Looking back, it’s hard to believe that we have lived as long as we have. In fact, if the EPA knew what we did in our house when I was young, they would have shut us down. I hate to tell you, but my mom used to cut up chickens, chop eggs and spread mayo on the same cutting board with the same knife, and guess what, we never got food poisoning. She even defrosted hamburger on the kitchen counter, and I used to salt it and eat it raw, but I can’t ever remember getting E-coli. As I think about our home, I can honestly say that we didn’t have any childproof lids on medicine bottles, and don’t tell anybody, but I rode my bike without wearing a helmet. I know that last one was a biggie, but please cut me some slack. And all the kids in the neighborhood played cowboys and Indians with toy guns, or if you didn’t have one, you just used your fingers to simulate them. In fact, no one held up a sign protesting because I “shot a few Indians,” either. Now, listen, I am going to tell you this, but only on the bases of anonymity: I wore a Cleveland Indians uniform, and it had a picture of Chief Wahoo on it. I know that is racist by today’s standards; don’t tell anyone, I don’t want them protesting outside my home for something I did 60 years ago. I guess that doesn’t make a difference today, does it? But remember, I told you that last part on the basis of anonymity.
I must have been in denial of all the dangers that could have befallen my friends as we trekked off each day to some neighbor’s vacant lot to play football without a helmet, build forts, make trails and fight over who got to be the Lone Ranger. It could have been really dangerous. And come to think about it, where was the Benadryl and sterilization kit when I got that bee sting? I could have died!
I can’t recall how bored we were. In fact, I can’t recall being bored. How did my generation make it without computers, PlayStations, Nintendos or X-Boxes? I must be repressing that memory as I try to rationalize how we survived without all those gadgets. The term cell phone would have conjured up a phone in a jail cell, and a pager was the school PA system. We all took gym, and wore Keds tennis shoes — they were the thing. I often wonder how did we make it without cross-training athletic shoes with air cushion soles and built-in light reflectors? And, at least once a year, someone got hurt while running in the hall. How much better off would we have been if we had only known that we could have sued the school and blamed the teacher. Our teachers led us in prayer and the pledge, and when we misbehaved, we received the Board of Education and detention. That was the easy part, my friend. The real terror began when we got home, because my parents always took the teacher’s side, because in that day and time, teachers were respected! Some students weren’t as smart as others or didn’t work as hard, so they failed. Our teachers were always “raising the bar,” wanting us to exceed expectations. We thought that we were supposed to accomplish something before we were allowed to be proud of ourselves. You see, we had the freedom to fail or succeed, and we learned how to deal with it. You see, in that day and time, there were no “safe spaces.” Instead, you learned how to deal with both defeat and victory, and you grew and matured because of it. Yet, through it all, our generation produced some of the greatest risk-takers and problem solvers the world has ever known.
I know you are going to ask, “What made the difference, Dr. J?” Well, my friend, the difference maker was the God of Heaven. He was spoken of in our classrooms, and yet not one person protested because of it. You see, God was the center of our society. As I look back through the “hallways” of time, I want to ask you the question of the ages, “Don’t you just wish He still was?”