Nostalgia is an antidepressant
for old timers. Sometimes old folks are criticized for talking
about the good old days. But we have reasons for that. They were,
in fact, the good old days. When I moved down from the mountains to
Hampton Roads, specifically Newport News, in 1962, gasoline was 19
cents a gallon. To be honest, there was a price war at the time.
(Best kind of war there is). After the price war ended, gasoline
shot up to 49 cents per gallon. (Ahhh, still the good old days).
Gas stations were called service stations. The
attendant would clean your windshield and vacuum the inside of your
car without being asked, put the gas into your car, and you didn't
always have to fill up. Now, it's do-it-yourself. You either pay in
advance or use a credit card. You do all the work. The only
"service" you get is when the cashier takes your money. In the old
days, you drove with one hand on the steering wheel and the other
around your girl. Today both sexes drive with one hand on the
steering wheel and the other with a cell-phone jammed against an
ear. I guess the best thing of all back then was your safety.
For a time my family lived in the East End
of Newport News.(At the time I hadn't heard of Gloucester or
Mathews). The East End was a blue collar neighborhood with peaceful
streets shaded by lovely sycamores. There was a little mom and pop's
store just around the corner from where we lived. It stayed open
kind of late but you always felt safe walking to and from there.
This all changed in the mid-60s. Walking outside after dark put your
life in danger. The corner store was robbed twice before we moved. A
hardware store a few blocks away was robbed and the manager killed.
The good old days were turning bad. My family died and I moved to
York County and then to Gloucester County. It's fairly safe here
compared to Newport News. But the price of gasoline is absurdly high
everywhere. And nationwide, the good old days are gone. Our popular
culture has degenerated to a level I never imagined. The radio
blares forth sounds scarcely recognized as music. Kids and some
challenged adults wear their clothes backward. (If I sound like Bill
Cosby, remember he too is an old-timer). It's easier to get an
education now but apparently harder to benefit from it. I could go
on and on but you may have already quit reading my rant. I am merely
defending the good old days. May they live in our minds and lighten
our hearts forever.