Polls, polls and more polls. Have you ever wondered how the world survived before the invention of polls?
What presidential candidate is ahead in the polls today? What insurance company has the best insurance premiums? Who was the first man to walk on the moon?
And, before polls, how in the world were games played? Today, "Family Feud," "The Millionaire," just to name a couple, thrive on this venture. So, do I, a mere mortal, dare to interject just one more poll to be answered?
Here goes. The question is: How many people put a big red or black "X" on their calendar to denote the fact it was the first snowfall of the season in our area?
Many moons ago, sitting around the dining room table and enjoying a family breakfast together -- there was no school nor was anyone going to work as a blizzard raged outside -- my father was heard saying, "Gonna be a bad, bad winter. Today is the 23rd."
Why was the number 23 significant? It was at that point my father gave me a lesson in weather forecasting. My father said the day of the month you have your first snow is the amount of snows you will have that winter. Amazing. After all, who doubted our father? We had a science book that was about 2 inches thick for school and a radio, limiting our knowledge in this field, so Dad was it.
It goes without saying anyone born before 1945 can consider themselves survivors. Think about it for a moment. Think about all the changes we have witnessed, and how we are being pressured daily to make even more changes. We are the biggest witnesses in the world. Why is that?
Raising our right hand, we can attest to the following facts:
"We were born before television, before polio shots, before penicillin, frozen foods, Xerox, plastic, contact lenses, Frisbees and the pill. We were born before credit cards, split atoms, laser beams, radar and ballpoint pens. We were born before electric blankets, central heating and cooling units, drip-dry clothing, dishwashers, pantyhose and way before a man walked on the moon.
We got married first and then lived together. How quaint can you be? In our time, bunnies were tiny rabbits, and rabbits were not Volkswagons. Designer jeans were scheming girls named Jean and having a meaningful relationship meant getting along with our dear sweet cousins.
We knew fast food was what we ate for Lent. Pizzas, McDonald's, Wendy's and instant coffee were unheard of. We were born before computer dating, gay rights, house husbands, dual careers and computer marriages. We were born before daycare centers, group therapy and nursing homes, and for us, time-sharing meant togetherness, not computers and condominiums. A chip meant a piece of wood, and hardware was just that, hardware. As for software, I don't believe the word had been invented yet, and neither had the computer.
And as for money, for one nickel, you could make a phone call, buy a Pepsi, a Coke, a Snickers, enough stamps to mail one letter and two postcards or a big bag of popcorn at the movies -- as well as the cost of the movie itself. Back then, "Made in Japan" meant pure junk, and the term "making out" referenced how you did on your exam at school.
We basically were the last generation that was so dumb as to think that you needed a husband to have a baby, and that grass was mowed, Coke was a cold drink and pot was something you cooked in. Grandma's lullaby was rock music, and AIDS were helpers in the principal's office.
During the holiday season, we greeted one another with a joyful and blessed greeting of "Merry Christmas" instead of being told to say "Yuletide Greetings" or "Happy Holidays," and Christmas trees were Christmas trees, not holiday trees.
And so, with all these attributes of the older generation, is it no wonder we are so confused?
But, hey, we survived. Now, speaking for the older generation, I have to admit today when we turn out the lights, it is for economic and not romantic reasons, our knees buckle in spite of the fact our belts won't, and all the names in our little black books seem to end in "MD."
And as for numbers, well, we are 17 around the neck, 40 around the waist and 126 around the golf course, but we still can count.
Keep this in mind, my calendar still says, "first snow" on Nov. 2 and will stay that way until I get a new calendar at the end of 2011, and maybe, just maybe, if and when we do have more than two snows this winter, we can credit the meteorologists for the wisdom and knowledge of this generation. After all, they most certainly are a well-informed profession that doesn't need to rely on just the mere knowledge that the first snow was Nov. 2.
We were all bright young hopefuls once, determined we'd change the world for better and not for worse, and I want to go on record saying, I am awfully glad we came and hope you feel the same.
Keep this closing thought in mind: "Doing the right thing does not come automatic; it always requires strength of character and a willingness to give."
Nadene Albrecht, retired real estate broker from Russell, writes for www.lutheransonline, The Edge and other publications.