Not My World
Eighty years ago this past week, I was brought into a world of pain and sorrow. My parents were very courageous to be starting a family in the midst of a great depression. Wages were low if you could get a job at all. It is hard to believe that you could live on $10.00 a week. Hitler was becoming more and more popular in Germany with his promises of Germany’s recovery to its rightful place in the world again. The popular VW bug came out of this era as the “Peoples Car”. I had four in the 50’s 60’s and 70’s and they were dependable and a lot of fun to own. The difficult years of the depression were slowly eroding to talk of another assault on humanity, war again with Germany.
For many, this was an unthinkable thought. Only 20 years had passed from the end of the Great War, the war that would end all wars, and with the same adversary again. Many ignored the thought but a voice of wisdom kept sounding the warning to be prepared. Great Britain was in no mood to renew hostilities with Germany as their world dominance was greatly reduced and tarnished and history would later prove this was the beginning of the end of their place as the world’s leading power. The USA was now in that position. It seemed as if the only voice of warning against Germany was that of Winston Churchill.
The thirties, forties and fifties were a time for many to be brought back to a religious reflection and spiritualism. Hard times will bring the ego under check and cause one to become closer to his maker. The lack of excessive amounts of money forces a populous to withdraw into one’s self and reflect on spiritual thoughts. The churches unlike to-day were vibrant and for many families in North America, their main source of entertainment and social life.
When I was a boy living in Toronto, Sunday was strictly a day of rest from work and school. Very few stores were open and if you had an emergency, it was hard even to find a drug store open. Sunday consisted of a trip to church for 11:00 AM and then home for lunch and then back to Sunday school at 3:00. A visit to my grandparents after Sunday school where many family members were doing the same, and then home for supper and perhaps some radio like the Amos and Andy show or Lux Radio Theatre. We didn’t always go to the evening church service as it meant driving in the dark. It was a much simpler life but one where family values were of the utmost importance. Bill Maher recently ridiculed this life style on his TV show but can be excused for his ignorance as he is an atheist and of course was not even born to experience those years.
Our wants and needs were few as we did not have the media telling us what we couldn’t live without. Our radio advertising was for Oxydol soap, or Carters little liver pills, or Lucky Strike cigarettes. My family did not smoke on the one side and were like chimneys on the other. However, there were a lot of smokers in that time frame. A cigarette in your mouth or twitching between your fingers and thumb was very much the same as Cell phones to-day; rarely did you see someone without one in their hands. I guess that is why I am annoyed to see so many so dependent on these gadgets. Too few remember when grocery shopping was quite different than to-day. I was in my teens before there was a big change in that field. Shopping habits were with small independent retailers specializing in fruits and vegetables and dry goods, others would be butchers or fish mongers or bakers. Mom would make the rounds more than once a week and many times have the purchases delivered. Some left it up to the store keeper to select the grocery list and the meat and fish and put it on a tab and deliver to the household. What a service! One of my part time after school jobs was that delivery boy. Door to door salesmen were quite popular and I must count myself as a part of that crowd as I was the most popular guy as a Fuller Brush Man.
In 1939 the war that Churchill predicted was upon us and our innocence was jolted by the realization that fathers and sons and brothers and boy friends were to be separated from us and in many cases never to return. Naivety returned for a brief time from 1945 through the 1950’s and then our world was to change never to be the same again.
We are all aware of the world of to-day and only a few of us are left with those distant memories. I can’t help but compare the life style and the change in character that has transformed, what to me is so fresh in my memory and just a short 60 years or so ago.
With all the changes, the enormous improvements in creature comforts, all the entertainment at our finger tips and the life style improvements, we as human beings are not better off for them but very sad and unfulfilled. Many more young people seem so confused and unprepared or unable to enter the adult world. Their high priced education is wanting to prepare them for the future. My younger friends from the “Boomer” crowd seem to be more settled in their better position of semi retirement, or in the case of civil servants, retirement: they are outwardly happy and from my point of view oblivious to many of the moral and political pitfalls that are staring us in the face. We seniors are faced with the same dilemmas that all before us had, only to a much greater degree. Many would have Euthanasia front and center on the new laws agenda, your 80 now sir or madam, take a pill, sign up for a bed in a home and move out of the line for those who are younger and can contribute more to society.
For those of us that can fight back, we need to let the world know how wonderful a sunset is, and a quiet time with loved ones, a walk in the woods or by the sea, good music and theatre, a time away from contact with the rest of society, a time for solitude, reflection and prayer, to get in touch with your inner most thoughts. Many years ago, when personal and business pressures were overwhelming, I went for a sail with nothing more than my thoughts to keep me company, that was my therapy. Yes, we can live without a cell phone or other electronic devices at hand every minute of the day. My generation kicked the smoking habit and you can also. Young people need to spend more time in quiet solace and when they do want conversation, have it face to face. You will find it a lot more rewarding reading the expressions on the face of a fellow conversationalist.
A Boomer friend and a dyed in the wool Atheist recently told me that he was concerned for me. If I had been a little swifter in the brain, I should have responded with, “I know where I am going after my time has expired here, do you?”
Paul D. Scott.