Memories of Sixty Years of Changes

I brought up some life changes that have happened over my life in a conversation yesterday. I thought they are kind of interesting, and thought I would share them with you. I grew up in rural Minnesota, so the experiences of others may be different. Below are memories I remembered off hand.

1. Telephone lines were shared between different families in the same neighborhood. You knew of the call was for your family by the ring. They were called party lines, and your neighbors could listen in on your conversation if they were quiet and sneaky. Children were rarely allowed to talk on phones as they mostly for the adults in the house.

2. Dancing was much tamer than it is today. I remember my sister telling me that during school dances when a slow song was played, there had to be at least a three inch gap between the couple. Chaperone’s were responsible for couples maintaining the proper distance. In the seventies, people would be kicked out of dance halls for performing a too suggestive version of the song Locomotion as an example.

3. Music had a much different meaning than it does today. Most songs were love songs with the exception of the blues and jazz which was off limits to most people who were not raised in the south. Fats Domino songs, Twist, and Blueberry hill were on the edge of what were acceptable songs.

4. There were no movie ratings. Parents generally had to call the theater to see if it was okay for their kids to go to a movie. It was big event and caused lots of discussion between my parents when the beach movie, “The Ghost in the Tiger Striped Bikini” came to town. My folks thought it may be too adult for kids to see.

I walked out of the movie, “Last House on the Left”, as it took violence to a level that made me sick to my stomach. Some people actually threw up before they managed to leave the theater.

No one who saw the movie, “The Exorcist”, went home and had a good nights sleep for a number of days.  The Exorcist took the Devil out of church and put him in daily life. I knew a man who committed suicide because he was supposedly told he was possessed by a priest, when really he was mentally ill.

Sidelining, speaking of mental illness, my Sister after marrying and leaving home, told my Mother, the walls were talking to her. My Mother told my Sister that was taboo subject in so many words, and she did not want to talk about it. My Sister by that time had read, “Valley of the Dolls”, learning how to quiet the voices on her own, along with most of who she was.

5. There were no skateboards. The closest to a skateboard was taking steel roller skate wheels or cart wheels off and screwing them unto a board. Neither option worked too well.

6. When I saw my first calculator which was only rumored to be in a store, it cost around $360.00. Of course we weren’t allowed to actually touch it, as the four function (+ – * /) calculator was locked behind a glass case.

7. It was every kids dream to have their very own transistor radio. They were about the size of a cell phone, only thicker, worked on a 9 volt battery, and if you lived in a big city, had something called FM radio which was thought to be better than AM radio.

8. We did not have a television until I was about six years old. We did not have a television channel that stayed on morning until midnight until I was ten. We didn’t have a color television until I was about thirteen. The movie, “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, was about as racy as it got in those days. Of course cartoons and westerns were full of extreme violence, but that was okay for the time.

9. Our milk came from a daily farmer. It was milked from the cow, chilled and bottled in gallon root beer bottles we brought from home. The cream would float on the top, and the bottle would have to be shaken before being poured out. When the Farmer and his family  got sick with the flu in winter, all his customers usually did too.

10. Tea, Milk, and Bread Men were common when I was little. The Tea man sold tea, hygiene products, hair and tooth brushes, and of course cheap little toys for toddlers that were not old enough for school.

11. Abuse in the home was much more common that it is today. Spanking, and beating (both children and wives) was not uncommon. Children were to be seen and not heard. Never questioned the authority of an adult, and kept out of sight unless it was meal time. I remember a friend of mine went to baby-sit three young boys, and one was proud to show off a hole in a the wall that his Dad made when he threw the boy into the wall. One boy in my class was discovered by our teacher (who touched his shoulder) to have black and green welts on his back from his mother beating him with a rubber garden hose. I also had an eleven year old alcoholic friend whose father never noticed the missing liquor.

12. Skate boards as we know them today did not exist. Bicycles were made of iron, and at the slightest grade you generally got off and walked it up the hill. Back packs were only for hiking and camping. Bumper Tennis shoes were the rage, Hoods had Duck Tails, and wore blue jeans and black tee shirts with engineering boots if they could afford them. We voted on whether or not girls would be allowed to wear slacks to school.

