The “Good” Ole Days… I Guess?

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Too often I hear the term, “The Good Ole Days.”

And it makes my stomach lurch.

You’re welcome.

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.  

For instance:

1:

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?

2:

Contributing Author  <a href="https://www.tnocs.com/user/thegue/?profiletab=posts"><b> <u>thegue</u></B></a> is back waxing philosophical on the past - but not necessarily wanting a re

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?

HOW IN GOD’S NAME WAS THIS A THING???

3:

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.

“Fill it. Premium, please.
And can you check the oil?”

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?

You’d be amazed at what a small donation to the Police Benevolent Association can accomplish.

4:

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!

Miss DelMarco: she was our favorite.
Always taking things to the next level.

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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cstolliver
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August 29, 2023 4:21 am

I remember the casual racism of my older relatives on both sides of my family. The casualness with which appalling things were said only makes it worse. I do think you’re right that things have improved, but there’s a long way to go. Thanks for the prompt.

Virgindog
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August 29, 2023 10:28 am
Reply to  cstolliver

Exactly right. We’re much better off now than in days gone by, but we still have a lot of progress ahead of us. I feel we’re taking a step back at the moment but that will be followed by two steps forward.

LinkCrawford
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August 29, 2023 11:02 am
Reply to  Virgindog

That’s the optimist!

lovethisconcept
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August 29, 2023 2:27 pm
Reply to  Virgindog

One step back and two steps forward will still get you to your goal.

Zeusaphone
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August 29, 2023 8:07 pm
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Progress rarely goes in a straight line

Phylum of Alexandria
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August 29, 2023 7:59 am

Thegue, I think if we were doing a competition for craziest story or highest number of crazy life stories, you would thoroughly trounce me. Still, I’ve had at least a few such moments.

As a kid, I was reading or playing video games too much to do all that many foolish things, but my brother and I did head out to the park alone after a big ice storm, each of us with ice picks in our pockets. So that we could slowly drag ourselves up a big hill, one jab into the ice at a time, and then slide down. Thankfully, it was all good fun and no injury, but it could have easily gone south!

As for whether things are better or worse, I think it’s both. It’s not easily calculated. Certainly in terms of rights, things are better now.

Things are generally more comfortable now, but is that a good thing? I don’t think it’s an unalloyed good; I think it has both good and bad aspects. As primates, humans benefit from some amount of stress in our lives, some hardships that help us get stronger and give our lives perspective. Now, it’s not realistic to think we’ll ever engineer people’s adversities to maximize human resilience or anything like that, but at very least it’s good to acknowledge that more comfort and security does not equal life satisfaction. There’s more to life and thriving than that.

As for whether this age of social media is good or bad for people, that’s like asking if the advent of the printing press was good or bad. It depends on who, what, and when. Plenty of good things happened as a result of what that technology brought to societies, but often after great disruption, even turmoil.

JJ Live At Leeds
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August 29, 2023 8:16 am

Over here it became compulsory to wear a seat belt in the front seat in 1983 and if you were in the rear in 1991. For a couple of years when I was around 5 or 6 our family car was a Mini van (as in the Mini car but converted into a van, not just that it was small – which it also was) which had no seats or windows in the back nevermind seat belts. Me and my sister would just roll around in the back unable to see where we were going. We thought it was great.

Then there were the occasions one of the neighbourhood parents would round up all the kids and take us to the beach. It’d be like one of those attempts to see how many people you could fit in a car, bodies everywhere and sat or laid on top of each other. Road safety has come a long way.

Underage drinking was a big thing. We already have a more lax approach that its legsl from 18 but some of my schoolfriend went out drinking every weekend from 15. This was with full knowledge of their parents and very rarely did they get refused service despite (or because) of it being a small town and everyone knowing who was underage. I was a good kid, I didn’t join in til I was 17. That was early 90s. The age limit is much more zealously policed now.

JJ Live At Leeds
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August 29, 2023 8:20 am

My turn for the slow down, your posting too fast warning as I tried to fix my typos. Maybe it’s just a general life lesson to stop and look around once in a while.

mt58
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August 29, 2023 8:23 am

Thanks for the heads up. I’m gonna try and replicate.
If this happens to anybody else and you can hit me up with a screenshot, thanks.

Phylum of Alexandria
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August 29, 2023 8:28 am
Reply to  mt58

Aye mould nike do eddit jiss…

Phylum of Alexandria
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August 29, 2023 8:31 am

Screen Shot 2023-08-29 at 8.30.35 AM.png
mt58
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August 29, 2023 9:10 am

Good Lord.
On it. Give me a couple of days.

Edit: I figured it out. I’ll fix it tonight.

