My, my, how things have changed . . .

At the last meeting of our Breakfast Club, I mentioned that my youngest son and his wife had just purchased their first house.  Everyone offered their congratulations, and the news prompted a spirited conversation among us about our own first homes, and how it was when we were growing up and starting families of our own.  Everybody had a tale to tell.  Most remembered the experience of making that initial large purchase as one that was quite traumatic.  In my case, the idea that my wife and I were incurring a whopping $48,000 in debt necessitated a trip to the family doctor for a prescription for a tranquilizer before I could attend the closing.  One of the other members of the group related how he had to resort to several drinks before he could attend his own closing.  There were laughs all around.  Then, the conversation shifted to a nostalgic look at how much things have changed since those days back when we were growing up during and after World War II.

We all agreed that most young Americans today take a great deal for granted.  For instance, most of us in our group grew up in a house that had only one full bathroom.  We just accepted the fact that we had to make our showers short, in order to save the hot water for the other members of the family.  Today, it’s the norm for a house to have a minimum of two full bathrooms, with three not being that unusual.  Most young couples today purchase starter homes that cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.  They do so without batting an eyelash at the accompanying debt.  Debt has become a way of life.

When I was a kid, we first learned to drive in our parents’ car, and we needed to obtain permission to use it for a date, or to attend a football game, or a school dance.  Today, it’s not unusual for sixteen-year olds to have brand new cars of their own that rival those of their parents.

TVKids today have access to multiple high definition color TV sets in their parents’ homes, with huge screens and access to hundreds of channels via cable or satellite dish.  When I was a kid, our families gathered around a twelve-inch black and white set, and watched a grand total of three network stations, each of which signed off at midnight with the playing of the Star Spangled Banner and the image of a waving flag as the last thing we saw.  Now, it’s possible to watch first run movies at any hour of the day.

Everything today is “gotta have it now.”  That’s why nobody really appreciates what they have.  We throw out TVs, rather than pass them down to our offspring.  Auto mechanics have become nearly obsolete, since we trade our cars in on new ones before the “old” ones have even exhausted their warranties.  We have more food than we can possibly eat stored in our refrigerators, some of which are the size of our first automobiles.

The most telling statistic of just how good we have it is the current definition of what passes for poverty.  An article from the Heritage Foundation in 2011 stated that “. . . the overwhelming majority of the poor have air conditioning, cable TV, and a host of other modern amenities.  They are well housed, have an adequate and reasonably steady supply of food, and have met their other basic needs, including medical care.  Some poor Americans do experience significant hardships, including temporary food shortages or inadequate housing, but these individuals are a minority within the overall poverty population.”

Do I wish that we could return to those “old fashioned days” of the 50s, 60s, and 70s?  Of course not.  But I wouldn’t mind seeing a return to a mindset that would have us truly thanking God for our bounteous life.

We are all blessed in so many ways.  We ought to take a moment to appreciate all that we have.

NOTE: Joe Perrone Jr is the author of the highly-successful Matt Davis Mystery Series: As the Twig is Bent, Opening Day (a 2012 Indie B.R.A.G. medallion winner), Twice Bitten, and Broken Promises.  All four are available in paperback and E-book.  As the Twig is Bent and Opening Day are also in audiobook from, with Twice Bitten and Broken Promises soon to follow.

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About AuthorJoePerroneJr

I am a former professional fly-fishing guide, and I write the Matt Davis Mystery Series, which presently consists of five books: As the Twig is Bent, Opening Day, Twice Bitten, Broken Promises and Deadly Ransom. The series is set in the real town of Roscoe, NY, in the Catskill Mountains, where I guided for ten years. I love fly fishing, movies, cooking (and eating), and music. To learn more about me and my writing, please visit my website at:
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One Response to My, my, how things have changed . . .

  1. You took me back to my childhood, Joe. In 1957, my parents bought a brand new, three-bedroom, single car garage home in a new suburb. They put nothing down with that special VA Bill and got a $10,500 mortgage for 30 years at 4% interest. The only item in that scenario that hasn’t changed is the interest rate. My dad was a plumber, and we didn’t have a lot of money in those days, and those homes weren’t built with central air. But we had a window fan and a Zenith black and white television that got three stations, like yours, and they all shut down at midnight, too.

    Great story, Joe. I kind of miss those days actually.


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