It seems like I am always at the laundry mat, at least a few days per week. Last night, we were having a terrible thunderstorm. I have never seen hail the size of a quarter in a summer storm. Last night I did, and I was afraid.
There was an older man in the laundry mat and since I wanted to wait a while to leave due to the storm, we struck up a conversation. First it was about the weather of course, and more to the point, the strange weather we have these days.
This man was a resident of the same town all of his life. He began to talk about, ‘the old days’ as he called them. He was one of 15 children. He told me that his dad worked at a factory that has long been closed. His mother stayed at home and took care of the children. They were poor, but they always had food, for his mom and sisters had a huge garden. They would make jams and jellies, can vegetables, and he and his brothers would hunt and fish for food. His dad built their small house himself, along with family members, and over time, they built on to it.
He said that ‘in those days’, people knew ‘the bad folks’ and stayed away from them. He said that no one was ‘going around blowing themselves up’ in the name of religion. He said that he and his family would faithfully attend church on Sundays and Wednesday nights, and even though they were poor, they were clean. He told me that his parents were very strict. The children would get spanked if they did something wrong, and all of the children grew up respecting their parents. He said they did not ‘look for trouble’ because they all knew they would ‘be in trouble’ if they did! He said none of the children went to the police, stating abuse because they were spanked or disciplined. None of them would ever disrespect their parents.
He was 1 of 13 boys. Sometimes they would fight. His mom or his dad would ‘throw them out in the yard to duke it out’ and then they would get in trouble for fighting. He said that he thought that the world was pretty bad back then, mainly because they were poor. But he said he never could have imagined how bad people act today. He spoke of rudeness that he encounters almost everyday from both young people and older people. He said that he does not understand why everyone minds everyone else’s business.
He told me that he was retired, and had cable television, but could hardly stand to watch the news because it was always bad. He said he hardly ever hears any good news anymore. He told me about his family and his children and grandchildren. Many of them are educated, and he was proud of that. What he could not understand was the big houses, new cars, fancy clothes as he called them….that they all had or desired.
By the time he was done story telling, the rain stopped and I wished him a good evening. I was rattling around our conversation in my head as I traveled home, and I thought, ‘Ah, the good old days’….