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Monday, July 28, 2008

All but one letter (email) said, 'Thanks for the memories'

By Gordon Garnos

AT ISSUE: Very often a letter, including an email, better describes one's feelings than a face-to-face chat. After last week's column a few were received. All but one, in effect, repeated Bob Hope's theme song, "Thanks for the memories,". That one, obviously someone whose toothpaste was all squeezed out, accused me of being "old, confused... that's history... get over it..." It is that last one to whom today's column is dedicated.

WHEN ONE GETS to a certain age, it varies with people, very often the old days seem better than what we are facing today. While remembering is no sin.

But being branded "old and confused" hurts. Old isn't a sin either and what is confusing is what is going on today in this world of ours. Often when I think about the good old days, I am reminded of the outdoor biffy on my uncle's farm in the dead of winter and those thoughts quickly dissipate.

Whether we like it or not a lot has happened since my birth. For instance, the only shootings in school that I remember is when Bill, the janitor, shot the rat in the coal bin at good ole PHS. And, as I have said before, my birth was before television, penicillin, polio shots Xerox, contact lenses and the pill.

There were no credit cards, laser beams and ball point pens. Man, that includes woman, had not invented panty hose, air conditioners, dishwashers, clothes dryers and clothes were hung out to dry in the fresh air. Man had not even walked on the moon. And, as odd as it may sound, my wife and I were married before we lived together.

OUR GENERATION WAS before gay rights, computer dating, dual careers, day care centers and group therapy, but we still made it. Our lives were governed by the Ten Commandments, good judgment and good old-fashioned horse sense. We were taught to know right from wrong and to stand up and take responsibility for our actions. Serving our country was a privilege, living in this country was a bigger privilege.

We thought fast food was what people ate during Lent. Having a meaningful relationship meant getting along with your cousins. Draft dodgers were people who closed their front doors when the evening breeze started.

Time-sharing meant time the family spent together in the evenings and weekends--not purchasing condominiums. We never heard of FM radios, tape decks, CD's, electric typewriters, yogurt or guys wearing earrings. If you had anything "Made in Japan" on it, it was junk.

We listened to the Big Bands, Jack Benny and the President's speeches on our radios. And I don't ever remember any kid blowing his brains out listening to Tommy Dorsey. The term, "making out" referred to how we did on a school test at good ole PHS. There were 5 and dime stores in Pierre and Mitchell where you could actually buy things for 5 and 10 cents. Ice cream cones, phone calls and a Pepsi were all a nickel. And if you didn't splurge, you could spend your nickel on enough stamps to mail one letter and two post cards.

IN FACT, McDonald's, Hardy's or the Burger King and instant coffee were unheard of back in our teens.

You could by a Chevy or Ford for under a thousand bucks and gas, was less per gallon than what the taxes are on it today.

In our day, "grass" was mowed, not smoked, "coke" was a cold drink, "pot" was something your mother cooked in or an item under Grandma's bed and the closest thing to rock music was Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra. "Aids" were the helpers in the superintendent's office, "chip" meant a piece of wood, "hardware" was found in Andis' Gamble Store or at Beckwith's and "software" wasn't even a word.

And, I might add, back in our generation we believed that a lady needed a husband to have a baby. Of course there may have been a few exceptions, but generally, that's the way it worked, and most of us had both our moms and dads living with us.

THE BOTTOM LINE, an expression I like to use once in a while is, yes, maybe we are old, but our confusion really didn't set in until some of these so-called social issues and modern contraptions, I mean inventions, hit us.

One of those inventions, the internet, helped remind me of some of the things that we, perhaps, missed in our growing up years, but, in spite of the outdoor biffy on the farm and everything else, we still made it....

Gordon Garnos was long-time editor of the Watertown Public Opinion and recently retired after 39 years with that newspaper. Garnos, a lifelong resident of South Dakota except for his military service in the U.S. Air Force, was born and raised in Presho.


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