No. 481



Have you heard the new "Senility Prayer" for old folks? It goes like this, "God grant me Ü the senility to forget the people I never liked, the good fortune to run into the ones that I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference." While I'm not there yet, I have a deep respect for old folks. These are the people who built our country and they are also the ones who defended it. I might add, there are also young people today who are serving in our armed forces, helping to defeat the threat of terrorism and many of them are putting their lives on the line, and some are dying, to insure the blessings of freedom for the rest of us. To be sure, young people are the future of our nation and one of my goals in writing this column is to bring us together for the common good.

Based on the mail I receive from readers, I know that I have lots of young readers but would like to have many more. One of the saddest statistics I know for the newspaper industry is that we are losing readership in the 18- to 35-year-old age bracket. I don't know all the reasons, but many young people today are getting their news from alternate news sources where you don't have to be able to read to be reasonably well informed. Of course there is also a large group of our young people who cannot read well enough to justify subscribing to a newspaper. These are the people IÕm most concerned about because the community newspaper, along with hometown radio, is the only way to get local news. To say it simply, we all lose when people don't read.

To be very honest, young people today are missing something those of us in the older generation had, that served to build a solid foundation for a nation that has gone on to become the greatest success story in the history of the world. What young people are missing today can be summarized in something a reader sent me a while back titled, "Older than Dirt." It begins, "Hey Dad, what was your favorite fast food when you were growing up?" "We didn't have fast food when I was growing up," I informed him. "All the food was slow." "C'mon, seriously, where did you eat?"

"It was a place called at home1," I explained. "Your Grandma cooked every day and when Grandpa got home from work, we sat down together at the dining room table, and if I didn't like what she put on my plate I was allowed to sit there until I did like it." By this time he was laughing so hard that I was afraid he was going to suffer serious internal damage, so I didn't tell him the part about how I had to have permission to leave the table. But here are some other things I would have told him about my childhood if I figured his system could have handled it.

Some parents NEVER owned their own house, wore Levis, set foot on a golf course, traveled out of the country or had a credit card. In their later years they had something called a revolving charge card. The card was only good at Sears Roebuck, or maybe it was Sears AND Roebuck. Either way, there is no Roebuck anymore. Maybe he died. My parents never drove me to soccer practice. This was mostly because we had never heard of soccer. I had a bicycle that weighed probably 50 pounds, and only had one speed, (slow).

We didn't have a television in our house until I was 11, but my grandparents had one before that. It was, of course, black and white, but they bought a piece of colored plastic to cover the screen. The top third was blue, like the sky, and the bottom third was green, like grass. The middle third was red. It was perfect for programs that had scenes of fire trucks riding across someone's lawn on a sunny day. Some people had a lens taped to the front of the TV to make the picture look larger. I was 13 before I tasted my first pizza, it was called, "pizza pie." When I bit into it, I burned the roof of my mouth and the cheese slid off, swung down, plastered itself against my chin and burned that, too. It's still the best pizza I ever had. We didn't have a car until I was 15. I never had a telephone in my room. The only phone in the house was in the living room and it was a party line. Before you could dial, you had to listen and make sure some people you didn't know were already using the line." This reminded me of the column I did some time back titled, "When Lighting Stuck the Coon Creek Party Line."

Here is the essence of why I wanted to share this with you. If you grew up in a generation before there was fast food, you may want to share some of these memories with your children and grandchildren. Just don't blame me if they bust a gut laughing. Growing up isn't what it used to be, is it? By the way, if you can still remember all these things, it just means that you are Older În Dirt. Have a great day.

(Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)