Back in My Day...

July 18, 2014

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Dear POP Folks,
 
In these days of spin, selective memory and rewoven history, I was particularly struck recently by an e-mail from one of the older generations.  I share a bit of it with you…
 
A young clerk commented to an older customer:  “Our problem today is that your generation didn’t care about the environment."   The customer shared a few reflections…
 
 Back then, we returned milk, coke and beer bottles to the store, which sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over.
 
 Grocery stores used brown paper bags that we reused as garbage bags or cut up as covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings.
 
We walked up stairs because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building.  We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.
 
Back then, we washed the baby's diapers, because we didn't have the throwaway kind.  We dried clothes on a line, not in a machine—wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days.
 
Back then, we had one TV in the house—not a TV in every room.
 
When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.
 
We drank from a fountain or a hose when we were thirsty, instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle.  We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying new ones, and we replaced the razor blades instead of throwing away the whole razor.
 
I’d add some reminiscences from my own childhood:  Back then, the whole family came to church in the same vehicle and took up one parking space, even if it was a big family.  When folks came into church, they spent the time before Mass in silent prayer:  yes even the older people.  They dressed modestly, so as not to be a distraction to others and they were not ashamed to carry their rosaries or prayer books with them.  Every home had crucifixes—often in every room—and always a statue or picture of Mary, our Mother.   Families prayed grace before meals, which never came from microwaves.
 
Adults carried laminated cards in their wallets/purses that said, “I am a Catholic.  In case of accident, please call a priest.”   A few folks reportedly had very fancy cards that read “I am an important Catholic.  In case of accident, please call a monsignor or a bishop.”