March 12, 2009
Americana. Rusted old reminders of our not so distant past. They take me back to time spent with my grandparents and the stories they told me of more carefree days when Americans were trusting of each other and mostly trusting of their government. Some of those days I even got to experience starting in the early 70's, but life had already began to adopt a much busier pace by then.
Back when my grandparents were kids, doors were left unlocked. People still traded things at the markets in town from their farms. Barber shops were full of good friends and family. Picnics seemed to happen a lot more often. Newspaper and news stations weren't biased and truly represented the public's best interest. Gangsters and thugs were criminals, not government representatives or heroes on TV. Men had guns and didn't use them on each other. Women knew how to cook and didn't begrudge raising their children... and most of them were at home in the afternoons when the yellow school bus let out, making a snack or mending a pair of blue-jeans. It was a different time. A slower time; some might say a happier time in our history.
There were no computers, cell phones, or Ipods. Grocery store clerks knew you by name and didn't mind if you were short a few dollars - they would get it from you next time. Kids could play outside without supervision until dark. Sticks and rocks were just as cool as any gadget you can get at the toy stores. Dinner was served at home around the table. Prayer and church were normal. Radio was the major media. Movies were clean enough for the whole family to enjoy.
Remember the drive-in movie theaters? This one has been enchanting me since I was a small kid - every time I drive by it. Amazingly, it still stands as a reminder of a part of our American past.
I remember my grandma and grandpa's stories of their youth and childhood... the Depression, their school years, the hardships and trails they endured... and the good old-fashioned fun they had in easier, less busy times. Even the hard work they were expected to do (which kids nowadays would be shocked at). It helped to made them who they ended up to be. There weren't movies on demand, video games, Webkins and calling-plans with text messaging for kids. They didn't even get sweets more than once a week or so.
Just last night my mom asked my kids if they had ever had home-made ice cream. They shook their heads, "no". Shame on me! I have failed to give them what little parts of the past that I still can. This summer we're going to make home made ice cream and eat it on the porch with our watermelon we're growing in the garden.
In a world as crazy as we live in, I think it's important to look back and find the good things that we can still give to our kids that are uniquely American... and share them as a heritage of simple joys from our past. We should talk about the people and times that came before. It's good to remember the 'Happy Days' so our kids will get a little taste of them now.
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