I Miss the America I Grew Up In

Neatorama


Lately, I've been seeing the phrase "I miss the America I grew up in" quite a bit on social media in response to what is happening in our country today.  Whenever I see this or hear the phrase spoken I can't help but think of the real meaning of those words.  That is "I want America to be whites, straights, and Christians only". It brings to mind an article I wrote last year which was published in "The Partnered Pen" on Medium in October of 2019. I feel it is necessary to republish my article on my own blog, even if no one notices it.


                                             I Miss the Old TV Shows

                       They don’t make them like they used to!


Lately, I have been seeing posts on Facebook with photos of old TV shows from the ’50s, 60’s and ’70s, with the caption telling you to “like” if you remember it. I must admit that I remember all of these shows and become quite nostalgic when I look at the photos. I always “like” them and “share” the photos. So far I have seen “The Andy Griffith Show”, “The Brady Bunch”, “The Lucille Ball Show” and “Cheers”.

 Seeing these led me to reminisce about other old shows. Some of my favorites were “The Life of Riley”, “Leave It to Beaver”, “Father Knows Best” and “Our Miss Brooks” to name a few. There are many more TV shows that I and others around my age should remember. Not all are as old as the ones I just mentioned, but they are the ones I remember fondly.

 When I think about watching these shows I think of a simpler time when I was younger, maybe12 or so. I had nothing to worry about and nothing to fear, except for maybe not getting my homework done on time. I can remember sitting in front of the old black and white General Electric television in my living room and watching these shows with my parents and older brothers. The plots were simple, usually nothing more serious than getting a failing grade in school or not getting the chores around the house done. There was no sex or risque scenes. The parents slept in separate single beds and heck I don’t remember even seeing the parents’ bedrooms until “The Dick Vandyke Show”. There were no drugs, no swearing or profanity, and no violence. The only gunplay was in the westerns, but there were no gore or mass shootings. In all of these shows, the neighbors were all friendly, well dressed, and well to do middle-class people. They were nothing like my family or the family of anyone else I knew.

 None of these shows portrayed poor families, homeless people, handicapped people, Blacks, Asians, or Hispanics. Everybody was white. No one was Catholic or Jewish and certainly not Muslim. There were no gays or even people who could have been gay. Everybody seemed to be married or widowed. None of the mothers worked, even though the very young and older women worked as either librarians or teachers. Even though these shows took place during the Cold War, there was no mention of it. There was absolutely no mention of any social issues whatsoever. It was a perfect world of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Americans, undoubtedly all Republican too.

 We may look back and think about the old days, when everything was peaceful and simple, with no problems and no worries. In reality, though these TV shows portrayed an America where everyone was hiding their heads in the sand. The plights of minorities, such as Blacks and Women were ignored and not talked about in public. Children were going hungry and being physically and sexually abused and there was a great deal of domestic violence that was ignored by everyone, including the authorities. There was gang violence, there were drugs, race riots, and all manners of discrimination that was legitimized by looking the other way. Everything was perfect only if you were White. The only reason life was so simple was the fact we did not know about all of the suffering taking place, not only in our country but in our own neighborhoods of our home towns. And if we did know about it we looked the other way.
Then came shows like “All in the Family”, “The Jefferson’s”, and “Sanford and Son”. I can remember how shocked my parents and other adults were when these shows aired. Social activism, as portrayed in “All in the Family” was introduced to American TV viewers, and they were stunned. People came face to face with their bigotry and racism, even though they didn’t know it. With many people, instead of provoking some soul searching, these shows were just another form of comedic entertainment. But I think for the majority, these shows opened the door for Americans to see who we really were.

 I look back at my childhood and have warm memories and feelings when I think about these old TV shows. I wonder if, no I hope, that all people my age can look back at their childhood when also thinking of old TV shows and feel the same warmth as I do, but I’m sure that for some people they bring up a time of suffering and fear.

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