Older folks will always share tales of growing up

Published 9:38 am Sunday, February 11, 2018

When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their stories about how hard things were. When they were growing up they always would be walking 25 miles to school every morning … uphill … barefoot … both ways.

I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way I was going to tell my kids about how hard I had it and how easy they’ve got it.

But now that I’m well over the ripe, old age of 40, I can’t help but look around and notice the youth of today. I am so sorry, but I have to say, you’ve got it so easy!

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Let’s look at the facts:

1. Internet

If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the library and look it up ourselves with the Dewey Decimal System.
Now, you just Google it!

2. E-mail

Back in the day, we had to actually write somebody a letter — with a pen or a pencil. Then you had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox, and it would take, like, a week to get there! Stamps were 13 cents! Don’t even get me started about using cursive.

3. Streaming music

There was no free music. We had eight-track or cassette tapes and also 45s (those are vinyl records with two songs on them, by the way) that if we stacked pennies on the record player arms, it would sound just right.

Many times we also would call the radio station to play a song and wait to tape it on our cassette players. Please, everyone younger than 36, Google eight-track, cassette and record player so you understand what I just wrote.

4. Cell phones

We had rotary phones that were on our walls and there was only one in each house.

I know this is shocking, but we actually interacted only about twice a day on the phone if at all. The first call was to say where we should all meet our friends. The second call was to say we were just grounded and could not come.

If you had three sisters, like I did, you never used the phone and you just drove your bike around until you found your group of friends.

The text messaging that goes on now, we called face-to-face interaction. If you wanted to tell a joke, you told it to your friends, who were in the same room as you. If we argued, we did it together, with actual emotions and not small yellow balls with the emotions on them.

5. Video games

We had a video game console that only played one game — Pong — before we eventually got the Atari 2600, which could play game cartridges. And those games would interest us for about 10 minutes before we wanted to do something else.

For that, we played outside with our friends. We played kick the can, flashlight tag, wiffle ball, basketball, hockey, baseball, you name it, and we played it until our mom or dad would yell for us to come home.

Do you remember yelling, “Just five more minutes”? I do.

6. Television

We had no remotes. Well, we did, but, WE were the remotes. Whatever Mom and Dad told us to turn it to was the channel we were watching. Also, we had four channels — CBS, NBC, ABC and PBS — and I still think we had better TV shows on those four channels than we currently watch. Reality TV for us happened outside our house, and we called it “living.”

7. Respect

We had respect for our parents for the love they gave us, the food they put on the table and the roof they put over our heads.

It seems like today respect by kids is bought by a fancy handbag, a cellphone, or a pair of name brand sneakers. We had chores and consequences. If those chores were not done, we couldn’t go play with our friends. We also rarely had sick days from school, because the list of things to do at home, if we stayed, was bigger than anything we would accomplish at school that day.

Just so you know, this did not make us saints back then, and we still acted like we knew it all. Funny story: My dad used to say to us kids all the time when we got too big for our britches, “You should move out now, while you know it all.”

Maybe this “Back when I was young” is something we all have to go through.

Each generation tries to capture something about how they grew up and to highlight it. Each highlight is seen through our own rose-colored glasses as we think of our time growing up being the best.

I think the best way to handle different generations is to thank the good lord and our parents or grandparents for helping us along the way. Learn both good and bad from every step and try to pass on that wisdom to the next group that doesn’t want to hear it, but should. We all need to stop, be humble and listen more than we talk.

Thanks for listening.


Scott Schmeltzer is the publisher at The Tribune. To reach him, call 740-532-1441 ext. 16 or by email at scott.schmeltzer@irontontribune.com.