Someone recently informed me that manufacturers were going to stop making "flip" phones. That's what I have. I honestly don't even need a cell phone. I didn't have to carry a phone around when I was growing up, or even during most of my adult life . . . I survived.
A cell phone is a representation of our modern, often hectic lifestyle. It would seem that the average American wants to be constantly connected, informed, tuned in and plugged in . . . with social media standing by to further complicate our brains. There is no rest, no quiet time, no down time. When someone thinks they can sit in their easy chair and relax after a busy day, guess what? Yep, here comes another text or call. How dare you close your eyes and rest a few minutes!
Well, this got me to thinking about how our lives have changed, not just with respect to technology, but also in many other ways since I was a youngster in the 1950s. Perhaps you fellow baby boomers can remember the way it used to be . . . for instance . . .
. . . I enjoyed attending school, and I learned everything I needed to know from my teachers, whom I respected. Computers and I-Pads had not been invented, and no Wi-Fi educational virtual learning for me . . . thank God! I participated in sports, and although winning was great, the primary goal was to learn fundamentals and have fun. When the season ended, the kids moved on to the next season sport . . . no one-sport, year-long practices and mandatory conditioning workouts, which is commonplace today.
. . . Our family had a phone, but I very seldom called anyone. I talked with my friends and neighbors IN PERSON. And the Dale family got together all the time for picnics, holidays, and other occasions. I got to know all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins. We had huge meals for all to enjoy, played games, and listened to many family stories . . . and of course, great jokes!
. . . I attended Sunday school for many years, and like most of the kids in the community, also looked forward to summer Bible school. We were taught to be kind to others and to help the unfortunate. We pitched in to help any neighbor who might be having financial trouble, or a farmer who was ill or injured, and needed help with his crops. We knew they would do the same for us. We were taught that money is not everything, and the accumulation of material things was not a goal to pursue . . . and that it is better to give than to receive. My parents and grandparents both stressed that it is the little things in life that make a person happy. It seems now that the goal of many people is to pursue wealth and grab all they can, only looking out for themselves.
. . . Like most women in the 1950s, my mother was a "stay-at-home Mom," and she worked hard all day to take care of our household. My Dad farmed and had other part-time jobs to support the family. We were made to work to help out, and to also work for others if the opportunity availed itself . . . to learn the value of a dollar...and save our money for something we might want to buy. And at the end of the day, our parents and all five kids sat down TOGETHER as a family for supper.
. . . I took pride in my country, and it was instilled in me that the United States was the greatest nation in the world. My Dad had fought in WWII, as had most of the men of his generation. They were our heroes . . . and yes, we recited the Pledge of Allegiance every morning at school, and stood tall, with our hands over our hearts, also for the National Anthem . . . and NO KNEELING . . . to protest a perceived slight or wrong.
. . . Dad let me accompany him everywhere he went. He taught me many things that were not taught in school . . . common sense things. And yes, when I got into trouble, I was disciplined . . . the old-fashioned way. Mom disciplined me, too . . . but in a different way . . . just her look of disappointment was enough.
I have had friends tell me that we baby boomers grew up in a special time in America . . . a carefree time in which it was fun to be a kid in a great small-town farming community. Dad's homemade ice cream, Mom's peach pie, having friends over for the night, visiting our grandparents, making things in the toolshed, playing in the haymow, riding my bike to Darlington, fishing at the nearby gravel pits, having fun with my siblings and friends, shooting my B-B rifle, playing fetch with ol' Trooper (our favorite dog), and yes . . . getting into a little trouble once in a while . . . all of these memories . . . and many more that I mentioned earlier . . . are still floating around in my mind. You know what? It WAS a special time. We just didn't realize it at the time.
So . . . turn off your cell phone and your I-Pad. Unplug your TV, radio, and computer. Turn off all of the lights . . . and recall the words of singer Ronnie Milsap . . .
"Close your eyes baby, follow my heart; call on the memories here in the dark. We'll let the magic take us away . . . So real . . . so right . . . lost in the Fifties tonight."'s 1957 again....Enjoy the peace and quiet.

John "Butch" Dale is a retired teacher and County Sheriff. He has also been the librarian at Darlington the past 30 years, and is a well-known artist and author of local history. He writes a general column that appears in The Paper on Fridays and a local sports column on Tuesdays.