LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Trusting our memories of a simpler time

The decades of our early childhood years are, for most of us, probably the most innocent times of our lives. We are born, learn all that important stuff like walking, talking, eating corn on the cob when we get teeth, and acquire our early lessons about how to act, react, and generally conduct ourselves in an acceptable manner in our daily lives. I am perfectly aware this does not describe every individual’s path of growth.

My point is that during that first decade-and-a-half of our lives, we are not as aware of the larger world. And ours is idyllic.

Often I read submissions to newspapers and magazines lamenting the loss of those “carefree” years of youth and the way our country, or at least, the immediate neighborhood, seemed to be during that period. Of no concern to us as youths were the ongoing historical events occurring during that same period.

Not to be a spoiler, but every decade spawned its own serious disruptions to our peaceful world, and these were unsettling to the older generations, if not their young. These events often resulted in dramatic changes to the country as a whole.

I was born in 1939 in a farmhouse in rural Delaware. I can assure you I was not aware of the residual Great Depression or of the threat of World War II during my early years. But my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and parents were knee-deep in the troubles broiling in the country, and eventually, in the world. I had clothes, food, shelter, water and caring parents.

Even in my teen years, I was separated from all that turmoil, since our main forms of information were the radio, a weekly newspaper, and an occasional newsreel at the cinema.

Recently I read a Letter to the Editor, Delaware State News, lamenting the loss of the way of life in the 1960s. [“A Democrat no more,” Aug. 14] This was the writer’s era of early growth, and he seemed to enjoy it thoroughly. This is as it should be. As a young child, he was not concerned with the daily news of the Civil Rights movement and its violence, the Ku Klux Klan’s terrorism, the onset of the Vietnamese War, the erection of the Berlin Wall. But the media was moving indoors as a TV set was added to the family’s list of possessions. The households of America were blitzed with the citizen’s “right to know” of all the good and bad out there.

Child of the 1970s? Maybe you remember still being able to play in the streets, still spend hours without worrying about that outer world, still concentrate on that baseball game or high school dance. But those other events grabbing the attention of the older members of the family could not be ignored.

That unwinnable war in Vietnam continued, with body counts rising every day. Draft card burnings made the headlines. Protest marches and gatherings were common. The Civil Rights movements had moved north — it was no longer a “regional” matter. The world was in turmoil and the United States was smack in the middle of it, unable to sit out the disruptions going on all over the globe.

I have children, grandchildren, and a great-grandchild. As parents, my husband and I did the same thing generations of parents tried to do — give our children and grandchildren a pleasant, memorable childhood. I have noticed that our grandchildren have been immersed early, willingly or not, into the state of the country’s and the world’s affairs. But they do not shirk what they can see, with clearer eyes than ours, what can and must done to keep things on a positive track. Good for them — we need all they have to offer.

Anyone can research their own decade and those which came before or after. After looking at a listing of these periods of American history and the events occurring during these, I have come to the conclusion that there has never been one decade which was without troubles of some kind.

During any given decade, the citizens of this great country probably sat together and lamented the times in their youth when things were much more simple and easy to deal with. Or so their memories told them …

Evelyn L. Pearson

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