kids these days have it easy…

There’s a great Monty Python skit with four men sitting around trying to outdo one another with increasingly tall tales about how hard things were when they were young.

I find these days that I have reached the age where I have begun to think, or even utter, the words “when I was your age…” The first time it crosses your mind you think you’ve become a full-fledged coot. After a while, it starts to be downright entertaining.  It’s one of the few perks of getting older, after all.

My parents lived through the Great Depression and WWII. My father had polio and my mother had rickets. That’s a hard act to follow. Growing up in the 60s and 70s seemed pretty cushy by comparison. But given time, and perspective, my generation eventually got bragging rights of our own.

Here are some of the shocking perils and deprivations that we survived back in the day…

  • We rode bikes without helmets – and we rode them fast. We used the driveway ramps as a slalom course.
  • We were let out like dogs to roam the streets in packs with our friends. We had to think up things to do. They called it “playtime.”
  • We watched whatever was on one of the four available stations – on the one TV we had.
  • We rode in cars without seatbelts. Heck, when I was very young, my favorite spot was the rumbleseat of our VW Beetle.
  • No one “childproofed” their house. No safety gates to keep us from tumbling down the stairs. Medicine cabinets, kitchen cabinets, electric outlets – all were ours to explore. Stick your finger in a socket once and you learn.
  • We talked to strangers. Strangers must not have been as dangerous back then. And kids weren’t as dangerous either. You could help a child in need without fear of lawsuits.
  • Term papers, reports and letters were written by hand, math was done with slide rules and reference materials were locked away in buildings called libraries that were always closed when you needed to look something up.
  • When one of our classmates or teachers died (and they did) no counselors were immediately dispatched to the classrooms. We were expected to just suck it up.
  • We got chickenpox, measles, mumps and rubella. Those vaccines came later.
  • Sugar, preservatives and food coloring were major food groups.
  • We ate processed foods because they were the new wonders of the world.

Oh, and I narrowly missed being killed by a defective blender that broke free and launched across the kitchen at high speed while grinding up some mixture of ham and sweet gherkins that was deemed food in those days. The salesman at Sears had told my parents that the newfangled non-metal base that they were wary of was “made of the same plastic that they use in the nose-cone of spaceships” so we knew it was safe. How Sears got wind of NASA spaceship specs is still a mystery.

Kids these days. They have it easy…So easy…

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