The Good Ole Days
Pete was a longtime family friend and song leader for our church from the time I was old enough to remember. When I was a young man, he made a statement several times that “people are always talking about going back to the good ole days, but for me, I don’t want to go back to those days; they weren’t that good!” You see Pete and my father were school mates, and they grew up during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Times were hard in those days. Looking at photographs taken of my dad in front of the farmhouse show a house without any paint as money was not going to be wasted on frivolous notions like a coat of paint. The structure was built before 1900, and it provided its purpose of keeping the family out of the elements just fine as it was, pretty or not.
My mother grew up in similar circumstances on a small dairy farm. The dairy barn got electricity before the house did because it was necessary to run milking machines and cool the milk. The house could do without - coal oil lanterns and stoves were good enough since the only time you were in the house was for meals and sleeping. The rest of the time was spent milking cows, washing down the barn and then cultivating feed for the cows to produce milk. Mother and her sister were the only children, and the reason they excelled in school and 4H was that every activity they were involved in meant less time doing chores on the dairy. The school bus didn’t stop at the house; they walked close to a mile to catch it day in and day out - although somewhat convenient after school because a slow walk back to the house meant less time assigned for chores at the house.
For them and everyone else growing up, these were the good ole days because nobody knew any different. Everyone was in the same circumstance and money was in short supply. You grew your food from gardens to chickens, pigs, beef and milk. You got by on butter and egg money for a few extra dollars now and then. Work was a necessity if you were going to have anything to eat. Mom milked cows at least once every day, Dad farmed fields, fed cows on horseback and drove wheat to the mill on a truck with no brakes. But work developed character and responsibility. The family depended on all members to be responsible for their chores or work. Doing the job right and correctly was the difference in keeping a paying wage or providing food for the table. Time and money could not be wasted on frivolous activities or not getting a chore accomplished. Goofing off was not acceptable, and a switch to the rear end was a quick reminder to toe the line.
I think the good ole days we yearn for are for the times when life and circumstances were simpler. Character and honesty were noble attributes everyone strove for because livelihoods depended on them to keep a job, make a trade or convince the banker for a loan. There was no or very little extra money, so financial decisions were already prioritized; there was no use arguing over what to do. But I have to agree with my friend Pete. The good ole days of my youth were not so good either. While we certainly were better off than the Depression, my childhood in America was marred by the Vietnam war, those protesting the war, race riots in LA, riots at the Democratic National Convention and rampant drug use.
The ’60s and ’70s were defined by civil unrest, unprecedented interest rates and the malaise of Jimmy Carter. But out of that turbulent period came a more prosperous one thanks to Ronald Reagan with significant changes to tax rates and regulations that had stifled the U. S. economy. And today, make no mistake about it we are more prosperous than ever, which is attributable to the resources, markets and government structure that allow our economy to thrive. Think about it. Who can say they are worse off than those that experienced the Depression or certainly the pioneers that settled the plains and other wildernesses. Thanks to generations before me I am driving better vehicles, living in a better house and can afford food prepared at a restaurant. So maybe your particular circumstance in life is not the standard you desire, but where else on planet earth do you have the opportunity to make it different. Our fortune and the fortune of generations after us depend on a strong economy and our economic position in the world. I want to live in the strongest and most prosperous country on the planet, and so I support those ideals that will achieve that goal and defeat those that oppose it. Yes, I also yearn for the good ole days when character and honesty were virtues to be desired. But Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and Alexandria Cortez want to take us back to the good ole days of the Franklin Roosevelt Depression and the Malaise of Jimmy Carter. I say no thank you; I know what those days were like and want no part of it.