JJ Live At Leeds
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August 29, 2023 12:52 pm
Reply to  thegue

At that age we hadn’t worked out that our parents might have flaws and we expected that they wouldn’t do anything to put us in danger. Therefore bouncing around in the back of a van or pick up held no sense of danger and was pure fun cos if Dad was in control then nothing bad could happen.

lovethisconcept
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August 29, 2023 2:31 pm
Reply to  thegue

Traveled many miles in the back of a pickup truck. When we were old enough, we could sit up on the side instead of down in the bed. Yes, with our parents driving. And smoking. Part of the excitement was dodging the burning embers flicked out the window.

Ozmoe
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August 31, 2023 8:05 am

The promotion of seat belt usage was a big deal in the late 1970s and early 1980s when I grew up. And oh my gosh, my parents used let me and my sister sleep in the flat back part of our station wagon, something that would probably get a mother or father arrested today if they were found to have done that with their children.

Also, since I’m in the South, the prevalence of the Confederate flag (also known as “Stars and Bars”) was commonplace until people finally came to their senses and realized what displaying that pennant really meant to people of color.

Along with that, there was much more casual use of the “n word,” not to mention the “f word” when referring to homosexuals. I’m glad to be rid all of this.

Pauly Steyreen
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August 29, 2023 10:03 am

I had my first smoking and drinking experiences at age 14… certainly that wasn’t out of the ordinary for the town I grew up in. While I wasn’t one, I knew kids who were driving solo at age 9. When you live in the country and certainly if you live on a farm, that’s expected. When high schoolers wanted to get together and get drunk, an old barn was usually the destination of choice. Not really my scene… I went to one of these barn soirees and found it boring AF (because I didn’t care to get wasted, and what else are you going to do in a fucking barn at midnight?)

I think I was the sheltered one by the standards of the small town I grew up in, but a lot of my childhood looked positively reckless in the light of today’s child-rearing standards.

JJ Live At Leeds
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August 29, 2023 10:26 am
Reply to  Pauly Steyreen

Just a subtle difference in approach to underage drinking. For you; out of the way and out of sight. For us; in the pub in full view. If you know there’s no issue getting served there’s no need to hide it I guess. Probably also says more about the parenting than the teenagers.

LinkCrawford
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August 29, 2023 11:13 am

I do think that a lot of things are better than they were. But I try not to fault people when they talk about the good old days, because they are remembering the good things.

Sometimes I feel like when people talk of the good old days, they get slammed shut, “Oh? You mean like when open racism was accepted? When the Klan ruled? When women couldn’t work without their husbands’ permission?”

But maybe they were just thinking, “No, I meant when grandma used to make bread with me on the weekends.”

But I realize it’s a loaded statement. Some really do think life was better in the past. But since they don’t clarify “except for the racist, misogynistic, oppressive cultural norms…” it can be misconstrued. Or maybe in some cases, some people actually think having all of those things back would be what could make America great again?

Sometimes I long for past times, which were hard, but I get nostalgic for those “simpler” times in my own life.

I’ve also thought about this with child safety. We older generation often brag about how we would roam around the neighborhood (sometimes MILES from home) with no supervision or oversight or any way to communicate. While these times undoubtedly gave us amazing experiences that younger generations may never get, I think there’s no doubt that there were bad experiences of abuse, abductions, and bad behavior that happened that we avoid now by being safer. I never let my kids have the roaming freedoms that I had as a kid.

lovethisconcept
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August 29, 2023 2:37 pm
Reply to  LinkCrawford

I agree. I am sometimes nostalgic for my younger years, but it has way more to do with spending the night with my grandparents, gatherings with all of my cousins present, and still being able to speak with my sister any time I wanted than with racism, secondhand smoke, or unsafe conditions. I am horrified when I look back at that. But at the time, it had very little to do with my daily life (except the unsafe conditions, and we weren’t really aware of those).

lovethisconcept
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August 29, 2023 2:50 pm

This is the edited version of my original comment.

I agree. I am sometimes nostalgic for my younger years, but it has way more to do with spending the night with my grandparents, gatherings with all of my cousins present, and still being able to speak with my sister any time I wanted to than with racism, casual bigotry towards gay folks, or unsafe conditions. I am horrified when I look back at those realities. But at the time, they had very little to do with my daily life (except the unsafe conditions, and we weren’t really aware of how dangerous some of those things were).

I do realize the privilege that I grew up with that allowed those things to stay outside my daily experience. I wouldn’t call them the “Good Old Days”, but for me, personally, there were some good times. I do remember those good times, even as I continue to work for continued change of the harsher realities.

Zeusaphone
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August 29, 2023 3:39 pm
Reply to  LinkCrawford

People aren’t nostalgic for racism or misogyny or the like. Their nostalgic for their lost innocence. They long for a time when they were unaware and unaffected by those things.

