Tuesday, October 6, 2009

In Memoriam (thank you, Peggy!)

I remember civility in public discourse. For all the mention made lately about the courtly references made by Members of Congress to those on the other side of the aisle, it's certainly preferable to name-calling and thinly-veiled threats.

I remember when religion and politics weren't discussed at social events - or even within families if there were strong feelings on both sides.

I remember when children's eyes didn't have to be sheltered from television ads and bumper stickers.

I even remember when the only bumper stickers on the road were from your high school or college - and they didn't tell me that your kid was an honor student or could beat someone else up.

I remember when the doctor came to the house, and if you couldn't pay him in full you could pay a little as you could - and he didn't send dunning notices.

I remember when our elected politicians were treated with respect, even if they didn't really deserve it; the respect was for the office, not the person.

I remember when a newsman, Walter Cronkite, was among the most trusted people in the nation, and when we believed what we heard on the news.

I remember when the only people who said "fuck" were "hoods," and they only said it quietly and to peers; certainly not out loud on the street in front of children.

I remember when a kid who misbehaved in class was sent to the office, and then got punished again when he got home.

I remember when only kids who lived in the country rode a school bus; the rest of us walked or rode our bikes. It was safe enough to do that.


I also remember when all of my classmates were white, like me.

And when my Jewish classmates were part of a chorus that sang Christmas songs, and we never heard of a dreidl.

And when my mother was denied a job, because they gave it to a man who had a family to support. She did too, but that didn't enter into their reasoning.

And when girls who got "in trouble" were sent away to have their baby, often forfeiting their education.

And when bathrooms were separate for "whites" and "colored." Water fountains, too.

And when incestuous actions were covered up and the victim was blamed.

It was the best of time; it was the worst of times...
Charles Dickens

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