I was making Rice Krispie treats a couple of days ago, and I thought what a pleasant, comforting time I had doing so. You melt butter and puffy marshmallows, throw in the Rice Krispies and gradually roll them into the white sugary cloud of melted marshmallows and then smooth it into a pan and slice it up and eat it. Kids love it. Adults love it. And it is so simple to make.

        That whole incident reminded me that in spite of all the madness going on out there in the world today and all the stressful and often depressing news that bombards our TV sets, radios and newspapers, we need to remind ourselves of the things that comfort us and make us happy – things like baking pies and playing with our pets and/or with our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

        I love to watch old movies, especially the black and white ones. They remind us of the old America, of manners and classy clothing, the wild enthusiasm for baseball and how people dressed up to go to those games. In old movies we often see what our big cities used to look like during a time when law and order prevailed, when boys stood on street corners hawking newspapers and milk wagons and street cars dominated the streets. I love the old MGM Grand musicals, where huge stages were used to perform incredibly beautifully choreographed dance routines with fifty dancers or more moving to perfectly-coordinated routines, all done against magnificent backdrops and with the dancers wearing glamorous feathers and glitter.

       I like to look at old pictures of my grandmother, aunts and uncles, parents and siblings and remember big potluck picnics and get-togethers where everyone brought their favorite dish. There is nothing better than gathering at a big Sicilian reunion or a wedding where there is home-made pasta dishes and sesame cookies. I also remember going to an aunt’s house where food was the number one recreation. I had an aunt on the non-Italian side of the family who should have owned her own restaurant, where she could serve her fabulous southern pecan pie and the best home-made vegetable soup in the state.

        My husband and I go for a lot of rides down back country roads, where things are quiet and people still live away from all the turmoil of interstate highways and big cities. We see tractors and huge discs and blueberry pickers and cherry shakers. We see corn fields and blueberries, asparagus fields, peach orchards, cherry and apple orchards, fields of squash and pumpkins. We come across fruit stands where we can buy super fresh fruits and vegetables. I feel blessed to live in the country, and all of America is beautiful. We have traveled everywhere in this country, and you can’t beat the magnificent majesty of the Rocky Mountains and the Sierras, Yellowstone Park and Grand Canyon, or the Black Hills of South Dakota.  

       I have an old Betty Crocker cookbook – probably 50 years old. And I have an old Bible that has rose petals pressed between the pages. They still smell wonderful. And there is nothing so comforting as smells … the smell of an old, old book, the smell of pine at Christmas, of cookies baking in the oven, or of home-made popcorn or home-made bread. I remember the smell of my grandmother’s perfume. I don’t know what it was, but it had a bit of a spicy scent, mixed with some kind of flower I can’t pinpoint. Every once in a while I pick up that scent, and immediately, I feel Grandma with me.

        I enjoy listening to music from the 40’s, so many war songs about pride and patriotism. And back then, songs were so much more romantic, plus you could actually understand the lyrics. I take comfort in old Christmas carols and in paintings of farm Christmases by Grandma Moses. How many kids today have even heard of Grandma Moses?

         I love big-band music and remember a ballroom that once existed here in my hometown, where famous bands like Lawrence Welk and Glen Miller visited. Their music could be heard in the air at night, and people came from miles around, some from a couple of hundred miles, just to be there and dance to the music, women wearing beautiful dresses and men in suits. You don’t see that anymore. Nor do you hear really good, easy-singing artists like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.

        Remember the night time talk shows, like Johnny Carson? I never watch today’s late-night entertainment. It is no longer entertainment at all. I used to laugh at every joke and every prank, and I enjoyed the guests because they talked about fun things instead of ranting about politics. Are there any programs left that don’t talk about politics? It is all over the news, the sitcoms, the talk shows, the newspapers and magazines, and I am sick of listening. I prefer doing other things, things that make me happy and contented. I watch very little TV, unless it is old movies and old sitcoms in which the family unit and morals and manners prevailed.

        I wonder if there are any young people who know what high fidelity is – or know what an iron is – a percolator – a can opener – a meat grinder – an eggbeater, a rumble seat, driving with a clutch, or when car starters were a button on the floor. How many know how to cook a big meal? Do you remember drinking out of a hose? Playing on rope swings? Do you remember having chores and having to earn your toys and goodies? Nothing has ever been “given” to me. I had to earn everything I had, including my school clothes and my class ring and class trip. I worked summers since I was fourteen years old.

        There is a Bon Jovi song that talks about wanting to “go back” – to “when we were beautiful, before the world got small, before we knew it all. Back, to when we were innocent. I wonder where it went. Let’s go back and find it.”

        I often want to go back to those days myself. Innocence can actually be a good thing, something joyful. That’s why children find so much joy in every new thing they learn, every new friend, every new object, every new game. The world is a wonder to them, and I sometimes wish it could be that way for all of us. The sad part is that now schools and modern-day teaching steals a child’s innocence long before he or she should lose it, teaching them things that only parents should have the right to teach them, the right to decide when and how they will do so.

         We need to preserve the past and our history as best we can, and the best way to do that is to talk to our children and grandchildren about what things used to be like. Hand down our heritage and our history the way the Native Americans do. In spite of how hard the government and others tried to take away their language, their religion, their cultural beliefs, Native Americans hung on to all that was vitally important to their heritage. Many have preserved their language and teachings and now teach it to their youth. That is all due to the Old Ones handing down their stories and wisdom. 

        We should do the same. We should write down the things we remember so they are never lost. They can take the history out of our movies and textbooks and teachings, but they can’t steal our memories. Preserve those memories, and hand them down to your descendants. And teach them what a wonderful, free country we live in and that it is our job, and theirs, to make sure we never lose real America.


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