If you grew up in the ’50s as I did, you will remember ironing clothes, mopping floors, hand-washing wool sweaters, having to ask permission to use the telephone, curfew at dusk, no riding your bike downtown unless you told your parents were you were going, and so on. Back then of course, there was no internet, no cell phones, and no sassing or talking back to your parents. If you got in trouble at school, then you knew when you got home that your parents had heard from the teacher, so you got punished again. That’s just how things were back then.
My parents both worked, so when we all got home together, Mom would make dinner, even as tired as she probably was. In fact, she made menus every week, so you knew what to expect for dinner. Lunch of course for me was the school lunch. I had already learned the hard way not to lay around reading or watching TV when Mom was making dinner after a long day at work, so I helped as much as I could. And if the menu for that night was something I didn’t like, I knew where the peanut butter was and would make myself a sandwich.
In the summer time when school was out, I was outside nearly every day. When Mom called me in for lunch or dinner, she would look up at the trees, because that’s usually where I was; up a tree. Sometimes I took a book up with me, and it was fun to read up there with the birds and squirrels for company.
Summer nights were magical. Sometimes Mom would surprise my dad and I with our favorite dessert; strawberry shortcake. We would sit out on the porch and watch for boats on the lake (we were lucky to have a home with a lawn that gently sloped down to the lake) while enjoying that wonderful summery dessert.
When I think of those days, I now realize how wonderful it was. It was a sweet and uncomplicated way of life (at least for me). Those were such days of innocense and simplicity. I’m sure that my parents constantly worried about money, but I always felt I had everything I needed and some of the things I wanted.
When my dad taught me how to ski, I fell in love with it. I skiied as much as I could, and I even got into downhill racing. I noticed that a lot of women and girls were wearing ski pants, and I asked my dad if I get a pair. At that time, those ski pants were about $25 dollars; a fortune to me. Dad said that if I would shovel out the driveway in winter and do a few more earrands, I’d probably have enough cash to buy a pair.
So I did, and when the day came when I proudly put my $25 dollars into the hand of the sales girl who was putting my brand new ski pants in a bag. I still remember how wonderful it felt to have earned that money. After that, I took great pains to keep my ski pants in good shape.
I kind of feel sorry for the kids who have everything given to them these days. There is nothing like working for what you want. And when you work hard for what you want, you are careful to care for what you saved up for. You remember how hard it was to save up for what you wanted, and once you had the money, it was a thrill to go buy what you had longed for. This is probably something people don’t do anymore, and it’s a shame. When kids learn how to work for what they want, they are more inclined to take good care of what their money bought.
It was a good life lesson, and I truly hope that parents still teach their children things like this. My growing up was a wonderful time, and I hope that parents are not only teaching, but are setting good examples. My own parents were good people and to this day I am proud of them and grateful for all they taught me. As the song says, “teach your children well.”