Web Site: Karen Palumbo
Chapter One: "Remembering" in its entirety.
Oh, what a beautiful country we all live in today. Does anyone have any idea what sacrifices it takes to even keep it this way? Does anyone have any idea what sacrifices we must all make on a daily basis just to keep it the way we would like it to be, for ourselves, for our children?
Now, you might ask if I think all is perfect, but I would have to say no. You see, there is always room for improvement. This is why as a society we can never turn a blind eye or just sit back and ignore what is going on around us.
See, whenever something occurs that does not seem right it is up to us as a whole to speak out and be heard. If we do not speak out, then nothing will change to a more positive outcome.
Of course let me say that to speak out does not in any way mean that any one of us is entitled to speak out in a negative way. I do not condone any type of physical violence. I am only speaking in respect to what our laws allow.
Incase you are not familiar with it, it means peaceful protests. You know, the right to speak your mind without fear. To gather peacefully to let yourself be heard, but always being respectful of other people's rights and property.
If we choose to keep quiet and turn our backs then in one sense we do get what we deserve, no matter what the outcome is.
When I take the time to look out into the colorful horizon with light white wispy clouds and a beautiful pastel blue hue, I can remember how life used to be.
Now, I must admit that in general I am an optimistic person and try in my own way to think of solutions to problems that will have a positive conclusion. No, unfortunately I do not always succeed, but at least I try to give it my best shot.
Whenever I do not succeed it just makes me try harder and harder until I do. Defeat never has been an option.
In general I tend to always focus my sights on the future, no matter how distasteful something may be.
When problems arise, the best way to handle them is to face them head on. Any other attitude would mean defeat, but once in a while I guess it is okay to look back too. After all, isn't that the way history works?
Don't we look back to see how something was handled? If we do not agree with the way a given situation was handled, don't we then try to look for a more positive solution? We all learn from past events so that hopefully we can prevent them from happening again, right?
As a young child growing up I sometimes would wonder what life will be like when I grew up. Now, that I have grown up I am not too sure I like what I see.
Life, looking back was so much simpler and yes, it was a much simpler and slower pace. I could walk to school with my friends and dance, play and jump in puddles if I wanted to along the way and it was okay. Sometimes I would even stop and just sit on the grass for just a little while so that I could look up at the tall trees and all the fluffy clouds in the sky before getting on my way and that was okay too!
It did not matter what the weather was because walking was the way to go. There were school busses, but I was always just a hair line out of the regulated distance. Yes, imagine that, I walked to and from school.
We did not have the luxury of soccer moms when I was attending school. Most of us thought we were pretty fortunate to have even one car to drive in the family. Guess who the car was for? Dad of course, to provide him with the luxury of driving to and from work.
Unlike the children of today, when I attended school everyone was always dressed. You were not expected to wear your "Sunday best" clothing, but you certainly did not wear pants. There was no tolerance for girls attending school in pants or shorts. Why it was absolutely unheard of. You wore skirts, jumpers or dresses only and no sneakers either. Shoes were all that was acceptable, anything else you would be sent home for being dressed improperly.
The boys had to wear dress pants, sports jackets, sweaters and on special day's shirt, tie, suit and dress shoes. They were not given any chances either.
Maybe, as I look back on it, some of the rules were on the stricter side. However, I found that having to be dressed also put us in a better mind set. We were more respectful of ourselves and of those around us.
This was the law of the land for a very, very long time. One day everything changed and the long standing laws were relaxed. Guess someone saw the light so to speak and the laws were changed to be much more accommodating to everyone.
I sometimes wonder if the children today even give their dress code a second thought. Do they even realize that everyone had to be dressed every time they stepped out into the public arena? Do they just take it for granted and assume they are entitled to dress the way they do just because they want to? I was just wondering.
Do you remember your first job, I do. You did show up for work on time and properly dressed. The work force was under some pretty strict rules and you had better abide by them or it was gounds for dismissal.
Always keep your head down and at least appear to be busy or you were yelled at and reprimanded. It certainly was not too much fun in the beginning, but after a few years even the work force rules began to be more relaxed.
You see, given enough time laws and rules are always changing and in most cases it tends to be more positive. Getting back to what I had originally been discussing, we do learn from mistakes and the general trend is to try to improve the situation. We do learn from past experiences and try to pass this on to the next generation. This is just the way it is.
Getting back to what I was discussing, this is what helps make a parents job the most important thing they could ever hope to accomplish. As a parent you must keep up with all the changes that are going on around you and begin to lay the ground work for the next generation. You could say that parents are the ones to begin the whole process of learning.
Parents a few years ago were lucky if they even had a car, let alone two cars like most today. There were no soccer moms, just mothers who stayed home to take care of the house and raise the children.
There were fathers who woke up early, went to work and provided the means of support for that family to be able to function. Oops!! Guess that was the wrong thing to say. There are some who think that a mother staying home to raise children is a bad thing.
As a young child I would wait what seemed like forever for my father to return home from work. I would eagerly run with excitement to greet him as he walked up our walk way. Like all of my uncles, my dad worked long and hard to provide for all of us and I guess in a way it went unnoticed.
Maybe because I was just too little to understand how everything worked. All I knew was that he left the house in the morning before the sun came up and he did not return home until after it was dark again.
Looking back on things I realize that my parents and probably most people of their generation received their work ethics because of living through the Depression and then World War II. I am absolutely certain that some of their beliefs came from their parents too.
I can remember listening to my uncles discuss all of their trials and tribulations whenever they all got together. Oh, they would all sit around and play cards after dinner while smoking their cigars.
Oh, how I can remember the smell of those cigars. The whole apartment would just reek from the smoke and the smell. I think that is why I do not like the smell of cigars today.
I would sit and listen to them talk about how they would take turns staying out of school to get odd jobs to help with the family finances. One of my uncles walked the streets and usually ended up hanging around the various train stations to sell his papers. Did he use the money he earned on himself?? No, he would stop along the way back to his home and buy bread, fish, fruit, or whatever else he could get for the day and bring it home for everyone to share. My other uncles did the same when they could. The rest would help to buy ice from the ice man, coal from the coal man and milk from the milk man.
My aunts and my grandmother took care of all the chores that went with the household. They did all of the baking and cooking and that alone was an all day chore. There were no grocery stores to buy ready made meals. Everything had to be prepared from scratch. That means that everything had to be made from the beginning and they did it with a smile.
All of the laundry was done by hand with a scrub board and a very large metal tub. Doing the laundry on a daily basis was a chore that never ended. Your arms and hands would sometimes become raw from the scrubbing. Your skin would sometimes crack and peel from constantly being in water. It was not much fun, but it was necessary.
The clothes were placed on a clothes line outside and the crispness of the outside air made all the clothes smell so good while they were drying. After they were dried they were ready to be taken in before the night air got into them.
The clothing would then be placed into, usually two piles. The first pile was for clothing which could be folded and put away. The second pile was for clothing that would need to be ironed before they could be worn again.
They did not need such a thing as fabric softner because the clothes picked up the luscious smell of the outdoors. Especially when you hung out the white clothing. The sun would do such a good job bleaching your white clothing that you really did not need to add bleach when you were washing.
Now, ironing all the clothing was a different story. That was another big job because they had to heat the metal iron on the coal stove to get it hot enough to iron the clothing, but not too hot or it would burn the clothes. This was another job that had to be done everyday. It was just one of those things that took hours of every day to do, but it had to be done.
They never once thought about what they were entitled to or what they should expect from others outside the family circle. There just was no such thing. What all of them did believe in was independence and self reliance. This is my point, people depended upon themselves. The whole idea of expectations and entitlements was just not a part of their lives.
Growing up during the Depression they had to share just about everything. Clothing was handed down from the oldest child to the youngest and food rations were handed out just about the same way.
The oldest child would receive the most and subsequent children in line got less. I would imagine though that sleeping arrangements were a little on the cramped side.
Two adults and seven children in a two bedroom apartment could get a little cramped and privacy probably went out the window so to speak.
I must say that I never heard any of them complain when they would talk about their childhood. They were always very upbeat, happy and always had smiles on their faces whenever they would talk about it with each other. As a young child I used to enjoy sitting with all of them and listening to their stories. I always found them to be so enlightening and fascinating.
I remember all the smells too that went with those family gatherings. All the food is what I remember. The whole apartment and even down the hallway would just smell so good from all the food that was being cooked. I used to get hungry before I was really hungry, if you can understand that.
Always it was the food. Chicken, veal, roast beef, home made tomato sauce, home made pasta, home made bread, home made pudding, home made cakes, home made pastries and home made pies. Always the food and just how wonderful it all smelled as it permeated the air. By the time that everything was fully prepared and set out on the table you were not just prepared to eat, you developed an uncontrollable urge to feast the day away and enjoy every minute of it.
