By Steve Graf
Picking up where I left off last week on the “good ole days” of my generation, I’ve always felt that I grew up during the best time a kid could ever ask for. The Vietnam War was ending in the early ’70s and the crazy 60s were behind us. Life was simple, people had jobs and worked hard. Being labeled “middle class” was not a bad thing. It meant you worked hard for a living and took pride in what you did and who you were. You weren’t necessarily judged by how much money you had. You were judged by the kind of person you were and your character. You did not want to do anything to disgrace your family name or embarrass your parents.
My generation respected our teachers and coaches, as these were some of the most influential people in my life. They gave homework (which I hated,) but they pushed you and challenged you to learn. My coaches taught us what hard work and determination could lead to. They taught us to never quit or give up, and to fight through adversity, not to transfer to another school because the competition got a little tough or things didn’t go our way. My coaches made me feel proud to be a Mt. Pleasant Tiger. This made me play harder because as a player you represented your town, school, coaches, and parents, but most importantly….yourself. Yes, we won, and won a lot, including a State Championship, but you had a sense of pride if you were an MP Tiger and you never wanted to let the community down.
Hard work was expected at my house as I grew up on a ranch where there was always something to do. I hauled hay, doctored cattle, built barns, fixed fences, and cleared land for pasture or for hay meadows. There was no sleeping in at my house! Sleeping in meant you got to sleep till 7:00 AM. Many mornings, especially on weekends, my bedroom light came on at 5:00 AM as dad would inform me as to what work had to be done that day at the ranch. But one thing that dad did every single day of his life, and even for me on the days I worked with him, was cook breakfast…two eggs over easy, two pieces of bacon, and two pieces of toast. This was as automatic as the sun coming up!
Looking back, I wouldn’t trade my days growing up for anything or any other time. The freedoms we had as kids was nothing short of incredible. Growing up in a small town in Texas was great. Everyone knew everyone and their business. You learned a lot at the local barber shop, everything from who was having affairs to if a coach was going to get fired. Nothing was off limits at the barber shop!
People helped each other in times of need, whether a storm had come through or a family member passed away. People cared about each other and would help in any way possible when someone needed it. You were friends with all your neighbors and never worried about locking doors. You slept with windows open at night to let the cool breeze flow through the house. When was the last time you heard of anyone doing this? Moms cooked dinner every night and you ate as a family while discussing how your day went. This is when communication took place, as dad would break the news as to what chores needed to be done the next day. Family dinners back then were the equivalent of a zoom call today…it was when you asked for permission to borrow the car, go on a date, or maybe go camping with your buds. But at my house, you better make sure you had your ducks in a row before you asked for permission on anything, because the answer you got was not negotiable. You had better state your case right the first time because there were no second chances after the answer was given. I learned, “Don’t shoot from the hip because you will get shot down.”
As you can see, I had a great childhood and upbringing. I would not change a single thing about it. For those reading this, I hoped it reminded you of some great times and the good ole days! Till next time, good luck, good fishing, and don’t forget your sunscreen!
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