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James R. Stout

A Soapbox and Making Memories

            I made the mistake of falling asleep in front of the TV. It was a mistake that I seem to be making often these days. The problem with it is that when I wake up a couple of hours later, I can’t get back to sleep to save my neck. So, I was channel surfing in the early a.m. hours and came upon a movie that I was not familiar with. I’m not going to tell you the name of the movie because it was a seriously upsetting movie to me and I wouldn’t pass it on to anyone else. What the movie did was portray realistically the problem of child trafficking. I am horrified by the estimated number of children that are abducted and sold to be sex slaves all over the world. The FBI estimates that there are approximately 100,000 children a year brought into or trafficked out of America. All of this got me to thinking about how truly different things are today compared to when I was a child.

            Parents today, the ones with any brains, can’t drop off their children at a movie theater to see a movie today by themselves. They can’t allow their children to roam the neighborhood and play with other children unless a trusted adult is watching them the whole time. Parents don’t have the security of knowing that whatever comes on their TV will be fit for their children to see. Morality is so warped today that a great many parents don’t think things that were so clearly not tolerated in my childhood are a problem for their children to see. Social media has taken America onto paths that are riddled with predators and dishonest businesses. I saw a news report this week about dating sites on the internet. I won’t name the company, but it’s a major player in that business, The company admits that fully 35% of the profiles on their site are in reality non-existent. Instead, they are a front for a company that posts a picture of an attractive person with a completely fictious profile. Why? To get your information. Let’s say you see one of these people and contact them via the site. What’s the first thing you do? You tell them all about yourself. Things you like, don’t like, eat, won’t eat, body type, religion, and a whole host of other things that you willingly provide thinking you’re going to meet this person. Of course, it’s set up so that the actual person monitoring that profile will have a reason not to want to meet you after all. But the company now has all that info including your email address. Suddenly, you start getting emails wanting to sell you this or that and it doesn’t occur to you that it’s all based on the info that you gave to them.

            In 1965, when I was 9 and 10 years old, I have no doubt that there were a few sick people out there. But it was very uncommon. My parents didn’t have to warn me about things because there just wasn’t anyone out there who spent their lives destroying the lives of children. From the time I was 8-years-old my parents would drop off me and my sister or me and a friend at the movie theater to watch a wholesome family-oriented movie. They were great movies too. Unfortunately, the same company that made those movies then has become greatly lowered its standards. I won’t name the company, but you probably can guess. In 1965 we might have gone to see a movie about a teenager and her cat. The cat was prone to prowling the neighborhood and getting into trouble. It was all good clean fun to watch. Today, that same company has put out movies marketed for kids that include homosexual behavior, bathroom (that’s what we always called it) humor, and over-the-top violence. Another series of movies that made billions of dollars and was geared for kids was all about the occult and witches and warlocks. Oh, we had our ghost stories back in the 60’s, but they were almost always funny and light-hearted.

            Now, before you get to thinking that I’m just an old fuddy-duddy, stop and think about what I’m saying. People under the age of about 50 never knew things the way that people my age did. By the time they can remember things were already in a tailspin. It started slow, but it’s full a whirlwind today. I can’t help but lay a lot of the blame at the feet of Hollywood. They’ll show anything today. Even PG movies have language and some skin that would never have been tolerated in my early years. I don’t recall hearing a 4-letter word in a movie until I was a teenager and it was talked about because of its rarity. And you know what? The words aren’t necessary. The skin isn’t necessary. Take the movie “Shenandoah” from 1965 for instance. A young couple got married, but before they could have a honeymoon, he had to immediately go off to war. Later in the movie he is rescued by his father-in-law and brother’s-in-laws. His wife is with them also. There’s a scene where they come to an abandoned cabin and decide to take shelter there overnight during a storm. The father goes into the bedroom and closes the door, and everyone can hear him moving furniture around and bumping things. He finally comes out and tells his daughter and son-in-law that he’s sorry it’s not any nicer than it is, but at least it will be private. The son-in-law picks up his bride, carries her across the threshold, and then the door closes. That’s all we see and that was all that was necessary. It may come as a surprise to some people out there, but there was a day when most people didn’t use cuss words. My parents would never have put up with it. Most parents back then were the same. I hear young parents today in stores and other public settings openly saying words that a child doesn’t need to hear.

            Well, I’ve gone and gotten on my soapbox in this entry. But I’m not sorry if it offends you because if it offends you, then you’re part of the problem. But I’m guessing that most of the people who read my blog every day are closer to feeling the way that I do. Notice that I didn’t even get into politics in this diatribe. That’s another issue altogether.

            But to end this on a positive note I’ll tell you what it was like when I was 9-years-old and went to the movie with my big sister. It was in the fall of 1964. We were huge fans of Hayley Mills. Her latest movie was a spy-thriller called “The Moon Spinners”. It is a wonderful movie and I have the DVD of it. On a Saturday about 1 o’clock my mother drove us to The Palace Theater in Bryan, Texas. She gave us each $1.25. The ticket price was 50 cents. We could buy a Coke for 25. cents, a bag of popcorn for 15. cents, and a candy bar for a dime. The extra quarter was so that we each had a little left over. Just in case. We excitedly bought our tickets, went into the theater to find good seats, and then took turns saving our seats while the other went to the concession stand. There was always a couple of cartoons and previews of new movies about to be released, but then the movie started. It was 2 hours of thrills watching Hayley and her aunt on vacation in Greece navigate through helping a young man escape from some bad guys. The cinematography was fantastic as was the exotic locale. When the movie was over my sister would call Mom and let her know the movie was over. We would go outside and window shop near the theater while we waited for Mom to show up. Soon, she was there, and we piled into the car and told her all about the movie. I think that she must have truly enjoyed seeing us have such a good time. She didn’t have to worry about us not being safe at the theater. I treasure those days not only for the fun times, but for the blessing of living during a time of innocence. Here it is 5 a.m. now and I’m itching to get that DVD and watch it now. I’ll end by saying that when I take my granddaughters to either see a movie or out to a park or riding around up hear in the country, I tell them that we are “making memories”. They like that and when they see me and we head out to get a snow cone in the summer or go to a park somewhere they’ll pipe up and say, “We’re making memories, Paw-Paw!”

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