Those Were The Days

One of my most favorite times was the nineteen fifties. Those were the years I went to high school, and college. This video represents everything we loved and hold sacred to this day. I remember listening to Elvis’ big hit “You Ain’t Nothin’ but A Hound Dog” on my first day in college.  The  iconic Chevy and Ford car designs are still loved and most recently are being popularized by the car companies with updated 2016 looks. Those days all predated cell phones, computers, and video games. Heck, we were just getting used to black and white TV. Girls were still pure, and boys were just as horny as ever. If you wanted sex you got married. Religion was still a big thing, and most of us are still active believers. Democrats and Republicans fought like cats and dogs, but somehow managed to agree on issues that were good for the country. Foul language was not tolerated although it existed in private. Women were respected, could cook, could raise babies, and clean, and work too.  The one thing women were not, was educated like they are today. doctors still made house calls, and accepted payment in installments. Emergency rooms, if they existed, were for the mortally wounded. Jobs were plentiful, but did not always require brainpower, rather common sense ability to talk to people and to sell. Most of our fathers were laborers or tradesman. Mothers stayed home to babysit us as did every woman in the neighborhood. There was no need for surveillance cameras everywhere because our mother’s eyes and ears were everywhere. They even had eyes in the back of their heads. Telephones were just coming into homes, some even had private lines. TV broadcast from six in the morning until midnight, and the stations signed off with a prayer, or the Star Spangled Banner. Political conventions were not televised, but were covered extensively by reporters. Newspapers were everywhere. Men made a living selling news, and magazines on busy street corners. Milk, and ice were still being delivered to the front door. Vendors sold fresh fruits and vegetables out of the back of a truck by stopping at several places along a street to shout out their wares. Coal was still a big way to heat homes, and was delivered at your curb. Some people even had the coal company shovel it into the house. My dad shoveled and hauled the coal from the street to the back of the house down the steps into the basement and back through the house to the bin at the front. When I was thirteen I began helping by shoveling, and by fifteen I got the job done by the time dad came home from work. Mother saved and collected old clothes to send to her niece in Yugoslavia, a communist country. Their small two acre farm was confiscated for the good of the common people. They went hungry in Yugoslavia. My Dad did the same for his parents in Czechoslovakia, another communist heaven.

Those were the days, my friends, I would relive them without any complaint.

Memories of Memorial Day

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When I was a ten, my parents visited the cemetery almost weekly. Their mission was to decorate my oldest brother Joe’s grave. Joe died when he was seven years old. The last Sunday in May was always special because it was so hard to get into the cemetery.  World War Two had ended just a few years earlier, and Saint Mary’s in Evergreen Park celebrated like most Catholic Cemeteries did, they had an outdoor mass. Most times Dad had to park outside the cemetery, and we had to walk to my brother’s grave. The place crawled with VFW and American Legion Honor Guards dressed in the uniforms of their service, Navy, Army, Marines, etc. Gun shots were heard for miles away, as each post honored its member at the gravesite with a seven-gun salute.

Mom and Dad never called this holiday Memorial Day, It was always Decoration Day. It was the day when people who had loved ones at Saint Mary’s came to clean off the winter grave blankets and to replace it with live flowers. Mom spent a few minutes at the local nursery studying the floral grave designs, picked one, and bought the plants. It just occurred to me that she never had a blue print for the design, but always planted the flowers exactly as she remembered them at the nursery display. It was my job to run back and forth with a watering can to get water for the new plants.The funny thing is that in her later years she couldn’t remember my name or who I was; time does that to us.

After Mom finished Joe’s grave she went to my Aunt’s next. Dad and Mom knelt at each grave they visited and said a prayer of remembrance

Decoration Day was always sunny and warm, usually one of the first good days of Spring. It made spending a day honoring the dead a sorrowful, but joyous occasion. By the time we left it was near lunch. Dad drove us home in the big Buick, and Mom made lunch. The rest of the day caught us lazing around on a full stomach watching the grass grow.

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