There was no such thing as air conditioning during the summer months either and even if there was they would not have been able to afford it.
During the winter months they had a coal burning stove they used on those extra cold winter mornings. The building that they lived in had steam heating, but they did not live high enough in the building to reap the benefits of the warmth. You see, the lower to the ground level that you lived the cooler it was. Yet, they never really wanted for anything.
Each of my uncles would go over how hard they struggled as children and then again as young adults never knowing what was going to happen the next day. Especially after World War II broke out because my uncles lived with the daily uncertainty that they may never see each other again.
I know that most of them were drafted into the Army, but one brother signed up for the Navy. All my grandparents could do was pray and wait. I am certain that was a very difficult time for them.
All the while they never asked for anything from anyone. They still very strongly believed that they each had to do their part and work for whatever they wanted. One other thing, they were always smiling and happy.
My father's family really struggled, as my grandfather had seven children to feed and clothe. Needless to say that by today's standards they were poor, I guess they just never saw it that way. My grandfather worked long and hard all of his adult life to provide the best he could for his family.
Could you imagine living in a two bedroom apartment with nine people?? This was how my father and his brothers and sisters grew up. My father's fourth grade teacher bought my father his first pair of shoes!!
As each of them reached adulthood and eventually married they did it all and never had cars. My grandparents never owned a car ever so I guess they never thought about buying cars for each of the children. When you think about it, why should they?
Each of the children eventually bought cars for themselves, but was usually a few years after they were married. I know my father did not have a car right away.
Infact, when I was very little he bought his first car before he had a driver's license to even drive it. When he bought his first car it stayed parked in the driveway of our home. I know that I was very little because I could sit on the running board and fit quite comfortably.
One of my uncles would back it out of the driveway each morning that my father had to go to work and aim it in the direction that my father had to travel to get to work. At night my father would leave the car parked in front of the house until my uncle came home from work so he could park it in the driveway again. I am not sure how long this continued, but I do know that my uncle eventually taught my father how to drive so that he could get his drivers license.
I never asked him, but I would imagine that he was pretty satisified with himself too. I would even venture to say that he felt much more comfortable about driving himself to work and home after that too.
Years later my mother decided that she wanted to learn how to drive too. It took some time for her to learn because she just could not grasp the concept of the clutch. Learning to drive was not one of the easiest things to do because there were so many parts to remember.
Eventually she did learn all of the hand signals and how to master the clutch and I am sure that she felt pretty good about herself. This was a very big accomplishment for her because most of her time was spent in the house taking care of all of us.
Free time was a luxury and scarce to come about back then. Life was just very different from what it has become today.
Never did I ever hear any of my uncles or my father talk about what they missed over the years or what they were entitled to.
After World War II my parents met and were married and within a year I was born. It seems that my parents passed on their ethics on to me because I never thought about asking for anything. If there was something that I wanted I had to decide how much I wanted it and then figure out how I was going to achieve that goal.
It just never occurred to me that all I had to do was ask and I would get it. I never thought I was entitled to anything, let alone expect to get what I wanted.
Over the years I have always worked for what I wanted. To just have something handed to me was wrong. You just do not appreciate things that are handed to you the way you do when you have to work for it. I have not always succeeded in reaching all of the goals that I set for myself, but I have reached quite a few. I believe then as I still do now that if something is meant to be, then it will happen.
It is almost hard to explain in words just how wonderful you feel when you have finally achieved something on your own. It just stays with you for the rest of your life and you will always feel good about it.
I never thought I was entitled to anything and I never expected anything. If I wanted something bad enough, chances are I will get it, but first I must figure out what I must do to get it. At the least try to get it.. What is that phrase, "the sweet smell of success"?
Getting back to what I was talking about. Children are all God's gift to us as parents. What greater job is there when you honestly think about it? To me this is the most important job there ever was. Just think about it. You are given the rare opportunity to influence and mold, nurture and protect another human being.
Of course you will make mistakes along the way, but as long as you can recognize the mistakes and correct them it is okay. After all, we are not machines, we are human beings and we do make mistakes. The magic key, as I used to tell my children when they were small, is to recogzine the mistakes, learn from them and try to correct them.
Is this not the way to set the stage for the future? Learn from your mistakes and go on from there? Has this not been going on since the beginning of time? Why should it be any different now? This is one of the main reasons for everyone to study History and learn well from it. What we are all able to learn from the past is what sets the stage for the present. Through this process is how we learn what to carry forward into the future, hopefully for others to also learn from.
