It doesn’t seem that it has been almost 70 years when I was a teenager in Baltimore, a high school senior, ready to graduate and make my way in the world. I walked to and from my high school, in the early morning to attend meetings of organizations I joined or even at dark when I stayed after classes to work on the yearbook or to plan activities for graduation.
The door of my home was unlocked. There was no fear of walking about a mile to and from my school, and absolutely no one felt threatened by a stranger who was walking near by. My classmates did not imbibe alcohol, we were not aware of “drugs” and the only excitement consisted of watching an intermural game of football or basketball.
Some of us had boyfriends which meant that we went to dances with the same person, and there certainly was no violence and no family that I knew of had a gun in their home. Very strangely, this phenomena was repeated all over the city at different high schools. Our Baltimore Sun newspaper carried human interest stories and local, state, and national news and we received two editions, one in the am and one in the pm.
Eating “out” was a treat reserved for special occasions, and relatives from out of town stayed in our home, somewhat crowded, as there were no motels and only a few hotels downtown. You were considered an “old maid” if you were not married by 25, and men and women did not live together, only if they had a marriage license.
If you were lucky to have a black and white television set, you invited your friends over to watch Milton Berle and the Texaco Hour. The movie theater in your neighborhood costs 18 cents and then you could get candy from a machine for a nickel.
Flash forward...2020! We are in the midst of the worst pandemic since 1918; homes have “security” systems; the NRA encourages you to own more than one gun; going to the movies (before the coronavirus) cost a double digit figure and refreshments added more expense; people eat in restaurants more than they eat in their very handsome kitchens; and your relatives stay in expensive hotels because we all need our privacy,
Yes, things do change, and sometimes for the better. We have so much technology to make our lives better and more interesting. Women can and do break “the glass ceiling.” As Tevia put it in the show, Fiddler on the Roof, “it’s a new world, Golda.”
Yes, there are many advances we have made in 2020. A poster that reads “Black lives matter” adorns my door. There are too many advances in medicine to name. And I truly appreciate how the world has changed for ‘the better”
But, I am frightened beyond words to think that our current President may have four more years to create more chaos and disruption.
Each of us who are privileged to still be here to see these enormous changes are in wonderment. We accept the fact that things change and we have to adjust. But, as one of those “old timers” during this extremely difficult period of time, I am very happy and grateful to be able to remember what we now call “the good ‘ole’ days.
Alice L. Haber