I Sit and Look Out: Selective memory causes yearning for bygone days

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“The good old days!”

How many times have we heard that phrase about so many things — the world at large, the country, the city, our own neighborhoods.

But, let’s think for a moment about “the good old days.”

Depending on how far we want to go back, those were the days before television, before a vaccine was found to end polio, before people spoke openly about cancer and there were few things that could be done to fight it, before MetroCard and EZ Pass, before air conditioning in offices, homes and cars, before we could walk along streets and let the world hear our telephone conversations about all the important matters that just can’t wait until we get home.

You can add to the list.

Of course, there were definitely good things, too. There was water in Jackson Pond in Forest Park and you could ice skate there when it froze. You could spend a penny or two in machines that dispensed gum and candy on the platforms where the E, F, V and G trains run along Queens Boulevard. The ice-cream trucks in almost every neighborhood in Queens sold goodies for 5 cents — 10 cents if you were rich enough to afford Good Humor.

Again, you can add to the list.

And though the mind may be remembering what it wants to at this point, and not necessarily the facts, it seems there was more courtesy in the “old days.” People did say “please,” “thank you” and “pardon me” more often. Or was that so long ago few people remember?

Thoughts about courtesy come to mind especially when waiting for a Green Bus Lines vehicle during the time when high school students are going home. Try the Union Turnpike-Kew Gardens Road terminus at such a time and you don’t see a line — you see a mob.

Regardless of how many other people — aged and infirm count for nothing — are on lines, these hopes of tomorrow push their way to the front of the bus and enter unchallenged. They sit anywhere they please. Signs about giving up a seat to the aged and disabled count for nothing.

Are we all in fear for our lives if we question such behavior? Can the bus line try to keep some kind of order with a supervisor on duty? Can we learn the identity of the schools these paragons attend and, at the least, call such behavior to the attention of the school leaders? Would it make a difference?

Yes, the old days, without doubt, were the old days — good, bad and indifferent. In years to come, how many of us will look back to today and think the days we live in were “the good old days?” Just try not to remember the bus!

Posted 7:08 pm, October 10, 2011
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