This is an old Xanga entry with added pictures for my "Re-hash Sunday" entry this week.
Wednesday, March 02, 2005 - 1:53 PM
Life seems so different for high school students and college students these days. It frightens me and saddens me as well. I suppose every generation feels this way. My parents thought the early music of the Beatles, Monkeys, Herman's Hermits, 5th Dimension and the Beach Boys was awful, such "radical" sound. But when they were teenagers and listened to the Big Bands of Tommy Dorsey and Glen Miller, their parents thought it was a terrible "modern" thing.
Sometimes I stop to think about what life was like for them when they were young. My parents grew up in circumstances and surroundings completely different from each other, yet they managed to find one another and forged a family, a marriage that is going on 54 years now.
Mom was a "city" girl, if you could call Roanoke, Virginia a city back then. She was a child during the great depression but was fortunate that both of her parents worked. It was a time when women did not work outside the home often, but the depression forced it. Grandma was a bit feisty anyway so I don't think this ever bothered her. Mom was an only child but had cousins and aunts and uncles close by. She was a young teen during World War II, a cousin died at Pearl Harbor. She remembers the war years with blackouts in the US every night. There were fears that Germany would bomb the US mainland. She tells of writing letters on rice thin paper to another cousin who fought in the Pacific. Letters she received from him would have parts cut out and words blackened from the censors so that most often they could tell generally what he was doing but not specifically where or when. There was no television so the radio was their main source of information and entertainment. She listened to the music and the serials, yet somehow she missed the famous "War of the Worlds" fiasco. Nylons were scarce, women would have only one pair to last for months. Tires, sugar and coffee were rationed here in the US. She said girls would draw a line down the back of their leg to simulate the seam of the nylon. It was also a time when fewer women went to college. My grandparents did not want her to go to college. She went to business school and worked as a secretary for a year after high school. She applied without their knowledge and only told them after she was accepted. She wanted to be a teacher.
Dad (left) & Brothers
Dad, on the other hand, was a farm boy from southern Illinois. Bible Grove, Illinois; a small four-corner town with one small general store, a post office and in later years a single intersection with a stop sign. Dad was the second child of five,four boys and finally a girl. He grew up in the depression as well. There was no money on the farm but they had the vegetables from the garden to eat, milk from the cows, eggs from the chickens and meat from the hogs to get by on. Outdoor bathrooms.(They had these until the mid-50's because I remember the outhouse) Baths in a tub in the kitchen. One large bedroom in the old farm house for all the boys. He went to school for the first six grades in a one room school house about two miles from their home. He did the classic "walked two miles each way in 2 feet of snow" but can't add the "uphill both ways" as southern Illinois is as flat as a pancake. The farmhouse was actually on the only small hill around for miles. Dad didn't listen to the radio much. They had too much work to do on the farm so the morning farm report was the usual staple. He remembers listening to the radio serials and his favorite was "The Shadow"...."who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men, the Shadow knows". But the kids had a creek to cool off in during the hot summer and access to watermelon. Dad says there is nothing better than cooling a watermelon in a cold creek, then cracking it open with a rock and eating it with your bare hands, letting the juice run down your face and arms. Then when you are full, you jump into the cold creek in the heat of the day to rinse off. His high school was 20 miles away in Effingham, so they did their morning chores and left to go to school before sunrise. Remarkably, the country parents wanted their kids to get an education. My dad's older brother is a retired engineer. Two brothers stayed to take on the farm but they are master mechanics as well. The one sister is a computer engineer and Dad went to college and became a minister. He went from southern Illinois to Asbury College. That is where my parents met.
The times seemed so simple then. They didn't have much but they both had tight knit families. We think life was easier but it wasn't really. They had the fear of being attacked by Germany like we had the fear of atomic war in the 60's and 70's and today the fear of terrorism. They lived through the great depression, we have so much more than we need today. They didn't have access to modern medicine or television or phones, but they survived.
Do I think life was better then? In some ways,no. But in many ways that count, that make a difference....YES.