My morning ritual is to get out of bed, half stumble down the hall to the kitchen, pour a cup of coffee, and head to my home office to check email. There are windows close by that give me a clear view of the outside world. I check out the weather, watch birds at the feeders and the squirrels trying unsuccessfully to rob the feeder seed.

I see, too, an old wood shelter on the golf course that has been there for as long as I can remember anything growing up including my first wood shaft golf clubs. That shelter causes me to think about how life must have been 100 years ago and my own memories growing up in this town.

I think about how things have changed over the years. I think about the wondrous scientific and technological innovations that have become a normal and expected part of our lives.

My earliest memories, though, are of Victory Gardens and Block Wardens and a father gone off to World War II. They are of milk being delivered to our home by a Med-O-Bloom Dairy horse-drawn milk wagon and of the fresh homemade butter, eggs, and vegetables coming directly to our door from local farmers. They are of times of racing home after school to gather by the radio to hear programs that stimulated imagination like “The Lone Ranger”, “ The Green Hornet”, “Inner Sanctum”, “The Shadow Knows”, and “Tennessee Jed”.

They are of times when children just old and tall enough to put a dime into the bus coin box could travel downtown to Kresge’s or Woolworth’s or Penney’s or to see the movie serials each week and be safe.

Everyone walked to school. No problem. It seemed the adults in our town looked after each other and any children around. Even the dogs and cats were friendly and free. Most folks did not lock their homes when going off to shop or work. I ask myself whether we have really made any progress in our quality of life here in these past, say, 70 years. Certainly, there is bigger and more of everything, but is it better?

Things were not all roses over those years, though. Racism and religious prejudice were pretty ingrained in our society in those days. Those were hurtful to people. My belief is we have come to a healthier place with these in mind and practice. By doing so, we have strengthened our town, state, and nation. There is strength in diversity among caring people.

We did some pretty stupid things, too: Things that we were told were wonderful and harmless at the time. I remember going to the dentist again and again to get a cavity filled. As a reward, the dentist would give me a gel-capsule filled with mercury. I loved holding that marvelous, liquid metal in my hands and using it to polish coins by rubbing the mercury and coins between my fingers. Today we would say, “Are you crazy?”

I remember going to Eby’s Shoe Store downtown to get new Buster Brown shoes. To check the fit, the store had a wonderful machine into which one would insert a foot with a new shoe on it, push a button, and see how the shoe fit. Gosh, you could see all the bones in your foot, too! The machine was an X-ray machine. I often have wondered what happened to Mr. Eby and the other employees of the shoe store.

I remember the hot summer days in our neighborhood. Sometimes, the bugs, particularly mosquitoes, were kind of bothersome, but there was a fix for that, too. The city would send around the truck to take care of the bugs. We looked forward to it. It was great fun to ride our bicycles in the cloud coming from the truck. The DDT smelled pretty good. We were told this miracle chemical had saved the world from malaria and from being overrun by insects. We believed it because the chemical companies said so.

We are now in a time when science and technology are moving much faster than then. It is important we learn from our past, take the best from the past, and move on. This means carefully examining change and innovation to be sure they lead in directions good for people and planet Earth. One huge lesson is not to be so quick to believe all that is new and claimed to be so wonderful, particularly if the message is coming from those who stand to make money or gain politically from whatever the message conveys. We have been fooled before. There are those who would and are trying to fool us now…. And will again and again.