Like the title says, things were better when I was a kid, and I really mean it. Sure times may have been hard, but people appreciated what little they had, instead of constantly looking for something better.
Take for example kids. Today kids are only happy when they have the latest electronics in their hands. Back when I was a kid, we had nothing; and by nothing, I mean no electricity, no running water, no pave roads or mail delivery. Living in rural Newfoundland in the 1960’s did not allow many conveniences, but it sure allowed discovery.
As the years passed, our little community was presented with the introduction of electricity, and with that came many conveniences that improved through the years. I remember when we got our first television set It was a black and white RCA, with the enormous and very heavy wooden case and the tiny 12 inch screen. Despite it’s small size, it was a wonder for the entire family (which only consisted of mom, dad and myself at the time). Each morning, we would anxiously gather at the television screen, watching the test pattern of the CBC network, the only station available in our area. I remember watching the time count down until the Provincial anthem played loudly and we all sang along. “God Guard Thee” was one song I knew well.
I was there for the first color TV in the community. My uncle bought it, and everyone gathered to watch. Well, it wasn’t actually a color TV, rather it was this 20 inch piece of tr-colored plastic that featured a strip of blue at the top, a strip of yellow in the middle, and a strip of green along the bottom, and it was supposed to give you a blue sky, beige sand in the middle, and green grass at the bottom. As much as we anticipated the color television, we were not fooled by this gadget, and would have to wait a few more years for the real color television experience.
I remember when mom and dad came home with the first VCR. They had to choose between the ultra modern Beta Max or the VHS, and dad made the remarkable choice of the VHS only because it came with a wired remote control. My uncle, who was never the Einstein in the family wanted a VCR so much that he traded his television for one. He never lived that one down.
The VCR gave us the opportunity to see movies that we had never heard of, some great, as in the classics, and some bombs, but seeing how excited we were to get anything new, we never complained. With only two stations on the TV set (we got another station in the early Seventies), the VCR got plenty of use.
We got pave roads when I turned ten. Before that, a local paper mill used our dirt roads to truck their pulpwood, causing dust storms throughout the day. I can still recall coughing and wheezing every time a truck passed through the community, and it was dangerous as the drivers didn’t seem to care about pedestrians who walked along the roads. Our parents got fed up with the state of the roads, and blocked the roads and protested for pavement. A few hours later, every parent in the community was arrested for stopping the trucks. A news story later and the government decided to pave the roads.
With pave roads came adventures, as I was one kid who never uttered the word “I’m bored” like so many of our kids today do. We used the big hill that was recently paved as a ramp for our homemade go-carts, as the little carts went far faster on the new pavement.
Christmas was always better because instead of Santa bring us half a million toys, we got one thing, and we treasured that one thing with our lives. We appreciated what we got, not envying what other kids received, just being thankful for the fact that we got something. My cousin was not as lucky, as his alcoholic dad chose to drink their Santa money, and see to it that Santa brought the kids their own whiskey bottle for Christmas. I remember one Christmas, we dropped in to visit our cousins, and we witnessed five tiny children sitting in a circle playing spin the bottle with the whiskey bottle. Things like that stay with you, and make you thankful for the things you have, believe me.