I was born at the tail end of 1959. My childhood, though flawed by my birth parent’s unhappy union and therefore our dysfunctional family, now feels incredibly quaint.
Once upon a time I might have used that word–quaint–with derision. But now, in a world I hardly recognize, it is with all due respect.
It was so much simpler. Five channels, two catalogs (Sears and Montgomery Wards). Keds or Buster Browns.
Once a year, The Wizard of Oz (my favorite movie then and now) would air. Sunday mornings we’d fight over who got to read the comics first. Sunday evenings were devoted to The Magical World of Disney.
Of course, there was a fair amount of discomfort. First, the fact that I was a girl and therefore a second class citizen, something I figured out rather quickly. And as a left hander, it was immediately clear that school (desks, cursive and scissors) had not been designed with me in mind. And then there was winter. Our woolen snow pants and rubber boots, which we lined with plastic bread bags so that our feet slid in more easily.
I do not begrudge progress or the future. In fact, I feel that at heart I am much more a millennial than a boomer. And I am also an optimist to my core–even if life is a shit show (and I think it’s fair to say it is), I wanna be there.
Right to the bitter end.
However, I am grateful that I have memories of a less complicated moment in history. When nothing was on demand. Gasoline smelled good (pre ethanol) as did the pungent smell of a red paper cap–from a cap gun–hit by a hammer. Vacant lots and forts and banana seat bikes.
It was glorious–in large part because of my myopia. My inability not only to see how difficult life was for some, but also how challenging adulthood would prove to be for me.
An imperfect childhood. And yet–because it was my one and only youth–precious.