My, How You Have Changed!Feb 01, 2022 ● By Bob Warren
The expression “My, how you have changed” was often heard when a friend or family member showed up after being unseen for quite a while. However, I haven’t heard it recently, since we keep in touch so frequently through the touch of a phone’s button. That’s just an example of the many changes we have seen – and are seeing – from day to day in our lifestyles.
Today, I want us to look at a few of the things that have changed in the last century. The reason I say a century is because I am a century old and have seen so many of these changes.
The first thing on our list is the way we treat our elderly. In the early 1900s, when people reached the point of not being able to live alone any longer, some of the more fortunate ones went to live with their family, children or other relatives. The less fortunate went to what was called “the poor house.” I don’t know much about poor houses, but I do know they were not considered a desirable place.
How different the choices are for our elderly today. Personally, my lifestyle has changed drastically. Until recently, my wife and I were enjoying life while living in a very nice
independent living facility, Parkview, in Frisco. She passed away in August, and I soon realized the truth of God’s words as He looked at Adam: “It is not good that man should be alone” (Genesis 2: 18). You will remember that He then put poor Adam to sleep, took one of his ribs and created a woman, Eve, “to be man’s helper.” I could no longer live alone and was facing the need to move to an assisted living facility. The fact that we have such nice facilities available today is one of the changes I have seen.
But back to my personal “elderly” experience: I was so very fortunate to have five loving children, and one of them, my youngest daughter and her husband, invited me to live with them. Thank goodness they have a large home equipped perfectly for my needs, so I heartily accepted their invitation. The move has been quite an adjustment – moving to a different city and leaving my Frisco friends – but “my kids” are now looking after my every need. Today, I could not ask for a better life.
The next change on our list is what I will call “our values” – what’s important to us. In the early part of the 1900s, people in America were fortunate, and perhaps satisfied, to have a job, or a farm with a simple home. They usually had to work hard to afford the necessities of life. Yes, that is true of some today, but thankfully the majority now want (and have) more than the bare necessities. We have higher wages – much more than the dollar a day I worked for on a farm in the 1930s. We desire (and have) larger, more luxurious, homes, nice cars, fine schools, churches, nice clothes and cities with paved streets – not the muddy streets of old. And the list goes on. There’s no comparison of what we want (and have) today versus the yesteryears. Our values have certainly changed.
Next, what I think is one of the biggest changes, are our morals – what we consider “naughty.” For example, from the 1930s to the ‘60s, there was the Hays Code that set many of the standards for the movies. One of the rules was that no man and woman – even husband and wife – could be shown in bed together. You old timers may remember that the rule carried over to early-day television. On the show I Love Lucy, Ricky and Lucy, man and wife, were not allowed to be shown in bed together. But today, anything goes.
And our language: In my childhood days, we kids would get slapped for saying things like “doggone,” “dadgum,” “darn” and “heck.” People were shocked when Clark Gable, in the movie Gone With The Wind, said, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Now, that phrase would not even raise an eyebrow. Language on television was formerly much milder than today. We didn’t have to cover our children’s ears while watching our favorite shows, but today, what was once considered “bad” stuff on TV is mild compared to what they can hear on the street every day.
What about the way we dress? When I first saw people with ragged jeans, I felt sorry for them, not being able to afford good clothes. Then, to my amazement, I learned that jeans come that way from the store. When I was young, we boys usually wore overalls to school, and if one showed up with a hole in his britches, we knew he couldn’t afford better.
And my generation was taught that we must dress our best for church. We were told, “Wear your Sunday best to honor the Lord,” so we did. Our preachers wore coats and ties. That reminds me of a recent Sunday morning: I had slept late and was lolling around in my pajamas, reading the paper, when my daughter called, “Dad, come on, church is starting” (on the internet). I went and saw that the preacher was dressed nicely but was not wearing a tie – very common today, but a no-no in the early days. Immediately, I wondered if watching church in my pajamas was acceptable. Then I said to myself, “If the preacher can dress like that, I’m OK,” so I leaned back and enjoyed the service.
Another big change is our music. Some of us grew up listening to the smooth strains of Glenn Miller or the lilting voices of Patti Page and Andy Williams. Others heard beautiful opera tunes. So, when I began to hear such tunes (if you can call them that) as rock ‘n’ roll and rap, I cringed and hurriedly removed my hearing aids. And, once again, in church we old timers were accustomed to hearing soothing organ and piano music, but no more. People almost fainted when they first walked in their churches and heard a guitar and drum banging out a hymn. Thank goodness that’s now pretty well accepted. Some I know have changed churches to find their “old music.”
Last, but far from least, is our means of communication. Getting messages sent has moved from “snail mail,” telegrams and hand-cranked, wall-mounted telephones to worldwide instantaneous messaging. We keep up with our friends and loved ones by email, iPhones and a jillion other electronic methods. One of the most popular is the cell phone. As great as they are, they can be a blessing or a pest. Unfortunately, they sometimes take the place of good old person-to-person conversation.
Those are just a few of the changes. They’re happening every day. Some are good, some are bad, but we may as well get used to them. So, grow old with me and enjoy.
Bob Warren is a local historian, former mayor of Frisco and a regular contributor to Frisco STYLE Magazine.