We’ve all seen the lists from the good ‘ol days, you know the ones that remember rotary dial phones and computers that filled a room and received data on punch cards. (I remember my first TV remote control had three buttons: 1. On, volume up, volume up, off. And 2 & 3 were to channel scroll up or down.) We’ve laughed at the styles and fads that have come and gone: women’s clothes with line backer shoulder pads and ties that could flag down an airplane with their width and flashy designs. We’ve seen the shows we grew up with in reruns on Antenna TV and listened to the music we danced to when we were young, now played on the Oldies Channel.
Some things we don’t mind putting away on a top shelf and forgetting about. Some things we miss–usually because of the memories that we associate with them. And some things get left behind that change society and the way we live.
1. When I was a child I walked to school without adult supervision and past neighborhoods where we only knew a handful of people—8 blocks, four times a day (home for lunch). And with diversions—different alleys to check out, or the eastern route that led up around the back of a stadium and the cemetery, or the western route past the warehouse district. We watched a film strip about “stranger danger” that had us looking over our shoulder for a month, but other than that, we were unaffected. Until Junior High when a girl was taken away by a family friend. The whole city followed the drama and was scarred by the event. But we still walked everywhere.
One Sunday I wasn’t ready for church when my family loaded up in the station wagon to go. “You better show up!” my dad said and they left. I didn’t figure I had a choice. So five minutes later I left and walked in my white Sunday-heeled shoes past familiar streets, up the hill through the university campus, past the “nice” houses beyond and finally arrived—although a bit late. I had walked that same route numerous times—but not alone, or in dress shoes. It was the shoes that I thought about.
And yet, as a mom, I drove my children to the school that was at the end of our street.
2. When I was a girl, my family camped by streams where we caught our supper (trout), chilled our watermelon, and obtained all our water—even the water we drank. Nobody packed purifiers—I’m not sure you could even buy a portable one. (Though scouts learned about iodine tablets.) Now I know that even the clearest streams can contain amoeba, bacteria, microbes and viruses that can make you sick if you drink them straight from the source. Still, it seemed that the clear running streams were easier to find forty years ago. Last time I camped by a lake—in the pristine world of Yellowstone—we filtered everything.
Back when I was young, we learned not to litter, but the ocean wasn’t a garbage dump and there wasn’t a floating landfill in orbit above Earth. And nuclear waste was not destroying the future.
3. Doors were held open for strangers, nobody crowded in line, people waved when you drove by, and we respected the opinions of the elderly. When my DH went to the Philippines he had to overcome his cultural prejudice and accept that nobody formed lines.
Good still happens. The other day I lost my American Express card and called the store as soon as I got home. It had been turned in and they were holding it in their safe. Unfortunately though, courtesy, trust, respect and honesty are becoming exceptions rather than expectations.
I wonder if the daily barrage of negative news about thefts and murders, and shows based on false realities clouds not just our view of the world, but how we behave. I know when I watch the markets and the economic figures I become more discouraged.
Is the world really losing its values and principles? How do we pass on the good we knew without passing on misplaced trust?