Most days I hop onto Facebook to see what the world is outraged about at any given moment, what my friends and relatives who live at a distance might be up to, and enjoy posts friends share — especially the ones about the good old days.
A favorite site seems to be “growing old on the internet,” and there are always posts complete with images from my long-ago childhood and earlier. Archaic television sets, or ’57 Chevys may show up, depending on the subject matter. It’s fun to reminisce in this way - recalling that we actually had to get up and walk to change the channel on the TV, families put tinsel and jumbo-sized lights on their Christmas trees, and telephones did not fit in a coat pocket but sat on a table or hung on the wall. And here many of us are — living to tell the tale. Every so often the image of a report card, with the grades handwritten after each subject, appears. That takes me back to my school days. And just recently something popped up in my news feed about the state of Wisconsin mandating the teaching of cursive writing in the schools. While this may or may not be true, it got me thinking about how things have changed.
Friday past I shared a little tidbit with one of the students I work with at the local elementary school. In my elementary school (or grade school as it was called then) days, penmanship was part of our overall grade. I got an “are you kidding me?” look from the student, so further shared that back then we printed only in first grade and the beginning of second grade. It was in second grade that we learned to write cursively, and from third grade on, all our written work was in cursive, except for labeling on maps and such where we were allowed to print. This brought utter disbelief from the youngster. Did I mention how times have changed?
Must wonder what the reaction would have been had I shared the standards of my fourth grade teacher, the late Gladys Enger, who began her career in the one-room schools of my mother’s school days. In fact, I believe she actually taught my mother at some point… In any case, with her, not only did neatness count on the written page, but on our persons and within our desks as well. We were to be neat and tidy at all times — she even checked our fingernails and behind our ears. Yeesh. Boys and girls alike were to always have in their possession a clean handkerchief (no Kleenex in the classroom back then) and use it when needed. No hand sanitizer. No water bottle on the desk. Oh, the humanity! How did we survive?
Grades kindergarten through six went out for recess at the same time. There were designated play areas for each age group, but there was always some overlap. The play areas included a small piece of maple woods (where we fought over the corner with its decidedly superior trees), a large field for football or tag, swingsets, teeter-totters, monkey bars, a “merry go round” (no horses, just kid powered), a place to play dodgeball or kickball, and a tetherball pole. There were jump ropes, too. Conflict resolution was left to us kiddos unless blood flowed, which caused teacher, or Heaven forbid principal, intervention. If we got sick, the janitor could give us a lift home if no parental unit had a vehicle to pick us up. Life was good.
I pity kids of the present day. Their world is so much less simple than mine and others of my generation. It held an innocence sadly unavailable in this present day. But maybe it’s within us as an older generation to help today’s youngsters navigate through these rocky roads of change in a positive way. Navigation that will be for their betterment, as well as ours. Might be better than lamenting what’s gone and probably never will be again. What say you?