Way Things Were
By: John Sminkey
One evening, a son was talking to his
father about current events. He asked what he thought about the shootings
at schools, the computer age, and just things in general.
The dad replied, "Well, let me think
a minute...I was born before television, penicillin, polio shots, frozen
foods, Xerox, contact lenses, Frisbees and the pill. There weren't things
like radar, credit cards, laser beams or ballpoint pens.
Man had not invented pantyhose, dishwashers,
clothes dryers, electric blankets, air conditioners, and he hadn't walked
on the moon.
Your Mom and I got married first, then
lived together. Every family had a father and a mother, and every boy over
14 had a rifle that his dad taught him how to use and respect.
Until I was 25, I called every man older
than I, "Sir" did, and after I turned 25, I still called policemen and
every man with a title, 'Sir.'
In our time, closets were for clothes-not
for 'coming out of.'
Sundays were set aside for going to
church as a family, helping those in need, and just visiting with family
We were before gay-rights, computerupting,
dual careers, day-care centers, and group therapy.
The 'Ten Commandments', good judgment
and common sense governed our lives.
We were taught to know the difference
between right and wrong and to stand up and take responsibility for our
Serving your country was a privilege;
living here was a bigger privilege.
We thought fast food was what people
ate during Lent.
Having a meaningful relationship meant
getting along with your cousins.
Draft dodgers were people who closed
their front doors when the evening breeze started.
Time-sharing meant time the family spent
together in the evenings and weekends-not condominiums.
We never heard of FM radios, tape decks,
CDs, electric typewriters, yogurt, or guys wearing earrings.
We listened to the Big Bands, Jack Benny,
and the President's speeches on radio. I don't ever remember any kid blowing
his brains out listening to Tommy Dorsey.
If you saw anything with 'Made in Japan'
on it, it was called junk. The term 'making out' referred to how you did
on your school exam.
Pizza Hut, McDonald's, and instant coffee
were unheard of.
We had 5 & 10-cent stores where
you could actually buy things for 5 and 10 cents. Ice cream cones, phone
calls, rides on a streetcar, and a Pepsi were all a nickel. And if you
didn't want to splurge, you could spend your nickel on enough stamps to
mail 1 letter and 2 postcards.
You could buy a new Chevy Coupe for
$600, but who could afford one? Too bad, because gas was 11 cents a gallon.
In my day, 'grass' was mowed, 'coke'
was a cold drink, 'pot' was something your mother cooked in, and 'rock
music' was your Grandmother's lullaby.
'Aids' were helpers in the Principal's
office, 'chip' meant a piece of wood, 'hardware' was found in a hardware
store, and 'software' wasn't even a word.
We were not before the difference between
the sexes was discovered, but we surely were before, the sex change, 'Billy
has two mommies' and pornography in a home and at newsstands. And we were
the last generation that was so dumb as to think a lady needed a husband
to have a baby.
No wonder people call us, old and confused
and say there is such a generation gap.
Submitted by: Bob Sminkey
THE SUMMER OF 1900
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:
The average life expectancy in the United
States was forty-seven.
Only 14 percent of the homes in the
United States had a bathtub.
Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.
A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost eleven dollars.
There were only 8,000 cars in the US
and only 144 miles of paved roads. The maximum speed limit in most cities
was ten miles per hour.
Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee
were each more heavily populated than California. With a mere 1.4 million
residents, California was only the twenty-first most populous state in
The tallest structure in the world was
the Eiffel Tower.
The average wage in the US was twenty-two
cents an hour.
The average US worker made between $200
and $400 per year.
A competent accountant could expect
to earn $2000 per year, a dentist $2500 per year, a veterinarian between
$1500 and $4000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5000 per year.
More than 95 percent of all births in
the United States took place at home.
Ninety percent of all US physicians
had no college education. Instead, they attended medical schools, many
of which were condemned in the press and by the government as "substandard."
Sugar cost four cents a pound. Eggs
were fourteen cents a dozen. Coffee cost fifteen cents a pound.
Most women only washed their hair once
a month and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.
Canada passed a law prohibiting poor
people from entering the country for any reason, either as travelers or
The five leading causes of death in
the US were:
1. Pneumonia and influenza,
4. Heart disease,
The American flag had 45 stars. Arizona,
Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii and Alaska hadn't been admitted to the Union
Drive-by shootings -- in which teenage
boys galloped down the street on horses and started randomly shooting at
houses, carriages, or anything else that caught their fancy -- were an
ongoing problem in Denver and other cities in the West.
The population of Las Vegas, Nevada
was thirty. The remote desert community was inhabited by only a handful
of ranchers and their families.
Plutonium, insulin, and antibiotics
hadn't been discovered yet.
Scotch tape, crossword puzzles, canned
beer, and iced tea hadn't been invented.
There was no Mother's Day or Father's
One in ten US adults couldn't read or
write. Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.
Some medical authorities warned that
professional seamstresses were apt to become sexually aroused by the steady
rhythm, hour after hour, of the sewing machine's foot pedals. They recommended
slipping bromide-which was thought to diminish sexual desire-into the women's
Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were
all available over the counter at corner drugstores. According to one pharmacist,
"Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the
stomach and the bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health."
Coca-Cola contained cocaine instead
Punch-card data processing had recently
been developed, and early predecessors of the modern computer were used
for the first time by the government to help compile the 1900 census.
Eighteen percent of households in the
United States had at least one full-time servant or domestic.
There were about 230 reported murders
in the US annually.