Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)

Life in the Pedestrian Lane: Those were the Days

I’m old.

I’m old.

I have fought against saying those words for a good long time, but I tripped over a couple of snowflakes on the way to get in the car the other day, and then, later I wore myself out reading the paper, so I guess I need to bow to the obvious: I’m as old as most of my friends.

I’m not going to tell you how old but I remember my uncle coming home in his uniform on leave from the Army during the Second World War. And I remember saving tin foil ( yes, TIN foil) from my gum, probably Blackjack or maybe Cloves, to roll into a big ball to save for the war effort. And I remember playing in the mud with my brother and hearing my mom yell out the door to my dad that the president was dead, the day FDR died.

I remember phonics and penmanship in grade school and saying the Pledge of Allegiance to a 48-star flag. I remember packing shoe boxes with bars of soap, pencils, crayons, socks and other small things to send to the D.P.s (Displaced Persons) in Europe. And my teacher telling the class that we were no longer a melting pot (as had been the terminology in social studies to explain the mixture of nationalities and ethnic groups in the U.S. pre-WWII). We were now a Stew Pot.

Still a mixture of peoples, but each preserving its identity and sharing it with the others, to help us kids understand the influx of “different” people coming to our country and settling in our communities. Worked for me. I like stew.

I am old enough to be offended when someone, flying the virtue signal, tells me I’m appropriating somebody’s culture when I wear my muk-luks or a muu-muu over my swimsuit, or make pirogies (meat pies) for dinner. I come from a time when immigrants were real, not coming for the free stuff. They came to the U.S. across a stormy North Atlantic on a crowded troopship because they had nowhere else to go. They were eager to share their skills and culture and to absorb mine; to become an American, but remember their homeland, which they might not ever get to return to. They grasped pbj sandwiches and cowboy boots and American movies with a smile.

I also remember when T.V. was just a rumor. We got the evening news from Edward R. Murrow via the radio and listened to “Our Miss Brooks” and “Behind The Creaking Door” before bed. We watched newsreels and Saturday matinees. I remember Bambi and Hopalong Cassidy and the Three Stooges. We read books at home for entertainment: “Little Women” and Nancy Drew and “Catcher in the Rye.”

And I remember the older brothers coming home from the Korean Conflict.

I wore poodle skirts and saddle oxfords and learned to type on a manual typewriter. I remember Sputnik and the first time I heard ”Rock Around the Clock”: Friends and I were sitting in a car during lunch break at school one day and it came on the radio. Someone turned it up because it was new. When it was over the car was jumping to the beat. We didn’t realize the world had just changed.

I remember Jerry Lee and Elvis and the Big Bopper and Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. I remember James Dean and I remember the sixties!

Yep! I am really old. And because I am, I can be offended by that cohort of youngsters so attached to their phones they can’t carry on a simple conversation, or write a coherent sentence. They are impatient and rude and laugh at “the old guys” not even self aware enough to realize they are the joke.

They will never understand that if one of the “old guys” hadn’t said “what if…” and another answered “I don’t know. Let’s try it” they would still be waiting for a dial tone to chat with their friends, and messaging them on lined paper with a No. 2 pencil, (probably in cursive).

How did we get a group so afraid to color outside the box?

They are so eager to record themselves or their friends doing what everyone else is doing they can’t produce anything original. We will never see an Elvis or a Marilyn Monroe from them, or “A Streetcar named Desire” not even a Mr. Rogers.

(As things are looking, we may not see another generation, as “interaction” means clicking on the thumbs up icon.)

Not one will ever utter “what if…?” and certainly not “Let’s try it!” in fear of offending someone.

So, I’ll admit I’m old, and I remember lots of things. Mostly good, some not so. I’m just really glad none of my friends wanted to record the fun stuff.

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