Miles of Memories by Brenda Miles

“What Happened to Our Innocence”

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for growing up in a small town in Arkansas during the 50s. We did things and said things then that people are afraid to do and say today because of “political correctness.” During that decade, we had not heard of Ms. Manners or the ACLU. We were just free to live our lives in the only way we knew how– naturally and innocently. We intended no offence and none appeared to be taken. It was a comfortable time to live, not having to carefully measure words or deeds in order to live free from worry of what “someone else” might think. For instance…
We grew up listening to prayer and Bible reading and references to God during our school days.
Our teachers were not afraid to hug us when we cried or when we pleased them or to call us endearing names. The first ten years of my career, I did the same thing and was never sued.
If a child misbehaved at school he could expect a spanking–boys often got “licks” – and could expect a second whipping at home. No “abuse” reports were reported.
It was common to see one cooling his coffee by drinking from the saucer at the dining table.
If the need arose, women openly nursed their babies by simply stepping aside and throwing a diaper or small receiving blanket over the baby’s head and her breast.
Ashtrays were found on every coffee table.
Even older women dipped snuff on occasion to

“calm the nerves.”
Neighbors visited you without calling first, often without bothering to knock.
Men were not embarrassed to ask for store credit to feed family and the store owner knew he would be paid at the end of the month.
If a man was “laid off” he’d look for another job until he found one. He didn’t stand at an intersection asking for a hand out.
“Well, I’ll be John Brown!” “Gol durn it!” “Dag nab it!” were exclamations commonly used without anyone questioning the origin of the phrases
We were not embarrassed to mention our church and our beliefs.
We were not embarrassed by what we saw on the television screen. We were entertained. And most of those thirty-minute programs taught morals and family values.
False teeth were considered a privilege…and often used only at meal time before being relegated to the pocket and to a glass of water at bedtime.
Outhouses were common. Electricity was slow to arrive in rural areas. Gravel roads were more common than black-top. These were simple facts and not considered to be an embarrassment.
Telephone party-lines provided both frustration and entertainment. People called “Central” for the latest news
We referred to childhood playmates as “Colored” or “White” without a thought of insult and it was not taken.
New converts were baptized in rivers and bacteria filled streams and creeks.
Breakfast eggs were fried in grease from the bacon and a can of left over grease was found on every stove-top.
ON THE OTHER HAND…Tatoos were most often displayed by sailors returning from the Pacific and weren’t considered a fashion statement for athletes. Earrings were worn in the ear. Underwear was worn to serve its purpose and not to be flaunted in public–a rule applied to both girls AND boys.
Swearing, drunkenness, promiscuity, and infidelity were highly looked down on…despite the person’s celebrity status or standing in society.
Men were especially careful not to swear in the presence of ladies. A gentleman’s good manners were appreciated and not considered demeaning to the woman.
Female gossip about other women was accepted as long as the gossiper ended with the phrase, “But she can’t help it, Bless her heart!”I grew up in a time when God, the ten commandments, the flag, and the Constitution of our great nation were held in highest regard and honored by all. In those early years, I never heard the terms “liberal” or “conservative.” I was only taught “Right” from “Wrong.” As far as I can tell, these values have remained steadfast and unchanged during the intervening 60 years. I remain thankful today for these early years of innocence.

Brenda Miles is an ward-winning columnist and author who resides in Hot Springs Village. She welcomes your comments at [email protected]

Speak Your Mind