Those of my Grandma’s generation were rather fond of reminding the youth of my generation how much better things were when they were young. They spoke of how the younger generation—the generation of degeneration—was headed headlong into the archetypal pits of “hell” in the proverbial “hand basket”. They sometimes cursed us to a life of raising children and grandchildren that would give us just as much hell as we, allegedly, gave them. Sometimes they would just sit back and tell stories, fascinating stories about the “old days”. I wrote this poem in memory of, and as a eulogy to, “the good old days”.
WHEN I WAS YOUR AGE
When I was your age, we didn’t have any shoes.
We walked ten miles barefooted, just to get to school.
An ordinary bucket served as our lunchbox,
With biscuits to eat and some syrup to sop.
I only had one dress to wear and I wore it every day.
Mama washed it with lye soap, until the stains went away.
We wore overalls with dozens of holes and patches;
Made of calico, denim, and even burlap swatches.
When I was your age, I didn’t learn algebra and calculus.
I learned my “times tables” and “ciphered” with an abacus.
When Mama combed my hair and I squirmed or acted bad,
She hit me on the head with the brush or whatever else she had.
As a matter of fact, when-so-ever we sassed or disobeyed,
She whipped our tails with a switch and made us all behave.
When I was your age, I was actually older than you.
When I was going on one year old, I was really going on two.
Young’uns today are served on a silver platter.
My folks just looked at my empty hands and asked, “What’s the matter?”
When I was your age, children were seen and not heard.
You got your teeth knocked out if you even whispered a word.
Children today awaken on Christmas morn, to piles of pirate’s loot.
All we got for Christmas was some walnuts, hard candy, and fruit.
We used kerosene lamps and candles at nighttime to see.
We had to carry them with us when we went to the outhouse to pee.
We got up with the chickens and did our chores without a peep.
When the sun went down, we went back to sleep.
When I was your age, we didn’t have; marijuana, coke and heroin.
We had Coca-Cola with real cocaine within.
Those were the good old days.
When I was your age!
~by Ronald Brown (2015)