I recently visited a convenience store and noticed near the check out a sign which read, “All alcohol purchasers born after 1992 must show ID.” 1992? Wasn’t that last week? It caught me off guard.
It wasn’t that long ago when I met and married my wife and now we just celebrated our 50th anniversary. I remember the birth of my children and how scary that all was. Now they are adults with children of their own. I remember the birth of my grandchildren. It seems like it was just the other day. I guess when you are over the hill, everything but you speeds up. I know time has certainly sped up.
There is nothing particularly significant about 1992 except that it was twenty-one years ago. People born in that year are today’s new adults. These new adults are facing a world being left to them by my generation and my children’s generation and frankly, I’m not too thrilled by what we are leaving.
I doubt future people will ever know the America of my youth. There were fears to be sure. We faced polio and nuclear war and many other seemingly unsolvable problems. But we faced them in stride. Let me tell you about the good times though.
In the 50s the cars were cool, period. You could tell them apart. You knew the difference between a Ford and a Chevy and their year model. You could drive up to the gas pump and get a dollar’s worth and drive for miles and miles. And speaking of driving, we had drive-ins, drive-in restaurants and drive-in movies.
And the music. The music was great. We had rock and roll. I’m talking about the real rock and roll. Elvis, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and too many others to count. We danced. Most often we danced without ever touching our dance partner. You would have to have been there.
Then came the sixties and everything started to change. There was the Vietnam War. There were the protestors, the dropouts, and the hippies. Many of us sensed that the changes we were seeing were not good. People seemed to worship the ugly and the dirty. Many young people found drugs.
In the seventies and eighties things continued to deteriorate. During this period the hippies who survived their drug-addled youth grew up and became the lawyers and politicians of today. Now, sadly, they and their offspring are the so-called leaders who are creating the ongoing mess we are leaving our children.
I often long for the America of my youth. I miss the simple life. I miss the security that we all knew. I worry for my children and grandchildren. When I see kids glued to a computer screen instead of going outside to run and play, I worry.
I know that many things in today’s world are improved. I believe our lives are being extended by the comforts we enjoy like air conditioning and central heat. Medical science is creating great new cures. Cancer may soon be a thing of the past, who knows?
Even with all that is good today, why would I miss yesterday? Many of you who will read this will understand and probably feel the same way. Realistically I know we cannot go back. The 50s will just have to be a memory. Still I hope that we have not squandered our beautiful country. I hope we have not wasted our heritage. I hope that in the future we will rediscover what it means to be an American. I can only hope.