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 Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009

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Dick Stodghill
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PostSubject: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 9:43 am

A Stodghill Says So blog:
One of the advantages, or perhaps disadvantages, of being able to remember back to 1930 and the years that followed is being able to compare then and now without having to consult a history book. To illustrate the point, consider a quarter.
A man with nothing in his pocket but a dirty handkerchief and a comb missing a few teeth doesn't find it a whole lot easier coming up with two bits today than he would have in 1930. That's the similarity. The difference is that the fellow who did have a quarter back then could walk into any corner grocery store and come out with a quart of milk and a pound of hamburger. The family would eat. Today the same man could go into a supermarket and discover the quarter won't even buy a candy bar.
If conditions continue to get worse, the absence of those corner grocery stores may make a huge difference. The old-time grocer knew his customers by name, knew the man and his wife and all their kids. When a family hit rock bottom the grocer would write the last name on a little tan-colored booklet like the receipt books used by waitresses. In some stores you would find a dozen of those booklets, in others fifty or more.
It usually was the wife who asked the grocer to open a book for her family by explaining that money was non-existent but the need for food hadn't changed. He'd handle it like any cash transaction by taking a pencil from the top of one ear and totalling up her "purchases" on the brown paper sack that then would hold them. After that he'd enter the total in the booklet. From then on it usually was one of the kids who would pick up the day's necessities. That figure, too, would be entered into the book.
When the breadwinner came up with a few dollars or even a little change he would stop by the store and pay a little on the tab. The grocer would know that this was difficult for the man, a blow to his pride, so he would make out like running a tab was just the normal way of doing business. When the man found a job he would walk in with a spring in his step and settle the account.
The owner of the corner grocery was a part of the neighborhood. He knew the people, was aware of their problems, saw to it that no one starved and even slipped the kids a piece of penny candy now and then.
It was a way of life in the 1930s. Don't hold much hope of finding it like that at the supermarket any time in the future.
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alice
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:01 am

Change is not always for the better.
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E. Don Harpe
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:21 am

Many people back in those days ran a bill at the corner grocery. Mama did that for years. Here's a bit from the Last of the South Town Rinky Dinks.
_______________________________________

At the end of 21st, the street made a 90 degree turn to the right, and just around the corner was the grocery store of Mrs. Thompsie Graves. Mrs. Thompsie had been married several times, and ran her store in the same location for years. Later she moved to a new location on South Main Street, and I think she continued in the business until she died.

Mama kept a running bill at Mrs. Gragg's store for many years, and later she also had a bill with Mrs. Thompsie.

Every afternoon Mama would walk the couple of blocks to the store and pick up a little food for supper. The basic daily items were always the same. A quart of sweet milk, a loaf of light bread, and a package of Old Gold cigarettes. After that would come maybe a pound of baloney, (Yes, I know it's spelled bologna, thank you) but regardless of how you spell it, what the Rinky Dinks ate was baloney.) Maybe we'd get some potato chips, or a can of soup or chili, or perhaps a pound of hot dogs or hamburger meat. And that was what we'd have for supper that night.

* * *

Anyway, every day for years and years, when Mama went to the store, she'd always get me and Ray a Butterfinger candy bar and an R.C. Cola. It never varied. Butterfinger and R.C. Every day. We didn't think to ask for anything different, and neither Mama nor Mrs. Thompsie ever thought to throw a little variety into our afternoon snack. Nope. Just a Butterfinger and an R.C. Seems to me that I should have grown tired of them after the first four or five years, but I don't ever recall a single day when I wasn't there waiting when she got home, anxiously waiting on the soft drink and candy bar. I do recall that when the prices of soft drinks were raised a penny, from 5 cents to 6 cents, our parents said we wouldn't be drinking many more of the dang things.

One of my first half-grown experiences came in Mrs. Thompsie’s store. I decided I wanted to buy a pack of cigarettes, but the sale didn't happen exactly the way I'd thought it would.

