Exactly When Were the Good Old Days?

I just saw a short web article about Baby Boomers and their opinion of what’s going on these days and comparing it to the “good old days.”

There were the usual complaints about bad music, lack of teamwork, no effort to maintain social bonds, and the like.

I’m not sure I can identify any such good old days. I can think of good and bad times. I tend to think of them as being a byproduct of good experiences with people you enjoy being with—which don’t always fit with the times.

I grew up in the 1960s during the Civil Rights struggle, and I would be hard-pressed to call it the good old days. I can recall my mother trying her best to straighten out the curls of the hair of my younger brother and me with a lot of hair oil. It was almost painful as she tried to press the evidence of our mixed white and black parentage out of our hair.

I think the perception of what the good old days were might depend on your place in society at the time.

There’s this old Twilight Zone episode about a guy trying to make it in the tough business world and he wasn’t doing too well.

Spoiler Alert: I reveal what happens in the ending, just in case you want to try to find a YouTube.

On the train home from the office, he would dream of a place called Willoughby. It was a place years before his time. It was sunny. People were friendly, enjoyed picnics, went fishing and it was always summertime. He longed for it. His boss was a tyrant and his wife pretty much called him a failure. He got off the train at the Willoughby stop a few times and really enjoyed the good old days feel to the place. But he always got back on the train.

One day, he had that “last straw” moment. His boss was tyrannical; his wife belittled him and called him a loser. He got off the train at Willoughby, determined to stay in the good old days.

OK, this is the spoiler:

Willoughby turns out to be the name of the undertakers who pick him up where he jumped off the train and died.

Anyway, this “train” of thought led to Sena and I reminiscing about the trip to Hawaii we made way back in the day. The flight was long and excruciating. My ears were plugged most of the way there. We were both exhausted, but the tour group we traveled with were raring to go after we got to the hotel in Waikiki. They were mostly 3 decades older than us. I can’t remember if one of them or somebody else at the airport made a disparaging comment about Waikiki, something like: “I don’t know why anybody thinks Waikiki is anything special; what the hell, it’s just like Des Moines!”

While we camped out in our hotel room, the older folks went out to see Don Ho perform. When they got back, they said Don was drunk, they had a few drinks, and we just marveled at their energy.

We developed a friendship with a married couple in the tour group named Leota (Lee for short) and Norman. Lee took exception to Norman having a beer with the rest of us on some outing. I think it was about a health problem he had. He grumbled a little and we toasted the event anyway. Norman, who had been in the military, shed a few tears at the Pearl Harbor monument.

We traded Christmas cards with Lee and Norman until their children sent us a card telling us that Lee had died. Norman died several years later. We still have a photo of Sena with Lee and Norman taken while we were having a great time in Hawaii.

I guess you call those the good old days. Maybe you could even find a reason to call the present times the good old days after a while—if you were as drunk as Don Ho during the whole era.

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