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February 25, 2012

Looking Back: Like today, role models of yesteryear offered good, bad examples

Years ago there was an expression among the younger generation. I haven't heard it in many a year: The expression was about being a "party-pooper" and certainly no young person, or even older folks, wanted to have that label. Perhaps another term that was used was a "wet-blanket." No popularity contest was won when a person was in those categories. and certainly no invites for social functions would be forthcoming.

Fitting in with your peers was always an challenge when growing up. Yesteryear's standards and moral codes, manners, etiquette, etc., were so different than that of today. Is it an attitude of "so what" or "live for today. for tomorrow we die"? Perhaps sometimes it's a question of parental guidance and/or upstanding role models.

Well, whatever the case, we parents, educators, counselors _ each and every responsible adult _ has an obligation toward the human race. An obligation to help better not only those we love but any and all. Of course there has to be acceptance showing appreciation for any of us to persevere.

A widely known example of our social decline is the subject of the use of tobacco. Now, today, our medical personnel ask about a patient's tobacco habits, if any. Why? It's medically proven to be a killer, and I believe _ or want to believe _ that no one wants to die or be a murderer or for that matter to knowingly harm someone else with secondhand smoke.

We enjoy the older movies on TV. What memories they bring back.

Why, even the black-and-whites are enjoyable. The long-ago popular actors come back to life being their young selves again to entertain us once more.

These were our role models of yesteryear. What teen gal wouldn't simply adore having those Betty Davis eyes or the boys looking like Clark Gable? To look at them, as time went on, you would see the heavy mascara getting heavier and heavier and the male hairdos ... well ... they did improve with wavy pompadours or marcelling all shiny and dark. But long, straggly and totally unkempt was simply taboo.

Looking back and analyzing this scenario there were dangers. The movie stars puffed and puffed until the air was blue and it seemed that each and every film had scenes of drinking booze excessively. So what did our youths do? (Monkey see ... monkey do!)

Many a time the guys would sneak behind the garage or barn after swiping a few cigarettes from one of their parents. For the most part, our parents forbade the youths to smoke. But the self-same parents set the example in front of the young ones. They smoked! Oops!

All that reminds me about what Romans 2:21-23 says. But then another question raises in my mind: How many folks actually read and put that into action? It sounds like a "do what I say and not what I do."

"The proof is in the pudding," so is said. The facts are the facts and "if the shoe fits ... wear it!" (Another quote and so apropos.)

As time has gone by there has been so many influences in a lifetime ... some good, some bad and the media play a large part in all this.

The censure of yesterday is gone. It seems that "anything goes": The foul language, how to be a corrupt person and a successful criminal along with offensive sexual content etc., etc., and all can be viewed in splendid color.

Me? Guess I'm on that proverbial "soapbox."

I do that a lot, especially at this old age of looking back and seeing all the mistakes that can go on in a lifetime. Shouldn't we all learn from the past so we can better our lives today?

If I am blessed with another tomorrow, I hope to do my best.

Elaine W. Kniskern is a 79-year-old resident of Schenevus and a grandmother of five. She can reached at 'Senior Scene' columns can be found at

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