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The Good Old Days

October 9, 2015


A popular mantra tells us that you’re only as old as you feel, but how do you know you’ve actually begun the downward slide into old age? A major road sign guiding you to the geriatric highway can be found in sentimental and unreserved references to the good old days.


After the birth of our son CJ, I swore I wouldn’t abuse my child with stories about how things were when I was a kid. I could have stretched his little ears with stories about televisions with only three channels, no remote control, no capability to record programs and networks that signed off at midnight. I could have baffled him with the world before microwave ovens when you had to heat up food the old fashion way, in an oven. Without the Internet, googling wasn’t available. School research projects required trips to a place called a library, where books had to be manually opened and prowled through for answers. Many families only had one car.


The list of ways I could have traumatized our son was lengthy, but I wanted to be a good dad and not torture him like I was tortured by stories of character building walks through miles of snow to reach school, or squeezing pennies during the Depression. But in a relaxed moment I fell prey to my worst fear—I spoke to our six year old about the good old days.


I was slicing a pear with little CJ on my lap when for some reason I asked, “CJ, do you know where pears come from?”


He smiled at me and nodded. With a mouth full of pear he proudly proclaimed, “The store! They come from the store.”


My desire to educate my son and turn this into a teachable moment overrode my instinct to protect him from “old person” stories. CJ was a sheltered child of the suburbs, unfamiliar with the ways of the world. Of course he didn’t know where pears came from. It would be logical for him to think they originated in a grocery store’s produce section. Why should he think differently? It was my job as a parent to set him straight.


“When Daddy was a little boy, we didn’t buy pears at the store.”


“You didn’t?”


I shook my head.


“How did you get them?”


“Times were different back then.”


“Was it back in the old days like Grandma talks about?”


My mother manipulated “the old days,” making them good or bad to bolster whatever point she was trying to make. “Yes, this was part of the good old days.”


CJ reached for another slice of pear.


“Daddy grew up in a house that backed up to a huge orchard. That orchard was so big that if you stood at the center you could walk for an hour without ever leaving it. There were so many pears they’d fall over our fence into our backyard.”


His little Hummel face scrunched in confusion. I could see a question forming in his dark blue eyes. “Daddy?”


“Yes, CJ?”


“What’s an orchard?”


As I explained, painting a picture for my son about the mythical land of fruit orchards before they were all ripped out to make room for the Silicon Valley, I realized for the first time that I was zooming towards the onramp to old age.


CJ is now thirty-five and I miss the conversations we once had, when he believed I knew the answers to everything, when he was small enough to sit on my lap—back in the good old days.





