Then And Now

I grew up in northeastern Kentucky in the mid 50's/early 60's.. 


 We never locked our doors.  The worst thing that happened was the neighbor kids "broke in  (aka opened the door)" to our basement and took spray paint to "decorate" my dad's new '58 Oldsmobile.  Their parents actually took responsibility for their 4 and 5 year old boys, and paid to have the car repainted, cheerfully.  


Sadly, that doesn't happen much today without an attorney.  And rarely is the exchange made cheerfully.


We stayed out after dark to catch lightning bugs, We had about a four block radius to play in, because that's how far away we could be and still hear our moms' calls to come in.  We played wiffle-ball, hide and seek, truth or dare, and yes spin the bottle a few times.  OMG!  SEX!  Yes, we discussed it a LOT.  Our dogs could run and play with us, no leash or scooper laws.  Our dogs would never attack our friends.  


Actually it was too hot to stay inside in the summers and nobody had air-conditioning. We'd never heard of bike helmets or seat belts.  We rode to the country in the back of Dad's pickup and had a blast, as we used to say.  


My one juvenile delinquent act was setting off firecrackers on the patio and looking up to see a police car watching us.  We got off with a warning, lol, but I was terrified I'd go to jail! 


It was a different world by 1979 when my son was born, and all the restrictions made life less fun  for him than it had been for me.  When my son had an argument with the neighbor's kid who threw glass in our pool, we were told to "prove it."  We videotaped the little brat, and they STILL denied responsibility.  Where was youtube when we needed it???  He got a friend of his to give him a Rottweiler puppy, who became my second baby and wouldn't hurt a soul, but I found out years later my son wanted him for protection and couldn't use him for that.


Maybe we were naive, but bad things happened then too.  Three murders in approximately twenty-five years.  For this part of KY that was BAD.  But we didn't dwell on them, and comment ad nauseum, and write out our death wishes for the killers in letters to the editor of the local paper, much less post them on the internet, for the world to read.  Even if the internet had existed then, we just wouldn't have done something like that.


When I was a kid, and believed the propaganda, I was a proud American.

When I finally grew up and saw what the world has become, and what our role is in it, I'm ashamed.  We are proving ourselves to be the stupidest generation yet.   And yet, I know for a fact we're not. 


It seems we want to kill everyone who offends us.  There is so much hate and prejudice in chat rooms and on message boards.  We HAVE to get past this fiction of "closure,"  and raise our children the way we think is best for them, even if it means letting them go.


 If your child is murdered, do you really believe a thousand executions will wipe that away?  They won't.  Do you really want another human being executed in the name of your child? I don't.



Yes I'm a bleeding heart liberal.  But I really do care about all of you out there. Even if you hate me, and don't approve of the way I raised my child, ( I didn't hit him, ever.)  Please just listen, we are so screwed up.  And we might be the last ones to know just how much.
JaynCam JaynCam
56-60, F
5 Responses Jun 25, 2011

Dear JaynCam: Thank you for your wonderful story. And -- no --- you're "not screwed up" You're just facing reality as it is, today. I think Bush said it: "A kinder, gentler nation.". It's called nostaglia. I'm in the same age range as you --- and I, too, remember the "good old days". A day in which the "bad kids" in high school might sneak a cigarette or drink a beer". That hardly reflects what happens, in today's world. I don't have to tell you what the "bad kids" do, TODAY. And, you're right --- there is so much "hate", today --- that I never thought I would live long enough to see it. But I do, every day. You spole about the days when "no one ever had to lock doors". Try this: I grew up in Brooklyn, in a day when milk and donuts were delivered to (whosever) door. Can you imagine that happening today?<br />
No one on this forum "hates you" --- we all respect you for your wonderful post. In closing, you said you were a "proud American". Stay that way. We're still a wonderful Country and I believe in my heart that we will always be. God bless and take care. Regards: JIM

Thank you so much. You made my day!

