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  (ARCHIVES)Back to Current
Now, back in my day... (01/11/2004)
By Janet Lewis Burns


     
We are living in a world of competition and consumerism. In America, the word revolution is used to sell pantyhose. It isn't "in" to say, the real measure of a man's wealth is how much he'd be worth if he lost all his money.

I find myself telling my grandchildren stories (which sound like fairy tales) from my youth, like how mothers left the cellophane on lampshades, wore dress gloves to church in summer, and gave Lilt home perms. (Mary's hair turned out like Clarabell Clown.)

When Pat and I got married and set up housekeeping in 1965, what were considered "necessities" were a far cry from today's household startup kits. Today's little woman would think a house defective with no central vac, air conditioning, or a formal dining-room.

SCENTS AND SCENES OF DAYCARE: Daycare has changed drastically. I know - I did it for five years when my own were toddlers. No license was required then (there were no assistance programs either). There were no excursions to fun places. (I don't recall the energy.) My daughter-in-law Christie snaps them all in car seats, drives them to parks, McDonalds, swimming pools, and pumpkin patches. (I don't remember car seats.)

At Christie's Daycare, there is a fully equipped, spacious area in their new home, and outside, for the daycare. (The little imps and the few toys we had took over our entire house!) No disposable diapers or handi-wipes! (Having several in diapers, my hands looked like open wounds.) For us, cornstarch worked swell on the behinds. Among numerous art projects, Christie has made each of her charges a personal, decorative picture album. (I remember hand imprints on construction paper.)

"Everyone sort of knows that the real future is going to be cluttered with all the same junk we have today, except it will be old and beat up and there will be more of it." So says William Gibson.

WHAT'S OUT? Ash trays, housewifey aprons (with rickrack), polka dances and Whoopee John, Betsy-Wetsy dolls, basket socials, castor oil, the Mickey Mouse Club, Fuller Brush salesmen, Melmac, smoking weeds, bowl-on-head haircuts, and whatever happened to dillydallying?

WHAT'S SHOWING UP AGAIN? Betty Boop, TV trays, Radio Flyer, "Old Glory," midwives, wobbly headed things in back truck windows, claw-footed bathtubs, scooters, pedal pushers (capri pants), crewcuts, and rock stars way past their prime. Give it up, Mick Jagger.

WHAT'S HERE NOW? Since "my time," many new-age wonders have made their appearances. Cool Whip may have replaced Jello as a necessary staple. The guy who came up with post ‘em notes must be a millionaire. Harry Potter, crazy glue, "want list" registers for gift-givers, unreal "reality shows," and Ozzie Osborn's overwhelming nothingness. The future can only get better.

WHAT'S IN TO STAY? Wet T-shirt competitions, Snickers, pacifiers, wedgies, Farmer's Almanac, Elvis tunes and paraphernalia, bib overalls, funerals, fishin', hickeys, football, pizza, campfires, old westerns, snow angels, and rodeos. When we think of "progress," it isn't always the extravagant and technological advances that come to mind.

Picnics will always be a part of American life, along with ice cream socials, Sunday church services, show-and-tell, pet goldfish, macaroni and cheese, thermometers, county fairs, Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite," Norman Rockwell's paintings, garage sales, childbirth, and the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, God willing.

BUZZ WORDS OF THE DAY: "homeland security," "tolerance," "alliances," "terrorist attack," "freedoms," "insurgence," "nuclear weapons," "peace," and "reelection." Such contradictions have kept nations worlds apart for centuries.

Now, back in my day, it was rock ‘n roll, fuzzy dice, love sonnets, pajama parties, starlight-moonlight, hayrides, 4-H, and going steady. Life was safe, secure, and homespun.

BACK WHEN: I'm glad that I had inhaled pure air, frolicked with the whispering winds, and swallowed the sunlight whole. This is no time for dramatics, for licking dew from toes, or woolgathering, sucking nectar from a clover...

or for whiling away time, being just a child, doing childish things. How sad. CARPE DIEM! 

 

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