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    BWS Stories - "Born in the U.S.A."...Childhood Memories

    "Born in the U.S.A."...Childhood Memories - The Way We Were

    Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy is a native of St. Joseph, MO where the Pony Express and outlaw Jesse James met his untimely end.  She is a full time writer and mother of three, making her home in a small town in the Missouri Ozarks.  She is a member of both Missouri Writers Guild and the Ozark Writers League.

    The Way We Were

    In the photograph, I am six years old and it is my birthday.   The year is 1967 and the drastic changes in everyday life since then are notable. We – my guests and I – look like Norman Rockwell poster children in our simple dresses and the boys’ plaid shirts. We look like what we are, what we were – boys and girls in another time when man had not yet walked on the moon and our innocence was intact.

    We are baby boomers, the last tier of that famous generation.   None of us wears trendy clothing, something that did not yet exist for children. Our footwear is simple and runs to patent leather shoes and a few tennis shoes. Keds were the coveted shoe for kids, Keds and PF Flyers.

    I have three children and birthday parties have changed, evolved into major entertainment since that simple day. The group of children is posed in the living room of our home in St. Joseph, Missouri. The room is neat, simple, and comfortable. Our one phone – a black rotary dial desk phone – is not seen but was near where the photographer who snapped the shot must have stood. The single television is as much furniture as screen and stands to the left of the birthday guests on four legs, wearing a wooden cabinet.

    My gifts, as yet unopened, are piled on the coffee table. Most are wrapped in plain white tissue paper, something seldom seen as gift wrap in today’s hectic, showy world. If memory serves, most of the gifts were simple too, things like a cloverleaf bracelet from the T G & Y, hair ribbons, a Donna Parker or Trixie Belden book, and a wind-up toy. One of my gifts another year was a discarded 5th grade English textbook from my Cousin Bill’s school. I don’t have the hair ribbons or even the bracelet but that book, discarded from Washington School, is on my desk. My connection is as sentimental and it is practical.    

    When I look at the old photograph, that moment of my sixth birthday frozen in time, I am reminded of the way that we were and what a long way we have come since then. We have grown up and matured but it is more. The world around us and its trappings have altered as well, and the life we knew then is not what my children live.

    The changes in our daily lives since then boggle the imagination. Cordless phones, cell phones, computers, the Internet, DVD’s, and microwave ovens are just a few of the changes that I could not have even imagined then, on the sixth anniversary of my birth but times, like me, have changed.

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