Atascadero’s resident grump Al Fonzi wrote in his column in the Atascadero News last week, “It’s easy to retreat into a nostalgic fantasy about the ‘good ole days,’ which really weren’t all that good.”
I disagree. I grew up in the 1950s. I graduated from high school with the Class of 1957.
I relish those “good ole days” growing up in the San Joaquin Valley. I’ll agree with Fonzi that there are instances from those days where all was not right with the world — or like many of my friends, my own family.
I remember that a tradition for the graduating seniors was that sometime in the final week before graduation we got to go to a movie during the school day. The movie theater was only two blocks from the high school, so we walked over as a class. I have no idea what movie we saw. But prior to the feature movie we were shown a film, a documentary, really, that showed the deleterious impact of drugs. It warned of these horrible drugs that could bring us down. Could kill us.
Walking back to the campus after the movie, I remember all we talked about was that film on drugs. Why was it shown to us? Nobody we knew was doing drugs. It was a waste of time, my circle of friends thought.
I loved that era of innocence. I love the fact many of us had no knowledge that threat was out there.
I’m glad that for most of my teenage years my entertainment came from listening to the radio — mysteries, comedies, westerns and more. Television entered my life when I was halfway through high school. The television shows focused on families with moms and dads and kids who did what they were told or got in trouble if they didn’t.
I don’t care if that isn’t realistic. I had friends being raised by single moms.
I had friends with one or both parents who abused alcohol.
I cried with my fellow fifth-graders when our teacher, a U.S. Marine officer who got called up for the Korean War, was killed in battle.
I don’t think I “suppress unpleasant memories of the past,” as Fonzi suggested. I just don’t dwell on them.
There is a lot going on right now that isn’t good for America. But at the same time, there are many reasons to be happy and satisfied with life.
Whether it is 50 years ago or now, I choose to remember the good times.
Lon Allan’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Atascadero for nearly five decades and his column appears here every week. Reach Allan at 466-8529 or firstname.lastname@example.org.