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Front Page » January 22, 2008 » Opinion » The Wasatch Behind: How did we survive?
Published 2,526 days ago

The Wasatch Behind: How did we survive?


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By TOM MCCOURT
Sun Advocate Columnist

My brothers and I are survivors. Looking back on it, I'm amazed that we're here at all. How did we ever get by without all of the rules, regulations, and politically correct behavior that people have come to expect today? And how did we ever survive school in the 1950's?

When I was growing up, our family lived on a small farm. I know it sounds incredible, but we actually drank whole milk. The milk came from a red Durham cow named Old Bossy, and it was un-pasteurized, un-homogenized, and by today's standards, uncivilized. Dad milked the cow into an open bucket morning and night, and mother strained the milk through a dish towel to remove any particles of straw or bovine feces. Our milk was thick and creamy and it tasted wonderful. That two percent milk in the store today is colored water compared to the high-octane stuff my brothers and I grew up on. I guess we were lucky. Today everyone knows that whole milk will kill you.

We grew our own vegetables and butchered our own meat too. We raised cute little calves and lambs all summer and then ate them with potatoes and gravy during the winter. We butchered homegrown rabbits, too, and mother baked them rolled in flour. Can you even imagine kids doing that without grief counseling today? We ate deer meat, too, after shooting, gutting, and butchering poor old Bambi, and none of us turned out to be mass murderers or bloodthirsty vampires - yet.

We didn't have car seats when I was a kid. We sat on mother's lap or stood on the seat so we could see out the windows. Cars didn't have seat belts until the early 1960's and an automotive airbag was a guy who sold used cars.

We grew up with guns. They were everywhere. Dad wore one to

In those days we didn't know that guns caused crime and only bad people owned guns. Roy Rogers and Grandpa were good guys and they always carried guns.

We rode bicycles and roller skates without helmets and played dangerous games at recess like dodge ball and Red Rover.

We didn't have grass around our elementary school in those days, so the games were played in the dirt and gravel. We always had skinned knees and elbows, but no parents hired lawyers.

We didn't know that we were guilty of sexual harassment when we played kissing tag with the girls or passed "love notes" in third grade. And lucky for us, there were no zero tolerance policies in effect when we took pocketknives and squirt guns to school. We often drew pictures of battleships, bombers, and soldiers shooting guns, and never once did we get sent away for a psychological evaluation and counseling. Little boys were expected to do those things.

The school cafeteria served mashed potatoes and meatloaf when I was a kid and no one dropped dead as a result.

We never got pizza or french-fries. I thought pizza was a leaning tower in Italy until after I went into the army.

There were no vending machines on school property, either, and no kid would ever dream of drinking soda or eating potato chips in class.

There were dress codes, too. Spiked hair, lip rings, and Gothic makeup would have gotten a kid more than expelled. Those things would have been a sure ticket to talk to a guy wearing a white smock.

Good manners were taught, expected, and even demanded in schools in the olden days. Teachers and principals sometimes resorted to corporal punishment.

Most of the kids I knew survived an occasional rap on the knuckles or a slap to the back of the head. Such bold teaching techniques cured me of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) at an early age without drugs or behavioral therapy.

Parents were generally supportive of such measures, and no one sued the school district or punched out the principal.

So I guess we're lucky to have survived all of that, and I'm sure kids today are a lot smarter and more sophisticated than we ever were.

But then again, I'll bet school isn't nearly as much fun, and I'll still take whole milk and homemade bread over pizza anytime.


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January 22, 2008
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