Remember the Good Old Days? Or Were they?

By Mike DuBose

I grew up on a rural, dirt road in Darlington, SC during the 1950’s. We left our doors unlocked at night—we felt safe. As children, we played with friends unsupervised away from our homes; life was simple and happy. We only had a few toys and, not having many things, used our imaginations to play. Unfortunately, at 6 years old, I put on my Super Man outfit and leaped off our roof to soar into the skies. I learned about gravity and the dangers of believing what I saw on television!

Parents allowed us to be children (unlike many today who are running from one activity to another). The exciting part of our week was to buy an RC Cola and Moon Pie for 10 cents from the local country store. We had two pairs of shoes: one for school and another for church, with only a few clothes. We ate homecooked foods, (unfortunately seasoned with fatback), much of which came from our garden, and fast-food restaurants didn’t exist.

We walked to school without fear of violence or abduction. Teachers and principals were respected and children behaved. I will never forget the principal showing me his paddle when sent to the office by my teacher. I never visited him again! School was a fun place and educators spent time teaching us not only about math, history, and science but they were positive role models who greatly influenced our lives ingraining good values. And parents always supported them!

I remember the “Milk Man” delivering bottles to our home. We had the latest technology: one black/white television with a single station. We watched Lone Ranger, Dennis the Menace, Leave it to Beaver, Super Man, Rifleman, and Rawhide. I will never forget seeing the television show Spaceship C-8 with Joe Pinner. The kids were laughing and he asked, “What’s so funny?” A girl said, “Freddie far***!” Producers were so horrified about the “obscene” language that the TV screen went blank, a far cry from today!

We had a party telephone line that several families shared and talked with operators who connected us to another household. Many homes around us didn’t have running water, heat, nor electricity, and relied on outhouses for toilet facilities. We learned firsthand about poverty when our home burned down and we lost everything.

When my great-grandmother was offered a toilet, along with her inside, manual well water pump, she refused to install “that nasty thing in her home!” If you owned a car, an attendant pumped gas at 16 cents per gallon and cleaned your windows. Credit was rare, other than store layaways. If you didn’t have cash, you didn’t buy it!

The Bottom Line: Research shows that the poorest Americans are richer than most of the World’s population. Perhaps when you think about bad times, make a list of the blessings you have and be satisfied versus worrying over what you’re missing. When you consider going out in bad weather at night to use the outhouse, we have it made! Build on the “Good Old Days,” flush the bad times, and forgive others who wronged you. It’s never too late to create new, positive memories!

Mike DuBose has been an instructor for the USC’s graduate school since 1985, when he began his family of companies, and author of The Art of Building a Great Business. Visit his nonprofit website for a free copy of his book and additional published business, travel, and personal articles, as well as health articles written with Surb Guram, MD.