Monday, May 04, 2015

My Childhood

I once read the autobiography of a man who was a teacher at a seminary I attended.  We are not really friends but I have met and talked with him on occasion.  Like many such books it begins with some reflections on his childhood.  This caused me to think about my own childhood in the 1950’s and early 1960’s.  It was a different world then and very different from the world of my children and granddaughter.  I am the oldest child in a family of six children.  I was born in the spring of 1951.  We grew up in the suburbs.  At the time the suburbs were relatively new and had more of a country feel than a city feel.  My mother still lives in the same house where I grew up.  She has been there close to 60 years.  In my neighborhood all the dads went to work and all the moms stayed home.  Everyone knew everyone else’s parents.  Single parents were very rare.  We had no air conditioning or video games so children played outside all day in the summertime.  I can’t remember any fat children because we all played sports and rode our bikes a hundred miles a day.  In my childhood there was only one McDonald’s in Louisville and it was considered a real treat to go there.  I only remember one young mother with a job outside the home.  No one had heard of a daycare center.  My mother watched the child of the one woman that had a job.  Her job was as a secretary in a Mad Men kind of office.  I didn’t know what divorce was until high school when my aunt divorced my uncle.  It was a scandal.  My parents had been married 59 years at the time of my dad’s death in 2009.  I attended eight years of grade school with the same 20 or so kids.  Most parents of my classmates knew everyone else’s parent’s because they saw one another at church, scouting activities, and sporting events.  I realize now that my parents probably struggled quite a bit to feed and clothe six children on one blue collar salary.  I also realize now that we were probably poor but I didn’t know it.  I never missed a meal and I always felt safe.  Life wasn’t perfect but looking back it seems like a dream to me now.  In terms of material possessions and money I am now rich compared to the way I grew up.  However, despite these things I think I had a better quality of life as a child.  Today life seems stressful most of the time.  I understand that I was a child then and I am an adult now but life is too busy, too fast, and there are way too many people with way too many expectations.  My old neighborhood from a time long past now seems like Mayberry.  Come to think of it I did spend a lot of summer days fishing with my dad or my friends. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Michael,

Beautiful article. I can totally relate to it.

The 1970s was the era of my childhood. I often think back to that magical time. There were problems in the world then to be sure, but children live in the moment, are only concerned with their day to day reality which is divorced from the troubles of the adult world.

As a child back then, there was always something to do - everyday was a new adventure. The world was a much simpler place. I agree with today is too fast, too stressful, too complicated. Children today seem to only be interested computer games, Youtube, Facebook, smart phones, etc. In my time kids rode their bikes, played many street sports and games like frisbee, tag, jailbreak, etc. And often we just invented our own entertainment. But the most important thing is that we were happy, happy.