Saturday, September 15, 2007

Times of Life

For years, many years, all of my adult life, that is, I always thought that I was born 50 years too late. I have said so on many occasions. I felt that way (and still do to some extent) because, as a student of history, I had the feeling that the world would have fit my personality, interests, and quirks just perfectly.
Being born in 1909 rather than 1959 would have had me grow up during the 'teens and the twenties, during the emergence of the United States as what would come to be know as a superpower. Also, the fashion, the music, just the culture in general, was just - well, just ME.

Above all - the trains....The 1920's was the pinnacle of American railroading. Real trains, Real people, Steam Locomotives - everywhere. On top that - streetcars everywhere!!!! Oh how I dream of it!

Of course, I would have turned 20 just as the stock market crashed, and had to live through the Great Depression. That would have been tough. Being 32 on December 7th, 1941 would have probably made me too old to fight in the war, but not too old to play some part in that historic conflict. My children would have grown up before the cesspool of the 1960's and thus avoided contamination, and my grandchildren would be born some time around my real date of birth. All that and I'd still be 60 when we landed on the moon - the pinnacle of American accomplishment. God willing, I'd live long enough to see the dismal 1970's through and live to see Reagan years and the fall of the Soviet Union.

What a life that would be!!!!!!

But that was then - and this is now.

Having children, watching them grow up, has made me think differently of my real times and the life I've had. Now, I think back to my childhood, what I had and what I saw, and I feel like the luckiest man that had ever been born.

Being born at the very end of the 1950's let me be raised in a small-town environment unpolluted by too much modern culture. Surrounded by strong nuclear families, including being raised alongside my cousins, let me grow up safe, secure, and free in a way that no child nowadays gets to be. I remember the times when TV wasn't on! Not THE TV in our house, but TV period, those times, back then in the middle of the day, when the stations would stop broadcasting altogether and go off the air. Instead of staring at the tube, as my children do, we were with our friends - playing.

But NOT just playing, we were learning. Learning about each other and learning how to be members of a society. Also, learning how to behave in a real, adult world. When we were out and about, we were expected to behave and interact and learn. We went to a restaurant and walked in with our heads held high, greeting and acknowledging the world around us - not ignoring that world with our face glued to a Game Boy. Children in those days grew up in the adult world, not pandered to in a child world of their own.

The day-to day things I have seen growing up were so unique too. I went tho a Catholic school (St. Mary's, in Avoca Pa.) at a time when all the classes were taught by nuns, real nuns with habits and yeardsticks and a real convent next door to the school. I went to Mass every day before school and marched in ranks across the street to our school - no matter what the weather. We had our lunchtime milk in glass bottles, at least for the first few years I was there. I walked home from school - sometimes by "shortcuts" which were in retrospect far longer that the "regular" route, but went through mysterious alleys and backyards and graveyards and even down the railroad tracks. Now I freely admit that the idea of one of my daughters, at age 8, walking through alleys and graveyards and along (busy) railroad tracks scares makes me shudder, but the world was different back then. And I would give anything - ANYTHING - to get my children to experience it.

Then, as an adult, I survived the 1970's (I hated the 70's), and got to see the amazing techological changes that we have today. And above all else - ALL ELSE, I was at the right age and right place and right time to meet and marry the most amazing, wonderful female who has lived on this earth since probably the Assumption. I got to see my daughters be born, and to see the blessings of the medical technology we have today help them out a few critical situations.

And now, I am blessed to be witnessing the revolution in the church which is going to pull us back from the brink of extinction, or worse, apathy. And I pray that I will live to see the day when the last tambouring banging, handclapping, Haugen singing mass is celebrated and the mass returns to the world of adults. And the day when the last table altar is decomissioned and sent to the junk pile. Somehow I get the feeling that, years on, we will all look back on the last 40 years of litugical history the same way people look at old photos of themselves wearing outlandish, trendy clothes or hairstyles and think "WHAT the HELL was I THINKING?!?!?!?!?!?"

No comments: