The America I Miss…
I miss piles of leaves fragrantly smoldering in gravel driveways. I miss the neighborhood pickup games of football in the vacant meadow amongst the burdock, kids with no helmets, no uniforms and the game was "aerial flash".
I miss the gentle, self-deprecating humor of Mary Tyler Moore, and the live, unpredictable talent of Soul Train. I miss big, catholic families where the oldest brother was 32, and the youngest sister was three.
I miss bustling, small, mid-west downtowns, where you could buy a fan belt at the Western Auto, and browse among the latest electronic gizmos at the Drug and Camera store. I miss the water-fountains on the corners, and the illuminated phone booths where you could hide out from the rain.
I miss the Volunteer Fire Department, and their Friday evening practice. I miss the feeling of important bigness when you drove by the latest Interstate Highway extension project: no one objected to progress. I miss the signs announcing these projects that said, "Your Highway Tax Dollars At Work"
I miss vigorous young astronauts in their Ban-Lon shirts. I miss Black Velvet billboards. I miss feminine women, and masculine men. I miss playgrounds with teeter-totters.
I miss Johnny Carson, and his "adult" humor that today would only be categorized as "grown up". I miss Charles M. Schulz and comic strips in the paper that were funny, not preachy. I miss Merle Haggard.
I miss silhouettes of Washington and Lincoln cut from black construction paper, mounted by school children on white construction paper, and displayed for each President’s birthdays–Separately. I miss "American History" that was written by Bruce Catton, not Billy Ayers.
I miss Tom Landry patrolling the sidelines in Dallas, resplendent in suit-coat, tie and hat–professional sports were "professional". I miss Christmas cards made of velveteen flocking, and tons of gold tinsel on the Christmas tree. I miss Bill Cosby. And Lena Horne. I miss the "Discover America–Best By Car!" bumper stickers.
I miss seeing young mothers with their husbands rather than with other wedding ring-less young mothers. I miss loud, projecting neon signs and local chain department stores that others have never heard of.
I miss pop radio that could be anything from Gordon Lightfoot to Led Zeppelin, The Carpenters to Johnny Rivers to Carly Simon to Foghat to Ray Charles. I miss neighborhoods in the summertime bubbling with children and bikes and ice cream trucks. I miss schools that were quiet as a butterfly after 3:30 pm, because Moms were waiting at home for all their kids.
I miss a culture that saw virtue in quiet piety, and wholesome living. Oddly, I miss mid-American kitsch like crocheted beer-can hats and latch-hook rugs. I miss kid-built tree-houses and kids playing "Army". I miss county fairs that weren’t crackling and bristling with gang colors, but reminded you more of "Charlotte’s Web". I miss Letters to Santa published in the local paper.
I miss being able to purchase something at the store without the clerk keying in five minutes of data in their computer before they give me my change. I miss the fact that the American Bar Association restricted their members from advertising. I miss the Orange Bowl swishing away at McDonalds, and Big Macs that came in shiny tag-board containers. I miss cut-offs. I miss walking into the airport concourse to watch the airplanes come and go. I miss bench seats in pickup trucks.
I miss the Episcopal Church that believed in something besides the sexually libertine. I miss World War One veterans.
But most of all, I miss congressmen and legislators and Presidents that thought they were normal people going to the State Capitol or Washington to serve their fellows… not boss around, abuse, and torment them.
I really miss that.