Are we selfish or do we think sharing means “can't afford". The flavor of life in America during the 1940's & 1950's was everyone pulling together, helping each other get ahead and share in the wealth and opportunities the country was ready to offer. The word share didn't mean divide, split or compromise, it meant partner or combine efforts together for one cause with no regrets. It was common in our childhood years for many things to be shared, and maybe we misunderstood it as “affordable" because our parents didn't buy us every new item on the stores shelves. Of course our parents wanted material things, but they were aware of what they could afford and many times made wiser decisions than we do today because they disciplined themselves not wanting to have everything now, as the boomers demand.
Our parents were satisfied with having less material items in many situations. Because our parents gave us fewer material things than we have given our children, we learned to share and compromise and wait our turn without crying and stomping our feet. I don't know how our generation has forgotten so many of the values, ethics and morals we were taught. Baby boomers don't want to wait and don't seem to want to share material things, they want their own and something special made just for them. Maybe some think that sharing means “can't afford" rather than getting along, compromising and being satisfied with what you have all in one. Here are some examples of how sharing was a way of life during our childhood, and maybe we appreciated more and had a little more respect for each other growing up then, then we do now because of our parents.
I am sure that some of these examples will bring back some memories, good or bad, for instance the “television". There was only one TV in each home with at most 6 channels of programs to watch. This appliance was shared by all family members. Everyone had to talk and agree on what show the majority wanted to watch and that would be the choice. If you didn't like it, you could leave the room or sit quietly for the next one that you did like to come on. Bedrooms were shared by children, and sometimes 2 brothers or 2 sisters might share the same bed until their teen years. Bathrooms were shared, many homes only had 1 bathroom so showering or taking baths would mean planning, compromising and waiting your turn. Other items were also shared by children like; bikes, roller skates, ice skates, sleds, baseball gloves, baseball bats, balls, radios, record players, typewriters, and even clothing.
The telephone, another shared item, was one of the best parental guidance tools our parents had. The phone was mounted on the wall and centrally located in the house, usually in the kitchen, it had a 6 - 8’ attached coil cord - not wireless. When your parents were using the telephone you were taught to leave the room so they could have a private conversation and god forbid if you tried to listen in. For the children in the family, using a telephone was a privilege that was earned and a tool for parents to help reward you or punish you by giving you more time to use the phone or take the privilege away. Before you used the phone you would ask a parent for permission and a brief explanation of who you were calling and why. The phone was a shared appliance and when you were using the phone your parents knew who you were talking to. They knew what was going on because they could over hear your conversations and if you started whispering that was a signal to them trouble was in the planning. . This was one of the best ways a parent could keep in touch of what the kids were doing, and in many households the phone was restricted to kids around age 12 and up.
Ah - The Family Car. Getting your drivers license was a milestone in your life and a trying time for both parents and teenagers. The time had come to share the family car and this was definitely a privilege you earned. As a teenager getting your license and driving would be the most responsibility that you were given up to this point in your life, and if trust ever meant anything it meant it now. This vehicle was the mobility that your father needed to go to work everyday to earn his pay to support you and your family. So every time you got in the drivers seat you had better made sure the car was returned home in the same condition before you borrowed it. Again, this shared item was a great parental tool to monitor what you were doing and where you were going. The ritual of borrowing the car, again you asked permission and gave your parents a short story about where you were going, who was going with you and when you be home.
This commitment again was god's word, you didn't have a cell phone in your pocket to call in that you were running late, you made sure no mater what you got back home on time because most likely one of your parents was waiting behind the door for you. When you borrowed the car it was expected that you replace the gas you used and it was common to ask friends who were with you to share the cost. So even if you went much further than you told your parents the car would be replenished with fuel. There was just one more little problem if you drove the car further than you told your parents and that was the hated tell all tool the “odometer". You see even if you filled up the gas tank you still had to answer to your father about why there were 100 miles on the car instead of 15. If you had friends in the car with you, you now had the responsibility to make sure they didn't make a mess in the car because you had to clean it up before you went home.
Communities offered many recreational activities that were shared by the people who lived in the town. Things like, playing fields, buses, movie houses, summer activities, and let's not forget the ever popular community pool. Take a count in your neighborhood of how many homes have pools, probably about 80% do. Do you remember how much you looked forward during the school year for summer vacation so you could go to the community pool daily and be with many friends of all ages. Yes the word share again comes to mind and as baby boomers we should value that childhood experience as priceless. We should also teach our children and grandchildren that sharing can be fun, can expose new opportunities and should be an integral part of our society.