I started smoking a few cigarettes a day when I was fourteen or fifteen, but I had absolutely no way of getting enough money to buy them for myself. (By the way, it's now been many years since I smoked, but I try not to preach on the subject.)

By this time, I was making the daily trip to the store for Mama two or three times a week. One day, it seemed perfectly natural for me to smile my very sweetest Donald Harp smile, which was ordinarily a pretty good persuader, and politely inform Mrs. Thompsie that Mama wanted to buy two packs of Old Golds today, please, as she had been smoking more lately.

Pretty smart, huh?

Mrs. Thompsie didn't believe a word of it. She refused to let me have the extra pack of cigarettes, and the next day told Mama I'd tried to buy them. I don't rightly remember how I explained myself out of that one, but I know for sure I never tried to buy another pack of cigarettes from Mrs. Thompsie as long as she ran her store.
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Abe F. March
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:29 am

Dick,
good post. I can relate to that. It happened when I was a kid. The family doctor, the grocer, the farmer down the road where one got his milk, etc. There is a big difference today. Back then there was trust. Today people are taught to trust no one.

The things you describe still exists in other parts of the world where there are local merchants. Even the local banker will give unsecured loans in tough times to the customers.

We dug the hole we are now in. Bigger and better was the theme. Malls putting the local business owner out of business. Try going to a mall or a supermarket saying, "I'll pay you next week." The police would be there in a matter of minutes. I'm waiting for the day, and I believe it will come, when you go into a restaurant and they ask for payment in advance. You can't fill your tank with gas in many places with paying first.

In the past 50+ years, people didn't experience tough times. We lived in the land of plenty and waste. Learning how to do without is a new experience for many, but it can be done.
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Dick Stodghill
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:06 am

Well, Don, you found out it was hard to put something over on those old storekeepers. They knew their customers, and that was good.

Abe, my blood boils every time I fill up the tank and see one of those "pay in advance" signs. The first time I came face to face with one I went inside to complain. The clerk said to just leave my credit card until I had pumped the gas. If they wouldn't trust me to pay for it, I sure wasn't going to trust them with the credit card. Now it's "pay at the pump" everywhere around here. Service stations are as dead as the old corner groceries.
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A Ahad
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:28 am

Dick,
It's true what you say. I found the gas pump operators were extremely unfriendly when I was driving in Florida a few years back. They had the pumps locked up with a chain. I had to go inside the station and pay the guy first at the counter before he'd come out and unlock the damn thing to put gas into my chevy.
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Don Stephens
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:23 pm

Dick,

I'd almost forgotten the old corner store. I can remember as a youngster walking the two blocks to the little general store. It wasn't as big as our house. Mom would call down there and tell old man Julian what she wanted, then send me with my wagon down to pick it up. He would have it all bagged up and would put it in the wagon then tell me to pick something from the candy bin. As I think back on it Mom never sent any money with me so I have to assume he just kept a running tab that Dad would pay on payday.
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alj
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:32 pm

And we keep saying that the "good ole' days" weren't really all that good. Rolling Eyes
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Abe F. March
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:45 pm

Alj? It is us old folks that talk fondly of those days. They were tough but that made us strong. It made us appreciate the good times yet we were able to cope with hardship.
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E. Don Harpe
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 1:02 pm

Actually, Ann, in many ways those days were better than what we live through today. They were simpler, and there was a lot of things wrong in the world back then, but wouldn't it have been great if we held on to the courtesy, the kindness that so many showed to one another, and at least part of the innocence, while going ahead with computers, technology, and the advances we've seen in the medical field as well as in race relations?

We've taken some giant strides forward in the past 40 or so years, but along the way we lost something, and it is that something that so many of us long for, and is the reason we refer to them as the good old days.


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zadaconnaway
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 1:02 pm

I can remember being a small child and going to the corner grocery. I felt so grown up that I was trusted to walk the few blocks all by myself. I was probably about 4 and was always rewarded with a penny to buy a licorice whip. Today, you can't send that small a child anywhere alone!

