The old saying is true that “Distance lends enchantment to the view.” Since we live in the present we are forced to see things as they are, not as they have been.
The generation gap is renewed with each generation. Our grandparents memories are not ours, neither are our memories those of our children. This makes communication difficult at best and impossible at times.
An elderly lady spoke to the editor of the local newspaper. “The paper is not as good as it was when your father ran it! The young editor replied kindly, “It never was that good!”
Let’s run a test case and see how things were in the ‘good old days with Grandma’. Monday was washday. The song now begins, “This is the way we wash our clothes, wash our clothes, wash our clothes, this is the way we wash our clothes, every Monday morning.”
“Build a fire in the back yard to heat kettle of rain water. Set tub so smoke won’t blow in eyes if wind is pert. Shave one whole cake of lye soap in boiling water. Sort things in three piles. One pile white, one pile colored and one pile for britches and rags. To make starch, stir flour in cool water to smooth. Thin down with boiling water. Take white things and rub dirty spots on scrub board. Scrub hard and boil. Now scrub colored but don’t boil, just rinse and starch.
Hang old rags on fence. Spread tea towels on grass. Hang clothes on clothes line. Pour wrench water on flower beds. Scrub porch with hot soapy water. Turn tubs upside down. Quench fire. Go put on clean dress. Smooth hair with hair combs. Brew cup of tea. Sit and rock a spell and count your blessings.”
The author of the above is unknown, but every Great Grandma could have given the same recipe. Have your kids read it and see how they identify with it. As I said before, ‘communications is difficult at times and impossible at best’.
Talk to your kids about playing ‘hide and seek’, ‘Simon says’, ‘kick the can’, ‘red light’, ‘red rover’, ‘may I’, ‘draw a magic circle’, or just sitting a while on the porch with friends. See what they remember about chocolate milk, going home for lunch, penny candy from the store, hop scotch, butterscotch kisses, skates with keys, jacks, May first or hoola hoops. Talk to them about the days when divorce was rare and Mom and Dad were still together.
In the ‘Good Old Days” we had sunflower seeds, Whist, Old Maids, Crazy Eights, wax lips and make believe mustaches. There was Mary Jane’s, Saddle shoes and Coke bottles with the name of cities on the bottom. Remember running through sprinklers, circle pins, bobby pins, spit curls, garder belts, Mickey Mouse Clubs, The Lone Ranger, Crusader Rabbit, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Fran and Ollie, Spin and Marty, all in black and white on a 12 inch screen that kept rolling and needed constant adjustment.
We were never bored growing up. There was always something going on. We played Tarzan, Captain Marvel, climbing trees, splashing through puddles, chewing tar off the local telephone poles and making forts in the woods. We started a local neighborhood paper (sold for a penny a copy) and sold lemonade from a home made stand. We played cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, sitting on the curb, staring at clouds, jumping from the top step, swan dives off the bedsteads, and special company spending the night.
We made up our own rules when marbles were in season. No trenching, no hutching, no bee bee’s, no fudging, no teeing up with sand. We pitched for lines to see who could play and who could start. We played for fun, for keeps and forever.
We took our skates apart and nailed them on a board. We made them into scooters. We found a set of old wheels and made odd looking motor crafts out of old orange crates. We made rubber guns out of odd pieces of wood and cut our ammo out in ringlets from old inner tubes. We once formed an antiaircraft gun using 36 strands of rubber tied together. It took three boys to load it and it went off by accident and knocked a little neighbor boy down.
Every body who was anybody in the neighborhood went to church. They were different ones but we all went. The preacher generally preached about Hell fire and damnation. This included smoking, drinking, dancing, fooling around with girls and missing church. He used his text from Revelation 2:5, where John the revelator wrote, “remember from whence thou art fallen and repent and do the first works again”. The Ten Commandments were tacked on the wall of each room in our school. The worst things you could do in school was to run in the halls, chew gum in class or shoot spitballs with a rubber band.
These were the “Good old days” and my children miss them and just don’t know it.