Where Did My World Go?
I remember when there was no tamper-proof and child-proof packaging. That was before multiculturalism and Identity Politics when we could still trust one another and parents accepted responsibility for their children without fobbing it off on a company with a liability claim.
I remember also when there were no state income and sales taxes. States were able to meet their responsibilities without them.
A postage stamp cost one cent. A middle class house was $11,000 and an upper middle class house went fot $20,000. One million dollars was a large fortune. There were no billionaires.
The air museum on the naval base in Pensacola, Florida, has a street reconstructed from the 1940s. The restaurant’s memu offers a complete evening meal for 69 cents.
I was thinking about that as I reviewed a recent Publix supermarket bill: a loaf of bread $3.89, a dozen organic eggs $4.95, a package of 6 hot dogs $5.49, 8 small tomatos $5.19, a package of baby spinach $4.19, a half gallon of milk $4.59, a package of two paper towel rolls $5.99. When I was 5 or 6 years old, my mother would send me to the bakery with a dime for a loaf of bread or to the market with 11 cents for a quart of milk. The Saturday afternoon double-feature at the movie house was 10 cents. A case of Coca-Colas (24 bottles) was one dollar. Ten cents would get you a Pepsi Cola and a Moon Pie, lunch for construction crews. Kids would look for discarded Pepsi Cola bottles on construction sites. In those days there was a two cent deposit on soft drink bottles. One bottle was worth 4 pieces of Double Bubble gum. Five bottles paid for the Saturday double-feature.
Dimes, quarters, and half dollars were silver, and there were silver dollars. The nickle (five cent coin) was nickle, and the penny was copper. FDR took gold away in 1933. The silver coins disappeared in 1965. Our last commodity money, the copper penny, met its demise in 1983. Now they are talking about getting rid of the penny altogether.
Many of us grew up with paper routes for spending money. Other than a paper route, my first employment was the high school summer when I worked the first shift in a cotton mill for $1 an hour. And work it was. After the withholding tax my takehome pay for the 40 hour week was $33.
When I was five years old I could walk safely one mile to school and home by myself without my parents being arrested by Child Protective Services for child neglect and endangerment.
In school we could draw pictures of fighter planes, warships, and guns without being regarded as a danger to our classmates and sent for psychiatric evaluation. Fights were just a part of growing up. The police weren’t called, and we weren’t handcuffed and carted off to jail. Today kids who play cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians and point fingers at one another as pretend guns end up in police custody. A fight means an assault charge and possibly a felony record.
The kind of freedom I had as a child no longer exists except in remote rural areas. When I think about this I wonder if kids today even notice. They live in the virtual world of the video screen and do not know the real world. Catching crawfish in the creek while watching out for cottonmouth moccasins, playing capture the flag over acres of expanse without getting a bad case of poison ivy, organizing a neighbohood ball game, damning up a creek and making a swimming hole. Today these are unknown pleasures.
When it rained we read books. I remember reading Robert Heinlein’s Puppet Masters when I was 12 years old. Do 12 year olds read books today? Can science fiction compete with video games?
I remember when a deal rested on a handshake. Today lawyers tell me even contracts are unenforceable.
We were taught to behave properly so that “you can look yourself in the mirror.” Today you can’t look yourself in the mirror unless you have upstaged or ripped off someone. Character is a thing of the past, as are habits that are today regarded as inappropriate. An older person hoping to get a point across to a younger one would put his or her hand on the younger person’s arm or thigh for attention purposes. Do this today and you get a sexual charge. Both of my grandmothers would probably be locked up as sexual offenders.
Being a tattle-tale was an undesirable and discouraged trait. Today we are encouraged to be tattle-tales. You will hear the encouragement several dozen times while awaiting your flight to be called. Neighbors on quiet cul-de-sacs will call Child Protective Services to report one another’s unsupervised children at play.
I remember when black Americans said they just wanted to be treated like everyone else. That was before racial set-asides in federal government contracts that only black-owned firms can bid on. Once you have special privileges, you don’t want to be like everyone else. Blacks say being white is a privilege. If so, it wasn’t enough privilege for Celeste Bennett’s firm Ultima. Her white privilege and her gender privilege were trumped by black set-aside privilege.
If my parents and grandparents were to be resurrected, they would require a year’s training before it would be safe for them to go about with being arrested. They would have to be educated out of their customary behavior patterns and taught the words and phrases that are today impermissable. They would have trouble comprehending that there are no-go areas in cities. Reading Diana Johnstone’s masterful book, Circle in the Darkness, I remembered the safety of my own youthful years as I read that as a 12 year old she could walk alone around the wharfs of southwest Washington, D.C., in the 1940s unmolested.
I received my new homeowners policy yesterday. It arrived with 89 pages of warnings, definitions, and liability explanations. One can’t really tell if one is insured or not.
I have a 54-year old Jaguar that I have had for 47 years. The owner’s manual tells how to operate and repair the car. A friend showed me the owner’s manual on his 21-year old Porsche. It has more pages of warnings to protect the manufacturer from liability claims than the Jaguar manual has pages of instruction. Today any tool or gadget you buy has more pages of warnings than instruction.
My AARP Medicare supplement insurance policy arrived explaining my meager and expensive covering. It came with a notice letting me know that language assistance services are available for the policy in Spanish, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Russian, Arabic, Haitian Creole, French, Polish, Portuguese, Italian, German, Japanese, Hmong, Llocano, Somali, Greek, Gujarati, and that there is no discrimination because of sex, age, race, color, disability or national origin. The notice provides access to a Civil Rights Coordinator in the event I feel discriminated against. AARP even provides a number to call for help with filing a discrimination complaint.
I do feel discriminated against. But it is not a covered discrimination. I feel like my country has been stolen or that I have been kidnapped and placed in some foreign unknown place that I don’t recognize as home.
I feel the same when I get fundraising appeals from Georgia Tech and Oxford University. Georgia Tech was an all male school consisting primarily of in-state Georgia boys. The Oxford colleges were segregated according to gender—male and female—and the vast majority of the members were British. Today all the colleges except the women’s are gender integrated. White males seldom appear in the photos in the fundraising materials that arrive from Oxford and Georgia Tech. I see lots of women and racial diversity and wonder what university it is. An improvement or not, they are not the schools of which I have memories. The schools I knew have simply been taken away. Something else is there now.
Perhaps it has always been true, but today if you live very long you outlive your world. As your friends die off, no one remembers it correctly but you as you watch your world disappear in misrepresentations to serve present day agendas.