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Cheryl Hughes: Life-Changing

I remember talking to Aggie, Garey’s mom, about how much the world had changed since she was a little girl.  We both agreed that for her, it was like living on another planet.  I am here to report that I have arrived at the “another planet” phase of my life.

I’m not one of those people who long for the good ole days, neither am I of the opinion that the current world is going to Hell in a handbasket.  I just see changes and contrasts and differences, and I understand that I have to adjust or be left behind…within reason, that is.  My generation has seen the development of satellites, computers, DVD players and cell phones.  That’s a lotta change. 

As kids, we spent more time outside than inside, mainly because it was more interesting outside.  We had TV, but all the good stuff came on after dark, which gave us a lot of daylight to explore, play tag, and generally aggravate one another.  Kids of today have more interesting things inside than outside of their homes.  I get it.  If I had grown up in today’s world, I’d want to spend more time inside also.

As things were, besides radio—developed during Aggie’s day—and color TV, the only other life-changing inventions during my childhood were the Hi-Fi record player, Jiffy Pop Popcorn and Shake-A-Puddin.  Our trendy shoes were PF Flyer tennis shoes.  Our super-heroes were the Lone Ranger, Roy Rodgers and Mary Poppins—I include her, because of her ability to fly, thanks to her magic umbrella.  We took our lunches to school in Flintstones and Peter Pan lunch boxes.  We ate bologna sandwiches and drank Cream Soda—nectar of the gods.  It was a pretty simple life.

We were consciously aware of the dangers in the world, but we didn’t live in fear.  At school, we had fire drills, where we all formed an orderly line behind the teacher, who led us out of the building and onto the school grounds.  We had tornado drills, where we all formed an orderly line behind the teacher, who led us into an inside hallway in the building.  We even had bomb drills—thanks to the Cold War with Russia and the development of nuclear weapons—where we all huddled under our desks, which must have been made of kryptonite, if they were to protect us from bombs.

I’m no sociologist nor anthropologist nor any other kind of ologist, but it seems like things really started to change for my generation during the Viet Nam War, in the middle to late 60s.  It was almost overnight that the music changed, the clothes changed, the hair cuts changed, and the attitudes changed.  

I know that the 60s is billed as the peace, love and Hippy generation, but there was so much upheaval during that time, and it involved more than the war footage we saw on our TVs during the evening news.  There was a sense that you were either in the know or you weren’t, and in the “knowing” was this vague sense that you were either cool or you weren’t.  Happiness and contentment, which many viewed as simple-mindedness, were replaced with drug-induced euphoria or anger at the political establishment and the war.  And while all this upheaval was taking place, Rock and Roll music burst onto the scene, as if it had been waiting in the wings until there was a distraction big enough to prevent its suppression, and Viet Nam fit that bill.      

Maybe, it was just me growing up that made everything feel like the world had shifted, but it was the first time in my life that I felt like everything was coming apart at the seams.  I’ve felt that way many times since then, but I’ve learned not to despair.  Change is really the only constant.  You can either fight it or fix yourself some Jiffy Pop and Shake-A-Puddin and enjoy the ride.



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