How do you like my washboard? I bought it from Lehman's, the Amish store here in Ohio because I'm on a fast track to get to the past. Yes...I'm going back to the good old days. I've been saving grease so I can try to make my own soap. I've installed a clothesline. And I've got my eye on a nifty gas stove that has NO computer components. Not even a digital clock.
You see, something's been happening to me over the past couple of years as I've watched what's happening to the world. I've decided I want to go back in time to a time when things were simpler and people were much, much happier.
I want to go back to the good old days when kids could safely play outside (until the street lights went on). I want to go back to when you'd buy fresh berries in little wooden cartons that the fruit distributor down the road would pay us kids to collect for him. And I want to go back to the days when you'd buy a bottle of pop for twelve cents and return the empty to the store to get two cents back.
We recycled in those days without even thinking about it. We took our pop bottles back to the store so they could be washed and refilled and sold again!
When we shopped, we didn't have plastic bags, and we didn't drive to the store. We had a little cart for bringing our groceries home from the A&P store that was two blocks away, and the groceries came in paper bags that were later used for trash.
Everything seemed simpler then. The world was a quieter place. The most fun a little kid could have in the summer was watching the big machine the road workers would use to melt the pavement on Dennis Avenue and then smooth it out again. (Even the streets were re-cycled!)
I want to go back to whem we didn't expect to have something new to wear every week and we wore what we had until it wore out!
Sometimes when people say, "I'd like to go back to the 60s," cynics respond, "Oh, you want to go back to segregation and when women earned less than men?"
No. Of course not. Nobody wants that. But wouldn't it be nice if kids could run freely again and we hung our sheets out in the sun to dry and we took our pop bottles back to the store?
Maybe I'm romanticizing the past. But when I was a kid in Toronto in the 60s, we were free to go anywhere and everywhere we wanted and life was good and everyone was optimistic about the future. We knew the names of every astronaut. We all watched the Ed Sullivan show. And government officials were people who earned our respect.
There was a big middle class, and it was growing bigger all the time. We weren't assaulted with messages that we ought to be living in a mansion, spending $60,000 on our teenage daughter's 16th birthday party, and having plastic surgery because we weren't attractive enough.
We were thrilled to go to Heart Lake to swim and listen to music with our transistor radios. We loved the fireworks at Smythe Park on the first weekend in July. We looked forward to the opening of the big fair -- the CNE -- in August.
There were special times we celebrated because everything wasn't always available. It was a big deal when the strawberries were ripe and we could enjoy strawberry shortcake for a couple of weeks each year. (You didn't eat strawberries in February! And strawberries actually had flavor.)
It was a lot of fun to go to a different town for a visit because it would be so different from where you lived. It wouldn't have the same restaurants, the same stores, the same everything as where you'd just come from.
The world was not as busy, not as noisy, not as crowded or complicated or demanding. The world was a magical place to be and we were excited by discoveries and inventions that we didn't realize would someday propel us to where we are now: living in a jaded consumer society where everything is disposable, including our values and integrity.
I wonder if we'll ever change? I wonder if we'll ever return to the days when kids were free to play, everyone who wanted a job could find one, and we had a whole lot less but life was so much better?
Boy, I sure do hope so. Because when it comes I'll be ready for it...with my washboard, my clothesline and my old-fashioned stove.