It’s confession time.
How many of our Over 60s generation have misled our grandchildren about what life was like when we were their age?
The children look up to us so they believe Nana and Grandad when we fondly remember our pet dinosaur. To them, the 1950s and 1960s were prehistoric times when the world was in black and white, only the rich had a TV set in their house and you could go to the movies for 10 cents.
Unfortunately, the future generation’s understanding of the mid-20th century is going to be rather coloured by the experiences grandparents claim they lived under In the era before computer games, mobile phones and social media existed.
“But granddad what did you do for fun in those days?” Well we took our pet dinosaur for a run in the park, we played in puddles in the street or we listened to the radio. The grandchildren struggle to imagine these concepts. They inhabit a high tech world Filled with mobile phones, laptops, gaming consoles and giant screen TV’s And their social interaction is more likely to be online than playing in the street.
Their awareness of the world when they were children is also coloured by how movies and TV depict it. In general, the post-war/ 60s era is depicted as Hollywood prefers to remember it, with Elvis, rock and roll and Beatlemania ruling the world. If only…
As someone whose childhood was governed by the rigid conformity of New Zealand, life was really quite plain and unimaginative so we survivors are wont to embroider our memories for the grandchildren.
This is necessary because they recoil in disbelief when we reminisce about cars with no seat belts, walking to school rather than being driven there, spending our pocket money on fireworks and blowing up the neighbourhood or advertising campaigns for cigarettes.
Small wonder the kids ask us what it was really like to live in those times. This is where we sometimes embellish the truth.
“What was your first pet Grandad?”
And I’d answer, “Well it was a sabre tooth tiger called Fluffy.”
It sounds more dramatic than a fat tabby called Cat.
Personally, I’ve never gone in for a rose coloured spectacles memory of the postwar years. Life today is so much more enjoyable than our youth and the kids today have a lifestyle we could never have imagined.
For example, sex dominates the advertising and entertainment worlds now. We all know there was no sex in the 50s and swear words had not been invented yet. Babies were delivered by storks and if a child swore they got their mouth washed out with soap. Some of us consequently had very clean mouths.
Kids sometimes get their historical eras mixed up too. So you patiently explain that no, I did not sail on the Titanic. But make a mental note for some future mischief…
Someone recently posed the theoretical question – would you like to re-live the era of your childhood? It’s a fascinating idea but do I really want to return to the drab 1950s?
No way but I have to admit it would be fun to take my pet dinosaur for another run in the park.