Looking back at the world the way we geezers do, you’d think we have had our heads surgically removed and remounted facing rearward. It’s not quite that severe, but we do have a lifetime’s experiences on which to base our comparisons and judgments, and our retrograde vision is usually twenty-twenty clear. Discounting our own discretions, that is.
Today’s world is vastly different from what we geezers saw as youngsters, and we have a hard time accepting much of it. A lot of our difficulty in accepting today’s world comes from our having grown up in a world in which the differences between good and evil were clearly defined, as opposed to today’s world. Today’s world is much more complicated and is full of ambiguities and pitfalls that simply didn’t exist when we geezers were growing up.
I was born just before World War II when things were clear cut, black or white, good or evil. Then having blithely passed through the war years, I lived a life of innocence and simple pleasures almost as good as the mythical “Leave it to Beaver” and “Mayberry RFD.” Those years lasted all the way through my early teen years until I joined Uncle Sam’s Air Force.
Little did we know then that those innocent years were ending. Back then children could and did go outside to play unattended for the entire day and part of the evening hours and there was no doubt whatsoever that they were safe because they were being watched by every adult in the area.
From my current position as a bona fide geezer, I look back at those and succeeding years and think to myself, “Wow, what I’d give if life were that simple again!”
Then I stop and think what my viewpoint was back then, and I remember clearly that I would have thought, “Wow, those old geezers really have it made. They live in nice big houses and drive nice cars. They have nice furniture, they are bosses and judges, or they already retired and sitting around all day.”
I wouldn’t have given thought back then that those old geezers had worked their guts out for fifty or sixty years in order to have those visible luxuries.
Trying to be realistic, I have to remember that in those bucolic years we still had polio as a real threat, and little nasties like diphtheria, scarlet fever, smallpox, measles, and mumps. Those were every day, constant horrors. Preventive and curative drugs and treatments were simply not available for many of the ills of that era. Way back then, sulfa was considered a wonder drug, but now it is seen as primitive. Having seen the ravages brought on by those old but real maladies, I am grateful that modern medicine is as advanced as it is.
Today’s young people live in a world surrounded by things that are utterly commonplace to them, but are still miraculous to us geezers. In my youth, television didn’t exist. Computers hadn’t been dreamed of. Telephones (if your family was fortunate enough to have one) were crude, clumsy and stationary. Many homes had no indoor plumbing. The average automobile was capable of doing sixty five miles an hour only if going down an incline. Many highways were no better than our local gravel roads and speed limits were correspondingly low. Microwave ovens didn’t exist. Three thousand dollars a year was considered to be a real good wage. Car tires were so poor that it was not uncommon for folks to carry two or three spares, and if a tire delivered five hundred miles of road service then it was a premium tire. Everyone, including housewives, knew how to change a blown out tire on the roadside. If a traveler managed two hundred and fifty miles in a day, it was considered good luck. A typical man working a factory job was considered old at age fifty and many of his contemporaries had died before him. I say, “Bravo” for young people today. They don’t have to put up with a lot of those old inconveniences that we geezers just accepted as normal.
Coming much further into today’s world, my wife and I came to Mohave County only eighteen years ago and there have been tremendous changes in only that short time. When we arrived here, Stockton Hill Road was just getting modern street lights. Highway 93 through Coyote Pass had not been completed to four-lane divided status. Highway 68 across Golden Valley and onward to Bullhead City was referred to as “Deadman’s Highway” and was mostly two-lane undivided and no joy to drive.
The highway across Hoover Dam was a usual two-and-a-half-hour drive going or coming. A casual look at Golden valley now seems to be about four or five times more heavily populated than eighteen years ago. Stockton Hill Road is damned by folks for its traffic. Comparing our local traffic to that of Southern California, I relax and enjoy the light traffic here.
Many people curse the lack of amenities here, but the geezer in me sees wondrous convenience in living here. There are five full-fledged grocery store/markets here for our shopping convenience, plus there is Walmart for almost everything, and True Value and Ace for our hardware needs. There is Kingman Regional Medical Center as an all-up, modern, Mayo Clinic-affiliated hospital. My geezer mind remembers a small twenty five bed mining company medical clinic from my childhood. Small town life is plainly a wonderful experience in today’s world, and I remember clearly when it was not always so.
Having lived for more than three-quarters of a century, I marvel at and am thankful for modern conveniences, and I wouldn’t want to give up any of my numerous creature comforts. I feel sorry for today’s youngsters because they don’t have the experience that we geezers do, but they would probably laugh at my concern and run their fast-paced life as they have come to know and enjoy it. They would probably also pity me and those of my general age as being outdated and unnecessary. So be it.
I like my set of memories and experiences just fine, thank you.