The Good Old Days

Everyone knows how horrible modern life is, especially here in the US. Technology running rampant, terrible food, crowds, pollution, on and on. If only we could turn the clock back and live like we used to in “The Good Old Days”

The Good Old Days were really great. Think about how well we used to eat. No preservatives, no chemical additives, just pure, unadulterated, partly spoiled meat, fish and dairy products. Sour milk has now become a lost food item, that most of us (except for a few single guys who insist on drinking week old milk straight out of the carton) have never even tasted. And we didn’t have to worry about fruits or vegetables going bad because there weren’t any, unless you lived in the country.

And no junk food!!

So wait, you are asking, if people didn’t eat Snickers, Cheetos, meat, milk, fruit, vegetables, what DID they eat? Bread, mostly. Good nutritious, whole grain bread. Morning, noon and night. Some folks had corn, tomatoes and potatoes also. Lots and lots of potatoes.  Of course this was true in the more recent Good Old Days, since corn, potatoes, tomatoes, and other crops (chocolate, tobacco) didn’t exist in Europe until they were brought from the New World.

The Good Old Days were really good old days when it came to beverages. None of this modern nonsense about drinking water. Ground water, (rivers and streams) was too polluted to drink in the good old days, so unless you had a well, water was not an option. Even wells often went bad, and people learned to only accept water from trustworthy sources. Milk was also not an option, unless you were on a farm. Juice and soda didn’t exist. (no fruit, remember), and coffee was a rare luxury. Tea was available, but could be expensive (remember the Boston party?).

So people drank what was safe, – alcohol. That why they call it the Good Old Days. Beer, mead, ale, wine, this is what everyone drank all the time in the Good Old Days. Drinks with alcohol were safe from bacterial contamination, and besides had many other advantages. They made the idea of spending 13 to 16 hours a day working in a field, or in a mill, or just trying to survive, a bit more palatable. After all, we should remember that in the Good Old Days, 99% of folks were poor.

And being poor in The Good Old Days meant being really poor. No spoiled kids crying because they didn’t get a Wii for Christmas. No kids crying because they didn’t want to go to school. No school. Nobody complaining about waiting at the doctor’s office for an hour. No doctors. With an average lifespan of 35-45 years, the whole problem of taking care of old folks, and what to do after retirement just didn’t  come up.

Also, that whole conflict that women face these days about choosing between career or family, well, that wasn’t an issue at all in the Good Old Days. Women got married, had kids and raised them (or the few that survived infancy), until they died in childbirth or from starvation or plague. Ah the simple life, free of those tough decisions we face these days. Well, actually, sometimes women did have choices to make, If she failed to find a husband, or if her husband died in a mill, mine, farm or other accident (or was killed in a war, or by a thief or a nobleman). a woman had the choice of prostitution or the convent. 

Now you might be starting to think that I am being sarcastic, and that I hold the view that Good Old Days were really pretty crappy. There might be some truth to that. My problem is that I can never really figure out exactly when and where the Good Old Days were supposed to have taken place. A time and place that we would all love to return to. At the moment Im stumped. I did have a nice day yesterday though.

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4 Responses to The Good Old Days

  1. Ah… the “Golden Age”, variously described as a time when, “men were men,” or, “love was free,” or just the era of a well-manicured garden at a resort for nudists. Mirrors my response to someone at my front door asking, “Wouldn’t you agree that things now are worse than ever?”

    To quote you, “Wait long enough, and something will happen.” But in the interim, an extraordinary number of humans are at least materially better-off than say, King Henry VIII, who couldn’t even have imagined access to most of our daily conveniences, much less the benefits of modern human knowledge, science, engineering and infrastructure… fertilizer, electricity, antibiotics, radio,… duct tape and Internet.
    That “happiness” and “meaning” otherwise evades so many of us speaks to some less material human condition… perhaps focusing on the wrong things? Nevertheless, I posit that “Now” is the “good old days.”

    Cheers! (ツ)v

  2. dgilmanjm says:

    I spent my childhood on farms, so I had those good old days. No refrigerator or freezer. We picked the fruit directly off the tree, reaped fresh vegetables from the garden and the meat came from an animal killed that very day.

    Yep, there were some not so good things about those days. The toilet was in a building outside the house. It merely stood over a hole dug in the ground. No running water. We collected water out of a tank that caught rainwater running off the roof. There was no electricity so, we had to depend on kerosene lamps for light.

    When my dad moved us to another area, he bought a kerosene powered refrigerator, and that house had a well and a hand pump. However, we still sometimes ended up eating the chicken we were playing with earlier that day.

  3. Mary Bullington says:

    The convent was not such a bad place for women to be in the Middle Ages, especially if they came from a good family and brought some money to the convent in their dowries. Some nuns even read Latin and copied manuscripts. Among layfolk, some women fared better than others in childbirth. Catherine of Siena’s mother had 24 children out of one uterus, 22 of whom lived to adulthood. But Catherine, a nun, lived only to be 33, and died of “holy anorexia” after (reportedly) consuming only the Communion host for the last year of her life. But she wrote some interesting books. Each era has its evils and its blessings.

    • Thanks for the correction. You’re right it wasn’t easy getting into a convent or an monastery. AFter all, free food, not too much work. Priests and nuns had a relatively cushy life. Course, it was hard to get, you had to have schooling and some money, both in very short supply. But I am sure you’re right – People like Catherine of Siena and her siblings were better off than most. In fact, I think its quite likely that we pretty much know all the names of all the people (royals and aristocrats) who lived well in those days.

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