OK kids, here's how you know I am old. I grew up in the 60's and 70's. I just thought I'd make a list, for posterity... and because I want future generations to know stuff about us that is not tainted by political correctness. Was everything wonderful back then? No. There were certainly issues. I worried more than I should have about whether or not my bellbottomed jeans were the right width, or whether or not I had enough allowance money to buy the new Partridge Family album, but I was not traumatized...
CLOWNS - when I was a kid they were happy, joyous creatures. I was never afraid of them. They didn't attack anybody.
HALLOWEEN -- We had a Halloween Carnival at church every year, not a "Fall Festival." Nobody decided to worship Satan as a result.
My brother and I walked from house to house and asked for candy. Nobody gave us anything but candy. My parents never freaked out about it. We'd run all over the neighborhood, come home and empty out all the candy in front of the TV and sit and eat most of it, get a bellyache, maybe throw up, and that was it until next year. Our "costumes" came from Woolworths or K-Mart or we made our own.
CHRISTMAS -- We said Merry Christmas to each other, and to store clerks, and classmates at school. Nobody freaked out and called the ACLU.
PLAYING -- I asked my mother the other day "What would you have said if I had asked you to arrange a "playdate"?" She just snorted. If I had to be carried somewhere in the car to "play" it was probably at the house where Mom was friends with the mother and that was the reason for the visit, not my "playdate." She didn't care if I liked the kid, either. I had to be polite and behave.
On a typical day after school we went outside and played until it got dark. Then we went home for dinner. If our mothers wanted us for some reason they went outside and hollered. If we didn't answer they called the neighbors until they found us. No big deal. [Now, you drive through my suburban neighborhood and there are NO KIDS anywhere on a school day. What happened to playing outside?]
PEANUTS - We ate peanut butter sandwiches all the time, and we ate peanuts. Nobody ever had to be rushed to the hospital. The big discussion was about what jelly went best with peanut butter, not whether or not there was an Epi Pen nearby.
BIRTHDAY PARTIES -- My parents didn't ever do anything big -- usually it was a cake, a few presents, and the family, around the dining room table. A few times were special. For my 6th, I had some friends over for lunch and we played games. For my 16th, I had a few friends over and we ate M&Ms and potato chips in the basement, and listened to Saturday Night Fever, and giggled. Total cost, less than $20.
I never went to a party expecting to get a gift for attending the party. I took a gift to the birthday boy or girl - usually something that we got at Woolworth's. [If you don't know what a Woolworths was, you are very young.]
TV -- It never occurred to my parents to censor what we watched on TV. Hogan's Heroes, I Dream of Jeannie, Gilligan's Island and even MASH or All in the Family -- none of those shows corrupted us or caused visits to the therapist. We had three channels, and for most of my childhood only two sets. I never had a TV set in my room.
RESPECT -- We were taught to be respectful and polite to adults, always. If I "talked back" to my parents or any other adult, I got punished. Not "consequenced," PUNISHED. I might have to go to my room - that was for my mom's peace of mind. If I was really naughty she might say "Go cut me a little switch." Nobody called Child Protective Services. I usually deserved what I got, as did my brother.
I addressed anyone other than my parents as Mr., Mrs., or Miss. If I misbehaved at school, my parents didn't threaten to sue the school. They did believe us, however, if we protested we didn't do it. There was an unspoken deal - we told the truth and Mom and Dad stuck by us. They were never rude to our teachers, though.
BED - I went to bed early every night. I was in bed by 8 in elementary school and by 9 in middle school. It never occurred to me to think I was being persecuted. I listened to the radio or read a book under the covers, like previous generations, and fell asleep when I was ready. If I got out of bed more than once I was usually threatened with a spanking, by my dad.
BLAME -- I never blamed anyone else for anything, except possibly my brother. A high premium was placed on "admitting wrongdoing." Nowadays kids seem to lie and blame a lot.
Was it a more innocent time? Undoubtedly. I loved playing outside. I loved swimming, water skiing, tennis, shooting baskets, and playing foursquare and kickball. I learned how to garden and sew and knit and cook a simple meal - all before I went to high school. Is anyone teaching these skills today to their kids? I don't know.
I guess every generation learns the things that seem important at that time..