Friday, April 16, 2021

Defining the ‘Good Old Days’



More Straight Talk 

Steve “Stef” Stefanides

Over the years I’ve had the privilege of being involved in many organizations and activities on the island since moving here fulltime in 1990. Purchasing on Marco in 1986 was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my lifetime and I truly enjoy calling Marco my home.

One of those organizations I’m proud to belong to is the Marco Men’s Club and I enjoy playing golf with a group of those members every Wednesday. During the course of that play we converse about a lot of items, along with recollections from our past lives. We are sometimes surprised to find we have had similar experiences and enjoyed some of the same escapades in our lifetimes.

This week’s conversation touched on the occasion to hear someone speak about the “good old days,” and what that really meant.

Myself, I had a relatively modest upbringing. My dad was a self-employed barber and my mother was a “stay at home” mom. That didn’t mean she didn’t work, because she did, and her challenges expanded expeditiously after the death of my dad from cancer at the young age of 45. This would leave her with three children, ranging from 9 to 16 years old. She would raise us on her own, with me being the eldest of the three.

I do think the term “the good old days” is a relative expression, which for me relates more to the tenor of life which surrounded us growing up; the level of respect which we had for one another and societal norms.

We did have many challenges during our times, as we dealt with issues such as an unpopular conflict in Southeast Asia that saw over 58,000 brave men and women give their lives for a questionable policy and the inability of government to deal openly and honestly with the public.

We also had to confront the simmering racial divide within our nation and recognize the need for change. If a man could lay and bleed with you on the battlefield to uphold democracy, he also should be accorded the same rights as other citizens when he returned home. In America we should never accept the idea of a second class of citizen, but instead celebrate the equality of all of our citizens and recognize the diversity of the fabric which makes up our nation’s landscape.

I do reflect back on a time when our lives were a bit simpler and long for those days. A time when we were not attached through electronic leashes. When families might sit down to a meal and not have a smart phone as the centerpiece on the table instead of a conversation concerning our day, regardless of how trying it was to educate our parents, but realizing later in life just how wise they truly were.

How we would head home after playing outside in the neighborhood when the street lights came on, and not having to receive a text on that phone kids consider so vital to their lives today.

To a time when public safety professionals, teachers, nurses and others were truly respected and not questioned and disrespected.

Yes, I do miss 25 cent a gallon gas, going to the movies for a quarter and the 15 cent hamburger at Howdy Beef Burger in town. I don’t miss having my knuckles cracked with a ruler when I got caught talking instead of studying in class. No, there are a lot of things we all miss from the past and some things we could easily live without.

The one thing I will miss however is having conversations with both my parents, or to have had my dad sit next to me in the golf cart this morning and give me a little advice on how to putt a little better or to have had him with me at the Red Sox Spring Training game last week when the Men’s Club went.

To see them both sit down next to my sister, brother and as we shared one more meal together and talk about the “good old days,” as they remember them, and hear them laugh at their recollections.

Steve Stefanides, well-known by his nickname “Stef,” is an experienced award-winning reporter of local civic and public interest news. Stef’s More Straight Talk column (and its predecessor, Straight Talk), on a variety of subjects, is a favorite of readers who trust him to bring them the facts. A Marco Island resident, Stef contributes to the community in many ways, having served on a number of city committees, charitable groups, boards and local organizations. Contact him by email at

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