Friday, August 4, 2017

BACK IN THE DAY








The middle of summer, 95 degrees for the last week. Hot enough that the artificial grass outside a local business is wilting. I'm hiding in my workroom, the coolest room in our house, thinking of past summers back in my childhood slurping popsicles, swimming in a lake, soaking in a tub of cold water in the backyard, trying to find a cool place in a house without air conditioning, waiting to hear the crickets at night.

Occasionally, I receive on my Facebook page a nostalgic essay reminding me that when we were kids we didn't use seat belts or wear bike helmets, we sat in smoke-filled rooms, didn't wear sunscreen and we survived. Every time I get one of these messages, I cringe. I understand that whoever sent the message is trying to recapture a gentler, more carefree time, one that made us supposedly tougher than today's children.Yes, looking back on my childhood, I remember having lots of free time, lots of friends who lived several blocks away. Yes, I crowded into cars without protection and sailed around the streets on my bike with no helmet. I also lived a privileged life.




I lived in a safe suburban neighborhood (though Communists supposedly lurked around every corner). I wasn't restricted where we could live or even walk because of the color of my skin. I rarely saw people walking down our street (there were no sidewalks), strangers just didn't come through. But I also remember the accidents: teenagers joyriding and playing 'chicken' with trains, boozed-up college students driving down two-lane roads and crashing into other cars, and adults thrown out of car windows because they weren't wearing seat belts. Some of those people didn't survive the crashes, some have gone through life with terrible scars.

That's why I cringe. I think back on my childhood with fondness, but I am glad we have enacted government protections so that kids ride more safely in cars and wear helmets when they ride scooters, bikes or skateboards. I'm glad I can 'buckle up.' I'm glad I don't have to sit in rooms filled with someone else's smoke. I look at the slight scars left from skin cancer treatments last summer, slather on sunscreen, and don my hat. I'm glad I made it through those years alive.





6 comments:

  1. Well said. The `Golden Age' myth is a recurring theme for many in politics - `when people knew their place', `when women were women' etc. etc. in reality is the basis for may discriminatory beliefs and heartless policies. I was lucky and privileged to be brought up in an intact family and given a good education. But as I grew older I became aware of how many children of my generation who were labelled `bad' at my Christian school must actually have had learning disabilities, struggled with abusive or drunken parents and so on, things that it was not `nice' to reveal or discuss. We are more open and aware today so that it may seem things have got worse but in reality we are able to help where before maintaining a facade of perfection or saying `boys will be boys' did permanent damage. Every day well-meaning people try to do a little better despite the barriers.

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    1. I am going to say to you, Pat, well said too. Thank you for your thoughtful expression of the Golden age myth. So true!

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  2. I feel just the same about the past and and present. Guess we see eye to eye...yes....literally!

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  3. As always, I hang on every word you write. I so enjoy Bill’s (?) photography. I just read your last post and looked at the art and photos. In the last one of the blue cloudy sky did you happen to notice a formation that looked like a beautifully painted eye? The pupil part was especially nice. Since I have a vivid imagination I saw many other images as usual, but the eye really stood out. Do you see it too?

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    1. Thank you, Pam. I appreciate your kind words. They mean a lot to me.

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