I remember a few things from early childhood surprisingly around the age of 4 years, that I am fond of. Oddly or not, some of those memories is of knowing my older brothers were off to someplace that was not home and I could not go.
Of course they were off to school, but this concept had not registered in my young mind and all I knew was that they enjoyed this "school" while I missed them (yes, older brothers can be obnoxious but they are my brothers).
My Mom was a stay at home Mom, but it was her job as well to see my brothers to school (so many hats for a Mom, back then). This usually took but a few minutes, say 15-25, but there was little Christopher to see after as well as Dad was already at work.
No problem. Our great neighbor would take the time to visit with me, and my trusted stuffed dog George, in her backyard until my Mothers return. These were very fun visits being our neighbor had an unusually forested backyard with squirrels playing all about while we (my neighbor more-so) chatted about fun stuff, my 'dog' George and when I joined my brothers in this entity called school.
This was an era when neighbors did not lock their doors, every parent on the block was respected (and when required feared) and all watched each others kids, let alone property.
This scenario, that was real, just on the outskirts of Detroit in 1969 simply does not exist any longer, but it was the America I started out in.
Grade School Arrives In Private Catholic School
Every year I so looked forward to Memorial Day.
I understood the meaning of the day full well with so much appreciation being my U.S. Army Dad had so reverently, yet strongly reminded all of his kids as to its meaning (Thank You Dad).
The reason this day was exciting to me was that being in the Cub Scouts, we were to be in the annual city parade honoring our country's fallen Military personnel.
The whole city (or close to it anyhow) would come out to view the parade, lining the street with flags a waving! Myself in a pressed, proudly worn, more than presentable uniform along with my own earned badges (and being an older Cub Scout) usually received the honor of being in the Color Guard carrying Old Glory Herself!
Sadly, this tradition of a parade in honor of our fallen heroes, in my town and many others, has been replaced with just a small and quick ceremony. This of course is appropriate, but lacks the intensity of civic duty and that of pride of what these heroes did for us and just why we should carry on in their memory and sacrifice, in both the young and the old(er).
The Dreaded Public School
Dreaded, being I would not be in a school with friends that I grew up with.
I had no idea what this "public" school would be like, only that it was not the school I attended for 6 years.
For reasons known (economic), and unknown (personal), my parents removed me from the local Catholic grade school and into the public school system as I was entering the seventh grade. To those wondering, I attended Catechism and remained a Scout until both were completed, but i digress.
This was a sea change for me. Wow I thought, no more shirt and tie as I could wear jeans! The kids were cool, I made new friends and the teachers were nice.
The new surroundings soon, very soon, became rather, to be honest bizarre to me. Very quickly I felt a superiority to those around me? I am not one who was brought up to be this way at all and yet it grabbed me in the gut.
I asked the most trusted people I knew as to why this is, my parents, and to their credit they told me to be myself and use the brain God had given me.
The very next day at school I did just that. The teacher in 7th grade History class was giving a lesson on something I had learned in my 5th grade Catholic school year and I asked why, as I already knew this.
Long story short, this type of situation continued into my public high school career with much more and very confrontational results, being I was taught many things from arithmetic to real history in 6 years of private school than this new system could ever offer.
Schooling in my time and of formative years simply does not exist anymore be it private or public, and being at the tail end of the "Baby Boomers" I can clearly see it will never see the light of day again.
What fun. Lets see, I was already paying the house note before I reached 18 due to my Dad (we already lost a Wife/Mother) lost his job due to the continuing recession brought on by Jimmy Carter, but not willing to lose the house as well or go on "assistance", so we worked - separately but with a common goal.
With some perseverance I landed a job, told temporary, doing odd jobs at a machine shop, menial work but it was a place I could "show myself" and after all they gave me a job. This turned out well.
I watched what others were doing, inquired why they were doing it and most importantly how to do it. I already knew how to design and read blueprints but lacked the knowledge on how to make them come to life so-to-speak. The skilled (non-union) workers here gladly showed me their craft(s) and to them I say God Bless and Thank You!
Here again this scenario is lost. This nation does not have skilled people, at least enough of them, to either share, teach or the knowledge of how to manipulate materials for production into the betterment of living, monetary gain or of simple innovation based on individual thought.
We all know of ups-and-downs in our U.S economy and after 9/11, not being my first in life down economy, well I was without a job.
Then I end up as a UAW member, not by choice mind you, but in a field I am more than familiar with - quality. I know, "quality" and "union" is an oxymoron but a job is a job.
Throughout 48 years of life (Thank You Lord), I have never worked (loose word) with so many lazy, inept and nasty people. All day I hear; "Not my job", "Blame so-and-so".
I have oft wondered during this situation I find myself in when the blame would run out and found it does not (similar to; "Its all Bush's Fault"). Conversely, when I call them out and point to the fact that it is their blame to shoulder and theirs alone, well you should just hear the words!
This is not new to anyone but it is very pervasive in our society no matter where one resides.
What America was to me ans so may others can be again - in time. It is simple.
The problem, or choice you have now before you is to fight for it.
Take that time capsule and call me in the morning,,,lets start anew.