Someone commented "That world is preserved best in the minds of those that were there." I think you have to be very careful about stuff like this. Nostalgia has a way of warping the past--rounding off the rough edges and making it seem better than it actually was. <br />
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Don't get me wrong...I definitely don't disagree with the basic premise that things have changed. Some things have changed far for the worse. Other things have changed far for the better. In general, I think parenting and child discipline has gone away. With it, our schools and the level of education they are able to provide have declined because too much time is spent dealing with unnecessary behavior issues. At the same time, though, back in the 50s and 60s, you could not even fathom the idea of having a President that was not a white male. Any black person who even dared think about being President might just as well find themselves strung from a tree. Today, we can not only contemplate the idea, we are LIVING it. Yet it is obvious that we haven't come nearly as far as we think we have because the level of disrespect that people show to the sitting President is something that should truly makes us ashamed.<br />
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Also, I have to wonder what trappings of modern life people who get wistfully nostalgic about their childhood would be willing to give up. If push came to shove, would you give up your cellphone? Your wide-screen TV? 24-hour shopping? The internet?<br />
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Personal responsibility is the key to making whatever time we are in as enjoyable as any time that came before. Much of the ill we suffer now comes directly from individuals not being responsible, and taking responsibility for their actions. And we perpetuate this by not teaching our children the importance of being responsible citizens. We are our own worst enemy in this regard, so before you think backwards on how it used to be through the fog of rose-colored glasses, think forward to how it SHOULD BE and what you can do to make it so.

"Also, I have to wonder what trappings of modern life people who get wistfully nostalgic about their childhood would be willing to give up. If push came to shove, would you give up your cellphone? Your wide-screen TV? 24-hour shopping? The internet?
I use a cell phone to call my husband if necessary, or for emergencies. I don't own a big screen TV and haven't had cable for 13 years. I wish I could afford 24 hour shopping. I don't drive. But no, I would not give up the internet. Also, my childhood was abusive in some ways and I don't look at it through rose colored glasses. I was writing about the differences between those years and the mess we're in today. Thanks for commenting. Jayne

Hi Jayne. I understand what you're saying about growing up with abuse and your view not being affected by "rose-colored glasses" syndrome. My comment in that regard was specific to the comment of Innomen--"That world is preserved best in the minds of those that were there,..." It wasn't to suggest that what you were writing about was invalid, only that I think it's dangerous to always think that reflections on the past are an accurate recount of that past. I don't own a cellphone (and will never as long as I have anything to do with it. I think most people use them irresponsibly, and I just refuse to reward cellphone manufacturers with my patronage for putting out such a product with little thought as to what people might do with it.). I do own a big screen TV, but haven't had cable service in nearly three years, and don't really miss it. There is no 24 hour shopping where I live, and I don't really miss it, either. Internet access is important to me, though, just as it appears to be to you. My point was that people take for granted many things in their life which exist only because time has marched on. As time marches on, people change, society changes, attitudes, morals, and ethics change. In fact, much of the technological advance is directly responsible for these changes in how people behave. So, when I hear people talking about "the good old times," I feel it is necessary to point out that their lives would be very different in ways they might not have anticipated if we were still in those days.

This piece is very evocative. That world is preserved best in the minds of those that were there, and second best in writing like this that manages to convey it well to those who were never there, like myself.<br />
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Keep'm coming.

Ah yes, those were great times. But I'm a realist, I also remember in my suburban neighborhood, filled with now boomers after the War. <br />
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I remember alcoholics every other house and no one knew how to talk about it. <br />
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I remember the mentally ill with no help whatsoever and families completely lost how to deal with it.<br />
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I remember classmates dying from the flu. <br />
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I remember polio and mother's quaking with fear that their child would be next.<br />
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Yes, they were the best of times, but also the worst of times.<br />
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I raised my children in Suburbia and though they didn't have the total freedom we did as kids, their memories are just as bright and cherished. <br />
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Life moves on with the good and the bad. It all depends how you look at it!

So true. Thanks for commenting. :)

nicely written piece voicing opinions many of us from that era have. my memories are similar to yours. it was indeed a different time. it seems that the deaths of the kennedys and dr. king marked the end of an era and the beginning of a slide downhill, sped up by the reagan "greed is good" attitude, to where we are now. keep the faith.

Thanks Sam, for saying "keep the faith." I haven't heard that phrase in years! Thanks for your kind comment. :)