From Garrison Keillor’s O’ What a Luxury
Back in the day, my little daughter,
We didn’t pay for bottled water,
Back when Elvis was alive
And coffee didn’t cost three ninety-five.
Back then there was no Internet,
Google hadn’t been invented yet,
There were no chat rooms to go to —
We just sat around and talked to people we knew.
Back then there were no cell phones.
When you left home, you were left alone.
A man didn’t always feel connected he
Didn’t walk down the street and get a call from Schenectady.
There were no seat belts, no air bag.
You stood on the front seat next to your dad
As he drove down the highway drinking his beer
Or you sat in his lap and helped him steer.
In school, we had Christmas every year
And sang about the Midnight Clear
You believed in God or said you did
Unless you were a communist kid.
We made planes from balsa models.
There were no safety caps on aspirin bottles,
Labels didn’t warn about safety risks,
And music came on black vinyl discs.
I was autistic back in the day
But I didn’t know it so I was okay.
There were no play dates, we just ran wild.
If you cried bloody murder, your mama smiled
And said, “Don’t you come bawling to me.”
Kid were tough cause we had to be.
Every year we went to the Fair,
Spent five or six dollars there,
Went to see the stock car races,
Dropped pingpong balls in plaster vases.
Saw the fat lady and the Siamese twins
And the Penguin Boy with a set of fins.
And I looked at Dad, and deep in my soul
I could not imagine ever being that old.
I’m not nostalgic, darling dear.
I am happy to be here.
I just thought you ought to know
How it was in the long ago.