Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Ruminations on Another Year Above Ground

Well, another year.  And so far, I'm still drawing breath.  Like the guy falling from the 110th floor said as he passed the 10th floor, "So far, so good."

I've finally passed the point where I'm not surprised to still be around... it dawned on me this morning that every day is a gift, especially since there have been so many times during the past 57 years that I could have cut this mortal journey short and taken the long dirt nap.  Now I find that I'm pleasantly surprised to have survived another orbit around El Sol and to be able to eat my salads from the top down, instead of the bottom up.

I was born during the Eisenhower Administration.  David O. McKay was the leader of my church.  The only "Beatles" anyone knew of were nothing more than insects.  The Cold War was hovering at sub-zero temperatures, and Baby Boomers were popping out like bunnies, basking in the affluent glow of post-war prosperity.

Times were simpler.  We had heroes.  We laughed at clean jokes.  People cared about each other.  You could leave your doors unlocked at night.  Your kids could go play around the neighborhood without fear.  And drive-by shootings only happened at the movies... by gangsters.  Movies were "G" rated and actually had plot lines and character development.  Our wives and daughters dressed modestly.  We trusted the news to tell us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  There was no sub-culture.  Profanity, "free sex" and drugs were almost unheard of.  Divorce and pre-marital pregnancies were scandalous.  Family time and sitting around the table playing board games was a thing.  We got spanked.  Even at school.  Our mothers cut our hair, and made our clothes.

We talked on party lines, and wrote on manual typewriters.  Neither computers nor the internet existed.  We took walks, and knew who our neighbors were.  We actually talked to each other.  Teenaged boys regularly babysat to earn extra money without raised eyebrows.  Teenaged girls didn't text... they sat by an old-fashioned phone on Friday nights, hoping that a boy would call.  We had sleepovers.  We made tent forts out of couch cushions and blankets.  We explored.  We didn't have McDonalds, Burger King, or Wendys.  We had cherry phosphates at the drugstore.  We had paper routes.  We ate lunch at the lunch counter at Woolworth's.  We shopped at "Five and Dimes."  We bought penny candy that really was penny candy.

We had to suffer through the complexity and smells of mimeograph machines or the smudges of carbon paper if we wanted to make a copy.  Photographers shot on actual film, actually had darkrooms, and had to get their images right... in the camera... the first time... not knowing until the film was developed if they "got the shot" or not.

We had mental hospitals and sanitariums.  And they were full.  There generally were no "ambulances."  If you were in an accident and badly hurt, you were probably going to die.  We had seat belts, but never used them.  Our cars had bench seats.  Neither CPR nor the Heimlich Maneuver existed.  Children had polio, and lived in "iron lungs."   Medicine had yet to enter the technological age, and lab tests were done by hand... with a microscope... in a doctor's office.  By doctors who really made house calls.  Fathers were not allowed in delivery rooms.  We sent messages by Western Union.

I could go on and on.  I miss those days.  My heart aches that my children will never know them.  I'm humbled and deeply grateful that I was blessed enough to experience them... to have THOSE days as my heritage... and the ones in which my character and values were molded and formed.

I'm grateful that I am still upright and able to watch the Final Act of this world unfold.  I have no idea how many more I have left.  But I will forever miss those innocent days.