Penny candy, nickel Coca-cola, I pumped gas at 17 and 18 cents a gallon. Kerosene was only five cents a gallon. Diesel was the less expensive of all fuel, but look at the price of it today. I was born and raised at a time when things did change from time to time, but not at a time when it changed almost every day, as it does today.
Leave it to Beaver. Andy Griffith, Ozzie and Harriet — these were some of the TV shows that we watched during my childhood. This was also the nature of our people at that time. Those TV shows were a look at people of that time period. They were good, hard-working men and women. They were all about their families.
The families of today are far gone and few in between. Far too many children are born out of wedlock. These children need both parents to be in the picture. We now have a rap music culture in this country that promotes disrespect and violence toward women. We have children having children, with no idea of how to raise these children. The reason being, they were cast to the side by their own parents.
When I first came to Richmond County 40 years ago as a young Marine, I saw Mayberry all over again in Rockingham. I knew that this would be my home one day. After my tour of duty with the Marines was over, I did come back. The way that I came to, and grew to love, this county was because of one person and that was Bo Grooms. Bo was born and raised here. We met while we were stationed together in the Marine Corps.
When we could get leave from our duty we would come to Richmond County just to get away and see that there was still life outside of the Marines. I was taken in by his family and treated as though I was a part of his family. I still am today. I can also say that everyone that I met treated me with nothing but respect.
It was the days that we were living in; during the days of the early 1970s we were still citizens of Mayberry. There was no true drug problems in this county. Sure, there were those that smoked pot from time to time but that was about it. As Hollywood grew, our problems also grew. Step by step, we went from Mayberry to Chainsaw Massacre, then to the Walking Dead.
Meth labs, killer video games, our children and our grandchildren have been desensitized to violence and death. Who did this you ask? We did, by allowing actors and rock stars to become too big of a part of our children’s lives. Pop the video in the VCR. Let the video be the parent, let the child look up to the rock star.
I want to be my child’s friend. I don’t want to upset my child, so now you let the child run wild as an animal of the street, and now you wonder why little Billy goes to jail every other year and has four children out of wedlock with four different girls that you allowed to spend the night at your house — all because you did not want to be the parent. You just wanted to be his friend.
You also had the excuse that “I just can’t do anything with him.” It’s not that you could not do anything with him as much as it is you just gave up on him as a parent. The child’s biggest problem was you let him act out when he wanted seeing on TV and on the $60 video games that you were buying (that you couldn’t afford).
But it was easy for you to do without just to keep peace with the little monster that you helped to create. I point my finger at no one. We all have made mistakes.
It’s different from when I was growing up. The most violence that we were going to see on TV during the early ’70s was going to be Gunsmoke, as Matt Dillon shot the bad man, or the bad woman in a few cases.
Sex, on TV, I don’t think so. The most sex that you were going to see was on I Love Lucy. Yes it was in the bedroom, but the bedroom had two beds. Lucy and Ricky both had pajamas on, there was no skin to be seen with this married couple.
My heart longs for these bygone days, never to be seen again.
I am closer to 60 years old than not. I know that my life is coming to an end, and I do not fear this at all. What I do fear is what the youth of this proud country will create, if they do not receive the guidance and true understanding that is needed to go forward.
I love this county with all my heart and soul. We must make a stand to turn it around, if for no other reason than our children.
Robert Lee is a Rockingham business owner, a former Marine and a concerned grandfather.