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Gimme a Break -- I've Been Busy

I failed to travel down to Camp Lejeune where I spent First through Sixth grades because it would have eaten up half the day at minimum. After a little research I'm certain that I didn't miss much. As Thomas Wolfe said, You Can't Go Home Again ( which I found to be a thoroughly boring book when read at age 19, perhaps more interesting now).

The old home ... Now a toxic waste clean-up site

In any event, if you live long enough, the roads of your youth disappear, the buildings disappear, the people disappear and the culture disappears. Live long enough and you die in a foreign country. Every change in culture brings with it the death of both the bad and the good but it is a mystery to me why schools only teach about the loss of the bad, and never about the loss of the good. Why do we despise the past?

Going to Sunday School at a church, now a historical site

Dead people, except for the kid on the right ...

I think the young may find it entirely too easy to dismiss, as mere nostalgia, the reflections of the old on their youth, a yearning for the lost days when they didn't need to rise out of bed every three hours to pee. But this is far too facile. Things are lost, important things.

Consider that when these photos were taken:

  • Female labor force participation in 1960 was 38 percent. Today it is 62 percent. While I was growing up, there were many more intelligent (and I might add, more intelligent than today) and ambitious women engaged in child rearing. There were few empty homes during the daylight hours and far fewer latchkey kids. All of this excess intelligence and ambition was directed into community service and husband nagging. The old adage that behind every successful man is a woman was much more true in the past.

Community center ... gone

  • There were 2 TV channels available in our trailer park and, of course, no electronic devices. Two movie theaters and two drive-ins served the community. The drive-ins were mostly off limits to the young, as they ran C movies which over-promised and under-delivered sex. These movies were preceded by a week of lurid newspaper ads in an effort to gin up a white hot heat of desire to see the forbidden. The forbidden never came, just disappointment. You cannot seriously think that this did not have an impact on childhood activities. Spontaneous, impromptu physical group play was the rule, not the exception. Packs of kids roamed the trailer park during the day and on warm summer nights we would run in and out of the insecticidal fog being laid down by the mosquito abatement trucks until the driver would stop, come out and chase us away.

  • Back then, poor people read books. It seems that every household had a subscription to Reader's Digest condensed books. Even if it wasn't literature, it was educational. Just because you were poor didn't mean that you stopped learning or lost your curiosity about the world. The fact that you had to work your brain (e.g. read) to get your entertainment resulted in a more intellectually robust population.

Apart from the movies, these are not trivial aspects of a culture to lose and I mourn their loss.

Now for a collection of pictures that will have interest primary to those pictured.

We visited Fort Macon where the kids danced on the edge of a cliff.

We also visited the Atlantic Beach Aquarium, a surprisingly nice place. We left huge amounts of money in the gift shop.

Finally, we had dinner at a Mexican restaurant. Apparently all the Hispanics living in Atlantic Beach eat there because it was the largest concentration of them we saw on the trip. Went in with low expectations and were very pleasantly surprised.

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