We are such a small community here that the local store (Mom & Pop style) does run a tab for some of the customers. They know where everyone lives! They have been bitten on occasion, but they know who they can trust.
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Carol Troestler
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 1:06 pm

I never felt hardship as a kid. My father lost many jobs and I remember his sadness when he would tell my mother he had been laid off. But we lived in my grandparents house and although we didn't have many material things, I still felt we had it good. (My father didn't even own a car until I was in high school.) Maybe it was because it wasn't about money or things to buy which we didn't often, but just about being safe and having freedom to ride my bike for miles, even into the city, and take the train by myself, and just know someone somewhere cared.

Carol
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alj
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 1:39 pm

It's the freedom that one misses. Children walking safely through neighborhoods, safe at those corner stores, Free to kick a can along a street. I remember a conversation my mom had one day with our housekeeper. It had been raining, and there was still water in the street, and several children were walking in the middle of it. My mom mentioned to Callie that the children were likely to get typhoid or something, and Callie said back: "You don't need to worry about them. You see, we look after our children, but it's God who looks after those."

Maybe that's it. Maybe we've lost faith in a God who looks after children.

Just me.

Ann
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Shelagh
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 3:06 pm

I remember going to buy 2 ounces of Uncle Joe's mint balls for my great grandfather's eighty birthday when I was four. Everyone was stunned!

You can still buy them from the town where I was born (the home of Bewrite Books):

http://www.mintballs.co.uk/

_________________

Amazon Author Central: Shelagh Watkins
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Dick Stodghill
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 3:22 pm

The thing that puzzles me is that so many people today believe there were no sexual preditors in the past. Spending a day in a library reading old newspapers on microfilm might change their minds. They have always been out there.
One of the first things I remember kids being taught in the late 1920s and early 1930s was "never take candy from a stranger - never go near a stranger's car - be especially careful when no other kids were with you - if a stranger approaches you, yell and run to the nearest house - etc. etc. etc."
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dkchristi
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 3:29 pm

.


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Carol Troestler
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 6:44 pm

You are right Dick. Many people who came to counseling had been abused years before.

What frightened me was when a man climbed in a girl's bedroom in Chicago and killed her and . . . You don't want to hear the rest. I was more afraid of someone climbing in my bedroom window and murdering me than walking home past nice safe looking houses.

I think mothers prayed a lot in those days and my guardian angels worked overtime.

Carol
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Richard Stanbery
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:23 pm

I just wonder if history is repeating itself here with this new crash of the economy. It sure is looking a lot like the 30's to a young fellow like me, at least the bad and scarry stuff is. Only now we as a nation seem to have lost our way, and we are being rewarded by confusion.
Confusion in the money markets, banks, and the govt lending money to financial sectors and pressuring them to invest it and lend it out to stimulate the economy and free up the credit crunch. This is only forcing these recieving institutions to make more loans and investments in an already crashing economy, more toxic loans, and thus the "bailout" money is going down the drain as fast as the banks can lend it out.
I saw on a financial show today that the govt had given something like 45 Billion bucks to a big name banking group, just a few days ago. Now, one would think that thier worth would be at least the ammount of the bailout money that they recieved; 45 B. Sadly, I was told that that banks worth today was now just under 10 B and still dropping like a stone. Of course, they are asking for more money to "solve" the problem.
So, where did the money go? It went back into the economy and evaporated. I sure hope that I heard that wrong! Somebody please correct me, because I would sure like to hear that I am understanding this stuff all wrong.
The govt throwing more money into the banks isnt going to do anything but cause the value of a dollar to drop to the point that a wheelbarrow of cash (if they still make it anymore) will be needed to buy a loaf of bread, ala the Wiemar Republic of Germany 1920s.
Of course the govt will own a lot of worthless stocks in companies, and the little people will still be broke. All the good manufacturing jobs were NAFTA'd away. Where will we put these millions of unemployed people to work, hot dog stands? In a lot where a factory that employed thousands once stood in my town, there is now a couple of resturants and a chain store, that's it. The factory closed just months after NAFTA was passed. Thousands of high pay job went overseas and we have a few low paying jobs there now, and they are shaky.The ruins of the factory sit and release toxins into the local trout stream, but nobody works there anymore.
At least in the 1930's we had a monitary system that had value. The dollar was on the silver standard, and like Dick correctly pointed out, you could buy something with it. Now all we have is plastic credit cards and numbers on computer screens that just go away with the click of a mouse. Confusion rules the day!
As for me; I am convinced that this is because the nations of the western world have turned away from The Lord. It looks like the 1930s are comming back, only worse. I may be a prophet of doom and gloom, I don't know. I'll be the first to admit that I dont know much about running an economy, but what Im seeing dont seem like the right way either. What's a guy to do?
It looks like the 1930s are here again, and we might all be about to get a lot poorer, just like our ancestors. Oh happy day! Won't it be great? I've always wanted to see the western states. Maybe I'll just hobo on a freight train going west, like a John Steinbeck character. All of us new- age vagrants to be could sleep out under the stars and fish from our polluted streams and cook our catch in a tin can made in China while warming out threadbare- socked feet by the fire. It would be just like the 1930s, a lot of fun!Anybody know of a hobo camp that has internet hookup?
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Carol Troestler
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Sat Feb 21, 2009 5:00 am

