Showing posts with label history. Show all posts
Showing posts with label history. Show all posts

Friday, March 18, 2022

Grandpa, Tell Me 'Bout The Good Old Days

A clickbaity title, a question, and an answer.

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandkids — the Stickies — eventual selves to advise them and haunt them after they've become grups and/or I'm deleted.   

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, or grups may result in a debilitating meltdown.  

Featuring Dana: Hallucination, guest star, and charming literary device 

"Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them." -Goethe

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies and Great-Grandstickies (and Gentlereaders),

A question from a gentlereader: What do you mean when you say you're writing these letters to your grandkid's eventual selves? 

I'm just a grandpa, talkin' 'bout the good ol' da...

{Please, just stop.} 

Answer: While I'm delighted to report that the current crop continues to exceed my expectations, it's still relatively early and won't be fully ripened for a while yet. It's a rare H. sapien that's fully ripened before the age of 25 and it's not unusual for the process to last till the age of 30 or so, as it did in my case. 

They're free to read them now of course, and make of them what they will or won't, but it's not just a matter of them being mature enough to appreciate the wit and wisdom of their beloved grandfather. 

These letters are a sort of oral history that's being written in real-time. Instead of some present or future version of me being interviewed and recorded by someone else, I'm both interviewer and interviewee and I serve multiple constituencies.


What? That's a real word. I'm writing to the Stickies, their future selves, Stickies who haven't arrived yet, my current self ("Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers." -Isaac Asimov), my future self, and of course, my gentlereaders.   

I'm a Boomer born in the middle of my best century so far, baby...

{You can't help yourself, can you?}  

And I'm the fortunate/accidental beneficiary of a bunch of blessings.

My grandparents, on my father's side, were both immigrants from the now-defunct Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was a mechanic and she was a housewife. Mum's mom was a farm girl and her dad was a coal miner. 

I have/had no shortage of aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, and nieces and nephews. I came up in both gritty, inner-city Pittsburgh neighborhoods and a couple of green suburbs — both bulging with fellow Boomers and Boomerettes.  

My father was a painter (of walls and trim, not canvasses) and Mum was a stay-at-home mom, which at the time was the rule, not the exception. They had seven kids and when their luck held, just enough money to go around. Cash flow problems were a constant problem but we never went hungry and were never the poorest family in the neighborhood. 

I was lucky enough to be the product of a working-class family, not to be unusually attractive, and to not have achieved fame and/or fortune at a young age. 



Pretty people, blessed/cursed by being born into a financially secure situation and/or stumbling into one as if on cue, often are not conscious of their dumb luck until misfortune inevitably bites them on the bum at some point. They may not appreciate what they have, or worse, take it for granted. They often are possessed by ideologies untempered by reality.  

Many, even if they paid attention in history class, are oblivious to the fact that until relatively recently most H. sapiens were somewhat preoccupied with where their next meal was coming from if they had managed to survive their childhood.  

I, having sometimes paid attention in history class, having roots/a perspective that stretches back to the late 18th century, having parents that lived through the Great Depression and WW2, having a life that stretches from the introduction of a vaccine for polio to men persons landing on the moon to supercomputers in everyone's pocket (and, God help us, social media mobs), to constant digital disruption and disintermediation to...

{What's polio?} 

And having experienced the traditional morality and lifestyles of the 1950s, participated in tossing the tot out with the Jacuzzi water in the late 1960s and 70s, and currently experiencing the revival of Marxism (Wokieness) in spite of 100,000,000+ H. sapiens murdered in the pursuit of a socialist utopia so far...

{Well, communism's never really been tried or properly implemented you know.}

I, eventually, came to understand the importance and utility of at least trying to keep an eye on the big picture, and maintaining an attitude of gratitude 24x7x365.  

Therefore, I write letters to the Stickie's eventual selves to hopefully spare them from learning at least some things the hard way while compiling an oral history as I go, before I go. 

{Um... Why don't you just talk to them while you await deletion?}  

I do, and I even attempt to wrap up my mini-sermons before their eyes start to glaze over, and keep in mind that the sermons you live tend to be much more effective than the ones you preach. 

But I don't see the harm in leaving behind a textbook of sorts while striving to provide a bit of enlightened infotainment for my gentlereaders. 

