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Mayberry is a state of mind

Published August 11. 2012 09:01AM

I had a discussion with friends recently about small town life in the1960s compared to today.

One said the green movement to save the earth makes the present day a more sensible time.

People are catching the recycling craze, a good trend in a number of ways.

It makes the younger generation feel as though they're making a difference, and, of course, it helps the planet, too.

But some of us have been doing it all along.

A friend sent me an email that discussed how we baby boomers grew up with naturally green principles.

And it's true when you think about it. We weren't wasteful. We weren't into aluminum cans or throw-aways.

We used glass. Do you remember returning soda bottles to the store for a two-cent refund? The store sent them back to be washed, sterilized and refilled. The same bottles were used over and over. Do you recall the icy cold Coke bottle that tumbled down to your fingertips when you put a dime into the soda machine? The bottles never broke because the glass was as thick as the polar ice cap.

How about when we went food shopping? Grocery stores gave us brown paper bags that we reused as household garbage bags. But another popular option was to cut and fold the brown bags to make bookcovers for our school books.

We got plenty of exercise because we used the stairs. We didn't have elevators and escalators. And we walked everywhere - to the community pool or a nearby mudhole, to the grocery store, to school. We'd never ask a parent to take us someplace in a car.

Plus, we were pioneers in solar power: we dried our clothes on a clothesline. We didn't use fancy, high energy dryers. Plus, our clothes were hand-me-downs from a big brother or sister, or maybe from the family next door. Talk about recycling.

The closest we came to having a status symbol was wearing a fresh pair of sneakers. And there was no such thing as walking shoes, running shoes or hiking shoes. They didn't feature colorful lights that flash inside the heel. They weren't Skechers or New Balance or Adidas. They were very basic Keds.

Back then, we had one black-and-white TV if we were lucky, plus a radio. The TV had a picture tube and a bulbous, curved screen, not a screen the size of Texas. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

We didn't belong to health clubs. And nobody owned a treadmill. Yet we weren't fat.

We drank from a fountain where we stuck our face right into the water. There was no cup or plastic bottle.

We didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from outer space in order to find a location. We asked directions and it was always a nice experience. People were friendly and willing to help. A stranger was simply a friend we hadn't met yet.

We probably didn't realize it at the time, but we were lucky to be children in that era. There was a sense of contentment living in small town Pennsylvania in the 1960s. Mayberry is a state of mind and we had it. There were major issues such as Vietnam. But there also was a feeling of innocence. There was a wholesomeness that's long gone. And, of course, we had the Beatles.

Ask any older adult to compare the 1960s to the 2010s and see what they tell you.

I miss those old days. I miss the Beatles, too. And I don't think I'm alone. Today's music just doesn't cut it. There's a whole bunch of us who were culturally innoculated against Bieber fever. We had something much better.

Yesterday. All our troubles seemed so far away. Oh, I believe in yesterday.

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