Wednesday, June 2, 2010
The Good Old Days
I am sure many of you have received email spams from your friends, who forward various versions of email chain letters to you. Some are urban legends supposedly alerting you to carjacking schemes, perfume poisonings or computer viruses; others are more benign, extolling the power of friendship or sisterhood. But all of them tell you to pass the email on to 10 of your friends. Old chain letters would threaten you with bad luck if you didn't pass them on. Now you are just made to feel you don't really care for your friends if you don't. Either way, friends, I don't really like getting these...because I DO feel guilty if I don't send them on, and even worse, depressed when I can't think of 10 friends to send them to.
However, one I received lately made me reminisce. It was aimed at baby boomers-- about all of the things we and our parents used to do and that are now frowned upon. It brought back memories of the "good old days".
So those of you over 40, after you read this blog, sit back, close your eyes, and think of all of the politically, medically, and socially incorrect and non-technical things that used to be the norm when we were young. (If you are under 40,this might help you understand your parents better).
Remember defrosting meat on the counter?
Whoever heard of e.coli in the 50's?
(And I must confess I still do it).
Remember when you were little and it was OK to go off on your own?
I was given the "don't take candy from a stranger" speech, but my mother had no qualms about telling my 10-year-old self to ride my bike over a mile away to Keeler's, the butcher she preferred. There I would purchase a pound of ground beef for 49 cents. And I would stay out until 8pm playing with my friends until my mother would stand on the back porch and yell at the top of her lungs for me to come home (I think she tried ringing a bell for awhile but decided her voice had more power over me). It did.
Remember when we had to get up out of our chairs to change the TV channel and adjust the rabbit ears?
Did putting aluminum foil on the rabbit ears really help the reception?
Remember getting vaccinated at school?
Didn't mind the sugar cube. Hated the shot!
Remember when everyone smoked?
I was amazed when I went to college and there were ash trays in the class rooms. Naturally, I smoked. It was cool then. When I went to a Dylan concert, I even sported a cigarette holder and called everyone "Dah-ling." (I think I was in my Edie Sedgwick phase).
And a pack was only 25 cents.
Remember when you could actually buy something for a penny?
I would go to the local corner store and point to each piece of candy I wanted and walk out with a bag full of candy. If you had a quarter, you could choose 25 different pieces. "I would like that one, and that one, and that one...please." Can you imagine that multiplied by 20 or 30 kids? That must have driven the store clerk nuts! (And there weren't even signs limiting the number of children that could be in the store at a time as you sometimes see these days).
Remember when dogs ran free in the neighborhood and no one carried bags to pick up after them?
We had a collie that looked just like Lassie and was a friendly guy, well-known in the neighborhood and wandered all over the place. One dog I particularly remember was a little 3-legged miniature doberman named PeeWee, who was a nasty piece of work. He would charge anyone walking by his house. I had to go that way to get to my friend Chuckie's house and dreaded every moment, waiting for the snarling little weasel to come running out. I hated that dog.
Remember when libraries were old, musty buildings with disapproving librarians?
Now, I know I am generalizing here, but there must have been something to that for there to be the stereotype librarians have had to live with for so many years. I can remember feeling very scared of the disapproval of the library staff when checking out certain items, if you know what I mean. When I discovered the list of "100 Best Books Ever Written" (or something like that), and decided I wanted to read every one in alphabetical order, there were moments when the librarians would raise an eyebrow or two at my adolescent self. Not to mention when I tried to check out
And I would break out into a sweat if I had an overdue book. We not only had to pay a fine but got a lecture as well.
Remember when libraries had closed sections and you had to fill out a form and then a library staff person would retrieve the item for you?
Never did figure out what the criteria was for those books kept locked up.
And what IS the deal with the librarian stereotype?
How did that happen? Did most librarians actually wear buns and dowdy clothes and keep the risque books under the counter (for their own use)? I can't tell you how many times I have fielded that question.
How things have changed. Were they really the "good old days?"
Today we worry about e.coli, watch our kids "like a hawk" (as my mother said to me when my children were born), pay way more than 49 cents for ground beef (unless we are vegan, at which point we wouldn't buy it at all), have hundreds of TV channels to choose from without getting up from our couch, we are vaccinated at birth for just about everything, few smoke, we could live without pennies, and dogs must always be on leashes and even often carry their own "you-know-what" bags.
And as for libraries...
Today public libraries are cool, hip places staffed by people who like people.
Their basic services provide a welcoming atmosphere, friendly, knowledgeable staff and volunteers, we check our your items without judgment, we happily assist you with your directional, informational and computer questions, we provide free programming for all ages including early learning opportunities for ages 0-5, our collection of library materials includes books, DVDs, CDs and other formats, we share our "best reads advice" with library customers, and we provide computers and free WiFi access.
The librarians are not stereotypes. They are smart, thoughtful, fun and care about what they do. And keep nothing hidden under the counter.
I could ask you to share this with ten of your friends, but instead, share your memories here of growing up and your past and present library experiences.
Better then? Or better now?