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Stories like that are good for them though. It was education, not just a story about the good old days. And I don't miss the days of three channels, Pong, and no Internet one bit.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on October 9, 2015
This is a lovely story and a needed story for our children. I just read a sticker on FB that said that carrots shouldn't have to be labeled organic and show proof of that. Other carrots should be labeled as chemical carrots with all the ingredients listed the GMO used to "sanitize" them. Scary stuff.
By: Beckie on October 9, 2015
Personal history lessons are great. I think we may all be guilty of bending the truth in whatever direction we feel is right. Three channels, black and white, rabbit ears and signing off after the nightly news. Milk and bread delivered to your home. Life moves forward.
By: Daniel LaFrance on October 9, 2015
Yes, but our memories are what makes us who we are and as you age those memories were decades ago. We saw them through different eyes, but giving the young folks some perspective is not necessarily a bad thing.
By: Tabor on October 9, 2015
Oh yes, these good old days............ My sons thought I knew everything too, then it goes from one extreme to the other when they get to their teens, then of course after that.............
By: John on October 9, 2015
What a cool story. I have found that sometimes I wax nostalgic with my kids. Before I wax car. By myself.
By: Al Penwasser on October 9, 2015
I loved listening to my Grandmother's stories - it was fascinating! She was born in 1893 and lived to be 96. So she saw so much history! It's really not a bad thing to relate your history!
By: Kathe W. on October 9, 2015
A great tale, wonderfully told (as usual). Let me get this straight, in the good old days - you had a TV? A car??
By: Mike@A Bit About Britain on October 9, 2015
Every child should hear about things the parents experienced growing up. It gives them a sense of heritage and where they came from.
By: messymimi on October 9, 2015
I think you can appreciate and share good memories without being on the ramp to old age. The orchard sounds wonderful! My friends and I constantly bemoan the fact that kids won't listen to good old days stories or anything that isn't on a TV show on on the net. We are past the on-ramp and in the fast lane to old age now!
By: Lexa Cain on October 9, 2015
simpler times are always better, methinks.
By: TexWisGirl on October 9, 2015
Ha ha, I agree with Mike--you had a TV?? Such a youngun you are. Seriously, I loved stories of the old days by my older relatives. I had a great aunt that gave birth on a wagon train. Sure made me appreciate the ease of now.
By: Akansas Patti on October 9, 2015
Until we moved to Mexico I always thought poinsettia plants grew in the grocery stores between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
By: Catalyst on October 9, 2015
Camp Ocean Pines here in Cambria on the California Central Coast hosts a variety of student groups. A core of the camp is environmental and natural awareness. The Camp Director related one day how urban students often do not recognize vegetables or fruit , nor can they comprehend that "food" would grow in the ground. Thank heavens for parents and guardians who take the time, as you did with CJ to widen the world. And thank heavens for places like Camp Ocean Pines that help with the deficits of modern life.
By: Tom Cochrun on October 9, 2015
Stories of the good old days are fun, as long as they are not preachy and condescending. I frequently find myself adding quickly that the good old days weren't necessarily better or more fun...I, for one, like my internet and modern medicine and microwave!
By: Pixel Peeper on October 9, 2015
We can't do anything about time moving on. we might as well enjoy the good old days thing. However when I think back to my good old days I can hardly believe what I'm saying. My good old days ound very far away.
By: red on October 9, 2015
It will be interesting hearing my kids talk about the good old days when they are older. What will they think that the generation before them has it easy? Enjoy your weekend, Stephen.
By: Mr. Shife on October 9, 2015
Ah yes. We had to walk 10 miles barefoot to school. It was uphill both going and coming. :)
By: Rick Watson on October 9, 2015
My grandma had to ride the train into town to sell eggs. It embarrassed her because people would know she was just a poor farm girl. Not exactly her good old days, but I treasure the memory of her story.
By: Val on October 9, 2015
You know you're getting old when you refer to the good old days as ... not when you were a kid, but when your children were kids. I'm afraid I've been there for while.
By: Tom Sightings on October 9, 2015
I enjoyed the telling of the olden days, good or bad. Not sure my young'uns feel the same.
By: cranky on October 9, 2015
Ah, the good old days! I'm A LOT older than CJ, but I also thought pears came from the store... as did milk.
By: Mitchell is Moving on October 10, 2015
Oh gosh I have caught myself more than once and then laughed and told them at least you didn;t have to hear how my dad walked 10 miles in the snow uphill both way! The sad thing is he did walk 10 miles in the snow to get to school but let's save that one. When my best friend was moving to their new home, we were packing things up and she had this old TV in her basement. Her son asked if he could watch TV and she said sure and we kept talking. About 10 minutes later, he looked at us and asked how does he turn on the tv-there was no remote. He was so patient. Anyway when my friend showed him the buttons and dial, he looked at her with such horror and disgust that I still laugh about it. Ahhhhh the good ole days
By: Birgit on October 10, 2015
Yes I've found myself talking to the kids about how I used to record the Music charts on a tape recorder each week. Sigh. I'm getting old.
By: LL Cool Joe on October 10, 2015
It is an eye opener to think about my papa and his stories, then my dad and his, and my own, then my daughter....I wrote this on facebook the other granddaughter asked me one time what kind of clothes did I wear in the 1900's. Time sure does fly. I was too stunned to answer.
By: Terri@Coloring Outside the Lines on October 10, 2015
I have been practicing having senior moments for quite some time now, and I must say that I have become rather good at them.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on October 10, 2015
My son is now soon to be 34. He would give anything to hear his Dad's stories of the good old days again so don't think they don't mean something!!
By: Bouncin Barb on October 12, 2015
I think that talking to kids about the “old days” is to give them a precious gift. The fact that it can be overdone seems an odd reason to go to the other extreme, and avoid it altogether.
By: Snowbrush on October 13, 2015

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