Friday, July 20, 2012

What we have in common

What do Montreal, Colorado, California, Texas, Washington, Virginia and Toronto have in common?

When I was young those things would have been very typical of life in the 60's -

Mac and cheese - jello - tuna casseroles, a Dad at work - a Mom at home - grandparents that lived close by - cousins that lived in the same neighbourhood - parents that sat out on the stoop looking out for everyone. We were all still living on the cusp of Leave it to Beaver and Father knows best - respect was KEY - there was no discussion of only respecting those who deserved it or earned it - you respected or else. ( not always a good thing I know ) but it really has served me well in the long run.
We played hide and seek - and hopscotch - and pick up sticks and mother may I and tag and skipped rope and swung on swings and explored and rode our bikes and each of these activities were happily done for hours on end. We camped out in back yards - roasted potatoes and wieners on campfires, ( never heard of s'mores when I was young )  tried our best to catch fireflies and told ghost stories. We could spend an entire day at the pool without any props at all  just our arms and legs and when we came home as red as a lobster we were slathered in noxema.  We all ( north american children ) wore the same clothes - there was no such thing as a label - we wore keds and high tops - polyester shorts and little smocked tops or dresses.
Most girls had long hair - most girls wore ponytails - or pigtails - we did not go to salons unless there was a wedding to attend and even then most of the time our mothers would pin curl our hair the night before. All boys had crewcuts.
We had imaginations and we had no choice but to use them - sitting in the house all day watching t.v. was so beyond the realm that it wasn't considered an option - unless you were very sick and even then there were only a few channels.  You were better off with a book and so we read. And if you didn't feel like going out and playing you were told " Out!  Go out and get some fresh air - go on - get out from under my feet! "
And so we learned to be social - we learned most of our social skills by the time we were 5.  We adapted and we adjusted by moving around in a network of friends.
We didn't have 24 hour t.v. - or game boys - or play stations - or computers.
We certainly did not have cell phones or debit cards or credit cards.  We had roller skates - one size fits all and they lasted for years unless you lost the key - not state of the art rollerblades.
Boys jeans were patched - girls dresses had their hems lowered.
We didn't have Grill Masters - our barbeque's were simple contraptions  and they were only for hotdogs and hamburgers - the rare steak as a very special treat. Dinner was whatever was served - if Jane didn't like corn - well that was too bad - because there were no special menus - we ate what we were served, period ( and there was a lot of imagination used in that area too e.g.feeding the dog - filling pockets ) but the point is that our mothers would never have thought to cook 3 different meals.
Fast food was a bowl of cereal.
We physically went to the the theatre when we wanted to see a movie - and even though it was probably only a quarter, it was considered a big treat.  As was the amusement park.
Days at the beach included large picnic baskets with egg salad sandwiches - peanut butter and jelly - and Kool Aid, maybe some chips - and the highlight of summer evenings was when the tinkling sound came from the ice cream truck that drove in and out of all the neighbourhoods.
We drank milk.  We took cod liver oil pills. We ate home made cookies. We made our beds.
We said May I, and please - and thank you - without being told to - and  unless you were quite wealthy vacations were spent up north - of which far too many squeezed into the car to get there.
I don't recall a lot of whining about being bored - I don't recall a lot of whining period. It wouldn't have been tolerated.
We played hard - ate hearty - and slept sound.

Anyone my age ( 53 ) from Texas to British Columbia - from California to Prince Edward Island - from Boston to Montreal can relate to my childhood. With a few changes here and there it could have been anyone's.
Am I simplifying my childhood?
Probably - but life was simpler - there's no denying it.
Was it better?
Sometimes definitely not - but for the most part I think it was. 

Simple is good.

And it's not simple anymore.

Colorado, California, Montreal, Virginia, Texas,  Toronto, Washington - what we now have in common breaks my heart.

And I'm numb with grief - truly numb with grief.


Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break.  ~William Shakespeare
   It still breaks William - even with words, it still breaks.

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  1. It's just awful The recent violence in Toronto is escalating. I fear for what is happening with guns in North America.

  2. So, so well said, Suzan. The only tragedies we heard of were natural ones. What goes through someone's mind to make them do such things? Senseless. Too much violence in movies? Are people desensitized? Are guns too accessible? Are people so isolated they resort to these types of things to be noticed?

    I don't get it. Never have, never will.

  3. I'm 50, and that was my childhood. I'm numb with grief over all the senseless killings that occur world-wide, although I guess all killings are senseless, aren't they? I'm also numb with the thought that my children and grandchildren will never have the childhood experience that we had.

  4. You beautifully captured many of our childhoods. My heart and prayers go out to those families and that community. I never understand the need for taking the life of another. Laura

  5. I'm 65, and my childhood was much like yours also, growing up in Texas. It was definitely a simpler time. The killings yesterday are just another insult to humanity. And, as someone in another comment above said, I think people are desensitized from all the video games and movies and TV, that involve guns and killing. And what is sad is that kids, little kids, are playing these games as if nothing, and their parents allow it.

    1. But we played cowboys and Indians - and boys were contantly shooting each other with bebe guns to kill the bad guy?
      Just my 2 cents but I think kids are growing up anti social today - there isn't the connections we had back then - it's far more secular don't you think?
      I don't know what it is - but it's terrifying - now it's going to be scary going to the bloody's all too much.

  6. Amen and Amen, Suzy. I totally agree with you. I truly believe that these things are happening because kids nowadays are brought up anti-social, with their only social skills being on the computer or smart phone. Their lives are being bombarded with violent TV shows, violent movies, violent computer games, and violent music. They can't process it all and the results are horrible things like mass killings. Give me the 1950s-70s any day.....

    xoxo laurie

  7. Suzy,
    So beautifully said.
    That was my childhood, too.
    When did it go wrong?
    Prayer for all of us.

    1. thanks Margaret - I don't know when the turning point was but it scares me so - this generation will never know the joys we did because of all the fear instilled in all of us


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