Thursday, August 16, 2012

Do they grow up slower?

I stopped at the stop sign. High school kids all dressed like homeless deadbeats and carrying what looked like 40 pounds of books crossed the street in front of me.  Their heavy back packs sagged. Perhaps there was  more than books within? I couldn't help questioning if we, when we were their age,  look so ragged and ratty?  Yes, we suppose we did.  Remember the duck tails, engineers boots and cigarette packs rolled in the short sleeves t-shirts? That was the uniform of the day.  Oh yeah, Levis too. Any length was ok because we rolled the cuffs up as required. It was  important that the little red tag was on the right back pocket.  No tag - wrong brand.  It was a "brand" thing.   The girls wore cashmere sweaters, long skirts, saddle shoes and silk scarves or kleenex in their bras if needed. Off the school ground everybody smoked. The girls less openly. If you didn't smoke you were labeled a nerd and ignored.  Yeah, we looked different than they do today,  but just as scruffy.  

What is disturbing isn't their scruffy looks. We, our generation, haven't passed along the ethics and virtues of the past. Without noticing we have created way too many kids that are uncultured, inconsiderate, unemployable rabble. Compare them and their accomplishments with yours.  There's no bragging involved here, just compare your teen-age experiences with theirs. Not surprisingly, you will discover that our society has lost something.  Consider my own case for example.
  • By the time I was 16 years old I had milked a cow, cut hay, cultivated ground, pulled stumps, and planted crops. My Grandsons have never had these experiences. 
  • By the age of 16 I knew how to catch, scale, and gut fish, kill chickens with an axe, slop the pigs, clean out the barn and  how to shoot a 22 rifle and a 410 shotgun. My Grandsons don't. 
  • My first "job-on-a-payroll" was mopping and cleaning up at "Walt's Malts",  at 75 cents per hour,  from 6 pm to 9 pm daily. I was 14 years old and rode to and from work on my Whizzer motorbike. The return trip was in the moon-lit dark.  When a car came along I had to pull to the side of the road and stop. There were no street lights on the narrow La Canada streets. 
  • By the time I was 16 I owned a car that ran pretty good, one motorbike and two motorcycles.  I maintained and repaired them all myself.  My Grandsons have never had black, greasy, dirty hands. Never.
Let's stop right there. The problem isn't particularly the many things they have NOT experienced, but it was definitely quite different growing up way 50 years ago. We need to remember the things we DIDN'T have too.  Television sets, traffic, farms, horses, cows, goats, computers, cell phones, play-stations, instant medical care, and Disneyland. All of those things and more.

But . . . . .

Most of our parents had some relationship with a church or religion. They somehow taught the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments and we were expected to be honest, to tell the truth, to respect someone else's property. It was important that we get good grades in school. If we didn't we would be held back and repeat the grade. They told us that we must always obey policemen and think of them as our protectors in case of trouble. 

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