Were The Good Old Days Really All That Good?

As baby boomers cruise into the latter of our lives, it is easy to fondly remember a simpler time when we were clad in flat tops, crew cuts, pony tails, and penny loafers.

Were times any easier? For us, perhaps, but not our parents.

The past always looks better in retrospect than it actually was. In the 1950s and 1960s, we were nose-to-nose with the Soviet Union and Red China. There was the Cuban Missile Crisis and Kennedy Assassination. There were also The Beatles, the Mustang, and Free Love. There was also color television and self-cleaning ovens.

Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were both shot to death in two 1968 assassinations. There was the Vietnam conflict that took 56,000 American lives and screwed up a whole bunch of others. There were the riots and protests.  There were The Monkees, The Rolling Stones, Jimmy Hendricks, Janice Joplin.

We gained…. We lost… Just like today.

There were the fabulous Christmases. Neighborhoods full of kids at play. And there were the alone times when we played in our rooms and got lost in the world of imagination. We didn’t have electronic devices aside from portable phonographs and transistor radios.

I use to lie in bed at night or when I was sick and listen to a hand-held Magnavox portable radio. The sounds of AM radio and mental pictures of a man in a soundproof studio at a microphone. The whistles, twitters, pops and crackles of AM radio. And the hopeless silence at each end of the AM radio dial.

There was sitting at a steering wheel in my mother’s Valiant with my sister pretending to be driving somewhere. There were cold winter nights gazing out a frosty window into darkness watching brave streetlights show us the way. Wondering who and what was out there.

Listening to Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Daydreaming. Grand openings of modern shopping centers. Walking yet to be occupied neighborhoods still under construction. Exploring in the woods and taking in the aroma of Autumn.

Do you the smell of unburned hydrocarbons from freshly started engines that still had carburetors, chokes, and fat fuel mixtures on a frigid morning. Riding the school bus along with 50 other young souls who believe they would change the world.  Waiting for Gilligan’s Island to come on. The Addams Family on a Friday night. Who could forget Popeye and the Three Stooges on the Metromedia station in your town? “Don’t try this at home, kids…” WTTG’s (Washington, D.C.) Bill Gormly always told us. I was still inclined to hit my sister in the head with a hammer.

We were young without a care in the world in the fifties and sixties except dodging bullies and trying to avoid a bath and a haircut. Had you an adult at the time, you had memories of The Great Depression and a world war. If you were young and of age, you had the Vietnam draft to sweat out.  We hark back to what we believed was an easier time and it was because we were so very young with our whole lives ahead of us. Our parents and grandparents buffered us between our own innocent worlds and the dangers that existed beyond.

As 2021 gets underway remember something – these are the good old days. As baby boomers grow older, it is easy to fondly remember a simpler time when we were clad in flat tops, crew cuts, ponytails, and penny loafers.

Were times any easier? Let’s not kid ourselves. Probably not.

4 thoughts on “Were The Good Old Days Really All That Good?”

  1. I think the times were easier on us as kids, but maybe not our parents. During the 1950s, we were not poor, but almost at times. I conveniently forgot about those days.

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    1. Yeah – my folks too. My dad in Kansas City. My mom in Washington, D.C. My dad just couldn’t eat oatmeal or Cream of Wheat. Our generation has had it good. Thanks for your kind words Phil.

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