Richard,

I don't think the problems have occurred because the nations of the world have turned against the Lord. I am a great believer of the separation of church and state and freedom to believe and worship as I choose.

I think, however, religion got to be too "anti" rather than loving and people became too materialistic and some became very greedy.

I liked your post, especially the last part. Good writing.

Carol
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LC
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PostSubject: The Good Old Days -not   Sat Feb 21, 2009 8:52 am

Hi all, just an occasional lurker here ...

I'm in my late 40's and think the nostalgia of "the good old days" is largely the result of fond (deliberate?) forgetfulness. Or maybe it was a matter of "where you stand depends on where you sit."

I remember PE classes where the teacher would divvy everyone into two teams, let the captains choose players, and the same few folks always got chosen last. How stupid were teachers then that that was the best they could come up with?

Was there less crime? Maybe, or maybe the papers just didn't report it as much. There was certainly less access to credit, jobs, education, and other societal goodies for certain groups.

Groceries didn't cost less relative to household income. Things were "simpler" because many people just didn't have anything. Was that by choice?

I could go on, but that's enough for now, lol
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E. Don Harpe
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Sat Feb 21, 2009 10:00 am

This is a good post LC, might I offer another opinion.

“I remember PE classes where the teacher would divvy everyone into two teams, let the captains choose players, and the same few folks always got chosen last. How stupid were teachers then that that was the best they could come up with?”

Actually the teachers weren’t stupid at all, and neither were the kids who were doing the choosing. Back then we chose kids to be on our teams who had shown that they had some ability to play, and who had shown that they wanted to win. The same ones got chosen last because they didn’t have those qualities, and before you say it, yes, it was usually the lack of those qualities that made them less popular. In today’s society we teach kids to “feel good about themselves,” and that “nobody is a loser,” and that they should be chosen just because they are there. The fact is that kids do not always have to feel good about themselves, and they won’t be damaged for life just because they are not chosen first.

Once they get into the real world they will quickly learn that there are indeed losers, and we are not doing them any favors by letting them think otherwise. We learned to play to win, and it is an attitude that carried us through life with our heads held high. Today we teach them that everyone deserves the same advantages, even though they are not willing to work as hard or play as hard as the rest of us. So, the teachers back then had a much better grasp of what kids would face later in life than the teachers of today have, and what today’s teachings have fostered are a few generations that think the world owes them everything just because they should always feel good about themselves.

“Was there less crime? Maybe, or maybe the papers just didn't report it as much. There was certainly less access to credit, jobs, education, and other societal goodies for certain groups.”

