Today is my 90th birthday. I’m a bit surprised to still be walking and talking. No one else in my immediate family lived so long.
I was born during the first year of Herbert Hoover’s term as President and less than two months before the stock market crash that began the great depression. Of course, I was not aware of any of this. The environment in which I grew up seemed normal to me. I knew none other. We lived simply, but there was always plenty of food on the table. More importantly, I was surrounded by love.
Outdoor activities with other children predominated when I was not in school. We were always engaged in games and sports and adventures of every sort. Our imaginations supplied the backgrounds as we set sail on a pirate ship, flew through stormy skies in a fragile aircraft, or fought through a jungle inhabited by warlike natives and infested with tigers and crocodiles. Wow! How did we survive?
Books, movies, and radio helped fuel our more exotic visions. I remember immersing myself in such wonderful books as Our Wonder World and Junior Classics. Even earlier I had been entertained and fascinated by fairy tales and other children’s storybook classics. I soaked it all up like a sponge.
Movies and radio also played an important role in my education. Early on, visits to the cinema were rare but memorable. Popular culture at that time tended to promote the traditional, Judeo-Christian, values. The leading actor was always honorable, the leading lady was always a virtuous virgin. Violence happened, but never except in response to the evil machinations of cruel men.
As for radio, comedy programs were our favorite, and there were many of them. Radio theater was also fodder for my imagination. Often these programs would present an abbreviated version of some classic, and the family would gather around the radio in the evening and be entertained.
I reflect on those past times and the present age with some amazement. How did we survive without television, computers, i-phones, Starbucks and whatever? Somehow, survive we did. And think of the amazing changes I have witnessed in my 90 years on earth. The pace of innovation and change appears to move faster and faster.
Where will it all end?
One thought is my constant source of comfort,
“Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”