The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Enid Features

May 14, 2013

The past: ‘Don’t look back except for inspiration’ ...

Do you live in the past? Think about it.

To hear our grandkids tell it, we do. Maybe they think that just because we talk about it so much, that we really wish we were back in those “olden days.” Not so!

But weren’t those days fun? No matter where we grew up, or with whom, those memories are wonderful. Part of the thing that makes the good old days what they were is that in the meantime, we forgot all the bad things and just remember the good times.

During my many moons, I have forgotten the hard tests I had to take at school, and the long, difficult lessons I had to prepare, and the cold days when I walked to school and thought I would literally freeze. Or those hot days when there was no air anywhere and we thought we would smother, or the trillion other things that were not always pleasant.

Thankfully, the things we remember with joy are the friends we had in school. And our great, understanding, wonderful teachers, and the taste of the lunches we carried in those syrup buckets or lunch pails to school. We had enough food to trade and plenty for noon and morning and afternoon recess, and maybe something left to eat as we walked home from school.

We scarcely remember the milking and feeding and carrying wood and the other chores we did night and morning without fail. The memories that stand out in our minds are the wonderful meals Mother cooked for us, that tasted so wonderful after those chores were completed. I can close my eyes and recall the fragrance of that home-cured bacon or ham cooking for breakfast. Mother’s biscuits were scrumptious and were worth working for. If that is living in the past, so be it, because they are wonderful memories.

The stories Daddy told of his boyhood friendships with the Pawnee Indians that he grew up with were so interesting, and gave us such insight of what the Native Americans felt and thought. Never did I think that he was living in the past just because he talked about those times. That was part of history. Daddy was a part of history. But you know what — so are we! No matter what we are doing, it will eventually be a part of our history and the good old days.

Just because Jim recounts his wonderful stories of his time in the Marine Corps in World War II, does not mean that he wished he were back in the war. But we do need to listen to the stories of those difficult times, to remind us that war can occur over and over — lest we forget!

If I had a choice, I would not go back to the days of school and the Depression and World War II eras. But I can remember with nostalgia the things that happened. Those were the events that molded who I am today. The things we learned shaped our lives and will live in us forever.

The way we lived and the circumstances we endured helped forge our lives and made us understanding and appreciative of present times. We learned to be frugal and sharing with what we had. We learned to enjoy what we had and benefit from it and be grateful for every thing.

When young people graduate from high school, they cry. The crying is not because they are sad to leave their circumstances and move on, but because it is the end of an era. They would not go back, but they already are looking back at what was.

We all have those feelings about something in our lives — marriages, graduations, births, deaths, etc. Would any of us go back to the day we we were married as opposed to the actual day-to-day living with the person we love? Would any of us go back to the actual birth of a child, compared to the joy of seeing them grow into adulthood? As much as we miss those who have passed before us, would we wish them back into this busy world we live in?

Grandma used to say, “Don’t look back except for inspiration.” She was right. With the many hardships and trials endured coming to this new country, I am sure they would not want to relive them, but from those experiences came funny stories of endurance. Those tribulations built great character and shaped many lives that made Oklahoma what it is today — strong and tough, yet gentle and caring. The things she learned went on to inspire us. It certainly did not mean she lived in the past. She just had pleasant memories of how things worked out from hard to happy endings.

This recipe reminds me of the good times I had as a kid. It tastes as good now as it did back then, and it will continue to be good generations from now. We always called them “June berries,” but now they are called blueberries. They are the same thing and taste just as good. Grandma had a “patch” of June berries and I loved to pick them. I ate as many as I put in the bucket when we picked them, but they tasted mighty good in these pancakes, too.

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