Norman: Now I know what he was talking about


Back in 1985 the singing mother/daughter duo of The Judds had a No.1 hit song “Grandpa, Tell Me ‘Bout The Good Old Days,” recalling the era of days gone by... when our society was more innocent, more civil, kinder, more gentle.

Charlie Norman

The thing is, I grew up in those days and didn’t realize it. Boy, do I miss them now. It really hit me last month when I was marching in a Christmas Parade in East Tennessee with the hiking club that my wife and I belong to (we have a little getaway place up that way).

The club had about 16 folks carrying a very large unfolded American Flag as we followed a high school band that was playing, among other Christmas songs, “Joy To the World” and “Hark The Herald Angels Sing.” How  inspiring and invigorating that was for me! Crowds of people lined the streets, and how wonderful and encouraging it was to hear the people shout “Merry Christmas!” or “God Bless America!” as we passed by.

It felt like the 1950’s all over again, and that was where I wanted to be. Take me back there! Oft times during our 40-minute parade walk, people sitting would stand up and put their hand over their heart. Veterans and others would rise to attention and/or salute.

Made me yearn for the country I grew up in and don’t want to lose.... the country I pray my kids and grandkids can somehow know, experience, recapture.  And learn to love and appreciate the way we older Americans who are now in our 60’s, 70’s and beyond remember. We just didn’t know how good we had it, and how we really lived in the best of times. Not to say to say there weren’t issues.... civil rights, threat of nuclear war, later Vietnam, etc.

But I was too young and naive to understand. much about that stuff.  About three weeks ago, I was near the town square in Glen Rose when I observed a mother with her two young kids coming out of a sandwich shop. There happened to be an old-time spring rocky horse right outside the door and the little girl promptly hopped on for a ride.

To see her enjoying something so innocent, so simple brought a sense of reminiscing contentment to me. A few minutes later the family needed to cross the street to get to their car. I watched as they waited safely while a tractor trailer truck passed by, and the boy (about 10 years old) did what I used to do --- give a “pumping motion” with his right arm, hoping the driver see him and would honk his horn.

He did, and that also took me back 60 years to an easier, more carefree time in my own life. Maybe that’s why I gravitate to old-time TV shows, where most always there seemed to be a moral/lesson in the plot and with much less violence and more justice.

Shows in which the good guy always prevailed. There’s a comfort in there that’s inexplicable. Yes, our country did and does have deep wounds and ugly scars from its past. Things we probably all wished weren’t part of our collective national history for sure. But our country did some great, magnanimous things too.

Not perfect, mind you. In the whole scheme of things, we Americans live in the freest, most prosperous, most benevolent country in the history of the world. The most generous as well. Ever think of why so many people want to come here, but nobody wants to leave?

That song of the Judds was sung by my own son at the request of and in honor of my dad, his grandfather at his memorial service in November 2007. The thing is, I understand my father’s yearning sentiment more fully each day of life. I’m gonna tell my grandkids about how our country was founded upon the principles of honor and sacrifice, virtue and freedom, faith and love of country. In a sense I have become my dad. God Bless America... land that I love.

Charlie Norman has lived in Somervell County since 1994. He and his wife have two adult children, who graduated from Glen Rose schools. You can contact him at chas234@windstream.net.