By Earl Gieseke

There are days which stand out in one’s memory and in history, either because they were good, or because they were so horrible. So it was on a warm Sunday afternoon, seventy eight years ago. Most families were never the same after that most ignoble event. Most families sent one or more sons to “fight the horrible Hun.” As I look back as one who was ten years of age when that event took place, it is hard to believe the changes that have taken place in our country, some for good, but some for the worse. “Japs” suddenly became a word that would cause anger against an unknown and hated enemy. “Remember Pearl Harbor” was now a reminder for the whole USA that was equal to “Remember the Alamo” in Texas. It may be hard for some reader to understand some of the things I will mention as I do a little reminiscing; but, remember who our generation is! We are survivors of what some today call the “dark ages.”

We had never seen TV on December 7, 1941. No one had ever had a Polio vaccination, or a shot of Penicillin. Hula hoops, Frisbees, ball point pens, FM stereo, 8-track and cassette tapes were still in the future, as were CD’ s. Years later I married a pre-microwave cook. Disposable diapers were still in the future. Only a select few knew of “smashing the atom,” and radial tires did not exist. The “pill” was usually an aspirin, and “crack” was something you did to nuts. Xerox, fax machines, plastics and telephone answering machines were still in our distant future, as were cell phones. Panty hose were not even a want, much less a necessity. To most of us, a clothes dryer was a wire stretched across the back yard. The Man had walked on water, but no one had walked on the surface of the moon. People did not have to “find themselves,” for all pretty well knew where we were. We received stamps from the government in order to buy shoes, sugar and gasoline, during the war, but we still had to pay for the goods.

Back then, “fast food” meant you ate leftovers without warming them up. Or, you bought a Bologna sandwich and a big RC at the general store, and both for a dime (if you could get a dime). That was our REAL MEAL DEAL! A dime was also the price of a loaf of bread or a pack of cigarettes. You could play the jukebox six times for a quarter, but few wished to spend half a day’s wage on music. For a quarter, one could mail eight first class letters and one penny post card. Designer jeans were girls named, Jean who were looking for husbands. We did not wear faded or patched pants until we had worn them out, and Mom had to patch them. Ladies did not wear them at all. Foxes, Rabbits, Bugs, Mavericks and Ponies were the names of animals, not cars. To be “gay” was to be light-hearted or happy, and anyone who would have burned the flag would have been tried for treason, and then sent to prison to save their live. Wars were fought in, not demonstrated against.

The idea of a president who had been a draft dodger could not have been comprehended. One who plotted against his country was sent to jail; but, never the White House. This was before Jane had been to Hanoi or Bill went to Russia. Had they gone back then and consorted with the enemy, they would have been invited to stay. MY, HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED!

We survived without computers, dual careers and computer marriages. Dad wore the pants and the babysitter’s name was, Mom. In fact, I do not even remember hearing the word, babysitter, for several years. Head Start was what you gave someone in a race that you knew you could out run. Children were the responsibility of parents, not the school or the welfare system. School teachers and preachers were usually the two most respected professions, and back then they deserved it. Religion was a serious business, and most had enough of it to make them good and honest neighbors. Few people knew where the front door key was, because it was seldom locked.
A hooked screen door was all that was needed to keep people from entering a house. If someone needed something, they would come over during the daytime and borrow it, not steal it. Back then, most people got married first, then lived together. It usually always took nine months after the marriage for the first baby to be born, and single mothers were widows. MY, HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED.

Way back then people did not “come out of the closet,” unless they had first gone in to hang up a garment or get one down. A “hang-up” was what you got when the other person was done talking to you on the phone. Only females wore long hair, beads and earrings. You could usually tell rich families from poor families because rich families went outside to cook and inside to use the bathroom, while us poor families did just about the opposite.

Electronic typewriters and word processors, along with TV dinners were unknown. “Chips” were the things that hit you in the face when you chopped wood, and you bought hardware at the hardware store. Disks were not floppy, else you could not have used them for preparing fields for planting. We survive without “group therapy, day care centers and ERA. “Liberated women” were women who had been released from jail or prison. At that time, I had never seen a woman smoke a cigarette. Medicare and nursing homes were not a part of our society. Old folks died at home where they had been born. “Sex education” was not even a concept, and was learned some place other than at school, and people still survived, married and had children. “Natural child birth” was invented by poor folks. And, no one would have been caught dead with anything that was labeled, “Made in Japan.” MY, HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED!

To us born before or during the Great Depression, “Making out” was the same as “How are you doing?” AIDS were helpers in hospitals. Families, not the government, were still responsible for taking care of one another. Sex was known by all, but it was not on display in almost every living room each night. I did not even know the word, SEX, as it is used today. We might ask, “What sex is that animal?” (In case you couldn’t tell by looking) The word, pregnant, was not even spoken in public. A woman with child was said to be “delicate,” or, “indisposed.” We never heard the word, abortion. On occasion an animal would lose its young, and it was considered to be a tragedy. If a sow killed her young pigs, she was either butchered, or sent to market.

Now I know this all seems nearly unbelievable to those who have arrived more recently on God’s footstool, but we even survived without electricity. Only when the rivers got out of their banks did some have “running water” in their houses. We never walked for exercise, and we jogged only if we were going to be late. All you needed to go fishing was a piece of string, a pole and a worm. Every driver shifted gears for self, and an air-conditioned car was one with the window glasses rolled down.

All the switches were for keeping the kids in line. It was before the days of tele-evangelists and 800 numbers. Any words you did not hear in front of your Mom or in Sunday school, you did not hear on the radio, or read in the newspaper. Back then, marriage was usually a life sentence. People were taught to be polite to older people, and kids waited until the second table to eat when we had company. Do you remember the song: “Take an Old Cold Tater and Wait?” The lyrics of songs could be understood, and you could listen to them in mixed company without blushing. No one had ever heard of electronic games much less, played them. About the most exciting thing around was the pinball machine, but most would not waste a nickel playing it. “Rap” was something that might happen to your head if you misbehaved, either at home or at school. We did not realize that we were conservationists when our battery for our radio was re-charged by the wind. We just knew we were too poor to have electricity, so no wind, no radio playing, unless you could borrow a battery from someone’s car.

Well, I guess I have reminisced enough, especially for the young and the restless. Please bear with us old timers, for we do this around December 7, and at family reunions and at funerals, when you see people you have not seen for a long time. We let our minds go back to the “good old days.”

Just keep in mind: “It does not matter too much when you live or die, but how you live and die.” Sin still is sin, and always will be, no matter if we call it by some euphemism to mask it. THE WAGES OF SIN WILL NEVER CHANGE, and, GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL.

“For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” (1 Pet 3:10-12)

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