Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Good Old Days

I wonder whatever happened to the art of conversation and face to face contact with people. I was talking with someone this morning and the conversation got around to the fact that we don't know our neighbours like we used to.

I can remember growing up in a neighbourhood where mostly we knew all those that lived around us. As children, we played with the children across the road. When I was 2 years old we moved into the house which was to be our family home for many years. It was a new housing estate and there were houses going up everywhere.

Prior to us moving into the house we lived in, the people that lived next door had moved into their house within the month before we did. They had young children and so did my parents and so we grew up together. There was also the neighbours across the road and people on the other side. Slowly, but sometimes quickly, the houses went up around us and so the housing estate grew and grew.

Throughout my childhood I can remember my parents going over to the neighbours house at night and playing cards. I can remember the lady next door having another baby and how I would spend hours over there holding the baby and helping to bath the baby. I can also remember the yells from next door at my place, of my mother calling me to come home ... and I still remember the fact that I had selective hearing!!! Seems like children today are not exempt from that. In fact it's something that mothers also have at times. Ahh ... good old selective hearing .... and I must confess to having suffered with that from time to time as my children were growing up.

I still remember mum saying to me "can you go and ask Mrs. so and so for a cup of sugar, or 2 eggs or some milk or whatever it was that we had run out of at that moment..... and tell her I'll give it back to her tomorrow." .... then off we'd trot to the neighbours house cup in hand, to return with the necessary goods in hand.

I still remember the little black and white terrier that we had called Midge and how she would wander from house to house and sit on the front door mat waiting for us to come out from playing with our friends. At other times she would just wander over there and sit on the mat waiting for someone to come outside and pat her. There was a time when if your mum and dad had to go out for a while, and you were left at home to look after yourself, that if anything went wrong you could just run next door and there would be someone there to help.

Back in the days when we were growing up we mostly ran around without shoes on, much to the annoyance of our parents. The road outside our house, for many years, was unmade. The roads had been graded and had a layer of stones on top. I look back now and don't know how we did it, but we ran across the road to each others places and barely flinshed as the flesh of our feet hit the stones. Today I would not even think of running on stones, it would hurt too much. Seems like back then we had built up some sort of tolerance to it.

We walked the two or so blocks to school every single day, chatting to our friends as we went, free and easy, not a care in the world. It seemed as though it was a more innocent existence back then .... don't know if it truly was ... but it seemed that way.

So what has happened to this friendly care free attitude. Most of us don't even know our neighbours. Sure we might know them by sight and wave to them from across the street, but to go and sit in their kitchen and have a hot cuppa is something that we don't really do any more. I am sure there are neighbourhoods where this still exists, but they are few and far between. Sad to say I could not tell you the names of my neighbours, nor could I tell you anything else about them ..... except what I know about them, from seeing them in the street, coming and going to their homes. They would probably say the same thing about me.

We live in a faster paced world these days. We don't walk too and from places the way we used to when I was growing up. Mum's get into their car to run the children to school .... whereas back in the days when I was growing up .... mum walked the kids to school. We walked to the shops. We walked to the park.

Come to think of it many things that have come with the modern age of technology have destroyed the art of conversation, although perhaps not entirely, but to a large degree and personal contact with one another. For example now we just text message people on their mobile phones, rather than calling them and relaying the message verbally. We chat on computers via chat programs rather than calling someone on the phone and having a conversation with them. We send emails via electronic means rather than putting pen to paper and writing a letter ....... snail mail ..... we are impatient to get things to people and we want it there yesterday. There's FACEBOOK and TWITTER where we catch glimpses of others lives and some even choose to air their dirty laundry online .... which once upon a time would have been unheard of.

Don't get me wrong I see the value in some of these things and I think that some of it has changed our lives for good. But I can't help thinking that we truly live in a vastly different world than we did a few short years ago. My how things have changed ......

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