I love the comic strip “Zits”. It’s about a teen-aged boy, Jeremy, and the completely opposite way he and his parents view life. I sometimes wonder if the cartoonist has hidden cameras in our house, as the situations depicted in the strip suspiciously reflect what goes on in our home. However, the cartoon the other day had me thinking along different lines.
Jeremy and his girlfriend, Sarah, are walking down the street and see a kid selling lemonade for one dollar a cup.
Jeremy says, “A dollar? When I was your age, I sold lemonade for fifty cents!”
Sarah says, “You just old-manned that kid!”
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve really come to love the phrase, “When I was your age”. Granted, I intensely disliked it when my parents used it on me, and I always somewhat suspected their revelations were grossly exaggerated. But honestly, don’t kids have it so much easier today?
The other night I watched my son writing his book report on his summer reading project on the computer. Not only did he not have to look up how to spell words in the dictionary, the computer automatically put capital letters on the first words of his sentences. Geesh! Back in my day, we actually had to know how to spell words without spellcheck and how to correctly punctuate sentences. We actually had to go to a physical library, search through the card catalog, locate and check out physical books, and look up references in order to do a research paper. Oh, and don’t forget, this was all done on a typewriter, so mistakes were not all that easy to correct. This took a lot of finagling to collate sentences from several different sources and get them in the right order before sitting down to type the finished product. Then we had to remember to return the library books.
When I was a kid we didn’t have cell phones. Our phones were anchored to a cord, from which we couldn’t move more than a few feet. Portable phones hadn’t been invented yet. We even had limited calls and party lines. Remember having to wait around all day for the phone company to send someone to hook up your phone? I remember unsuccessfully begging my parents to let me have an extension in my bedroom so I wouldn’t have to talk to my friends on our living room phone. Now kids are deprived if they don’t have their own smart phone by the age of five. Spoiled cry-babies! If only they had to put up with the inconveniences I did at their age.
When I was a child, we didn’t have air-conditioning. Nope. We sweltered in the miserable Ohio summers with only an inefficient little circulating fan to blow the hot air around. I remember sitting in church, with the oppressive, dense air weighing heavily on the congregation. There were little cardboard fans mounted on a broad wooden stick advertising funeral parlors placed in the hymnal racks. (I wonder why these fans were always from funeral parlors.) These fans were pretty ineffective in cooling, as we generated more heat from the effort of fanning ourselves than we derived benefit from the hot breeze the fan produced. Sometimes, however, I would scoot over behind someone who was fanning herself so I could reap the advantage of the breeze without the work. And of course we always wore our Sunday best to church. Women wouldn’t have been caught dead in shorts or pants and men always wore suits. We stuck to the chairs in our desks at school—oh, and this was back in the days when girls had to wear dresses and pantyhose to school. (By the way, in the freezing winters, we still had to wear dresses and pantyhose to school.) Riding in our cars in the summer guaranteed sweat drenched clothing. There was only relief as long as the car was moving, which made sitting at stop lights unbearable. Moreover, with the windows down, we were treated to the nauseating odors of exhaust fumes from all the other vehicles on the road, as well as the sickly smell of hot tar and asphalt.
I could go on and on about how much harder we had things back in my day, but I’ll cite just one more example. Not only did we not have school buses which picked us up and delivered us to our destination (like these lazy, whiny children of today), we had to walk five miles to and from school each day—barefoot in the snow and uphill both ways. I kid you not!