I think there was less crime, although you make a good point about it not getting reported the same way. Also, there were less people then which probably helped, but the thing is that across the board people had a higher moral and civil obligation to others, and kids were still taught to be respectful to adults, to speak when spoken to, and that they must take responsibility for their actions. Kids were paddled at school, and again when they got home for the misdeed. We soon learned not to do that again. But while the paddle hurt, once again we weren’t damaged for life because of it. We knew that there was a line, and we didn’t want to cross it. Today we don’t teach kids about a line, we tell them they can do whatever they want to and we will make sure no one corrects them regardless of what they do. I fail to see where this is a better system than the one we grew up with.

There was a lot of injustice for “certain groups” and it is a fact that some of them didn’t have the same access to credit, jobs, education, and the other “societal goodies” you speak of, but those that were willing to work and study hard, to exert themselves and demand a place in society were always able to find one. The most serious ill of society back then was the racial divide, but again, people other than whites were always able to become successful, and while it might have been a bit harder for them, those that really wanted it managed to attain it. By the way, it is a mistake to think that the world was handed to whites simply because of the color of their skin. I think the dirt poor regions of the south and Appalachia were proof of that. Credit, jobs, education, and the other “societal goodies” were never handed to poor class whites, and they had to fight hard to make their place in the world. Maybe not quite as hard as blacks, but life for poor whites back then certainly wasn’t a gimmie.

I’ll close by saying that growth in working class wages has not grown as much as the growth in the cost of most things that we need to buy nearly every day.

Anyway, good post LC, and welcome to the forum.
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Abe F. March
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Sat Feb 21, 2009 10:10 am

Don,
a good summary. Not worth nick picking.
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Dick Stodghill
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Sat Feb 21, 2009 11:16 am

It's hard to compare Indiana, Illinois, Iowa or any of the thinly-populated states (other than their big cities) with the more heavily-populated east. Comparing Northeast Ohio, where people are plentiful, with the western part of the state, which is much like Iowa, just can't be done. More people means more criminals.

As for newspapers reporting more crime stories than in the past, they reported far more of it in the old days and in a more sensational manner. For proof, read microfilm copies of any large city newspaper from the 1930s.
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Charlie Moore
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Sat Feb 21, 2009 11:45 am

One thing I can remember is much more canning of fruits & vegetables and jerking venison (homemade root beer and homemade soap, etc.) back in the early years. At least it was so in my family. I can recall my grandparents on both sides doing this every year. It was such that, especially on mom's side, there was little to no reason to visit a town let alone a grocery store. Of course, sometimes they just got dressed up and went to town for some type of entertainment. That usually involved some type of dance.

Yeah, I don't that things are so much worse now. Just different. The way we intrepret things dictates whether we view them as better or worse.

Charlie
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Carol Troestler
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:06 pm

Charlie,

I kind of miss getting dressed up and going to town and dancing to "live" music.

Don,

You said,

"Back then we chose kids to be on our teams who had shown that they had some ability to play, and who had shown that they wanted to win. The same ones got chosen last because they didn’t have those qualities, and before you say it, yes, it was usually the lack of those qualities that made them less popular."

I was always picked last. Year after year. It got so it didn't really bother me. I never thought it had anything to do with wanting to win, but it had more to do with being a skinny nerdy girl who would rather read books than play softball.

And I always felt "less popular," and I think a lot of kids did and still do, but not because they were lousy at winning at sports.

I remember going to a high school reunion a few decades after graduation. We had a huge graduation class and I warned my husband not too many people would remember me. Wrong. All evening people kept coming up and speaking with me and telling me things they remembered about me. I had always felt like a shadow person who just traveled through life on that road less traveled.

About a month ago a man I had gone through most of grade school and high school with emailed me. He said he knew I was related to a woman he knew but did not know how. He also thought he had my grandparents and parent's names correct but wasn't sure. Well, we emailed back and forth for a couple of days. It seems he had become a minister and worked with my cousin who was also a minister and he knew my cousin's family and knew his wife was in the hospital and even gave me the email for another cousin who is in a foreign country with the state department.

All that might not be relevant, but is my way of saying "winning" isn't everything. Sometimes it is relationships and following one's bliss which might not be hitting that tennis ball.

Carol
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