I was just looking at things today and comparing them to the way they were when I was young. One of the things I have a strong memory of was the time a friend of mine was telling me he read in a magazine there was going to be pay television. I almost split my sides laughing as did everyone else he told this to. In those days there was a television in most homes, but this had just occurred a few years before. The idea of pay television sounded so ridiculous to everyone, no one took it seriously. Can you imagine what people would have thought about pay radio? Radio had been free for almost 60 years by then and nobody at that time would have believed some people today pay for radio broadcasts from companies like XM Radio.
Another thing they would have never believed is the prejudice against smoking today by most of the population. People back then had no idea cigarettes caused cancer, even though the cigarette companies already knew this. Cigarettes were readily affordable and cost about 25 cents per pack and if someone wanted to save money they would buy a pouch of tobacco with cigarette paper and roll their own for only 10 cents. We were encouraged to smoke and when I was in the army many times we would be given free cigarettes by charitable organizations. You weren’t supposed to smoke if you were under 18 years old, but we all did. I remember one time when I was 16 years old I was sitting on a hill in a park and a plain clothes cop saw me smoking and ran after me and I took off running down the hill and over several fences. The poor guy was far too heavy and almost collapsed, before he gave up the chase.
When I was about 20 years old I bought a new Chevrolet Impala. It was the top of the Chevrolet line at that time. It had a V8 engine and a two speed automatic transmission. The only power accessory it had was power steering. It also came with a radio and the optional defroster for the rear window. My how things have changed. Today cars come with everything including lane warning devices, backup cameras and radios with ten speakers. There are even power windows on some of the cheapest models. Some of the new Chrysler Corporation cars now have nine speed transmissions. My Impala only had a passing gear that went out after 55 miles per hour. The horse power of the engines were overestimated in the old days and it is not measured the same way today. The Impala claimed to have 170 horses, which might be about 130 today if you were lucky.
We had no Internet of course, because we had no computers. The way one got their news was from the radio, the newspapers or from Movietone News which was played with films at the movies. Some of the newspapers came out three times a day. In school sometimes you were asked to bring in a newspaper to be used in the lower grades to help kids read. The paper of choice with the teachers was the New York Times. Many of the newspapers from that day are gone. In New York City you have papers like the Journal American and the Herald Tribune, two famous papers no one from that time would have believed would go out of business.
When I was a tot the iceman used to come around using a wagon pulled by horses. Most people didn’t have refrigerators and had to have ice delivered for their iceboxes. The poor guy might have to carry a 20 cent block of ice up several stories and it was heavy. He would put a burlap bag on his shoulder, grab the ice with tongs and hoist it up there. There were other wagons pulled by horses which also used to come around. There was the rag man who might give you a few cents for a bundle of rags and the vegetable man who would sell veggies off his wagon. Wagons are a thing of the past, but they were colorful. I always wondered where these people kept their horses.
If you were caught committing a crime it made the newspapers, even if it was what one might call a petty crime today. Everyone in your neighborhood knew what you did and the relatives of these criminals were humiliated. People would avoid you. Today no one seems to care anymore.
One of the biggest disgraces happened when a man moved in with a woman and they weren’t married. Today most people think nothing of this anymore. Morals were a lot different then. I remember a movie being condemned by the Catholic Church because someone in it used the word virgin to describe a woman. There was no nudity in movies and it took them a long time before they even would show a twin bed in a bedroom. They usually only showed single beds. I know this sounds silly by today’s standards, but people didn’t think the same about things then. Pinup photos were considered pornography, so artists would draw pictures of pinups. This was considered art under the law.
When kids got in a fight in school it was one on one, not one against seven or eight. My uncle used to tell me to never let anyone push me around and if they tried I should punch them in the nose and they would leave me alone after that. If you did this today you would get suspended, even if you were the one being bullied.
Things have really changed. Sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. Many kids can no longer write in the cursive. I think this is from too much texting. Handwriting is becoming a lost art. I also think a lot of the abbreviations used in texting will become part of the English language and someone born today might not recognize some words and phrases from the past, because they will be replaced by people saying things like LOL (Laugh out loud). For what it is worth my opinion is many of the movies have gone too far in depicting sex, many times it doesn’t even fit into the story. Maybe it is time to rethink about some of the old values.