by Joe Kirkpatrick
When I was growing up, when something was really going wrong, old timers would say, "It's just going to hell in a handbag." Where that expression originated, I do not know.
As I approach the ripe old age of 64, I look back on what has happened in this country in my lifetime, and "it's just going to hell in a handbag" comes to mind.
When I was 8 or 9 years old, my mother drove up to the local drug store, handed me a folded note, and said, "Go in and give this to the lady at the counter, and don't you dare read the note." Of course, on the way in, I unfolded the note, and the following was written on the note: One box of Tampax Tampons. I folded the note back, and proceeded to the counter and handed it to the lady. She left the counter, and came back in a minute and handed me a brown paper bag with the top folded shut. Back then, "feminine hygiene products" were not something a child at the age of 8 or 9 was supposed to know about. Today, tampon commercials are aired on TV throughout the day, some of which even show illustrations of the female anatomy.
When I was 12 or 13, all of us boys began to notice girls were getting "boobies." We didn't know what the purpose of those things were, but we figured out the subject was taboo. I can remember as some female classmates "developed" more rapidly than others, whether some were stuffing Kleenex for quicker enhancement. Bottom line was this is something that was considered private and mysterious. Today, there is no mystery at all since commercials for bras and even breast implants on TV, newspapers, and magazines.
By the time I was 15 or 16, we started talking about "rubbers" (condoms). There was a lot of talk, but very few my age at that time had ever possessed one, much less used it. Back then, there were two places to buy condoms: In vending machines in gas stations men's bathrooms, or by going back and asking the pharmacist in the drugstore to sell you some. By the way, they were kept under the counter where they could not be seen. Today, there is no guesswork where they are. Condoms are displayed on sales racks in the aisles where people of any age can purchase them. Of course, not only are they advertised on TV, but now Trojan Vibrator commercials are on there, as well.
When I was in school, I don't remember any girl getting pregnant in elementary school or junior high (middle school), but in high school, out of a school with 1000 students, about 5 girls a year did. Once pregnant, they were not allowed to stay in school, and were usually shipped away to live with an out of town relative. Upon having the baby, 99.9% of the time it was adopted.
Today, teen pregnancy is rampant. The pregnant teen is no longer banned from attending school, and many times the pregnancy almost becomes a status symbol. Virtually all pregnant teens today choose to keep their babies. Today, over 50% of all children born in our country are from unwed mothers. The percentage of these unwed mothers will have to draw some type of government assistance to survive is overwhelming.
When I was in school, if you did not have money for lunch, you worked in the cafeteria or worked with the janitor to earn enough to pay for lunch. There was an expression when I was growing up, "There is no such thing as a free lunch." I would love for whoever came up with that expression to be around today. A couple weeks ago in Cleveland, Tennessee, where I live, the city school system announced both breakfast and lunch for every student in their schools next year will be for free.
When I was growing up, I knew very few people who did not attend church. Juvenile crime, other than petty mischief, was virtually nonexistent. Today, less than 50% of the people in America regularly attend any type of religious service. Juvenile crime is at an all time high, and the crimes they commit are no longer just pranks and mischief.
Not everything has gotten worse since I was growing up. Advances in technology have made life much easier, and there are certainly a lot of good, moral, hard working people left in this country. But every year, the percentage of those dwindles a little bit more. We have been strong, we have been proud, and we have been the greatest nation in the world.
However, with our consistent decline, I have to think we might just end up "going to hell in a handbag!"