I’m continuously being told to stop referring to “the good old days” (o/c “in my day”).

Well, I won’t permit anyone to trample upon my constitutional right to be a grumpy old man. Like it or not, life was and can again be simple. We’ve complicated life with cell phones; I-pads; computerized cars; and, of course, tribal politics. I’ll continue reminding generations following mine that, when simplicity reigned, the world prospered without one computer and politicians believed in their political activities, self-funded them and died broke.

Financial crimes were infrequent. Why? Remember when most parents NEVER owned their own house, never wore jeans or weaves, never set foot on a golf course, never traveled out of Jamaica; never had a credit card? Remember when rent was affordable and parents’ ambitions focused on children’s education and advancement.

Hey, you know, everybody’s talkin’ about the good old days, right?
Everybody; the good old days, the good old days.
Well, let’s talk about the good old days.
Come to think of it, as bad as we think they are
these will become the good old days for our children….

Remember telephones? No, not these modern thingamajiggies that do everything except complete a phone call. Remember party lines? Those of us lucky enough to own a phone had to first check if somebody else was using it before dialling. Remember dialing? Years ago, the Ampersand’s best friend came to spend the day. He asked to use the phone to call home. Soon, in obvious distress, he told The Old Ball and Chain the phone wasn’t working. It was a vintage rotary dial phone that completely defeated his computer-oriented mind.

Try to remember that kind of September,
when life was slow and oh, so mellow.
Try to remember, and, if you remember, then follow.

Remember Trafficators? Nobody? IN MY DAY (before “blinkers”), cars were fitted with semaphore signals which, when switched on from inside, shot out from the car’s bodywork and remained protruding to indicate the direction of an intended turn. The very first car I ever drove (my mother’s Morris Minor) was fitted with trafficators. To avoid misunderstanding, we combined those “modern” contraptions with hand signals.

All cars used stick shift. When we were first married Old BC was petrified of newly introduced automatic cars and refused to drive one. Eventually, a greater fear of arthritic knees from constantly pumping clutches forced her to join the new world. Now, she couldn’t manipulate a stick shift if her life depended on it.

Can it be that it was all so simple then
or has time rewritten every line?
And, if we had the chance to do it all again,
tell me would we; could we?

Remember when meals were eaten at home; cooked by mothers; and eaten while sitting around a dining table headed by miserable, tired, hard-working fathers whose attention children avoided for fear of annoying them? Remember, when children didn’t like what was served, we were allowed to remain seated at the table until we did? Fathers said “You’ll eat what’s provided AND LIKE IT!” Sunday lunch came from the backyard. Mummy covered its head with a pan then, wielding a handy machete, removed head from body while we children watched in awe as it ran around thereafter. Ever heard “running around like a chicken with its head cut off”? Then, we had to pick off the feathers.

“Fast food” was Mummy making a sandwich. Go ahead, call me sexist or whatever. In the overwhelming majority, we grew up without psychological scars but with a healthy respect for women; our elders; and authority generally. How’s the modern, laissez-faire, overly tolerant, mainly absentee parenting method working for you now?

Memories, may be beautiful and yet
what’s too painful to remember
we simply choose to forget.
So, it’s the laughter we will remember
whenever we remember
the way we were…

“The Way We Were,” written by Marvin Hamlisch; popularized by Barbra Streisand; was a No 1 soul hit for Gladys Knight and the Pips from their 1975 album I Feel a Song.

Gladys Maria Knight turned 70 on May 28 but she’s still one of the finest soul singers of any generation. With her brother Merald “Bubba” Knight and cousins Edward Patten and William Guest (The “Pips”), she formed one of the most successful recording groups during seminal time for groups. Their 1973 Song of The Year, Midnight Train to Georgia, features my idea of music’s best harmonies from the legendary Pips.

Peace and Love


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