Seeing Old Times Through New Eyes

Me with my sister, our dog Rusty and the infamous station wagon in 1968.

Me with my sister, our dog Rusty and the infamous station wagon in 1968.

Lately I’ve been reminiscing about a much different time in my life. A time before I got so consumed with doing more, having more, being more. A time when things felt easy and fun. I was remembering my childhood.

I had a fairly ordinary upbringing. Until high school everyone I knew lived pretty much the same way we did. The men worked, most of the women stayed home. People lived in modest, usually somewhat messy, homes. No manicured lawns. No one I knew drove a new car. We had enough. We were happy.

Fast-forward to today and it seems like the standard is so much higher; the pace so much faster. I sometimes fantasize about having enough money to buy a new car and remodel my house. I have visions of hardwood floors and granite countertops; stainless steel appliances, leather furniture, a flat-screen TV. All around me smart phones, gym memberships, mani/pedis, and designer handbags have become the norm.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with those things. Some of them weren’t even available when I was growing up. And I certainly enjoy the many advances we’ve made. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to connect with you today. I’m just noting the difference.

I’m also not insinuating life was easy for my parents. My dad worked hard and money was a constant worry raising four kids. But, back then it never occurred to me the adults in my life wanted more the way it seems that we constantly do now.

What if they had it right all along?

I have so many fond memories of times gone by. The worn linoleum on my grandmother’s kitchen floor. Birthday cakes not bought at the store but painstakingly crafted into pink elephants with coconut frosting. The old station wagon in which my parents took us to the drive-in where we would watch Evel Knievel movies in our pajamas.

The tire swing hanging from the old cedar tree behind our house. Lazy summer afternoons spent at the lake with all our friends. Getting books from the Bookmobile because the library was too far away. The clothes my mom used to sew for us.

Homemade bread. Eating food fresh from our garden, especially the raspberries from the bushes transplanted from my grandmother’s house. Fruit from Eastern Washington my mom bought each year in wooden crates from a man named Harry and canned for the upcoming winter months.

Having only two channels to watch on TV…three if we could talk my dad into going up on the roof to turn the antennae. The hand-me-downs I got from my sister. I admit I didn’t appreciate either one of those at the time.

Looking back over my adult years I can see how much time and energy I’ve spent trying to better my life, when it was really pretty good all along. These days I’m longing for the things I didn’t understand the importance of as a child. Like growing my own food and lazy summer days.

Life was good. Not because we had so much…but because we didn’t. Things were so simple then. Sometimes less is more.


I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carolee Fallstead
    Apr 11, 2013 @ 09:08:38

    Shannon, I literally got goose bumps reading this. This was my life exactly growing up in the same small town as you. I was thinking not long ago and refelct often, how hard my mom worked for us girls. We didnt have a bakery in town so every birthday we were asked to pick what cake she would bake. She was the best cook ever! We rarely went to dinner, a trip to the orthodontist in Puyallup was an all day adventure and having Mcdonalds while we were out was a big deal! We had a huge garden that my mom and dad would tend to. The IGA selection was fair, but we grew and canned to save money and to have fresh fruit and vegetables. I remember picking raspeberries along our fence line was a summer ritual. We had apple and plumb and pear trees galore. If we were lucky, we’d even get cherries if we made it to them before the birds. In summer, we’d spend the entire day at the Mashell River and cell phones to check in, we’d ride our bikes home to do that and then go back after lunch. Sometimes we’d even pack lunch and then stay at the river till dinner. When I was told to be home, I was. No fussin’ no disrespect, I just did what I was supposed to do. I loved and respected my Mom tremendously so I did what I was asked. I completely forgot about the Bookmobile and the little stickers we’d get from the library for the summer reading program. Cutting firewood was a yearly necessity and we’d cut and stack it till we were completely exhausted..often times all in one day. Those times us girls huddled around our woodstove in our footed pajamas in our big older home that my parents bought for 40k in the mid 70’s are priceless to me. Watching and helping my mom hang laundry on the clothesline on a summer day seems like just yesterday. My dad retired early from a fall off of a backhoe when I was just a baby so we were on a very fixed single income. Nothing came easy but I never remember my mom complaining. EVER. Raising 3 girls on that retirement in the late 70’s and early 80’s didnt afford us many luxuries but we had what we needed. She made our Halloween costumes and if she wanted new curtains, she’d go to Christensens and buy fabric and make some. Who my parents were made me who I am today. Grateful and proud and a hard worker…aware of how moments not things are truly what I long for the most and want my son to appreciate and value life and privelages as I do. My parents are gone. A part of who I am and my connectivity to them lost forever. I cant get those days back and my heart longs to do so. If I had only known to savor those moments a little longer. I often think how much of that simple life my son has missed out on. I wish that he could have known what summers at the river were like, riding bikes on a country road without worry, letting him spend all day without checking in, trips to Malcoms Mobile gas station with friends for slush puppies and 3 cent candies, having a graduating class of a 100 students who all went to school together from kindergarten to 12th grade, King and Queen showing up on a logging trucking at Homecoming football games. The good stuff 🙂 I can only hope that a part of me, the small town me, who adored and appreciated simple living will rub off on him in some small way. Thank you for sharing!!


    • Shannon McDonough
      Apr 11, 2013 @ 16:00:43

      Thank YOU for sharing! I couldn’t written so much more…so many memories. It really was a great way to grow up (even if I didn’t entirely appreciate it at the time). I treasure those moments as I know you do too!


  2. Mom
    Apr 11, 2013 @ 17:43:13

    Thank you Shannon and Carolee. Trips down memory lane, especially when you take them through the eyes of the kids who experienced them are incredibly wonderful!.


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