We’re all better than this

Published 5:48 pm Wednesday, June 22, 2022

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For those of you who keep track of such things, today (Wednesday, June 22) is celebrated as National Onion Ring Day, B Kinder Day, National Kissing Day, Positive Media Day, and National Chocolate Éclair Day.

It also marks the occasion from 69 years ago when Blanche Joyner Bryant gave birth to her first son….a handsome young lad named after his father’s World War II buddy.

So, to celebrate, I believe I’ll enjoy a chocolate éclair with a side order of onion rings while being kind to all by writing positive stories. Hopefully my wife will kiss me.

It’s hard to fathom that my life has, thus far, covered 24,837 days (and, yes, I arrived at that figure by accounting for the 17 leap years since 1953). I guess it’s safe to say I’ve enjoyed the vast majority of those days, especially May 28, 1971 (high school graduation); Aug. 2, 1979 (wedding day); July 21, 1985 (my daughter is born); and Nov. 19, 2013 (the birth of my grandson). For good measure I’ll throw in March 25, 1974 and April 4, 1983: the dates in which NC State’s men’s basketball teams won the NCAA Championship.

So, you may be asking yourself at this point of what life was like back in the “stone age.” Yea, I get teased constantly about being old. Just recently, one young whipper-snapper asked did I, while performing my job as a newspaper reporter, snap the photo of Moses coming down from Mount Sinai bearing the Ten Commandments. No, that wasn’t me but I’m so old that I do enjoy listening to elevator music and cashing in on the “early bird” meals at my favorite restaurants.

And, no, I didn’t walk five miles to and from school each day, uphill both ways.

Just so you know, there were plenty of noteworthy accomplishments that took place in 1953. The United States and North Korea sign the armistice ending the Korean War. U.S. Air Force test pilot Chuck Yeager sets the speed record (Mach 2.435) in X-1 rocket plane. An expedition led by Sir Edmund Hillary is the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest. James Watson and Francis Crick determine the structure of DNA.

In the world of sports, the Yankees won their fifth straight World Series title by defeating their crosstown rivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers (4 games to 2). The St. Louis Browns moved to Baltimore to become the Orioles and the Boston Braves moved to Milwaukee. Indiana (basketball) and Maryland (football) were the NCAA champions in ’53.

The top movies that year were Roman Holiday, From Here to Eternity, and The Robe.

Billboard’s top-five singles for the year 1953 were, in order, The Song from Moulin Rouge (by Percy Faith), Vaya con Dios (by Les Paul and Mary Ford), How Much is That Doggie in the Window (by Patti Page), I’m Walking Behind You (by Eddie Fisher), and You, You, You (by the Ames Brothers).

1953 also saw the debut of TV Guide magazine (the first cover featured Lucille Ball and her newborn son, Desi Arnaz IV), and it marked the year that the first color television sets are sold (the price for one then was $1,175 so only the wealthy could afford one as the average annual income that year was $4,011). Transistor radios also started to appear for sale.

Not that I saw any of the following advertised back then (I failed reading as a newborn), but the average home sold for $8,200 in 1953; a new Ford ranged in price from $1,537 to $2,403; a gallon of milk was 94 cents; a gallon of gas was 22 cents; a loaf of bread was 16 cents; and postage stamps could be purchased for three pennies.

One positive of being born in 1953 is that I was old enough to experience the social and political changes of the 1960’s….the tragic assassination of a president, the Civil Rights Movement, the space race, and the Vietnam War.

The latter became a time of personal anxiety by the time the early 1970’s arrived. As a high school graduate in 1971, that meant I was “of age” to serve my country in battle. As mentioned earlier, my dad was a World War II veteran and he encouraged me not to volunteer, but to serve if I was drafted. Although I was classified as 1-A by the Draft Board (meaning physically fit to serve), my number was high during the draft lotteries in 1971 and 1972. Uncle Sam never came calling, but I did have numerous friends who did serve and I thank them for standing for my freedom.

By the time the decade of the 1970’s was ending, I was a married man and off to a new adventure in newspaper publishing in Tarboro.

From when I was younger, did I envision what the world would look like as I approach age 70? That never crossed my mind during my young and carefree days, but if I had pondered the future back then it wouldn’t have included all the violence and utter disregard of life that we read and see nowadays on the national and state news.

It sickens me to think that we have sunk this low morally and ethically. We are polarized politically and unlike past instances of that portion of society, we now completely tune out a differing opinion. There was a time where we respectively listened to those who didn’t share our views. There were times where those of opposite opinions reached a compromise.

I long for those days to return as I grow tired and weary of all the shouting and finger pointing. We’re better than this….I know that for a fact because these old eyes have witnessed a much more peaceful way of life.

We are in dire need of a revival within our souls. When we come to the realization that we are all God’s creatures and that He loves us for who we are individually, perhaps then we can end the hate and stop the violence.

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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