This past Thursday, America’s Thanksgiving holiday, I had the most delightful conversation with a lovely woman from Chicago that made me realize a number of things. I thought I would share with those of you that were born too late to know these things.
Right or wrong, I was born during a time when we weren’t expected to be politically correct. We were expected to be polite, use good manners, show respect to our elders and the authorities, stay out of trouble and own up to mistakes. It was very simple. If you weren’t good enough to get on a team, you either did something else or practiced until you were good enough to be picked. Only winners got trophies. We got nothing for showing up other than an opportunity to play. It taught us that just showing up for school or work wasn’t enough. We had to work in life to be a winner.
On the other hand, there was no such thing as being politically correct. We told jokes about different cultures, different religions, and different races. No one got offended. If someone told a Polish joke, then someone would come back with a farmer joke, or a Baptist joke. I grew up in Michigan and during the time, Polish jokes were popular. We told dead baby jokes and Helen Keller jokes, for crying out loud. No one got offended.
People were Rat Finks, tattle tails, Greasers, Frats, Dudes, Hunks, Sluts, Hippie, Squares, Flakes and Bad Asses. Your enemies and your best friend could all have cooties. Cops were the Fuzz or Pigs and the kids they arrested were Juvenile Delinquents. If the cops were harassing you, it was because you were being a dumb ass and you understood if you were being a dumb ass, you deserved the hassle and maybe time I jail. You sucked it up and took your punishment.
Boys would fist fight after school, off school property of course, then more than likely shake hands and still be friends. Why even girls would get into fights from time to time.
Bottom line, I believe all of this made us tougher. We knew name-calling didn’t really hurt us. We grew thicker skins. We owned up to our mistakes and apologized if an apology was called for. Our parents didn’t come running to our rescue. They knew we were kids and we did stupid things. I never heard any of my friend’s parents or my parents say, “My child would never do such a thing.” There were two reasons for this: 1. our parents knew we might do something totally stupid because even the best kids make dumb mistakes, and 2. we never would do anything that would do permanent damage to another human being on purpose (like robbing a store or taking a gun to school and shooting up the place.)
I miss those days and I would wager most of us that lived during those times miss those days too. When you could go out in public and not need to worry about every single word that came from your mouth because you might offend someone.
I’m not sure if it started with my generation or afterwards, but we have raised generations of pussies and cry babies. Political correctness has gone amuck.
I’m thankful on this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, that I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s. Life was much simpler when we could tell a joke about a lawn man that had to be told to lay the sod green side up. That you had cooties and your sister was a ratfink. You older brother was caught drinking beer and drag racing and now he was considered a Juvenile Delinquent as he had to go see the judge. Boy was mom and dad pissed. He was grounded for six months! I didn’t make the cheer leading squad because I couldn’t do the splits or jump high enough. Maybe I should have practiced more before the try out. It wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own. Imagine that!
I’m thinking I should come with a warning: This woman is not politically correct and may offend, approach at your own risk.