I recently received one of those: “Do you remember when” e-mails.
You know: Do you remember when a nickel bought you a flat piece of pink bubble gum with a hockey card, and you still had money left over for a jaw breaker?
After reading the dozens of lines about the good old days, I realized they weren’t such good old days at all. As a matter of fact: They stunk!
I remember when we were too stupid, naive, frightened, ill-informed and acquiescent to question authority.
I remember when priests raped little boys but we never suspected.
I remember when companies employed individuals for life. The company owners got rich. The workers died young.
I remember when children were either crippled or died from polio, died from whooping cough, went blind from measles or died at birth.
I remember when women were expected to be baby factories, stay at home, be good house-keepers, and obey the man of the house.
I remember when it was a big thing for a woman to go to university, when all she expected out of life was to become a teacher, a nurse, a secretary, or best of all: marry the boss.
I remember when girls first started taking “The Pill”, and they were considered to be cheap and easy.
I remember when the best anyone in the working class could hope for was to be a tradesman, because the professions were reserved for the upper class.
I remember my parents driving my sisters and myself through Westmount at Christmas time, to see the beautiful homes all lit up, as my parents made it clear to us, that this is a life reserved for others, but never for ourselves. We believed them.
I remember when only the rich could vacation somewhere warm in winter.
I remember when going to a movie was a big thing because at the price, even then, who could afford it?
I remember going to restaurants once and a while, and then we’d order what we could afford, not what we necessarily wanted.
I remember when children were beaten by their parents and there was nothing anyone could do about it.
I remember when it wasn’t really against the law to take a whack at your wife. And if you did, she probably had it coming anyway.
There’s a whole world of: “I remember when” out there, that isn’t all that nice to remember. But sometimes we think it is.
Make no mistake about it. The present is by far light years better than the old days.
These are the good old days. These are the days when we are searching for the truth, questioning those who want to lead, and reaching beyond our grasp.
These are the days when anyone in a modern, democratic, western alienated, secular society can reach for the stars and have a good chance of grabbing one. Yesterday has come and gone. Today is our future. And tomorrow will be even better.
So the next time someone sends you one of these: “Do you remember when” e-mails, send it back with:
I remember just yesterday, when I sent a photo of my trip south, via my cell-phone, to my grand-kids in university, who don’t have to worry about me, because modern medicine defeated my cancer, my heart is fine because of my pacemaker, I’m off playing golf, and pretty soon I’ll be turning 90.
And guess what? I know folks like this who grew up as regular people who were not rich and powerful, but nonetheless:
They did their jobs, raised their families, sold their homes they no longer needed and invested their money in a retirement fund. Something that would never have happened in the so-called good old days.
I will remember some of yesterday with fondness, but I will look forward to tomorrow with grand expectations and enthusiasm.