Saturday, June 15, 2013

Just Remembering…

I was just thinking back to the "good ol' days" of a simpler time. It was during the summer of 1954, on a midweek afternoon. My mother walked across the street from our sunny house in the Midwest to where I was playing with my friend Linda in her sandbox. Naturally, it was hot. But Linda and I didn't mind the heat and we could always find a little shade.

My mother was going to run an errand downtown. "Want to go with me?" my mother asked.

"Sure!" I hopped up to head home, waving to Linda.

As I reached my mother, she smiled and added, "But first, of course, you need to put on a dress and some sandals."

Not the details that a little girl welcomed, but having to endure a dress on a hot day was worth the trouble, just to get to go.

It was always fun to visit the downtown section of our little town. The blocks filled with stores always seemed to be bustling and the experience was a special treat. Our town had a Kresge's, a Woolworth's and other dime stores with plenty of fascinating yet affordable things. Going into a store was wonderful.

My family had lived in the little down of about 16,000 for several generations, so the chances were good that on nearly every visit my mother would encounter someone that she knew. Going downtown was so special that most people cared about their appearance just in case they ran into an old friend.

I remember standing quietly in stores while my mother chatted with an acquaintance or two. Conversations usually included a quick update of medical conditions, how life was going in general and discussions about other local happenings. It was a simple time, an uncomplicated life complete with a sense of serenity.

Of course, the 1950s in general had a certain social dignity. Men and women both wore hats, a fashion must that required attention and upkeep. Women also wore gloves. People cared about their appearance and, most importantly, cared about how they were perceived.

I don't mean that everyone dressed in the latest fashions but they made an effort. The two key phrases here are: made an effort and dignity. These two phrases are non-existent today.

I underwent a horrible experience earlier today: I shopped at a large, well-known discount store. I venture into that particular store no more than about four times a year, only if I am seeking a product available nowhere else. Many years ago, I was less hesitant to shop at the same store. In those days, I appreciated its diversification of products and its low cost. I was fairly certain that if I went there to find an item, the store would have it and at a reasonable price.

Well, things have really changed.

The vast majority of shoppers that I saw today were dressed in a style that would be considered inappropriate for taking out the garbage. The crowd contained a number of corpulent shoppers attired in shorts with huge rolls of flesh visible. They apparently made no attempt to find a larger size or select something that covered important portions of their bodies. Sorry to say, most of these people folks were women. They made absolutely no effort to wash, tuck or otherwise disguise their misery. They screamed at their children who ran uncontrolled through the aisles, darting directly in front of folks who had to use diversion to avoid tripping.

Do people today have no dignity? Apparently not. That's confirmed by watching reality TV and news interviews with the so-called regular people on the street. The fact that dignity is gone from TV is a true reflection of the fact that it is gone from our civilization.

Do people no longer make an effort about their appearance? Absolutely not. In the Midwest, people joke that in a nearby community, well-dressed means having your teeth in. A sad but true comment. Deodorant is rather inexpensive. Here's an idea: buy some and use it. That doesn't mean you have to SHOWER, although that would be nice and might make you feel better. But at least control the stench of your unwashed body.

The morning newspaper comes with a rubber band around it. Even if you don't get the newspaper and even if you can't read, there are likely rubber bands on the ground or elsewhere to be found. Take a rubber band, comb your long, greasy hair with your fingers and apply the rubber band. I'm not asking for fashion mavens here. Just a little effort and a smudge of dignity.

Does it seem like my expectations are too high?

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