By Richard Peterson
From the e-mails come these memories for old-timers:
My mom used to cut chicken, chop eggs and spread mayo on the same cutting board with the same knife and no bleach, but we didn’t seem to get food poisoning.
My mom used to defrost hamburger on the counter and I used to eat it raw sometimes, too. Our school sandwiches were wrapped in wax paper in a brown paper bag, not in ice pack coolers, but I can’t remember anyone getting e.Coli.
Almost all of us would have rather gone swimming in the lake instead of a pristine pool (talk about boring). There were no beach closures then.
The term cell phone would have conjured up a phone in a jail cell, and a pager was the school PA system.
We all took gym, not PE . . . and risked permanent injury with a pair of high top Ked’s (only worn in gym) instead of having cross-training athletic shoes with air cushion soles and built in light reflectors. I can’t recall any injuries, but they must have happened because they tell us how much safer we are now.
Flunking gym was not an option . . . even for stupid kids! I guess PE must be much harder than gym.
Speaking of school, we all sang the national anthem, and staying in detention after school caught all sorts of negative attention. We must have had horribly damaged psyches. What an archaic health system we had then. Remember school nurses? Some even wore a hat and uniform.
I thought I was supposed to accomplish something before I was allowed to be proud of myself.
I just can’t recall how bored we were without computers, Play Station, Nintendo, X-box or 270 digital TV cable stations.
Oh yeah . . . and where were the Benadryl and sterilization kit when I got that bee sting? I could have been killed!
We played "King of the Hill" on piles of gravel left on vacant construction sites and built Christmas tree forts after Christmas. We played "Army" in the scrap iron yard across the tracks.
When we got hurt, Mom pulled out the 48-cent
bottle of Mercurochrome (kids liked it better
because it didn’t sting like iodine did) and then we got our butts spanked. Now it’s a trip to the emergency room, followed by a 10-day dose of a
$49 bottle of antibiotics and then Mom calls the attorney to sue the contractor for leaving a horribly vicious pile of gravel where it was such a threat.
We didn’t act up at the neighbor’s house either, because if we did, we got our butts spanked there and then we got butts spanked again when we got home.
I recall a neighborhood kid from down the street coming over and doing his tricks on the front stoop, just before he fell off. Little did his mom know that she could have owned our house.
Instead, she picked him up and swatted him for being such a goof. It was a neighborhood run amuck.
To top it off, not a single person I knew had ever been told that he or she was from a dysfunctional family. How could we possibly have known that? We weren’t told we needed to get into group therapy and anger management classes. We were obviously so duped by so many societal ills, that we didn’t even notice that the entire country wasn’t taking Prozac! How did we ever survive?
It’s too bad all you younger people missed these experiences.
This item appeared in Jason Nordmark’s column in the Turtle Mountain Star at Rolla:
An alert reader recently brought some bad stuff to my attention.
By bad stuff, I mean funny stuff in the form of bad writing. No he didn’t submit some of my past work but rather a collection of analogies and metaphors found in high school essays.
The list was compiled by English teachers from across the United States and are published each year, much to the amusement and chagrin of instructors of higher learning.
Following is a list of last year’s winners:
• Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.
• His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.
• He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.
• She grew on him like she was a colony of e.Coli, and he was room temperature Canadian beef.
• She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.
• Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.
• He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.
• The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.
• The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.
• From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7 p.m. instead of 7:30 p.m.
• The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.
• John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.
• The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.
• He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.
• It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.
• He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant and she was the East River.
• He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.