By John Matonich
It is quite common to hear folks speak of the “Good old days.” I can relate on a number of levels that times years ago were simpler and maybe a little better, but I don’t think that’s the case for everything.
I was thinking about it the other day as I was driving to my woodshop and saw a gentleman walking on the side of the road with a bag in his hand. I knew what he was doing and waved at him. He was looking for deposit bottles and cans. The side of the road had recently been mowed and it made it easier for him to spot his prey.
It wasn’t that many years ago before we had a deposit law when it wasn’t uncommon to see a river of these containers on the side of the road. Springtime after the snow melt was not a pretty sight along most of our roadways. Much of this has been corrected by adding the deposit, but there are still a few folks who have enough coin, they don’t worry about the deposit and still toss their empties out the window. There still is plenty of waste to be picked up roadside, but this law certainly helps.
Another change for the good in my humble opinion is how society handles smoking today. Before I get blasted by smokers, let me tell you that I am a smoker. I have smoked a pipe for over 40 years. Never have been a cigarette smoker, but carry my pipe with me a lot and enjoy it when the time and place is right.
When I was younger and going to a lot of city council meetings, it was a usual practice for the council table to be full of ashtrays and smoking during a council meeting was the norm including the audience. I can’t even imagine that happening today and I am glad for it.
I was watching a DVD my bride gave me as a present the other evening and I couldn’t help but shake my head. The DVD was of an old TV series with Dean Martin. It was a weekly show was the honored (roasted) a celebrity. I remember watching the show while I was growing up, but didn’t remember how much everyone on the dais smoked. Watching it today, I was shocked to see 90 percent of the folks at the head table light up multiple times during the show.
I remember Johnny Carson smoking on his show, but was surprised to see folks like Bob Newhart smoking on Dean’s show. Jack Benny was smoking a cigar, Lucille Ball was puffing away and it wasn’t unusual for Dean to carry his cigarette up to the podium and puff away while introducing the next roaster.
Watching this show in my youth, I know I never thought twice about these actions on that series, but today I couldn’t help but cringe every time I saw one of the beloved celebrities take a puff. This tells me that our society can and has evolved away from actions that truly aren’t good for society. Maybe these aren’t the “Good Ole Days”, but I think they aren’t too bad either.
And that’s the situation as I survey it …
After a 35-year career downstate livin’ amongst da trolls, during which he built a successful engineering and surveying business, John Matonich is back home in da U.P. His column will appear here occasionally, don’tcha know. His book “Surveyin’ Da Situation” is available on Amazon.com.