ENID, Okla. — Editor’s note: This column was first published July 23, 2004.
Email is a marvelous thing. All you have to do is push a button and you can send anything to anyone in the world, as long as they have an e-mail address.
I get lots of email, much of it from people who apparently are very concerned about getting me a mortgage, selling me things like kitchen cabinets and Viagra, offering me free gifts like video cameras or free glucose meters and offering me a chance to increase the size of my, er, I.Q.
Occasionally, I get one that I actually open before zapping it into cyberspace oblivion.
I received one the other day extolling the virtues of the “good old days.”
It waxed nostalgic about what a safe, wonderful place the world was back in the days when the TV shows were wholesome and we watched them all in black and white.
Indeed, the world was a different place nearly 50 years ago.
Terrorism was something that happened to other people in other countries, not our own. It was safe to sit out on your porch at night enjoying the breeze and swatting at mosquitoes. It was safe to go to the movies without having to worry about being assaulted with gore and obscenity at every turn.
Just consider some of the headlines with which we are confronted every day in the newspaper.
“Senate strikes down new move at tax reduction.” Oh, great, Uncle Sam is planning to get his hand even deeper in our pockets.
“OG&E gets rate increase.” Everything just keeps going up and up.
“Youth struck while fixing flat dies.” What a tragedy, a youngster fixing a flat tire hit and killed.
“23,000 strike Goodyear plant.” Just another example of labor unrest damaging our economy.
“Enid man drowns at Salt Plains.” “Bulldozer crushes man in truck cab.” It seems there is nothing but bad news in the paper these days.
“Watonga grand jury demanded; Charges filed in water funds shortage.” This is just another example of corruption and the general decline in morality these days.
These headlines are a perfect example of why the good old days were so much better than today — or they would be, save for the fact these headlines came from the front page of the Enid Morning News on selected dates in July and early August 1954.
There were other headlines in those papers, as well, headlines like “Wetback crackdown big saving for U.S.”
Another headline read “Negro grid star says he cannot afford OU’s cost.”
The first story concerned a crackdown on illegal Mexican immigrants to the United States, the latter to Oklahoma City high school star Andy Dement, whose parents couldn’t afford to send him to OU. We were certainly less sensitive in the good old days. Those were the days when those of Dement’s race were relegated to “colored only” rest rooms and drinking fountains in some parts of the country.
Women didn’t fare much better. The papers were filled with photos of bathing beauties, including a bikini-clad young lady frolicking on the French Riviera.
Her claim to fame was being named “Miss Holidays of 1954.”
And the newspaper didn’t shy away from sex crimes, either. “Sex pervert kills boy, 13,” screamed one headline over a story from Calumet, while another bellowed “Sex fiend lured girl, 18, to her death in Indianapolis.”
Other headlines told a grim tale of the state of medical science 50 years ago. “1,171 new polio cases in country,” read one, “State polio death toll reaches 13 for year,” read another.
Polio, still a scourge in the good old days, is practically non-existent today.
And just when you think crazy diets are a modern phenomenon, there was a story about six female students at UCLA who spent six weeks on a daily diet of one muffin, vitamin capsules, butterscotch pudding and an occasional gumdrop or soda pop. Fans of Atkins or South Beach have nothing on these women.
The good old days? Old, certainly, but good? That’s a matter of opinion.
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.