When I Was a Kid
When I was a kid, we collected empty soda bottles to pay for a pocket full of the best candy in the world; individually wrapped cinnamon red-hots, two for a penny.
When I was a kid, frustrated teachers gave us swats, but no kid went to jail for misbehaving in school; there were no police officers or guns at public schools and no one carried a gun in public except for the police.
When I was a kid, there was no such thing as a mass shooting in an American school, shopping mall, movie theater, grocery store or anywhere else from sea to once shining sea.
When I was a kid, we watched a tiny black and white tv screen with rounded corners, set in the middle of a giant box-like piece of furniture. There were only two networks and one local station. The most watched thing was the early morning test pattern, as we waited for Popeye and Mighty Mouse cartoons to begin.
When I was a kid, my aunt flew all the way from Australia across the Pacific Ocean in a twin-prop airplane, to visit us in Southern California. We thought that plane was the coolest thing ever.
When I was a kid, we played many hours in the local park; boys and girls without chaperons and our parents didn’t have to worry about us being abducted or worse. Us boys were all going to grow up to be baseball players, but none of us ever did.
When I was a kid, after we chewed the gum that came with a pack of baseball cards, we used our mother’s clothes pins to fasten the cards to our bicycle wheels; cards that are now worth more money than the players pictured on them at that time earned. But kids who attached baseball cards to bicycle spokes were cool and we knew it.
When I was a kid, an entire large grocery bag of good filled to overflowing cost ten to twelve dollars; there were no credit cards and everybody paid cash except for rich people, who held up the line at the store while they proudly took their time writing a check with a fancy pen.
When I was a kid, hamburgers were ten cents and fries were a nickel. Cokes in an eight ounce bottle cost a dime; fountain drinks also cost a dime; there was no such thing as an extra-large fountain drink.
When I was a kid, there was no internet or video games or even calculators; we learned to do math the hard way. We ran and played outside and most parents worked hard with their hands.
When I was a kid, there were far fewer overweight and obese people than there are today.
When I was a kid, we saw two first run movies with a cartoon in-between at the local downtown theatre for fifty cents. We sat in the balcony and used our sling shots to hit people with popcorn and sometimes hard candy down below. We were cool and we knew it.
When I was a kid, professional baseball cheap seats cost a dollar and fifty cents and, professional basketball cheap seats cost three dollars; Disneyland cost five dollars to go on all the rides as many times as we wanted; sometimes we just went on the Matterhorn over and over again.
When I was a kid, only a few mothers had jobs outside of the home. Yet we could afford vacations in the summer, amusement parks and trips to the beach and mountains, with a single blue-collar wage earner’s salary and some paper route earnings thrown in.
When I was a kid, a brand new Schwinn ten-speed racing bike cost eighty-five dollars, an eight speed seventy dollars, a good baseball glove ten dollars and the best Wilson basketball also cost ten dollars. These were typically paid for from paper route earnings, about five dollars per week including tips; we could earn more by having two or three routes.
When I was a kid, gas was as low as nineteen and nine-tenth cents per gallon. No one cared about mileage, even though our lungs often hurt in the warm smoggy summers and, it was difficult to see the mountains near our home.
When I was a kid, a good used car cost about five hundred dollars and, a typical blue-collar house cost between five and twelve thousand. A brand new Chevy Corvette cost thirty-six hundred dollars.
When I was a kid, adults who worked full time paid about a quarter of their income for the cost of rent or a mortgage. And there was enough left over to afford the basics for a blue-collar family of six on one wage earner’s income. Homes where both parents worked often had two cars, plus a boat and a dune buggy or motorcycle.
When I was a kid, we all gratefully lined up for polio and other vaccines; there were no religious or other exemptions.
When I was a kid, families could afford to take trips on holiday weekends because most blue-collar workers had paid holidays off.
When I was a kid, the top income tax rate was ninety-one percent and in spite of what modern economists claim, the economy thrived. Instead of owning yachts and multiple mansions filled with expensive art, wealthy people invested in job producing companies in order to avoid paying the high taxes.
When I was a kid, unions were as strong as they have ever been. Non-union companies were forced to pay a living wage in order to compete for labor. Everyone willing to work five or six days per week earned enough to afford the American Dream.
When I was a kid, a college education was less than two thousand dollars per year at state universities, including room and board. In two years you could graduate, after attending two years at an almost free junior college.
When I was a kid, nearly every parent could afford medical, dental and optical care for their children.
When I was a kid, no one ever heard of the government lying to us about a war like Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq; politicians lied, but not so they could start foreign wars.
When I was a kid, science textbooks didn’t pretend there is no God, as if they somehow would know, as if anyone could possible know; as if the universe just magically appeared and out popped magical beings of intelligence and conscious awareness.
When I was a kid, there were no visible homeless people in the United States, other than a very few in large city skid row districts. We had never heard of a homeless veteran or a homeless child; homelessness was never mentioned in the paper, on tv news or otherwise as an issue.
WHAT THE HELL HAS HAPPENED TO AMERICA ? ? ?
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