Too often I hear the term, “The Good Ole Days.”
And it makes my stomach lurch.
Some might call me an optimist. But I truly believe that the world is better today than it was 20, 50, or 100 years ago.
Homicides are down generationally, as are violent crimes. More people are treated fairly today (percentage wise) than ever before.
But statistics alone don’t influence my opinion about the past.
There are moments from my own life that I cringe thinking about, and I wonder how our parents (or grandparents!) even let these things happen.
As a senior in high school, I left school early.
One day, I tried to hop into a friend’s car, but he locked me out. To stop him from driving away, I jumped on the front of his car, but he responded by driving to his house with me clinging to the hood of his car just below the windshield.
I believed the peak speed was sixty miles per hour…and the memory of it still brings goosebumps.
Would anyone think of trying that today?
My parents weren’t aware of that incident, but they were of some others.
Does anyone remember the mother in Kansas who became famous for throwing knives at her children on national television?
The summer my father’s divorce became final, he took my six-year-old brother and I on a cross-country trip to see the sights of America.
We spent twenty-three days checking off our sightseeing bucket list – Devil’s Tower, the Grand Canyon, and dipping our toes in the Pacific Ocean among others. Unfortunately, my dad was self-employed, so he needed to get home as quickly as possible before we ran out of money. As a result, he drove himself to exhaustion by driving 16-18 hours a day.
And one time in New Mexico it almost cost us our lives.
We had to get from the Petrified Forest in Arizona to Joplin, Missouri non-stop.
And he fell asleep in New Mexico on Route 40.
My brother and I were sound asleep in the covered bed of the pickup truck when he woke up, the truck rambling along the median towards a concrete storm drain culvert. He slammed on the brakes, pulled himself together and drove us back up to the highway and into the nearest rest stop.
As a result, I began taking driving lessons from my father.
AT AGE 9.
He let me steer the Chevy S-10, then practiced shifting gears while he pressed the clutch. Finally as we left Indianapolis around 7PM one night, he determined I was ready.
I drove from there to the Ohio border.
Where I woke him up to pay the toll.
A few years later, I was punished for backing that same truck into a tree on our property, a story that horrified my girlfriend at the time.
“You were punished for getting into an accident AT AGE TWELVE??!!”
But my thirteen-year-old neighbor across the street raced his VW Beetle around his backyard, flipping a couple of times.
Others my age also had experiences driving as well, so… I guess it was normal?
And what about smoking?
My high school had a smoking section; teachers smoked in the faculty lounge.
I assumed this was normal, but learned later that MOST schools didn’t have this!
And smoking was EVERYWHERE – movie theaters, salons…
Cars came with built in lighters and ashtrays, convenient for everyone – except the non-smokers.
What specific things do you remember about your youth – that horrify you today?
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