John F. Kennedy was president. There hadn’t yet been a civil rights movement. No one had heard of “women’s lib.” No widespread drug use. There was usually one telephone per house, with a very short cord, so you didn’t talk very long. Long distance calls were full of hiss and frequently dropped. They cost a FORTUNE. You got three TV channels (a 4th UHF station on a good day) and they all went off the air at midnight. No 24-hour gas stations – no 24-hour anything. The word “mall” wasn’t used in the context of retail.

People cooked on the stove or in the oven, because there were no microwaves. You went to the store weekly because there wasn’t a lot of preprocessed, frozen food – and it certainly wasn’t shipped from Chile or South Africa or Fiji like it is today. There were maybe three kinds of coffee, all purchased in a tin from the grocery store. No Starbucks. No real chain restaurants except maybe McDonalds, the first of which had opened in Michigan 4 years before my birth. No such thing as bottled branded water – everyone was perfectly happy with the tap.

Most cameras used film that took two weeks to process. Only wealthier people owned 8mm movie cameras – and most people were content with stills. Most cars had no means of “storing” music – you just listened to the radio, and that was fine for everyone. People had the time to take care of their homes and lawns, because work ended at 5pm.

People did NOT swear in polite company. Life was simpler so it was easier to be more organized. Suburban yards were green and well-manicured and people respected their neighbors because they looked to each other to watch their kids and property. Teachers spanked children. Adults might spank their neighbor’s children if they caught them misbehaving – and our parents trusted those other parents. We played outside all day with no worries about predators. There was no such thing as tamper-proof packaging (no one had tried to poison anyone yet), nor was there theft-deterrent packaging because most people were taught not to steal. No one did graffiti. No one stole shopping carts. However, it WAS considered acceptable to throw your trash out the window on the highway.

If you talked back on the playground, you’d get your ass kicked – so you didn’t. Kids didn’t try to solve problems with drugs or guns.

People worked hard, sometimes at the same job for 35 years straight. And while adults wanted more for their kids, parents were often content with their place in life. Education was important. People trusted the police, doctors, scientists, teachers and the government.

People had far less and seemed generally much happier and less entitled than today. What a different time. I wish my kids could have experienced it.

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