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The America That Once Was
I miss the country I grew up in...
When I was growing up in America, life was vastly different than it is today.
The country I knew then has so radically and profoundly changed that it is virtually unrecognizable.
There was no internet, no computers, no cell phones, no apps, no photocopy machines, no GPS, no voice mail, no faxes, no pagers, no email, no Instagram, no video games, no Google, and no video cameras.
There was no artificial intelligence, no texts, no Instagram, no Facebook, no Apple, no Netflix, virtual reality, and no Wi-Fi.
Businesses were closed on Sunday, except for a gas station or two along main highways. You did not pump your own gas; an attendant would come out and do it for you and check your oil and tires.
There were no big box stores. Your parents, uncles, or neighbors owned the local clothing, appliance, or grocery stores. You bought your meat at a butcher’s shop.
There were very few, if any, obese people.
There were no drugs in the schools until the late 1960s. School prayer was allowed. We said the Pledge of Allegiance every morning before class. There were no birth control pills.
We studied American history, math, science, and civics in school.
Immigrants who came through Ellis Island and other legal points of entry weren’t given cell phones or free hotel rooms. They worked on farms, at factories, and in foundries. They took care of their own.
The American Dream was very much alive and well.
America’s favorite matinee idol was Jimmy Stewart, a European theater combat veteran who left the comfort of Hollywood to enlist in the Army Air Corps. Our president was former General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the highly respected man who helped mastermind the D-Day invasion.
No one burned the flag.
America was a light on the hill to other nations.
Pop songs were about love, having fun, and dancing.
People wrote letters, thank you notes, and sent postcards. Letter carriers walked from house to house, delivering the mail.
The average inflation rate was 1.3%.
Gasoline was 19 cents a gallon; one hour of work bought you 10 gallons. The average house cost about $14,000. A new car would cost about $1800. Stamps were four cents, newspapers were a nickel, and McDonald’s hamburgers cost 15 cents. There were no plastic bags or bottles. You paid a two-cent deposit on soda bottles and had to return them to get your money back.
It was a time when police officers, teachers, the military, and most politicians were highly respected.
Few, if any, of us had ever heard of gays, drag queens, or gender-fluid people. Those who were homosexual hid it well.
No one had ever heard of a homeless person. Hobos were men who traveled along railways to find work in other cities. You knew and trusted your neighbors. People rarely moved.
There were no birth control pills, no fentanyl, and no meth labs.
Abortion was illegal.
We weren’t worried about mass shootings, terrorists, China, or nuclear bombs.
Crime was less than half of what it is today.
Looting was unheard of.
Young women and girls were rarely abducted, if ever.
Professional athletes often had off-season jobs to supplement their incomes, as they were paid only for the weeks they played. If you saw someone wearing a
jersey, it was the athlete himself, as they were not reproduced for sale. No serious women’s high school, college, or professional sports teams existed. We had no idea what soccer was all about. Baseball was the national pastime, not the NBA or NFL.
People dressed more formally, and women modestly. Jeans, boots, and shorts were not allowed in classrooms. No one was walking around with metal studs and rings attached to their face.
The 1950s had their dark side too…
Black people were still mostly segregated. Black people (and Jews) were not allowed in country clubs. Blacks could not attend white-only schools. Segregation in the 1950s meant Black people had to sit in the back of the bus. They could not eat at lunch counters, stay at certain hotels, drink at white bars, or use white-only drinking fountains.
By the early 1960s, things were beginning to change…
The October 1962 Cuban missile crisis, the JFK assassination in 1963, the Robert Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. assassinations in 1968, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Vietnam War protests of the late 60s, the sexual revolution, Woodstock in the summer of ‘69, the Stonewall Riots of June 1969, and the elimination of school prayer in 1962 all began the journey into the mess we find ourselves in today.
Young people in America today have no idea what this country was like back then. Instead of America’s true history, schools and colleges are teaching them this country is a racist white patriarchy that must be destroyed and built back better.
When I was growing up, we had a keen understanding of the ultimate sacrifices of our troops in WWII and Korea. Most of us knew someone or had a relative who did not come back. Many young people today have no idea what Memorial or Veteran’s Day represent other than a day off from school or work.
They do not appreciate the Bill of Rights because they have never read it.
Things are now upside down, backward, and inside out. What was once considered wrong, immoral, or evil is now regarded by many as good, decent, and virtuous.
I miss the America that once was...
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