On turning 80 years old

Arnold Malone’s always-entertaining column takes a reflective turn on this milestone birthday

In nine days – with a lot of luck – I will enjoy my 80th birthday. In the event that eighty candles are lit, defend yourself; wear protective clothing.

I have no concerns about having birthdays. My older brother, Leonard, once explained that, “Birthdays are good for you.” ”It has been mathematically proven that the more birthdays you have the longer you will live.”

Now eighty is a bit of a ripe age so you may want to hold your nose; “Fresh Old Ideas” may fail the ‘fresh’ test.

Most eighty year olds want to tell someone about how things have changed. My dad did. He often talked about building railroad box cars for a dollar a day. He was saving money to buy a farm.

So here are a few of my observed changes:

Throughout my school years near a small rural community, I never saw a married couple hold hands or hug in public. Then Aunt Marie, my dad’s sister, arrived from away and gave Dad an embracing hug in front of we children; it was as if we were peeking through a forbidden window. Today when a friend introduces you to someone, arms fly apart like the Jesus statue that stands over Rio de Janeiro. Hugging is no longer restrictive, it is almost compulsory.

In my youth it was wrong – illegal at an earlier time – to write a cheque on Sunday. Sunday was a religious day and not a day for doing business. Also, it was wrong to write a cheque with red ink. Bank records were done by adding and subtracting on paper and deposits were recorded in blue or black ink and debits were in red ink. So, cheques were to be written with blue or black ink.

On hot haying days we yearned for a drink of cold water. Today, we no longer drink, we hydrate.

When you get to the great beyond don’t tell my Dad that I twice paid $1.75 for a bottle of water. He will kick the top off his coffin and say, “There is perfectly good water in the well.” Buying water was once an unimagined.

During my youth many of us wore thongs, a flat sole held underfoot by a Y-shaped strap that crossed over the bare foot and connected to the sole with a thong between the big toe and the long toe. Now, imagine a present day grandchild’s expression when grandma asks, “Sweetie, would you go to my room and bring Granny her thongs?”

For the first twenty years of my life meals were eaten with the family. There were three meals a day and every family had a specific time for each meal. You were expected to be there and to be on time.

Children of my youth did receive praise but only if they earned it. Today, praise is flooded upon children for doing what was expected of them. Sometimes, praise is given for reasons that leaves the child wondering what that was for.

I refused the pressure to sign the petition to stop increasing tuition fees. I was in my first year of university and I knew that $140 was a lot of money but I had no idea what the tuition for a semester should cost.

Children were free labour on a 1930’s and 40’s farm. At age eight I stayed out of school for a month to drive a steel wheel tractor that pulled a binder operated by my dad. Big wheels with steel lugs rotated beside my head. The steering wheel required 13 full turns for the chain wrapped spool to reverse the tractor’s direction. I was ecstatic about my elevation into manhood. Had today’s laws been in force then, my parents would still be in jail. As for me, I can’t thank them enough.

Just Posted

Camp Day serves coffee for a cause

Tim Hortons Camp Day Wednesday, June 5th

Taking the colours of love to the street

Students go from plan to completion on rainbow crosswalk project

Living Lakes Canada at global water conference in Spain

Columbia Valley’s Kat Hartwig, executive director attends international forum

RCMP Report

Some of the more interesting callouts for Columbia Valley RCMP this past week

Parade, pancakes and more at Canal Days

Head to Canal Flats for main Canal Days event Saturday, June 1st

BREAKING: Court says B.C. can’t restrict oil shipments in key case for Trans Mountain

A five-judge Appeal Court panel agreed unanimously that B.C.’s proposed legislation was not constitutional

New airline regulations bring compensation for tarmac delays, over-bookings

Some of the new regulations will roll out in July, while others are expected for December.

GALLERY: First responders in Fernie return baby owl to its nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

More than half of Canadians support ban on handguns, assault rifles: study

Divide between rural and urban respondents in latest Angus Reid Institute public opinion study

Spring rain needed as B.C. sees one of the lowest snowpack levels in 40 years

Snowpack levels in B.C. recorded on May 15 were similar to those in 2015 and 2016

Theresa May to quit as party leader June 7, sparking race for new PM

The new Conservative leader will become prime minister without the need for a general election

B.C. man who fell off cliff returns there to rescue eagle from vulture attack

Nanaimo’s James Farkas, who broke his hip in a fall, saves eagle on same beach months later

Raptors beat Bucks 105-99 to move within 1 game of NBA Finals

Leonard scores 35 as Toronto takes 3-2 series lead over Milwaukee

Municipalities protest after B.C. declares marijuana crops ‘farm use’

UBCM president seeks answers in letter to John Horgan government

Most Read