There was a time when hard work was a celebrated virtue, PC meant computer, and face-to-face conversations weren’t made via phone. It was a time when airline travel was luxurious, politicians were considered role models, and celebrities were famous for the roles they took on, not the clothes they took off. Let’s take a walk down memory lane. After all, lessons in life will be repeated until they are learned.
Change is good — if it’s in the right direction.
Sometimes a momentous event can upend life and shake us to our very core. That can be said of the Great Depression, WWII, and the Nazi occupation in Europe. Those life-altering events had a profound impact on that generation and spawned important conversations with their children, such as the necessity of fending for yourself, the dignity of hard work, the value of being frugal, and vowing never to take things for granted — especially your freedom.
Inheriting Timeless Values
America didn’t offer public assistance during the Great Depression or to immigrants; so, families were forced to fend for themselves. The sacrifices they made to put food on the table were truly heroic. By its very nature, frugality was considered sacrosanct, and nothing went to waste. Consequently, we were taught to eat everything on our plate, to never leave lights on when we left a room, and to be happy with hand-me-downs instead of new clothes.
Parents also promoted the value of a strong work ethic. Kids were expected to get a job, such as delivering newspapers, as soon as they reached working age — no questions asked. Before that, they cleaned windows, babysat, shoveled snow, or collected soda bottles and brought them to the store to earn a few pennies. What’s more, parents encouraged kids to save their money — rather than buy something that they wanted but didn’t need.
People who immigrated to America considered themselves blessed. Parents told their kids how lucky they were to experience the American Dream. They recounted stories about the hardships they faced and cautioned us never to take our way of life for granted. After all, others would give their right arm to have such rights as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press.
At the time, America was the envy of the world because it represented compassion, decency, and opportunity. One of the most potent ways America showcased its moral values was through wholesome entertainment. Broadway touted such blockbuster classics as My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, and Oliver…while the three networks televised shows such as The Honeymooners, Lassie, and I Love Lucy. In fact, I Dream of Jeannie was considered scandalous because Barbara Eden’s navel could be seen though her costume. Furthermore, Walter Cronkite, the news anchor, was considered “the most trusted man in America.”
Some things never had to be said, because they were simply understood. For example, kids were taught to respect their elders. Instead of being on a first name basis, grownups were referred to as Mr. or Mrs. or Aunt and Uncle if they were close family friends. Moreover, people held the door open, carried groceries, and willingly gave up their seat for an elderly person as a sign of respect. In addition, folks waited until everyone was served before picking up their forks at mealtime. If kids didn’t adopt proper manners, they’d receive the evil eye or, worse, be taken to task.
It was a time when the line between right and wrong was as clear as day. Of course, kids who didn’t follow the rules paid a price. If they used foul language, they got their mouth washed out with soap. It wasn’t called abuse; it was called discipline. If kids behaved poorly in class, they were sent to the principal or received detention after school. And, if your parents didn’t scold you for getting out of line, other parents did. (Ouch!)
It was a period when families ate meals together, employees stayed with their employer for life, and kids entertained themselves — instead of having playdates. They rode bikes, played hide-and-seek, hopscotch, and stickball in the street. When a car came down the road, kids stopped playing until it passed, then started up again.
It was a simpler time in which neighbor helped neighbor, the whole family shared one phone, and the winner received a trophy while the loser learned a lesson. It was a time when kids fought their own battles, doctors made house calls, flash frozen vegetables were hot, and a penny bought something. It was a time when teachers graded students based on academics and effort. And parents were expected to sign your report card and return it. (Yikes!)
Benefit from a Walk Down Memory Lane
This isn’t a call to relive the past or to say that earlier times were perfect. Rather, it’s a time to count your blessings for the good in your life and learn from the past. As the saying goes, “Your past mistakes are meant to guide you, not define you.” Take a walk down memory lane and learn a lesson or two.
What Cool Things Do You Remember?
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