— By LARRY M. JONES
Were the “good old days” really as good as we tend to remember them?
Like many who have reached their allotted three score and ten, we old-timers tend to reflect a lot on times past, recalling how wonderful things were during simpler times long ago. While there are many things happening in the world today that are troubling and seemingly without solution, has this not always been the case?
I suppose it is human nature to practice selective memory. All of my life I’ve heard that our minds tend to block out really traumatic events. Instead, we choose to look back on what was most pleasing. For me, many such delightful memories were associated with food. One that I quickly recall was my Grandmother “Bam” Thomas’ soda biscuits. I thought they were the best biscuits in the world. In retrospect, I’m not sure why. They were tough, hard, flat and had a distinct soda flavor, yet I’d kill to have some of them today.
I recall how my Grandpa Jones baked the most delicious cake I’d ever eaten. Thinking back on it, I think that either he didn’t have any self-rising flour or it had fallen in the oven while baking, because it was about an inch thick, was tough as a board, and had about twice too much sugar. To an always hungry 12-year-old boy, it was manna from heaven.
There are several other food items from the past may not have been as wonderful as I normally choose to remember. For instance, do you recollect how delicious Wolf Brand chili was on a cold winter day? When I think a little harder about it, I actually recall all the nasty gristle and fat that had to be picked around. Today, Wolf chili even has a lean version, and I haven’t found a piece of gristle in a serving of it in over 20 years.
Butterfinger candy bars are another greatly improved food item. Fresh ones were always delicious, but in earlier days they often took on the consistency of a chewy piece of rock candy. Oleo margarine in the 1950s had a terrible flavor and was barely edible. Before homogenization, there would always be an inch of oil on top of a new jar or tin of peanut butter.
How about the days before ball point pens when we had to carry fountain pens that were prone to leak ink all over our clothes? Early ball point pens, even the ones that would actually write, often leaked ink, as well. Remember when the only place that was air conditioned was the movie theater? What about cars that were totally worn out by 100,000 miles? Wasn’t it fun to change your oil every 2,000 miles?
Actually, I’ve grown quite content having an air-conditioned home, pickup and tractor. I really enjoy having indoor plumbing, television, stereo music, computers, cell phones, a tasty food supply, miracle drugs and a longer life expectancy. Yet, with all the delightful innovations over the decades I’ve roamed this Earth, I still fondly reflect on the wonderful and carefree good old days.
With each passing year, they become even more delightful in my mind. I choose to remember times passed the way I want – that’s what old men do best.
Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.