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By Carolyn Primm
This spring, after schools closed due to the Coronavirus, I noticed that a school bus continued to pass my house each day. The bus was taking meals to many of our school children. “The meal children receive at school may be the only meal some children get each day,” I was told. The church I attend gathers easy-to-prepare food items for children to take home each weekend “because there are children who would not have anything to eat on the weekend if we did not send food items home with them.”
Hearing about children without food caused me to think about my own young years. Admittedly the children in my generation lacked many of the amenities today’s children enjoy, but I was totally unaware if my classmates did not have enough to eat.
One obvious difference in my generation and today’s generation is technology. Our family had one television for the whole family. Monitoring content was no chore as there were only three channels. The only censoring I remember was soap operas, which my mom defined as “trashy,” whatever trashy meant. Mom was not inclined to explain. I learned negotiation skills by agreeing to let my brother watch Sky King today, if I could watch Andy Griffith tomorrow. Sometimes we kids would learn of a new cereal on television.
Our attempts to convince our parents that we needed that cereal rarely worked. Mom and Dad cruelly forced us to survive on organically grown bacon, eggs, fruit, and milk. There was a different name for organic then, ordinary. Another difference in technology was that every family member did not have their own phone.
Our whole family shared one phone which was located in the dining room, attached to the wall. This arrangement assured that not only did we share the same phone, we shared everything we said on that phone with anyone else in the room. As you might guess, this phone arrangement severely stifled inappropriate conversations. You never had to doubt, however, if you were being heard. What others had talked about on the phone was discussed over supper.
Travel was also quite different when I was young. No friend of mine ever flew to another state, let alone another country. No one took a cruise. A big adventure was a trip to grandma’s house in another town, where you could fish in the pond or swim in the crick, which strangely enough is spelled creek. Sometimes, we traveled to another state for a family reunion where we encountered the best buffet line you could ever imagine.
Homes were smaller when I was a child. Every child did not have his or her on room. If you had same-sex siblings the likelihood of having your own room was nil. Parents could kiss all their babies goodnight in swift succession, as same sex siblings were all in the same room, if not in the same bed. I loved it. Snuggling up beside my sister brought nightly comfort, and someone to listen as I talked myself to sleep.
One current amenity that we did enjoy in my childhood was one-day delivery service. It was not uncommon for our family to arrive home one day to find a bag of clothing on our back porch. The same was true of apples, zucchini, eggs, and once, a used bicycle. The bike, of course, was not in a bag, but leaned against our back door. Unlike today’s generation, we didn’t have to order any of these packages. Each delivery was a serendipitous surprise delivered through the generosity of over-supplied neighbors and/or cousins who had outgrown whatever was in the sack.
I often think about my childhood and all the current amenities that I missed, but didn’t miss. Then, I consider what today’s youngsters have and don’t have. I wonder if enough food is really what our children are missing most. And, I wonder how we justify the word progress.