Remembering The Good Ol’ Days… But Were They Always Good?


There’s something to be said for the post-World War II mentality of “The Greatest Generation.” No, no — don’t doze off, you little whippersnappers. Allow me to wax nostalgic for a moment because, truly, you will not believe how things were back then.

In the first place, only the men went to work. Why? Because no family in America needed two incomes, that’s why. If a guy needed more money, he’d ask for a raise and he’d get it. Why? Because he was a guy, of course — the gender solely responsible for putting meat on the table.

Yes, I said it. Meat. Every night at 6 p.m. on the dot, every family in America (well, OK, I exaggerate but only a bit) would sit down to enjoy meat, potatoes, corn, noodles, white bread, whole milk, pudding (if you were rich), Jell-O (if you were not) and here’s what it was called — “Good Eatin’.” Yes! That’s what we thought! Nobody read labels. Heck, there were no labels. Nobody knew what “dietary fiber” was and, even if they did, our parents were one generation from living on farms. They knew where that food came from.

Oh, and you’ll notice I said the men went to work, but it’s not like they were the only ones working. Their stay-at-home wives were working like mad. My mother used to chant, “A man can work from sun to sun. A woman’s work is never done.” True! (And thank you, Jean Little.) After getting everyone out of bed, fed a homemade breakfast, dressed in oftentimes-homemade clothes, handed a brown bag lunch and scooted out the door, the woman’s day officially began. Clean-up, washing, ironing, mending, gardening and shopping all had to be finished by 4:30 p.m. because then supper had to be made. Meat had to be defrosted (no microwave ovens), vegetables picked, potatoes peeled and pudding stirred (instant pudding? What’s that?). No razzle-dazzle small appliances to help out, either. Good, hard work!

And heaven help the neighbor who called — pardon me, “telephoned” — between 4:30 and 7 p.m. As if they didn’t know it was suppertime! As if we’re getting up from the table and running into the hallway to answer that big, black telephone now! As if they think they’re more important than Family Time! Ha!

Now let me explain a bit about Family Time, now deceased. Mealtimes, holidays and dad’s summer vacation were for family. Have all the friends you want, they’re not to impose on Family Time. Ride your bike, walk the dog, hang out at the drugstore, fine — you better be home for supper. Why? So everybody knew what everybody else was doing, of course. There was no way you could flunk a course, get a tattoo or “get tangled up with a bad seed” when you had to report your activities once a day — not that anyone was interrogating anyone. Who had to? We were just talking. (Translation: “Talking” is what we had before texting. Archaic, yes, but we didn’t know any better.)

So, all that reminiscing aside, would I like to go back there? Be a post-WWII kid again? Do all my chores? Help out around the house? Babysit my younger siblings?

Maybe. I could use the 25 cents allowance every two weeks.