Our bi-level house overlooked a pond which we caught and released each summer. A vacant lot next door was grown over with grasses and new quaking aspen. And within a stone’s throw, there were woods, and in the depths of the woods large vines descended from the trees, from which we swung, laughing crazily.
In our new home, I was given my own room. My parents bought me a desk and desk lamp, with a lampshade from which amber-colored glass baubles dangled. I was studious, and my parents believed I had a grand future.
When I was 10, my father no longer wanted to work in dealerships. By that time, he was a body shop manager, and the demands were too stressful for him. So he worked out of the garage in our house. By word of mouth, he acquired a loyal customer base, and we continued to eat lean red meat and fresh potatoes, and drink copious amounts of milk.
So we went to school, and to church, and to play, some to college, and we all went to work, trusting the future held wonderful things, because that was how life in America was. If you gave everything you had, certainly your dearest dreams would appear on the horizon, and move ever closer, you slogging toward them, and eventually both would meet in the middle.
That was what we in the working class of the 1970s and early 1980s believed. We had few if any luxuries, but we had the future. We had a sense of inevitable justice.
What I remember most fondly of those days is the absence of envy. Some families had a bit more money and a few more luxuries than others, but it was nothing to fret over unduly. Someday, the world would open up and we would be free to make our own lives. If we were content to remain in the upper working class, we could. If we sought another life, it was within reach. What we sought and needed most, we could obtain through consistent hard work, intelligence and decent living. At least, that is what I believed.