Remember when … reflections on Memorial Day

Jun 1, 2021 | 15 comments

By Jan Dynes

I felt like returning to the days when I was still a teenager for Memorial Day to reflect on the last 50 years.

No electrónics then, our family had an avacado wall phone in the kitchen, no answering machine, so if you weren’t home you simply missed the call and never knew it.

When you were out with friends, you were fully present and all looked at each other while talking. Nothing rang or vibrated, no one took pictures of their food. Social media was passing notes in school and writing Dear Diary.

We wrote real letters to grandmothers and those in Vietnam. Thank you notes for sleepovers and gifts. We made silly prank calls and held seances at slumber parties.

We played board-games and walked to the park to swing on swings. We hung out with friends at the Laudromat, occasionally taking a ride in an industrial dryer.

On most months someones parents threw us a party to get together and dance in a garage, carport or porch and the parents chaperoned.

The author as a teenager.

We were mostly outside, rode bikes, took buses to the beaches and could go anywhere during the day, stopping in at any neighbors house for a drink of water. We even swam in the canals and rode our bikes as far as we chose to and anywhere we could pedal.

I know technology is incredible. A cell phone amazing and a computer much more efficient then a typewriter and set of encyclopedias. But going to the library to look things up and study, I think those were amazing times. The Dewey Decimal System worked on an entirely different part of our brain, it sent us to search the miracles in stacks of books.

A Google search is too easy and also leads us down fake paths by Conspiracy Theorists, not to verified and edited books.

So have we improved in this last half a century? Probably in many ways, many more than I could ever touch on in this short musing. But what have we lost?

Today I want to rejoice in the innocence of my past.

Do you know vaccines were considered a miracle then. No one disputed them, we were glad to get them. They meant we wouldn’t get smallpox and polio.

It is Memorial Day. A day we honor our fallen héroes and soldiers.

Remember slumber parties?

But I also want to honor our fallen politeness, innocence, respect for others opinions, treating adults with respect, feeling safe going everywhere, walking to school, going to movies alone on Saturday afternoons at 7 years old, playing flies and grounders in the street after dinner under the street lights and feeling safe in the world we lived in!!!

I grew up in a time of ‘no mass shootings’. I could only name the Boston Strangler and In Cold Blood about Serial Killers. Literally 2 that we knew of in the whole USA when this picture of me was taken. I didn’t know anyone’s home that had a gun. It just wasn’t an issue.

So I wish you a reflective Memorial Day. I do deeply thank all our soldiers.

However, what I would really like to see is peace as a better answer to war and death. We must progress to make us all Better and not Worse, in regard to violence that has spread to the streets, schools, bars and grocery stores. I don’t want senseless murders and hate crimes to Blacks, Browns, Asians, Gays or Immigrants.

For that let us please return to basic human decency and simple dignity in how we talk to others.

Haven’t we all had enough ugliness? Do you remember it the way I do? Because if you do we can take the best of those days and the technological advances we have now and make a better world, where we see the value in each other and put the guns away.

Jan Dynes, the author of Refraction, Dottie’s Gift, Jamal’s Story, The River and Hear Our Voices moved to Cuenca Easter three years ago and fell in love with the city and its people. She lives on a finca on a mountaintop 25 minutes out of Cuenca at 10,400 ft. She found her paradise!