By Joe Recotr
I wouldn’t trade my life for that of any other person. I was reminded of how lucky I’ve been during a conversation with my wife, and for nearly a week, that thought has stayed with me; I can’t seem to shake it.
For all my life, I’ve been lucky to have a best buddy with me. My twin brother Jim and I made life around our home more interesting. Older brother Dallas (back then he was known as Dal Gene) was believed to have been the “perfect child,” a distinction that neither Jim nor I ever would receive. Instead, we decided to be helpers. On one occasion, we vacuumed the dirty diapers and then placed them in the drawer with other clean ones. Another time, we massaged an entire jar of Noxzema cream into a velvet couch. Throughout our lives, we’ve fought and loved, and as we grow older, each minute together is important.
My generation grew up at the best time in this country’s existence. As young children, we watched the first Americans zoom into space. Later, we watched astronauts land on the moon. Cars had plenty of get-up-and-go, and during our high school years, gas was as low as 27 cents a gallon. Home was a good place where we spent most of our time.
Our teen and early adulthood years found us involved in the events of the nation. We suffered through the losses of two Kennedys and King. A president resigned rather than be impeached or imprisoned. The Vietnam War took from our country too many thousands of young men of our generation, and many Baby Boomers protested and demonstrated against the war, but not the soldiers.
College was expensive but still affordable. Tuition the first year was $110 a quarter, and a dorm room was $120. Books often were the most expensive things. I was lucky because Dallas and his wife Brenda were in Cookeville as well, and they fed me supper. The family made fun of me for often knocking on the door and asking Dallas if I could warm up the can of Dinty Moore beef stew I always had. The competition with two brothers and a sister-in-law was fierce. I didn’t beat them, but I graduated with honors, something that never was close in high school.
It was in Cookeville that I met Amy, and that’s the best thing to ever happen in my life. A year and a half later, we married, and for some reason, she’s kept me around all this time. We had little money, but we had good times. Life was fun, I think, even for my wife, who was taking a full college load and working a part-time job at the same time.
I look at children today and worry about them. They seem to always be under such stress. Too much young time is spent in a room as teens stare at a computer screen as they play a video game or as they use “social media” platforms. That’s so odd to me because the more the young folks use those things, the less they spend actual time together.
The problems of this country are things about which they have little say-so. I’m not sure if they much care. In fact, I’m not sure young people have any idea about political matters or personal rights. Education seems to turn away from classes that teach about those topics in favor of math and science. Yes, those two are important, but so are understanding our government and playing an instrument and enjoying an art class.
I hope kids today are happy. They live in a tough time and world. I am lucky to have been from a generation that still has the power to affect teens. You don’t believe me? Just start a recording of “My Girl” by the Four Tops and listen to young and old join in singing and smiling. Yep, I’m a lucky guy who had the best life.