“Let’s wander back into the past
And paint me a picture of long ago.”—
Grandpa by The Judds
Have you ever wanted to step through a time machine and go to the past? Not within your own life necessarily, but maybe the lives of your parents, grandparents, or further beyond? I certainly have. Maybe not as a child, but when I began to attempt the trials of an adult.
At age twenty-one, I already find myself observing kids a decade younger than me and thinking about how much better things were for me. The first ten years of my life, I did not have technology beyond a corded home phone (yes, a phone connected to a wall) and a box computer to alter an already creative imagination. I did not have to worry about much technology in school beyond middle school keyboarding. We read paper books, we learned from paper books, we were taught cursive handwriting. Now, I have friends barely two to three years younger than me who have never learned cursive. As a child, I did not have to worry about going through school practicing bomb or active shooter drills. I did not have to worry about locking doors in my small home town or offending people too easily.
So, how old does a person need to be to begin using the phrase, “Today’s kids will never understand______.”? Because at twenty-one, I look at the generation below me and say exactly that.
Sure, every generation has its flaws, but it seems like once youth has passed, a person looks into the past and says, “Those were the good days.”
A child of ten or eleven might think of a grandpa’s “story of the past” as a history lecture. The child daydreams through these stories because his or her mind is on the present and the future, not the past. Nothing before the child’s time. They haven’t lived long enough to gain enough wisdom to share and not long enough to really appreciate the wisdom given to them.
Today is my grandpa’s birthday, and I won’t enclose his age because he claims to be frozen in time at age thirty-nine. The older I get, the more I appreciate his stories. By listening, I know what a troublesome boy he was by the time he entered school until this present day, between reciting omitted cuss words in a high school production to “shooting” his brother with blanks and making his mother think he was actually trying to harm his brother. The more I hear these stories, the more I laugh along with them and wish I could have seen it myself.
By listening to his stories, I know that he was an incredible multi-sport athlete—qualified for the Olympics—a veteran of the U.S. Army Reserves, a race-car driver for ten years, owner of a t-shirt printing business—one of the first—and a big fan of 50s Rock N’ Roll. Through all of this, I learned, he met incredible people including Elvis Presley, President Lyndon Johnson, and Colonel Sanders. He sure has lived a full life, and I wouldn’t have known this without listening to his stories of “the good ol’ days.”
I’ve always wondered what my life would have been like growing up in the 50s with my grandparents or the 70s and 80s with my parents. Sometimes, when I hear of their lives, I wish I could step into a time machine and go back in time to live life alongside them, not as a granddaughter or daughter, but as a friend the same age. With family members prone to previous mischief and rebellion, I wouldn’t mind witnessing this and coming back to the present age with a little something to tease them about. Then, maybe, I would appreciate their stories of “the good ol’ days” a little more.