We felt rich, yet we had little more than a roof over our heads and gas in the one vehicle we owned. It was 1974. I rode the public bus to and from work in downtown Wheeling and sometimes hitched a ride with a fellow worker. My husband drove to his job in South Wheeling.
We did not have a telephone, a color TV or a remote control. Basic cable was 13 stations and we were able to watch "Happy Days" on the 19-inch portable television without any problem.
I know that's hard to believe as today we are attached like umbilical cords to our cell phones, and remote controls actually do control our lives. Sometimes I walked to the neighborhood grocery store and stopped at the phone booth to make a call if it was really necessary. Neither of those things are there anymore.
In the backyard of our cozy apartment we had a tiny hibachi grill, made in the U.S.A., where we cooked hamburgers or an occasional piece of sirloin steak when it was on sale. Our freezer held several loaves of bread because the discount bread store allowed us to stretch our dollars. Sometimes I would make a pineapple upside down cake according to a recipe from my mother-in-law, not from a box mix.
We saved and saved to be able to buy a house of our own. It took six years. Modest as it is, it's ours.
Now, 38 years later, we are being asked by pollsters and presidential campaign workers almost daily if we are better off than we were four years ago. Well, how about 38 years ago?
I remember food tasted better after being cooked over charcoal on that little grill and served on Corelle plates. Recycling bins were not necessary because pop and milk came in glass bottles and jugs that you automatically returned to the store for a refund. Funny how we can remember the "good old days" almost four decades past, but we can't remember anything really good about four years ago. That's not a commentary on the Democrats or Republicans. It's just an observation of how sterile our lives have become.
Do you know who's living next door? When was the last time you drove up to Oglebay Park after work and just sat on the hillside with a simple picnic dinner and thought, "Man, this is the life"?
I really don't know how to answer the polltakers' question so maybe they should take me off their calling list. They want a yes or no answer and it's not a yes or no question.
For some of the baby boomer generation, the life we thought we would be leading today is uncertain even tomorrow until the economy straightens up and the world settles down.
The winner of the November presidential election needs to worry more about what he's going to do on Nov. 7 and not what happened four years ago. Put that in your think tank and see what develops.
Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.