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THE GOOD O’LE DAYS
Originally written for the season of Thanksgiving by Ronald Gordon
“Them sure were the good o’le days!” Many of us have heard that phrase or even spoken it ourselves. But have we ever taken the time to examine what it really means? Just when were the good old days? What do people really mean when they make this statement? Do the good old days point to the same period or framework of time for everyone?
If we look backward in time, what successive number of years would qualify as the “good o’le days?” The early 1900’s? Too early! Most people using this phrase were not living. Were they the 1920’s? Hardly. That may have been the “roaring twenties” for some, but the actual economic picture of that decade was gloomy for most wage earners. Were they the 1930’s? If the twenties were bad, the depression of the thirties was even worse! Crime bosses controlled major cities of the East and the “dustbowl” ravaged the plains of the mid-west. Were the good old days the 1940’s? Most certainly not. A war waged on two fronts with returning dead fathers and sons can hardly describe good memories. What about the 1950’s? Tough sell again. War in Korea, families still hurting over loved ones lost in WWII, and then the cold war begins.
Ok, what about the 1960’s? Are you kidding!? John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King assassinated. The Berlin Wall erected. A missile crisis in Cuba. Racial marches and clashes. An escalating war in an obscure place called Viet Nam. All these thrust our nation into social chaos. Universities become war zones between student protesters and National Guard troops. Major cities were burned and bombed through social activism or racial conflicts.
Might we describe the 1970’s as the good old days? Not likely. The war in Viet Nam continues in spite of peace talks, inflation is a national menace, and war in the Middle East results in oil becoming a new political tool. Are the 1980’s the good old days? Nope, too late. How can fifty and sixty year old people claim this decade as the good old days?
If close scrutiny reveals turbulent periods in each decade of this century, then when were the good old days? Perhaps these days were not a specific number of years, but rather a time frame. Perhaps the “good old days” was that period of our lives when we were children. Admittedly not descriptive of all because too many children grew up with abusive parents or forced to live in hostile circumstances. But for most, our early years allowed us to experience the best of life without having to endure the hardship of maintaining it. When we pulled out the dresser-drawer, our underclothes were neatly stacked in clean little piles. When mealtime arrived, there was lots of hot food waiting for us. The family car always seemed to be in running order. Parents took care of taxes. All we did was go outside and play. We made forts out of cardboard boxes, castles in the sandbox, played tag with other kids, and enjoyed climbing trees. Even after the third grade, summers lasted forever, so we didn’t understand what Grandpa meant when he said that the years were just “wiz’n by.” As children, we were sheltered! We were insulated from the hardships of adult life. Times were good because our parents wrapped us in the goodness of protective living. We enjoyed life without penalties and most consequences.
At this season of the year, we usually think of Thanksgiving as a time to express our thankfulness to God for the privilege of bountiful living, and we should. God grants us the opportunity of life, and the excitement of discovery each morning. It seems not asking too much for us to exhibit our gratitude on one special day of the year. But maybe this time. Perhaps this year, as we take our own children along to mom & dad, we might have the blessed opportunity to once again enjoy the “good o’le days” with our loved ones. As we go home to parents, sisters & brothers, let us cherish this day by remembering the goodness of our childhood. May the good Lord capture the blessing of each moment with a family member into a beautiful memory. Let us express our love to each one before they precede us in death. Most of all, let us exhibit our appreciation to God for making our journey home possible. Let us be thankful for the opportunity to once again enjoy the “good o’le days!” And may we allow the Lord to arrange the opportunity for us to extend the goodness of our days to those who are less fortunate than ourselves.
“As I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle.”