OTOH, if I had a kid I would absolutely let them have the same roaming freedom that I had. The amount of abuse, abductions, and bad behavior haven’t been reduced by keeping kids locked in their rooms. The overwhelming majority of abuse comes at home, like it always has. 99% of child abductions are by a family member, usually a parent.

Zeusaphone
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August 29, 2023 1:30 pm

In 1982, my sophomore year in HS, we took a field trip to Andersonville to see the prison camp. On the way back the bus stopped at a store well back in the woods for gas. Some of us decided to use the facilities. Turns out that this store still had segregated restrooms. Not segregated male/female, like almost all of them are, but Black Men, White Men, Black Men, White Women. This wasn’t a photo or a museum exhibit. This wasn’t something that was old and leftover from the 1950’s, it had been fairly recently painted and was clean (relative to convenience store restrooms). This was the real thing. It was startling to see it in the early 1980’s.

reggie
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August 30, 2023 1:33 am

Well, if it’s stories you want…..

Seriously, I was an honors student by day, and a total juvenile delinquent by night. Thankfully, I got all the crazy out of my system early and it turned out OK…but it could have gone another way. To wit:

At age 12 my baseball teammates and I celebrated our sectional win at my house while my folks were away. We got into the liquor cabinet. I woke up on the floor in my room drenched in water with nothing left in my room. My bed, dresser and chair were gone. How I got there, where my furniture went, and what day it was, were all a mystery. Worst hangover of my life.

At age 13 one of my friends’ friends, who happened to be the son of the Chief of Police, ratted us out. Did you know that the US railroad system has their own Special Agents and that these guys DO NOT MESS AROUND when crates of wine go missing from one of their parked railway cars? …who knew?

cstolliver
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August 30, 2023 4:48 am

My dumbest moment would have to have been learning how to skitch on the back bumpers of cars in my Chicago neighborhood in the winters of ‘78 and ‘79. I was very lucky not to be hurt or killed (the streets were so snow-filled that cars couldn’t go very fast, but all it would have taken was an ice patch and a slam on the brakes, and that could have been it for me). The dumb things boys did trying to impress their peers …

mt58
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August 30, 2023 10:01 am
Reply to  cstolliver

Today I learned that there are regionalisms for this activity.

In New England, it was called “skid hopping.” But I kinda like
“skitch.”

blu_cheez
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August 30, 2023 6:53 pm
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rollerboogie
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September 1, 2023 7:23 am
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Skitching! Never tried it, but it was definitely a thing!

blu_cheez
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August 30, 2023 6:57 pm

ALL the second-hand smoke!! Also, this was my car seat:

2tggr7pso3i11.jpg
Ozmoe
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August 31, 2023 9:28 am

I’m so glad that things have changed so much for the better for LGBTQ+ youth. I remember one of my classmates tried to kill himself for being gay. Thankfully, he’s survived and has a longtime partner (maybe husband now, I haven’t kept up). Also, a few years ago, the valedictorian at my nephew’s high school graduation was transgender, which I know would’ve blown the mind of me and my fellow classmates in the 1980s. As would have bringing a same-sex date to the prom too. Again, glad we’ve improved in this regard.

cappiethedog
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August 31, 2023 5:26 pm

Zoe Bell got paid for what you did in high school. That’s amazing. I wish I had childhood memories like that.

Getting stage fright at a German language contest. Freshman year: High school.

Like yesteryear, I just remember the first line.

Der frosch sitzt in die rohre.

rollerboogie
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September 1, 2023 7:42 am

Late to the party, and many things that come to mind were either similar to things you brought up, thegue, or mentioned in comments. The dad driving a ridiculous amount of hours on a family vacation, falling asleep and nearly getting into a fatal car accident happened in my family as well. Before I was born, my dad fell asleep and nearly drove off a cliff on the way to the Ozarks. A car honked at him and woke him up, saving the lives of my dad and my older siblings, and allowing for me to eventually exist. And heaven forbid if moms were allowed to drive. Why didn’t it always have to be dad driving? And I think having a beer in hand while doing it was also a thing, as I’ve talked to other people that remember that as a regular occurrence from their childhood.

We had a smoking area in high school as well. It was nicknamed “The Pit”. I didn’t smoke but I hung out there with friends on occasion. There was always a guy there in a jean jacket with a Molly Hatchet insignia on the back that I thought was cool. He eventually became a born again Christian and I got to know him in college.

Kids being left unattended and unwatched was a thing for sure. My mom would take my little sister and I to the mall and just leave us at a pet store for a hour or two while she shopped. Once when I was around 7, she let us hang out at a fountain inside the mall. My sister and I walked into the fountain and began taking coins out of it. My mom came back, saw we were soaking wet, connected the dots and made us put all the coins back.

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