By Stephen C. Schultz
The ’72-’73 school year was looking to be a good one! With the wind whistling through my hair, I coasted down City View Street on my green Schwynn Stingray headed to school at Westmoreland Elementary. Even though it had been a couple of weeks, I was feeling comfortable and getting settled in Mrs. Mansells third grade class.
I came to a stop at the corner of 18th and City View and waited for the light to change. The school was directly across the street. I stepped off the curb and into the cross walk. Once I was safely across, I rode on to the space behind the gym where the bike racks were.
I took the combination lock off my bike and rotated the tumblers to 9399 and pulled the green vinyl coated chain apart and ran it through the front tire and around the bike rack. I put the chain back together and rolled the tumblers to random numbers. This was the routine just about every day, rain or shine, for many of the students living in Eugene, Oregon.
There are young kids all across this country getting settled into a new year of school. Many of the rituals are the same as when I was a young child. There is the proverbial “School Shopping” that takes place prior to the first day. There are the nerves and the anxiety of adjusting to new class mates and even a new school for many students moving up through the ranks.
Some of the struggles however, are quite different. As a young boy, I didn’t have to worry about social media posts, number of likes or if someone has responded to my text fast enough. I didn’t feel pressure to check my phone in class or have to deal with getting a naked picture of a peer in my in-box. What an awkward thing that must be for today’s students. And, if in today’s world its “normal” to deal with these situations, how sad is that? I also spent zero time thinking of risky life threatening maneuvers to capture on video and place online somewhere…just for attention and “15 seconds of fame”.
I would walk up Trillium and hike to “The Reservoir” with my BB gun. In the early 1970’s, there were just fields of horses and cows and old country roads. The reservoir was a cement covered container that held water for neighborhoods down the hill. Since it was out in the country, the surrounding area was simply acreage to play on, shoot our BB guns and explore the vast streams and wooded areas. This area is mostly homes and neighborhoods now, but what fond memories I have of these childhood adventures. There is something to be said about walking home at dusk, breathing the fresh air and witnessing a spectacular sunset! Kids today play a video game and think they have had an adventure. Have they?
Technology is supposed to make things simpler. In many ways, things are more complicated. Social media was created to bring people together. In many ways people are less connected and claim to actually be lonelier, even though they supposedly have hundreds or even thousands of “Friends”.
There isn’t some insightful message or earth shattering parental knowledge to share in the article. I simply found myself thinking about the “Good ‘ol Days” and I’m wondering what your thoughts and experiences have been over the years.
Is it really that different? Were times that much better? Has technology (Phones & Computers) drastically improved our lives? Are we generally happier today as a people…as a nation…as a community? What do you think? Please share!