A Simpler Life

A holiday weekend is upon us. It’s a three-day weekend for many. The celebration is for Presidents Day. Earlier this week we celebrated Valentine’s Day. It’s these days that remind me a lot of my childhood.

I fondly recall entering my classroom on the first day of February in my early grades and seeing the dark silhouettes of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln on either end at the top of the long blackboard at the front of the room. Their birthdays are February 22nd and 12th, respectively. On a large side bulletin board, we were reminded of Valentine’s Day on February 14th. The decorations were vividly red hearts of all sizes.

School was closed on both presidents’ birthdays. Later on, we celebrated them together in what was then Presidents Day, the third Monday of February. Regardless of when we were off from school, they were special days. Even more so than weekends. It was about friends and family. These days and other days of celebration bring back memories of my childhood.

It brings to mind something that has been shared numerous times across social media and one that I want to share here today. I hope it brings a smile to your face and sets the stage for a peaceful and enjoyable weekend with friends and family.

I went to school in Brooklyn (grades k-5) and Staten Island (grades 6-12) with some of the best teachers during a time when everyone treated each other with respect. We didn’t eat fast food. We drank Kool-Aid, water, lemonade, and we ate homemade food. Casseroles, pasta (lots), chicken, fish, meatloaf, hamburgers, PBJ & bologna sandwiches.

We grew up during a time when kids would gather glass soda bottles to take to the store and use the deposit money to buy something special on Saturday. We cashed in green stamps for special things. We got to go to the local candy store / luncheonette for penny candy… yes, I said penny candy! (We even got a brown paper bag to put the candy in); You sure could get a lot for 25 cents!

We went outside to play games, ride bikes, or baseball in a field or in the street, hide & seek, jump rope, hula hoop, hopscotch and raced against each other down the street. We went fishing or just for an excuse to play in the creek!

There was no bottled water… We drank water from the sink or the hose if we were outside. No microwave or cable!!! No cell phones! And no one got offended by things they didn’t like. We dealt with it. We didn’t cry and act like spoiled children because we didn’t get our way!

We watched TV… like Green Acres, Beverly Hillbillies, and Bewitched, and for adventure we watched Combat, Rat Patrol and Adam-12. But only after our homework and chores were done!

Sunday night was… The Wonderful World of Disney and Bonanza and Italian cookies and pastries from that day’s guests. And there were always guests on Sundays!

If you were bad at school… you definitely got in trouble at school and again when you got home as your parents already knew and you got into trouble again! Prayer and a swat on the butt were allowed in school and you behaved!

Our house was left unlocked… Windows were always open… We would ride our bikes for hours… yes, I said HOURS! All without a cell phone or electronic games. And you made sure you were home before the streetlights came on.

Walking, running, and biking was our way of transportation to visit our friends. We respectfully asked if our friends could come out to play and one by one, we were a group playing together. We fought at times, but immediately made up and laughed about our squabbles. Kids and the teenagers we looked up to didn’t have guns and the thought of taking a life was never spoken.

We LEARNED from our parents, grandparents, and even from our neighbors, instead of disrespecting them and treating them as if they knew nothing… What they said may as well have been the GOSPEL!

You had to be close enough to home to hear your dad’s whistle or your mom yelling to tell you it’s time to come home for dinner. And we sat around the dinner table to eat as a FAMILY! You ate what was put on the table and didn’t leave the table until you finished everything on your plate, or you were excused!

We talked to each other about the events of our day. School was MANDATORY. We loved and respected GOD, stood for the “Pledge of Allegiance” with our hand over our hearts and proudly sang the “National Anthem!” We respected the American Flag and especially anyone in a uniform.

We watched what we said around our elders because we knew If we DISRESPECTED any grown up we would get our behinds smacked and it wasn’t called ABUSE, IT WAS CALLED DISCIPLINE! We held doors open, carried groceries and gave up our seat without being asked to do so.

You didn’t hear curse words on the radio or TV, and IF you cursed you did it away from the public or got your mouth washed out with soap. “Please” and “Thank you” were part of our daily dialogue! We said, “You’re Welcome” instead of “No Problem!”

We were rarely bored! If our parents heard us say such a thing, it was GUARANTEED they would find something for us to do! We knew what an imagination was, and we used it to create things to do! On snow days we shoveled snow for all our neighbors, in the summer we delivered newspapers, washed cars, and mowed yards.

I’m sure I could expand upon all the above and add a lot to the mix. It was a great time. It was a simpler time, and one that I regret children of today will miss out on.

Please SHARE if you’re thankful for your childhood and that you will never forget where you’re from.

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!