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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Feel free to comment and set me straight on Cranky's Facebook page. I post my latest columns on Saturdays, other things other days. Cranky don't tweet.





Saturday, October 20, 2018

It's All Relative

If you're new here, this is a weekly column consisting of letters written to my grandchildren (who exist) and my great-grandchildren (who aren't here yet) — the Stickies — to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead.

[Blogaramians: Blogarama renders the links in my columns useless. Please click on View Original to solve this problem and access lotsa columns.]

Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Stars
Marie-Louise -- My beautiful muse  
Iggy -- My designated Sticky
Dana -- My designated gentlereader

"Everything is relative except relatives, and they are absolute." -Alfred Stieglitz

[Gentlereaders, sorry I published late. Spent the day with a sibling, a sister, that I haven't seen in literally decades and just got home. She rocks.]

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies,

I hope that by the time you're geezers (or geezerettes) like me things have settled down a bit, but I doubt it. At the moment, we're living through a time of unprecedented prosperity and invention -- and unprecedented change.

Change, of course, is normal and inevitable. Unrelenting, high-velocity change, which appears it will never end, which appears to be the new normal, which appears to be still picking up speed -- is not.

Therefore, I maintain that there are three new things under the Sun.

Unprecedented Prosperity (UP): According to the Brookings Institution as of September 2018 half of the inhabitants of the planet Earth, 7,800,000,000 souls, are middle class or wealthier. "In the world today, about one person escapes extreme poverty every second; but five people a second are entering the middle class."

Unprecedented Invention (UI): The consulting firm TEF predicts that in five years technological innovation will be 32 times more advanced than it is right now. Ten years out, 1,000 times. Twenty years out, 1,000,000 times.

UP + UI = Unprecedented Change

[Of course, something could go terribly wrong and there might not be anyone around to read this. A Zombie Apocalypse for example. Or suppose that the Donald and the Pooteen get into an argument over a golf game resulting in a series of events that culminate in nuclear Armageddon.]

I remember sister Mary McGillicuddy telling the class that we little Boomers and Boomerettes were fortunately/unfortunately growing up at a point in history when mankind's sociological/psychological/etceteralogical knowledge lagged far behind its technical knowledge.

If she's still out there somewhere (unlikely, materially speaking, but we're talking world-class force of nature so...) I think she'd agree with me that the velocity of change in the developed (and shortly to be developed) world is a new thing and we're probably not ready for it.

There have been no corresponding quantum leaps in the social sciences. And while traditional religious beliefs still work for many, for many others... not so much. But there's no shortage of people loose in the world who have replaced God with an ideology and who are prepared to burn non-believers at the stake.

Some perspective, if you please, is necessary at this point. My parents (and their parents) groused about how much more laid back and less dangerous life was when they were young, bulletproof, ten feet tall, immortal, and living in the golden age.

However, historians tell us that this (relatively speaking) is a new phenomenon and it wasn't all that long ago (relatively speaking) that the average lifetime of the average person was mostly "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short."

[I used the phrase relatively speaking twice in the previous paragraph to try and call your attention to the fact that (relatively speaking) the modern, postmodern, or whatever this era of history is ultimately labeled, is less than a New York minute of big picture time (relatively speaking).]

You and your spawn are and will grow up taking high-velocity change for granted. You may be scratching your heads as you read this and wondering what the hell I'm talking about. You may regard the life of an average Boomer to have been slow and dull (relatively speaking) and you might be grateful that you live in a more dynamic era.

Which, now that I think about it, is how I viewed my parent's life prior to me showing up. However, I sincerely hope that you live...

[Captain Crank, I think it's time to chart a new course, sir, we're headed for the rocks.]

Point taken, Dana. My Dear Stickies, my point is that when you're looking back and making the inevitable historical judgments of your predecessors keep in mind that although we don't like to admit it we are/were in over our heads as much, or more, than our predecessors were.

Learn and discern the lessons (the easy way), but don't make the mistake of judging us/them as though we knew/they knew everything that you take for granted. At the moment, an awful lot of people that should know better, are doing just that. It's not helpful.

Learn and discern more lessons (as you go, the hard way), chose a goal, formulate a plan, rinse and repeat. Poppa loves you.

Have an OK day.
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©2018 Mark Mehlmauer   (The Flyoverland Crank)