13. The Pill, otherwise known as birth control pills. Sex was a rare event, believe it or not except among the high risk taking group. Parents frequently slept in separate beds. To be intimate and risk having sex was dangerous at best, because the chance of pregnancy was very high compared to life today. The Pill started the sexual revolution of the sixties, giving Women more power and control in their lives than any time previous in the worlds history.

Murder by Slender Man?

As of this writing, two twelve year old Wisconsin girls tried to murder a third girl by stabbing her multiple times. As of today, Slender Man is being blamed for the attack.

The injured girl is alive, barely, and my heart and prayers go out to her and her family. This must be ripping the family apart. You send your child out to play, and then the door bell rings.

I’m not sure I put any stock to this idea, but it came floating through my thoughts as I read about the two twelve year old Waukesha girls, and their Slender Man induced attempted murder. As it played out in my head, it seemed remotely possible. This is my attempt to make what I read fit into what may have happened. It in no way dulls the horror.

Voices in our heads, we all have them. These voices can be dangerous, driving us over the edge of sanity and reason. Even more dangerous for Children who do not know what to do with their voices.  Children who do not know voices are abnormal? Adults deal better with voices in their heads because they learned tell them to, “Shut up!” Most adults know how manage those background noise voices, generally by ignoring them.

Children, who hear voices in their heads are not so fortunate. They may not even know the voices should be ignored. Maybe some Children do not know to not allow voices in their heads to have any meaning? There are always exceptions of children who never thought to ask an adult about the voices in their heads.

Children, among other things, are strong story and lore keepers. Believers in almost all stories they hear and tell. Any child knows where the most evil house in their neighborhood is. Any child can also recite a long list of most feared monsters and creatures that roam around by day and by night. Any child can tell you about important child things.

Children spend large amounts of their time thinking about really scary things. Remember the things that used to scare you as a child, and how you believed it all? Maybe you still do? As a child we all told stories of very scary things, and we believed most of them.

When Children listen to the voices in their head, monsters and mayhem become alive in their world. They exist, and they are active in Children’s imaginations. They attack and harrass children through their thoughts. Most Children can set them aside, but maybe one of these two children could not.

It’s not much of a stretch of imagination to think that what happened between the three twelve year old Girls. Two girls who attempted to murder one of their own. Slender Man wanted them to do it. Maybe even insisted to one of them that they do it. Threatened at least one of them with what would happen if they did not murder.

To children Slender Man is the real deal. Same as the monsters that scared you as a child. Slender Man was invented only a few years ago if you are an adult. If you are around the age of twelve, Slender Man has been watching you your whole life.

If you are a twelve year old with an over active imagination, and voices in your head, Slender Man is one scary monster. Scary enough that Slender Man is telling you things, and you believe him. Talking over your thoughts and making you listen to him instead.

Making you so scared, you lose your own idea of right and wrong. Slender Man scares you bad enough that you are willing to do anything to be protected from or by Slender Man.

Without Slender Man, or another monster hiding in your thoughts, and you are around twelve, you may start to become a little odd. You may find yourself doing odd things, like excessive hand washing, hurting animals, or having a version of reality that no one else seems to have. You become a little paranoid, maybe even a lot paranoid.

Of course your family may cover up for you. Perhaps they pretend not to notice. If you are lucky, you maintain enough control inside your head, your issue does not become known, and you can grow up almost normal, with a touch of strange.

If you are not able be in control of your thoughts, outside help will be sought, hopefully sooner than later. If you are completely unable to control the voices and thoughts in your head, something like Slender Man is ready and willing to take charge, and tell you what to do.

I think this type of behavior in twelve year old girls is very rare. Maybe it was the perfect storm released by a previous head injury? Maybe it is a result of something else gone wrong. Maybe it’s all a fabricated story, thought up for self preservation. Maybe those two girls were bored, and thought murder would be fun.

