Remember When . . . Thongs Were Something You Wore on Your Feet?

Remember when . . .

Thongs were something you wore on your feet?

Waxing was something you did to floors?

You didn’t pay to watch television?

Cut and paste was something you did with scissors and glue?

Reading the news or a book or paying a bill involved ink on paper?

Correcting a typo involved using a product called Wite-Out?  (Fun fact – One of the first forms of correction fluid, Liquid Paper, was invented in 1951 by Bette Nesmith Graham, a secretary and mother to Mike Nesmith of The Monkees.)

The Monkees and The Beatles did not refer to a human-like mammal or an insect?

Eggs were good for you then they were bad for you and then they were good for you again?

Your mother gave you baby aspirin for pain?

Your mother intentionally exposed you to kids who had measles or chicken pox so she could “get it over with”?

Playing war games and tag actually involved going outside and running around the neighborhood?

Bullying happened on the playground?

You had to write a letter (ink on paper) to communicate with someone who lived far away?  And if someone with whom you wanted to write a letter lived overseas, you had to write on really thin paper and send it Via Airmail and pay special postage depending on where you were sending it?

You had to go to the library and sort through paper card files to do research or know how to use the Dewey Decimal System to find a book that you wanted to read?  (Note: The Dewey Decimal System was developed by Melvil Dewey in 1876, and is still in use today.  It has gone through 23 major revisions since 1876, the most recent in 2011.)

Television was in black and white and you used an antenna (often wrapped in aluminum foil) to get a good signal and there were only three stations or four if you counted PBS?

There was only one phone company?

You used paper maps to find your way to your destination?

You had to carry coins (usually dimes) to use public toilets and public phones?

You had a home phone and it had a curly cord which meant you had to stay in one place to use it and there was no such thing as answering machines or voicemail?

Going to church or out to dinner or to work involved dressing up in special clothes?

People like to look back on the “good old days” fondly and often with a little regret.  Each generation has their own list of these things that they look back on with some sadness.

I have enjoyed watching Downton Abbey where Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess, laments the use of electricity and installation of the telephone which she sees as the future downfall of civilization.

I like to look back on things that have changed in my lifetime with a little bit of humor.  And I try not to do so with regret or by criticizing the younger generation or by refusing to try new things.  As I tell DSH, I like to look forward not back.  If we are going to look back on “the good old days” let’s also look back at the things that weren’t so good.

Remember when:

Women had no control over their reproductive health?

Women who were raped or were victims of domestic violence “asked for it” by how they acted or dressed?

Children died from illnesses for which there are now vaccines?

There were no medicines or cures for cancer, AIDS, and even the flu?

Girls and boys took separate assessment tests in school to help them decide on their future careers?  (In my high school, we were segregated by gender for these tests.  Girls took the girl test to decide whether they should be teachers or nurses (before they became wives and mothers, of course) while boys took the boy test to decide whether they should be doctors, lawyers, or mechanics.)

School athletics and scholarships were really only available to boys.  (The boys in my high school got to use the big gym and had a weight room and uniforms for the sports teams.  The girls got to use the small gym and wear their gym uniforms which were smocks and bloomers when they played on the sports teams.  My daughter competed at the State level in high school Cross Country and Track – girls have only been able to do so for 39 years versus double that for the boys.)

Boys and men weren’t allowed to show emotion or encouraged to be actively involved in the day-to-day upbringing of their own children?

Black people and white people were not allowed to use the same restrooms, go to the same restaurants, or attend the same schools?

Some people would be ostracized from their families for dating someone of a different religion or ancestry?  (When I was a manager in a hospital in my 20s, I had a woman working for me who was Greek, and she married a Jewish man.  Their families ostracized them.  They were unable to have children, and were not allowed to adopt from either a Greek or a Jewish agency.  They ended up adopting two little girls from Korea.)

Seeing a bi-racial couple was cause for staring?  (I worked with a guy who was white and who was married to a black woman.  I found this out by accident because he never brought her to any company event.  If he had done so, he would have lost his job.  This was in the 1980s.)

Epithets were thrown around freely, i.e. the “n” word for blacks and the “h” and “f” words for gays?

We still live in a world in which these things occur.  In some countries, laws still treat women and children as the property of men, marriages are still arranged, and genital mutilation and denial of education for girls is normal.

We still live in a world where the poor are blamed for their conditions and youth is idealized while the elderly are often treated poorly and their opinions are considered passé.

We still live in a world where some people are reviled simply due to their ethnicity, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation, and some think that “political correctness” has gone too far.

But, the world is changing – in some ways rapidly and in other ways slowly.  The challenge, sometimes, is to balance the new with the old and to learn how to integrate new technologies and new ways of thinking and acting and working within the framework of a diverse society and an ever smaller and more connected world.


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