Dear Editor:

I was born in the 50s and grew up in the 60s and 70s. Boy, I would give anything to go back in time to live out the rest of my days. In our public school, all the male teachers wore neckties and female teachers had their hair done every day and wore high heels. Some would throw an eraser or a piece of chalk at you or thump your head if you weren't paying attention, or if you weren't doing your seatwork correctly. For the most part, students came to school and respected their teachers and fellow students, because it was already ingrained inside of us years ago by our parents. Teachers understood and respected the responsibilities of their chosen profession, and money wasn't the reason they decided to teach. We went outside for recess three times a day. For classroom infractions we would have to stand in the corner, or write 100 times something that would undoubtedly sink into our minds forever, and having a weapon in school meant being caught with a slingshot. We went through freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.

Our parents didn't buy us one hundred dollar pair of sneakers. If our sneakers cost five dollars they thought that it was highway robbery, and most cost $1.99. We had a pair for at home and the other pair stayed in our gym locker along with our ugly gym uniforms. We survived being born to mothers who smoked, took aspirin, ate tuna from the can, and didn't get tested for diabetes, and then after that trauma, we were put to bed on our tummies in our baby cribs that were covered with bright lead-based paint. There was no baby formula; only evaporated milk with a little kayro syrup mixed in, along with some liquid vitamins. Doctors weren't specialists back then; only MD's and they knew our whole family and some even made house calls. Most of the time our ailments were cured with a prescription for coke syrup that tour parents filled at the pharmacy. We also received a card that entitled us to one free Coca-Cola while we waited. Stuff from the store came without safety caps and hermetic seals because no one had yet tried to poison a perfect stranger. We didn't wear helmets when we rode our bikes, and we even hitchhiked. We played hide and seek and returned home when the street lights come on.

As babies and young kids, we rode in cars with no car seats, booster seats, or air bags. We occasionally rode in the back of pick-up trucks. Our toys included metal roller skates, hula-hoops, jacks, marbles and bikes. We put cards in the spokes to make noise, as they magically turned into motor cycles. Sometimes on Sunday we'd go to the airport to watch the airplanes takeoff. Cars had ash trays in them, and no one ever misplaced their car keys because they were always in the ignition, and the car doors were never locked. Gasoline was 18 cents per gallon and they got the windshield cleaned, oil checked, and gas pumped, without asking - all for free, every time. You didn't pay for air, plus you got S&H trading stamps to boot.

Our parents owned black and white TV sets with three channels. We didn't need cable then; everyone had an antenna outside the house. Watching TV was free, and they signed off at 11 p.m. with the Indian test pattern. Bakers delivered their goods in a white truck and came into each driveway. Milk was delivered to our homes in glass bottles with cardboard stoppers. We fell out of trees, got cut, broken bones and teeth but there were no lawsuits resulting from these accidents. Band-Aid and iodine companies made a killing off us kids. We would collect glass bottles and cash them in at the corner store. If we were short of money at the store, the clerk who knew us just "wrote it up" and we'd pay the next time we came in. We ran when we heard the ice cream truck coming, an if we wanted to go anywhere, we rode our bikes. Most of the stores closed at 6 p.m. on weeknights and 9:30 p.m. on weekends. They were closed all day on Sunday, but we survived.

We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle. We shared one soft drink with four friends and no one died. We were given BB guns for our 10th birthday, made up bows and arrows with sticks and rubber bands, and although we were told it would happen, we didn't put out very many eyes. Decisions were made by going "eeny-meeny-miney-moe," "race issues" meant arguing about who ran the fastest, and a quarter was a decent allowance. only girls had pierced ears, and the worst thing you could catch from the opposite sex was "cooties." When your father made a motion for his belt, you ran like hell. Your mom wore nylons that came in two pieces, and catching fireflies could happily occupy an entire evening. Water balloons were the ultimate weapon, nobody owned a purebred dog, and nearly everyone's mom was at home when kids got home from school. The idea of our parents bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of ... they actually sided with the law! Our parents didn't invent stupid names for us like Storm, or Charisma or Blade. We could string sentences together and spell and have proper conversations because of a good, solid, three R's education. We didn't have play stations, x-boxes; no video games at all, no 150 channels on cable; no video movies or DVD's, no surround-sound or CD's; no cell phones or personal computers or internet or chat rooms ... WE HAD FRIENDS, and we went outside and found them.

Basically we were in fear for our lives, but it wasn't because of drive-by shootings, drugs, gangs, etc. Our parents and grandparents were a much bigger threat. But we survived because their love was greater than the treat.

Doesn't this feel good, just to go back and say "I remember that"? If you can remember most or all of these things, then you have really lived!!

Faye Ruckhardt,

Nesquehoning