I grew up in the forties and fifties. Things were very different back then; in some ways better, in other ways not. I am convinced that “today” is the best; yesterday is gone and tomorrow is unpredictable. Nevertheless, it’s fun to compare the differences in lifestyle.
When I was a girl living in Michigan, sodas were called “pop” and my favorite was Faygo redpop. However, we rarely had “pop” and when we did it was a very special treat. Today my grandsons demand their sodas and have them on a regular basis (grandma thinks it’s too much sugar, but then . . . )
Being a large family with a single wage-earner, there wasn’t a lot of money for “extras.” My parents never bought candy and only occasionally ice cream. The only time we had candy was at Halloween when the five of us donned masks and, carrying large paper bags, scoured the neighborhood and the neighboring neighborhoods in order to bring home as much candy as we could possibly procure. Then the candy went up into the cupboard to be distributed by Mom as she saw fit. We never raided that cupboard (well, maybe my brothers did). The candy generally lasted for two or three months.
Eating out was something we never did. We made our own pizza with a box of Chef Boyardee pizza mix which by today’s standards was probably awful, but we liked it. We did bake our own cookies, mostly peanut butter cookies or refrigerator cookies. Mom baked and she was good! She made great bread and cakes and we loved it all.
Warm summer days and evenings found us playing games outside; kick the can, hide and seek, bike riding, role playing, etc. Today, my grandsons spend their free time in front of the TV or computer, playing games with their thumbs. We did watch some TV, but it was relatively non-violent – cowboys vs. Indians, good guy catches bad guy, etc. Seldom did we see a woman assaulted or treated with less than a certain respect – even Gunsmoke’s Madam and saloon keeper, Miss Kitty, was portrayed as a refined woman and treated respectfully.
My siblings and I had to help carry the load at home. Mom never did dishes; she cooked the meals and we had to do the dishes and clean the kitchen. There was no dishwasher! Saturday was “cleaning day” and the entire house was cleaned — this was mostly done by the girls and Mom, the boys helped Dad with the yard work. My grandsons have to be bribed to help with housework and yardwork.
We never went to the doctor (no insurance then) unless we were very sick and the only time I went to the dentist was to have teeth extracted when they became so decayed that the pain was unbearable. Orthodontics was unheard of. Unless you had severe “buck” teeth (pushed forward), you lived with whatever imperfections you had. Today, most kids have braces by the time their twelve.
We didn’t have an automatic washing machine and dryer until I was in my teens which meant we hauled the wringer washer into the kitchen every Monday, filled it with hot water, and washed the clothes. Then they had to be hung out to dry – even in the winter (brr!) We didn’t have “miracle” fabrics then so we had to dampen the dry clothes, roll them up and let them set for a while. Then iron them with a hot iron that probably weighed five pounds.
If you have guessed that I was the oldest, you are right. I believe having so much responsibility as a child probably made me a more responsible adult able to cope with life and it’s ups and downs. I am interested to see how my grandchildren, whose life has been easier in some ways, will cope. In other ways, their life has been more difficult than mine. Too many choices, too many demands from peer groups – drugs, alcohol, etc.
Every generation faces new challenges and enjoys new life-saving and life-easing technology. Yesterday had its advantages and disadvantages; today also. As I said, yesterday is gone, tomorrow is unpredictable, Today is good!
Thank you, Lord, for the blessings of a loving family and the up-bringing that made me who I am. I have been truly blessed. I pray for my children and grandchildren, and the following generations, that one day they can look back and see their lives as blessed.