Chickens – We eat them before they are born and after they’re dead.
Son of a Depression-era Baby: I’ve reached that point in life that I’m a person “of a certain age.” I grew up in an ethnic home in which English was the primary but not the only language spoken. Three of my grandparents spoke little or no English and only one taught herself to speak “broken English.” My parents constantly reminded us that they were Depression Babies and therefore could make a week’s worth of family meals from a single chicken.
Jokes were clean but the air was dirty: Growing up during the 1950s, polluted air was the norm. When a new house was built or an older one re-roofed, the color of the shingles only lasted for a few months. After that all shingles were black. Driving past the steel mills at a time when a particular process was underway, residue called “quencher” filled the air so thickly that headlights and windshield wipers were necessary. Quencher’s accompanying acrid odor burned our lungs as we tried to hold our breath as long as possible.
Immigrants were considered less than the rest: Perhaps issues of immigration were not as pronounced as today because there was no email to send hate (only snail mail and the occasional chain letter), no cable news to fill the airways, (“Goodnight David, Goodnight Chet”), and most immigrants had come through Ellis Island and were therefore documented. But still discrimination existed. Banks did not loan to immigrants. Ethnic groups frequently got together, pooled their money, and loaned within the community.
No OSHA, FDA or other warnings: By today’s standards we lived unhealthy and risky lives. Nearly half the population smoked and chemicals in the air could not have been healthy. We had no warning labels per se, only our mother’s warning that “If you don’t stop that you’ll break your neck.” Nobody seemed to break their neck.
So how did they live so long? My father died at age 87. My mother, who could still bend at the waist and touch her toes well into her eighties, passed away in her 91st year. My parents’ doctor, who was about 5 years their senior, continued his practice nearly to his 100th birthday. A neighbor, Delphina, moved out of her home and into a limited care facility at age 98. Our next-door neighbor, Mamie remained fit and spry well into her 90s. So go figure. Without the government looking out for our best interests, and by all of today’s standards, that generation, who almost never took pills, lived long, active, and healthy lives.
No seat belts, air bags, cigarette warning labels, pill bottle lids that won’t open, or other warnings. Here are a few that demonstrate how far we’ve come:
• “Do not use if you cannot see clearly to read the information in the information booklet.” — In the information booklet.
• “Caution: The contents of this bottle should not be fed to fish.” — On a bottle of shampoo for dogs.
• “For external use only!” — On a curling iron.
• “Warning: This product can burn eyes.” — On a curling iron.
• “Do not use in shower.” — On a hair dryer.
• “Do not use while sleeping.” — On a hair dryer.
• “Do not use while sleeping or unconscious.” — On a hand-held massaging device.
• “Do not place this product into any electronic equipment.” — On the case of a chocolate CD in a gift basket.
• “Recycled flush water unsafe for drinking.” — On a toilet at a public sports facility
• “Shin pads cannot protect any part of the body they do not cover.” — On a pair of shin guards made for bicyclists.
• “This product not intended for use as a dental drill.” — On an electric rotary tool.
• “Caution: Do not spray in eyes.” — On a container of underarm deodorant.
• “Do not drive with sunshield in place.” — On a cardboard sunshield that keeps the sun off the dashboard.
• “Caution: This is not a safety protective device.” — On a plastic toy helmet used as a container for popcorn.
• “Do not use near fire, flame, or sparks.” — On an “Aim-n-Flame” fireplace lighter..
• “Not intended for highway use.” — On a 13-inch wheel on a wheelbarrow.
• “This product is not to be used in bathrooms.” — On a bathroom heater.
• “May irritate eyes.” — On a can of self-defense pepper spray.
• “Eating rocks may lead to broken teeth.” — On a novelty rock garden set called “Popcorn Rock.”
Makes you wonder how Peter Novak and his family made it through.