Cumberland Times-News


May 20, 2013

Were they really good old days? You decide

When a fellow gets old, it’s not unusual for his mind to wander back to the days of his youth. He may forget where he laid his glasses five minutes ago, yet he can remember events that took place a half a century ago. This is one of the interesting things of old age.

In 1938, there were no nonsensical laws forbidding youngsters from getting a part-time job. I was nearing 11 years of age and got a job on Saturdays at the local gas station, washing cars.

Of course all was done by hand, and I had two good hands, so I was hired. My commission was 20 cents per car. I saved every penny of it, for across the street was a hardware store, with a glass case displaying handguns for sale. I got my eye on one, a Smith & Wesson 22 caliber target revolver.

I was 13 when I excitedly walked into that store with $75 to buy that gun. In about ten minutes, it was mine! Was I ever excited! I bought ammunition for a few pennies. Things back then were cheaper, for gasoline at that time was only 18 cents a gallon, and new cars about $700.

Walking out of that hardware store I felt like a Texas Ranger carrying it home. Can you picture a 13-year-old walking into a store today and purchasing a hand gun?

Not long after, my father gave me a rifle. I remember walking to school with it, and ammunition in my pocket. The school’s indoor shooting range was for the riflery class. Imagine a 14-year-old walking into a public school today with a rifle and ammunition in his pocket?

Our teacher prayed and read the Bible to us every morning. Teachers were respected and loved. The atmosphere was certainly different back then. People were more God-fearing, and children were disciplined with the stick which produced good behavior.

Nobody had TV’s, cell phones, iPods, video games and the like, and dope was unheard of, yet most folks seemed to be more content and happy than today.

My stern Irish father made sure I worked hard for anything I got. The neighbor next door owned an electric motor manufacturing company, and at 14, I was working there part time.

Saving my wages, my first motorcycle cost me $75, and at 15 I soloed my first aircraft, passed the test and got my pilot’s license, plus the nickname “flyboy.”

Today we have a lot more things that were not seen in the good old days.

We have more divorces, senseless shootings, road rage, lawless youth, more gadgets, better cars and roads, refrigerators instead of ice boxes, TVs, frustration, uncertainty, and empty churches. What is our problem? Could it be that the problem is we have discarded the Holy Bible and put God in the back seat? Consequently, moral standards have evaporated.

Were former days rightly called, “The Good Old Days”? You decide.

Robert E. Surgenor

Fairview Park, Ohio

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