Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Kinder, Gentler Time

When I was younger ...

I was taught that it was wrong to steal.

I was also taught that it was wrong to lie.

Daddies were the head of the household.  Mom was second in command.  If you didn't behave, you got a spanking or sent to your room - or both! (We also heard the phrase, "Wait til your father gets home!" many many times.)

We had dinner every night together and you used your "manners."

You put plastic slipcovers to keep your furniture looking nice.  

You looked your very best when you went out in "the public."  Your clothes were clean (held up by a belt) and your hair was combed. (The other day, I actually saw a young man walking down the street holding his pants up with one hand. And yet, it's cool to walk around without a belt and the top of your boxers showing!) Dad wanted us to have our shoes shined.  He always said "don't buy anything from a salesman whose shoes are scuffed and dirty.  He's not really a good salesman or he'd have pride in himself and in his product."  And heaven forbid if we children had written anything on ourselves with pens or markers.  That was "trashy."  (Wonder what they would have thought about today's tattooed teens?)

We lived by the Golden Rule and it was taught in our schools.

You always answered your elders by saying, "Yes, sir," or "No, Ma'am."  You never called them by their first names, it was always Mr. Jones or Miss Smith.  If you were raised in the church, you called adults Brother Jones or Sister Smith.

We also learned penmanship using cursive writing.  We felt so grown-up when we were allowed to write instead of print!

We learned to tell time from a clock that had roman numerals - no digital for us! 

We knew our times tables. We practiced with flash cards. It was a big deal when we knew them by memory all the way up to "the twelves." (It appalls me when my daughter, the high school math teacher, tells me of kids in her classes that still don't know how to multiply or divide.  High schoolers who don't know their times tables!)

Every year before school started, we would get a list of school supplies to obtain.  Once you got past third grade, the list always included a dictionary.  Vocabulary was important and we were tested on it often.  Now in the digital age, it seems the shorter the word the better in order to text or tweet faster.

Children had to play outside every day that the weather permitted. (I remember having a tree house was a big deal.  Do kids have those anymore?) You only watched television in the evenings - AFTER all homework was done. Bedtime always came early.  8 p.m. for most kids.  My parents were radical, and let us stay up to 8:30, and when I got to junior high, 9 p.m.

Kids rode their bikes everywhere.  When I became a big kid, in sixth grade, I got to ride my bike to school.  I had a chain and combination lock to lock my bike up in the bike rack in school. There were many bike racks holding scores of bikes at the school I attended.  Back then it became popular to have a bike with a "banana seat."  Mine was leopard!

Hmmm... maybe that was the beginning of my obsession with animal prints ....

We were always having to "face the consequences of our actions."  You didn't get bailed out every time you got in trouble.  If you got disciplined at school, you could count on getting disciplined at home, too.  Parents didn't go down to the school and try to get teachers or administrators fired because they dared to make little Johnny or Suzie toe the line.  You were also "paddled" at school by the teacher.  (Well, I was never paddled, but I once got a severe shaking!)

When you got married, you stayed together and made it work.  Divorce was your last option.

A man's word was his bond.  If you said you would do something, you were honor-bound to do it.

I don't mean to make it sound like I grew up in utopia.  There were plenty of things wrong in those days - a lot of prejudice, for example, and unequal pay for women who had to work.

Styles and fashions were so weird - cat eye frames for eyeglasses, girdles and garter belts, hairnets, white gloves and hats for Easter Sunday - I could go on and on.

Still, it was a kinder, gentler time ... when I was younger ....

I'm linking up with the Writer's Workshop, writing on prompt 2.) Write something that begins and ends with the words "When I was younger". (inspired by  You can link up at Kathy's blog, Mama's Losin' It.


May said...

You and I were younger in the same era. So much of this resonated with me. But the part about not writing on your skin drew an outloud Yes! from me. My kids laugh about how they were always told "you are not a billboard". I thought maybe this was just me.

Abby said...

I was nodding my head in agreement the whole time reading this! I love the accompanying images. I will admit that I don't necessarily miss that plastic sheeting on the furniture :)

Anonymous said...

It's amazing how much things can change in a relatively short period of time. Technology, especially, changes so fast now. My oldest can hardly believe it when I tell him that we didn't have computers when his father and I were his age!

Madamdreamweaver said...

It's amazing how much things have changed. I think kids could in modern times could benefit from actually writing real words, using dictionaries, eating meals at families, having only one tv in the home that everyone either watched together or didn't watch, etc.

TMW Hickman said...

I sort of remember some of this. Except that I love cats eye glasses. I would love to have a pair now!

Emily Cullen, said...

I really love your post, especially when you admit that it wasn't a perfect world. StilI I was surprised to learn that some (most?) schools no longer teach cursive. I can't imagine the younger generations not knowing this but I guess one does not find the occasion to do much writing at all any more.

Anonymous said...

Those days were definitely different, they absolutely were a kinder and gentler time. Times have changed and not always for the better. I don't want to sound like a drama queen but society on a whole is on a decline and I agree with your readers, kids today should take a page out of our books, it would benefit them tremendously. Thanks for the memories!

Carol said...

Love your post! We must have grown up in the same era. The only thing different for me... we did write on our hands and never covered our furniture with plastic. Ours was well used! I think eating breakfast and dinner together as a family is one of the most important things you can do.

I can echo your words... it really was a gentler, kinder time.

kaye said...

I agree it was a gentler, kinder time. I especially liked the playing out of doors and riding my bike and horse everywhere. kaye—the road goes ever ever on

mare ball said...

Times certainly have changed...for the worse. Oh, to go back. It seems every generation becomes more coarse and self-absorbed. If not for my faith, I would be very discouraged!