Commentary: Good old days bring hope for the future

Before I get into the meat and potatoes of my commentary this week, a family friend sent me the following e-mail from Sun City, Ariz. I thought I would pass it on, as it leads into my thoughts for this week. This friend is simply forwarding the f...

Before I get into the meat and potatoes of my commentary this week, a family friend sent me the following e-mail from Sun City, Ariz. I thought I would pass it on, as it leads into my thoughts for this week. This friend is simply forwarding the following she received from another dear friend of hers, and in retrospect, my generation just might have been lucky to have experienced some of these thoughts, and, in reflection, recognized the value and potential of life's journey as presented here.

"I had a drug problem when I was young, but fortunately, I turned out all right.

  • I was drug to church.
  • I was drug to family reunions.
  • I was drug to the bus stop to go to school.
  • I was drug by the ears when I was disrespectful.
  • I was also drug to the woodshed when I disobeyed my parents."

The sender of this note lived on a farm in Missouri. In my case, the basement replaced the woodshed.
"Those drugs are still in my veins," she advised, "and they affect my behavior in everything I do, say and think. They are stronger than cocaine, crack or heroin, and if today's children had this kind of drug problem ... America might be a better place to live and grow up in. Signed, Joanne."

Now I'm back on track here. You know, friends, we moan and groan about the many problems facing our nation today, and too many of us, instead of working to address these problems logically, participate in them and expect others to support them with disrespect and a lack of appreciation for the freedoms and liberties we enjoy and take for granted.

The world is not the same as those simpler days of yesteryear. I remember well asking my dad, grandpa or uncle for a nickel and getting a stern look of disapproval. I remember listening to "Captain Midnight," "The Lone Ranger," "Jack Armstrong" and others on the radio with serious intent and passion. Then I begged my dad to take me down to the local Skelly gas station to get a Jack Armstrong walk-o-meter.


Watching some action on a screen was relegated to Saturday afternoon matinees at the Doric Theatre in West Duluth. We couldn't wait for the next Saturday afternoon episode to find out what happened to Tom Mix when he disappeared off a cliff.

I remember 5-cent hamburgers at the Bob Jones Deluxe Café across the street from Ceyborske's Sinclair station at 58th and Grand. At that time, the Budgeteer was occupying a building where Kmart proudly stands today in the Spirit Mountain Shopping Center. Walking to school wasn't an option, it was the only possible choice. I walked to Longfellow Elementary, West Junior and Denfeld in rain, snow, sleet or whatever. I also remember carrying my 7-foot jumping skis on my shoulder, traveling on three different city buses from West Duluth and then walking the final mile to the Chester Park ski slope every Saturday and Sunday in the winter with 35 cents in my pocket for a cup of cocoa and a hot dog.

Those were simpler times indeed and, still, there was purpose to life and always plenty of challenges to share with friends and families.

We lived through the horror of World War II, bringing empty cans to school to be flattened and used on various sheet metal projects. You should see the matchbox I made. It is a disgrace, but Mom hung it in the kitchen for years, and we still have it stored in a closet somewhere. Gasoline was rationed, and new tires were impossible to obtain. Almost everything that tasted good was not available at the local corner grocery store, and the news about the war was always bad.

We need to reflect on those earlier times simply because those small lessons in life each of us experienced set the stage for our adult years that followed. Sacrifice was part of life's circle, and today fewer and fewer people are willing to make those sacrifices without holding out a hand asking for support from a government agency. It is too easy to do, and valuable lessons are lost.

We are trying now to make the November presidential election one of simple black-and-white logic. Sorry folks, it ain't going to work, and it is time to think this one out from the heart, not from the doubletalk coming from the mouths and pens of political operatives who could care less about the real issues on the table. The stakes are high for these folks, and winning at any cost is the message they are preaching. That's the reality of contemporary politics, and Americans must stand guard for their own sakes and that of their loved ones.

Indeed, America is in a worldwide struggle for survival from terrorism, and nothing politicians say is going to change that reality. This is a worldwide crisis of major proportions. We, as Americans, have our work cut out for us, and we need to roll up our sleeves and get involved. The free handouts of government fanned by political doubletalk will not provide the answers. Ask your mom or dad or your grandparents how they survived the tough times of yesteryear, and they will tell you. They helped carry the load, and you and I today are better off for it.

We have a commonality as Democrats, Republicans and Independents: We are all Americans and share common ground and goals as we seek solutions to today's challenges and tomorrow's opportunities. That's why we need to participate in elections and try not to be blindsided by opportunists with personal agendas camouflaged by lies, innuendoes and just plain you know what.


God Bless America!

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