Someone at our table was wistfully longing for “the good old days.” Memories flooded back when I heard her. Nostalgic memories . . .
When I could walk down the streets of our small city, speak to many I knew, and nod to the others;
When the policeman was a friend who lived on our street;
When Saturday matinees were fifteen cents, and I could sit through it twice;
When my parents never let me skip church, and I must always wear a hat;
When I had one good outfit, which did for every important occasion;
When life was good, and I felt safe;
When I believed my parents could handle anything. They always did!
The good old days – yes, and there were other memories too . . .
When long lines of destitute people lined up for free food;
When people searched desperately for jobs and a place to live;
When there was drought, dust storms, and crop failures.
These, too, were part of the “good old days.”
One incident from those tough days stands out in my memory. Another train, laden with “hitchhikers,” had come to Standard, the town several miles away from our farm. In due time, one by one, some of these men arrived at our home. Mom had them sit on the back porch, and made them hearty sandwiches and hot coffee. Then the grateful chaps moved on.
Later that day another man arrived, and received the same treatment. This fellow was different. He sat quietly on the porch, surveying the yard. When he finished, he turned to Mom and said, “Ma’am, where is your hoe? Your garden could use some weeding, and I would be pleased to do that.”
“That’s very nice of you, but not necessary. You still have a long walk back to town.”
“Ma’am, let me do what I can. I certainly needed that good meal, but I also need to feel like a decent person, and not a bum!”
“Very well, do what you can in the next hour. That would be great, but don’t worry. People will not think badly of you: We know how tough times are.”
Our nameless visitor worked away happily. When he finally laid down the hoe, Mom was ready with another big sandwich wrapped up for his supper, and he went on his way.
The good old days of my childhood—and they were good, in many ways—had another side. Positive and negative: maybe it is always so.
Today, when the papers and newscasts are full of bad news, I try to remember that there is also much that is good. After all, when my great grandchildren are the age I am now, these will be their “good old days.”