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|Reviewed by Kenny Bartholomew
|If children are the greatest gifts you could get, then how come you threw away all your "gifts?"|
|Reviewed by m j hollingshead
|Reviewed by Inspire Hope
|Vow Karen! I really appreciate this chapter from your book! I could remember some of those days, thanks! I stayed at home and raised my four children, and made many sacrifices too Karen your words are so true the world needs to read this story too!
Love And Prayers
|Reviewed by randy smith
|Karen, My wife raised our children and I worked. We did without a lot of things but it paid off in the long run. It was very hard but worth it. You talked about dress codes. I wish we had them in school now. Thw students look like a bunch of bums looking for a hand out. they dont care what they look like. or what anyone thinks we have lost much along the way!The good old days were not always the best, but how I would love to have some of them back! nice write, I look forward to reading more. R C Smith|
|Reviewed by John Coppolella
|History is in the eye of the beholder. The day we stop remembering the past, either through first-hand or second-hand knowledge of events, like what you have shared with us here, then we die to that day and all potential improvement to it is lost. The author Palumbo cleaned up a few typos, and punctuation issues left over the original posting, leaving the story easy to read, well told, and believable. Holds the readers attention well. This holds promise for the book it is excerpted from for this reader to enjoy.
|Reviewed by Mark Chevalier
|The feelings of entitlement really put a stranglehold on any meaningful societal growth, and you make your points with eloquence and logical conclusions. I was well into my teen years by the time the “Computer Age” had begun to dawn. And being raised by my grandfather I was able to see even more deeply into the past, and appreciate what I had. I look back now and I miss those times, and I worry for today’s children who can effectively never leave home because of television, computers, internet, cell-phones…the list goes on and on. I honestly think that there is a certain amount of social and societal detachment that comes with these amenities.
What I find even more disturbing is that we seem to have “collective amnesia.” If you go further back in time I’m sure the Egyptians, Romans, Sumerians, Greeks, etc, all thought that they would go on forever, that they would never see the end. Invincible, undeniable, eternal…
If we forget that they ended, some of them violently, than in my humble opinion we do ourselves a disservice, and trick ourselves into a false sense of security.
Absolutely a wonderful piece!
|Reviewed by Timothy firstname.lastname@example.org
|Very well expressed!
|Reviewed by Jackie (Micke) Jinks
|Enjoyed this so much! I hope many of the younger generation read this Karen. Having been born in early 1933, I can certainly relate to all you have written.
And, whoever heard of credit-cards back then? When you wanted to buy something, you made sure you'd worked hard to earn the money to pay for it. The young are so taken-in by the TV ADS: have it now and start paying for it 3 years from now. WHAT?!
Sad to say , this generations is missing out so much in life!
|Reviewed by Miriam Jacobs
|I enjoyed reading this chapter. I can relate to so much of what you've shared!!
|Reviewed by Mary Coe
|Excellent! I enjoyed reading. Thanks for sharing.|
|Reviewed by Mary Grace Patterson
|I agree, problems should be faced head on.. I don't think many of the now generation realize how lucky they are to have the modern technology and conviences of today. Yet, I think the good ole days were better.. I enjoyed the write!....M|
|Reviewed by Kimmy Van Kooten
|Your write is everything I believe should still be.
This is the exact reason why I live in the country with a few acres and a vegtable garden. My teenagers tell me that I live in another world and I am glad to continue the world as I see fit. If they want a car they will get a job and earn money to buy one, if they have dirty clothes, and they are 13 or older, they wash them, we have a dinner hour, a bedtime, play time, a time for school work,chores, and we pray, all the attributes of a the family home that I was raised under. I have alot of children and I believe, as they get older they are and will realize, my beliefs work, and they work very well...
I enjoyed your story Karen, and I am glad to know I am not alone~
God Bless you~
Love and Peace~
|Reviewed by Larry Lounsbury
|Your book is both beautiful and, thought provoking. For me life has changed in our countries values, but I am an optimist. There are always a death and rebirth of civilization. Somewhere the seed of good gives rise to another ascending time of innocent
strength. One that keeps a bulwark to what is right by raising children who can enjoy their town without fear of any hostile intrusion. I see towns like that today sprinkled around our country and the world. Innocent Islands of fantasy, where the kids can enjoy growing up, until they to are ready to be launched into the world as ships of positive virtues.