This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm
March 20th, 2006

Frame of Reference

It has been an interesting week regarding the email we received.

The most fun was entitled "Marriage Proposals," from Dave commenting on my last article, "Dad is a Dork." Thanks Dave, you made my day. Actually there were several more from folks who understood what I said, some with suggestions for other columns as well. My sincere thanks to you all.

The interesting part for me is there were some folks commenting on our Bulletin Board who really didn't 'get it.'

It took me all week to figure it out. (Sorry about that, I'm getting old.)

Here's the thing, those of us who are (forgive the term) older, did live in a time when things were very different. Some of the things were mentioned on the Bulletin Board comments, such as a kid could ride a bike all over town without fear of anything. The standard household rule for kids was "when the streetlights come on you better head for home." Kids commonly walked to school. Alone or with neighborhood friends. No big deal - no problem. Pick-up baseball or football games were common. No organized anything. Some kid had a ball and someone else had a bat. Gloves were optional. The vacant lot or street worked fine.

Rape? I distinctly remember a really big fuss in 1953 when a rapist was caught in Flint, Michigan. That was about 70 miles from my home. It was front-page news. I suppose if I did a search of the local newspapers of the 50's there could be more, but trust me, it was not an everyday thing.

Drugs? I do remember a lot of gossip about a drummer in a famous big band who "used drugs." I did not know anyone in my school, either high school or college who used drugs of any kind. Yes, there were beer parties. Usually around graduation time.

From the time I was a junior in high school I had a job. On the weekends I went with my parents to Bay Port, Michigan where they kept a boat. We fished, swam and socialized. There were bar-b-ques, pot-lucks, and my dad's annual pig roast. The kids I knew hunted, fished, and worked odd jobs for gas money.

A couple of the boys I knew trapped turtles. Snapping turtles at that. Once caught we delivered them to a restaurant in the next town which served the turtle fried and real turtle soup. We also had a trot line for catfish. Those were sold to the local fish house - gas money. And there was the movie theater (show house) in Caseville. No one had a lot of money, and we did steal. We stole hot smoked fish from Grandpa Charlies smoke house. Years later we found out he always made sure there were some really nice smoked chubs just inside the door. Grandpa Charlie was my friend Bill's grandfather, a retired great lakes captain.

I do recall getting up and going out to the lobby of the show house. The movie was The Blob. I didn't like scary movies then, and I don't like them now. The Blob doesn't even register on the scary movie scale today. After that my male friends insisted on taking me to any scary movie - they were teasing me of course.

Times do change. When Jim and I moved from Michigan in the early 70's to Montana, there had been enough bad stuff going on that you did not allow children to go to the show house without an adult in Michigan. When my girls wanted to go to their first movie in Livingston I took them. I was the only adult in the place. Montana gratefully was behind the times. It was the last time I took the kids to the movies.

It's pretty obvious, if you were a kid sometime after the 70's you don't have the same frame of reference. You don't imagine or don't see what has happened in this country. You some how take for granted the coarseness of the common speech. The vulgarity of music and television. The violence which is everywhere. You accept it as normal. And even worse, it is what your children are growing up with.

How terribly sad.

It doesn't have to be this way. I don't accept it.

And one more thing, I didn't know of one person who "packed heat" while fishing then. But now . . .? ~ The LadyFisher

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