Family: Remembering the good old days

Tell me about the good old days, grandpa?

What kind of video games did you play? What kind of pizza did you like?

These questions were fired at my husband by our six-year-old grandson the other day.

The child was supposed to find the oldest person he knew and ask him or her questions about what the world was like when he was young.

My husband was happy to oblige, but not before he pointed out that grandma was pretty old, too.

I quickly hushed him!

And so it began!

The questions! What did you play? What did you eat? What did watch on TV?

My husband, sitting at the table with his iPad and his cell phone beside him, wearing his Apple watch, while listening to music from Google Home seemed to have a little trouble slipping back in time, himself.

“Stop, Google!” he commanded and, like magic, our Home Google obligingly stopped playing music.

He turned his attention to the young boy at his knee.

“What was it like when I was your age?” he repeated, a slow and gentle smile spreading across his face.

“Well, we didn’t have video games for sure,”

“What, no video games,” his grandson said, incredulously. “What did you play?”

“Well, we played prisoner’s base and kick the can and we read comic books and rode our bikes.”

And so it began.

Our discussion about the good old days.

My husband and I both grew up in the ‘50s and the ‘60s.

He had a television and running water a few years before me, but we both came from an era when those things were luxuries and not to be taken for granted.

Neither of us came from affluent families.

And, as kids, neither of us cared that we didn’t.

We thought we were rich, rich enough, anyway.

After all, we could buy a pop and a chocolate bar for less than a quarter.

We could walk down the railway tracks forever on a hot summer’s day, carefully balancing one foot in front of the other on the iron rails. Or we could spend an afternoon swimming in the cool water of a muddy old river, eating lettuce sandwiches and drinking Kool-aid from an old fruit jar on the shore.

Who needed money?

When we were teenagers, Elvis Presley was the King of Rock ‘n Roll and we watched, wide-eyed and secretly delighted when he made his famous hip-shaking debut on Ed Sullivan.

We welcomed the unknown group from Liverpool with open arms and before long Beatle haircuts and Beatle records rocked our teenage world.

We didn’t have cell phones. Texting was not our reality nor was Snap Chat.

Any chatting we did was with each other, either on a phone hooked to the wall or face-to-face.

And we liked it that way. There’s a lot to be said for eye contact.

Boys called girls and asked them out on dates.

And girls waited for the call. I don’t think girls called boys. It wasn’t considered proper. Girls gathered together in tight little groups chatting and giggling and talking about boys.

Boys hung out together and talked about cars.

In the good old days, teachers didn’t have access to a white board or a smart board.

They only had a black board.

Students recited the Lord’s Prayer and sang O’ Canada each and every morning.

We struggled with long division and timetables and had a healthy respect for the teacher and the strap.

“It was good to be young then, “ I say quietly to my grandson, who still can’t get past the fact his grandpa had no video games to play.

“Why, grandma?” he asked, curiously.

“Because if I wasn’t young then, I wouldn’t be sitting here now telling you about the good old days,” I say, ticking him.

He smiles and helps himself to another chocolate chip cookie.

“Grandma, I’m glad you and grandpa were young once.

“Me, too,” I reply. “Me, too.”

Treena Mielke is the editor of the Rimbey Review. She lives in Sylvan Lake.

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