The Good Old Days Weren’t Always that Great

Don’t long for the good old days. They weren’t that great. You don’t want to be trapped in the fiction of the past. We tend to remember only what we thought was good at the time.This is not to say that there is no good in the past, but we must be realistic about today 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 or more years from now.I’m 44 years removed from my high school graduation — 1968. I know I’m an old guy to young people, but the next 40 or more years of your life will fly by as fast as they have for me.

P. J. O’Rourke has said, “When you think of the good old days, think dentistry.” You’re grandparents often spoke of the good old days, and so did their parents. Here’s some of the good in those old days:

  1. Kerosene lamps and natural gas were used for light not jet fuel and cooking.
  2. If you needed to go to the bathroom, you had to take a trip outside to visit the little building with the quarter moon cut-out on the door.
  3. Hand washing of clothes. No dryers. Hang the wash out on a clothes line.
  4. No central heating.
  5. No air-conditioning.
  6. In the 1960s, there were three television networks — ABC, NBC, and CBS — and controlled mostly by liberals. There was no satellite TV. Cable was just getting started.
  7. There were no microcomputers, laptops, iTunes, or “cloud.”
  8. There was no internet. The internet has eliminated nearly all the information gatekeepers. An organization like ACORN and the GSA could never have been exposed to such a broad audience.
  9. No conception of Instant Messaging or emails. Even science fiction writers missed the boat on these innovations.
  10. There was one telephone company. You couldn’t own your phone. It was the property of the Bell Telephone Company.
  11. There were no commercial word processing programs. If you wrote a paper, you had to use a typewriter and put your notes at the bottom of the page. If you wanted to make any additions or deletions, you would have to type the entire paper over again.
  12. There were no spell-check programs.
  13. There were no home video recorders. If you wanted to get some video, you needed a film camera and projector. There was no way to edit on the fly or fast forward.
  14. There were no CDs, DVDs, or iPods or iPads. Even CDs and DVDs are becoming passé.
  15. There were legislated price floors on plane fares, trucking, telephones, legal services, physicians’ services that kept prices high.
  16. You could never own your home phone. It was remained the property of the Bell Telephone Company.
  17. What are common curable diseases today killed people in your grandparents generation.

This is not to say that everything in the past was bad or everything today is better. But let’s put things in perspective before we discount the present.