Mentally Ill Murder Machines

If you have lived on this earth for about forty years or longer you probably have noticed this. If you have talked to someone over fifty, you have probably heard them complain about this. I remember hearing it when I was a kid, and I thought it was the leaps and bounds in technology that were the real cause. Seems like the older people, even back then, were talking about something different. It is all the same thing only the 2010 plus version.

Once America rolled past the1880’s, life started improving for everyone. Life style and quality of life was getting better every year. When life gets better, more people can afford more, and more people have more babies. Those babies grow into adults of course, and they too have babies. Some of those babies were not very stable and as adults, they did some horrible things to their fellow human beings.

The older people would talk about this perceived change in people. How things were getting busier, and people were forgetting their manners, and some were downright crazy. They were killing people for no reason, and hurting people. I heard this from old people ever since I was a kid. I imagine you have too.

What has changed in the last century is our population density. There were one or two people per some number of people each decade who went off the deep end, and went on a killing spree or some other heinous act. I am guessing that number has not changed over the decades as a ratio of the population. What has changed is our population density.

Now instead of maybe one or two people losing reality and committing horrible acts there are ten times that many people because overall there are ten times the number of people alive in America. Now whether ten times the people is accurate or not, I can not say, but you get the idea. there are more people, so there are more crazy people out there.

We went through it with serial killers in the eighties, when a number of them were caught in a short period of time. Today we  accept there may be as many as a few hundred active serial killers in America who may never be found and arrested, because we are such a mobile society traveling effortlessly across the country and back.

So it is with these people who are grabbing the headlines. Instant access to media, and media over hype has not helped the situation. Sort of like Teen Suicide. If one Teenager in a school commits suicide, it sets off a chain reaction if intervention is not swiftly introduced in the school. These days with instant media, when someone who has violent thoughts sees a news story about another person who committed a violent act, their thought becomes action. For a few, they can not resist the urge, and they carry out violent acts themselves, often not even realizing what they are doing.

Adding more fuel to the fire, the state of war has changed our Men and Woman who have served. Up until the Viet Nam war, each side was easily identified. Each army had uniforms that made them stand out from the general population. War was clean, you killed people in uniform, and people in uniform tried to kill you. There were no civilians, women, and children acting as snipers and human bombs. Since the era of Viet Nam war, the person you just helped may be the person who tries to kill you later in the day. That is the reality of modern war.

What this means is our American War Veterans are effected differently by what they experienced than any War Veterans before Viet Nam War. Our Viet Nam Vet’s saw terrible violence committed by Vietnamese people against Vietnamese people, against American Doctors and Nurses, Corpsman, and Soldiers who tried to do the right for people in need of so much. That has to twist the thinking processes of some people. Once they get home, a little more twisting and reality slips out the window. Pretty soon, a few of our Veterans in their minds, return to the wars they fought in. Only the clothing and look of the enemy has changed.

Back when Ronald Reagan was President, people who were mentally ill were kept safe at the public’s expense. In an effort to save the monies being spent to house, feed and medicate them, our constitutional rights were invoked. They had the right to be free to live there life unless it was clear they were a danger to society.

It is unknown how many mentally ill people were released to the streets, but when that occurred, the homeless population exploded. The definition of danger to society has slipped to a new low as budgets have become tighter over the decades since this change occurred. It has become all to easy to decide that a mentally ill person probably is not a real threat to the general public and they are released to their family, or the streets. Then they go over the edge, and people die as a result.

Our psyche is incredible. We are capable of so much. We are also fragile, and it is all to easy to lose that little something that makes us human. Lose that little something that separates reality from what is happening inside our head and twisted violence is all too often the result. Our brain doesn’t know the difference between what is real, and what is right or what is wrong, and what is not true. Reality or fantasy, it s all the same between our ears.

We have the option of paying more taxes and having the mentally ill with possible dangerous tendencies to be cared for in an institution. or we can leave them to their families, or leave them to their own devices. Leaving them the potentially dangerous mentally ill out on the streets means we need to accept the fact that the killing won’t stop any time soon. It always about the money.