell through their cardboard boxes. So it’s no surprise the 1920’s smelled like horse manure.