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Thankfully, some things aren't what they used to be

Published June 05. 2010 09:00AM

When I attended a recent Victorian tea at a local church, the pastor had an interesting observation about how times have changed.

"You don't see scenes like this any more," he commented as he looked out at a sea of ladies dressed in big, flowery hats. Many of the women also wore white gloves, reminiscent of days long gone.

While the hats and gloves were all in keeping with the fun of the charity tea, it made me remember days when no woman would think of going to church without a hat.

Thankfully, some things aren't like they used to be.

I remember how much effort it used to be to "get ready for church." Actually, like most mothers, I had to start getting ready Saturday night as I polished shoes and washed white gloves so they would be spotless for Sunday. No matter how hot it was, we "ladies" donned hats and gloves for church.

When we dressed for church, it was always in what we called our "Sunday best." Most kids had dress shoes and dress clothes they only wore on Sundays and special occasions.

Gradually, through the years, things changed. First, women stopped wearing hats and gloves. Then, "informality" became the accepted norm. Look around in church on Sunday and you'll see what I mean.

Now, I look at my watch and say, "Oh, it's time for church" and dash off just as I am. No shorts. No jeans. But certainly "informal" compared to the past.

Often, I find myself lamenting, "Things aren't like they used to be." But that ladies' tea made me realize there is a lot about the past that I don't miss.

I don't miss wearing hats and white gloves to church, regardless of how hot it is. I don't miss making church more of a fashion show than a visit with God.

I don't miss driving to church in a car without air conditioning.

I don't miss those little side windows on cars; side vents that cranked open to allow air to rush in, blowing carefully arranged hair into disarray.

Heck, I don't even miss having to have "carefully arranged" hair. Guys won't relate to this because they always had it fairly easy when it comes to style.

But many women might remember the days of going to the hairdressers once a week for elaborate styles kept in place with gobs of hairspray and lacquer. I remember carefully controlled beehives and up-dos, styles that, for me, looked worse with each passing day of the week.

When wash and wear hair became the norm, I smiled and never looked back.

If it weren't for Rev. Wilson's comments, I probably would have forgotten those times.

Many of us often lament things we miss about the past. We remember when mail was delivered twice a day, when the price of gas didn't make us ration our trips, when appliances were built to last, when it wasn't dangerous to let kids play outside without adult supervision, and when the world seemed less complicated and easier to negotiate.

It's easy to miss those days.

But sometimes, when you look at the past, we can be a bit more thankful about the present.

Medical care certainly ranks near the top of changes for which we can be grateful.

Have a bad hip or a painful knee? Today, you can get a hip or knee replacement. Decades ago, all you could do was rub on some smelly pain relieving ointment and suffer.

Have a bad heart? There are plenty of procedures to help.

Are you old enough to remember the headlines of the first heart replacement in 1967? That was big stuff and many were skeptical that it would work. Today, almost 4,000 people a year have heart transplants. It is also possible to implant a man-made artificial heart or a non-human heart.

Decades ago, the very words "heart bypass" invoked fear. Today, we have less trepidation because we all know so many people who are leading normal lives after triple or even quadruple bypass surgery.

I started thinking about how we are benefiting from medical advances that seemed impossible years ago after my husband had cataract surgery.

I remember when that involved a long recovery that started with having the patient's head immobilized in sand bags.

Today, the surgery takes about ten minutes, results are astonishing, and recovery time involves taking it easy for a day or two. Amazing!

I complain that the world is spinning too fast … that it's hard for me to keep up with the latest technology. When I ask my grandkids what they want for Christmas or birthdays, they first need to tell me what all those initials stand for - DVD, MP3 and iPod. This year it was apps. I need my grandkids to keep me up with changing technology.

A lot of us like to complain about cell phone service and the ever-escalating costs of "contracts." While I get upset with the sneaky way providers keep piling on costs, I do appreciate the way cell phones keep us within reach at all times. Plus, I feel safer when I know help is just a few push buttons away.

Remember when "party line" meant several families sharing a telephone? Think of how far we have come since then.

While it's easy to question some so-called "progress," a look at the past makes us grateful that not everything stays the same.

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