America, America, Oh, How I Love Thee.
I grew up in America during a time when families were large and most every family had four or more children. That was in a bygone age before abortion became legal and the family shrunk to less then two children per family. According to present day national statistics there are now 1.11 children per family in America not counting the illegal immigrants that are swamping our country and keeping that magic number of children at 2.1 per household that is needed for a country to survive another fifty years. In my particular family there were nine children and I was eighth in the birth order. Back then every mother I knew with the exception of a few who were teachers or secretaries worked in her home caring for her family. I was fortunate that my mother worked in the home.
I called our kitchen table, “Mom’s University” because that is where each of her nine children received their education in manners, responsibility and how to treat others. It was during the evening meal and around our supper table that most of mom’s teaching took place because that was the time of day when every family member was present. No one in our family missed supper and the time mom spent teaching her children right from wrong. My mother didn’t have a PhD in Education like most people must have today to prove they are qualified to teach in their field of expertise, but she was the smartest person I knew. Where did my mother get her unique teaching abilities? At her mother’s knee just like her mother before her. Back then, family values were passed down from one generation to the next. Mother’s didn’t depend upon public television to teach their children how to read, count, or share. They took that responsibility upon themselves, and the older children assisted them.
I took my daughter on a trip back through time on Father’s Day in 2009 and visited all the houses I lived in during my childhood that were still standing. After visiting the last one, I asked her, “Did you find any one thing all of these houses had in common?” She was quick to tell me, “They were all very small.” Which was true. I never lived in a big house during my childhood. Most houses were small and families were close. No one I knew had their own room to escape to if we didn’t like what was on the radio or television. We went outside and invented a game to play to keep ourselves amused. We didn’t have air conditioning to cool the house in the summer, or a thermostat to turn up the heat in the winter. Most people didn’t have indoor plumbing, they had a number three wash tub to bathe in and when nature called we used an outdoor privy some fifty feet from the house. Somehow we all managed to survive our meager surrounding and grow up to become responsible adults. In the summer we went barefoot and wore shorts and took our baths in the local swimming hole and no one thought we were strange. And on those long winter nights we slept three to a bed to stay warm – and on the really cold nights we added another blanket or two to ward off the cold wind that blew through the cracks between the weather boarding. The next day we added an extra layer of clothing before we went outdoors to play or do our chores.
We were tough kids and patriotic to the bone. We loved baseball, mom’s apple pie and fighting. We were taught to be respectful, and on parade days when the American flag went by we stood up straight and watched it until it turned the corner out of sight. We respected our teachers and recited the Pledge of Allegiance before classes began in classrooms where we were taught how to think for ourselves. Every boy owned a GI Joe toy soldier, a cap pistol and holster, and a BB gun. We didn’t shoot out too many of our friends eyes with them and the whippings we received on our little behinds with those willow branches dad cut off the tree in the yard did nothing to harm our little egos. We were America’s youth and proud of it! DThrash