Back in the Day: The Lost Art of Social Manners and Work Ethic

Paternal Grandparents-Robert and Bertha Clarkston

Paternal Grandparents-Robert and Bertha Clarkston

Back in the day . . . .

My paternal grandfather passed away before I had a chance to know him. But I was raised near the apron strings of my grandmothers and the worn work boots of my maternal grandfather.

There’s a phrase I heard from each of them, “Back in the day . . . .”

Back in the Day: Stories Told

Albeit, the phrase was often a precursor to what we think of as treacherous, uncivilized back in the day stories. Narratives of how they walked uphill both ways to school (strange how that works). When money was tight, a Christmas gift was an orange—the kind you eat, not an orange dump truck, or an orange dress.

They didn’t always have a television, much less cable. T.V.’s were certainly not scattered in every room as a commonplace fixture many of us have grown accustomed to. The entire family went to the living room to watch one of two choices of shows—together and without a remote. What my Grandmother Clarkston called “ungodly” started appearing on her television. She would say, “What’s the world coming to?” Oh my. She’s no longer alive to see the viewing material channeled into our homes. Can I get a witness?

Maternal Grandparents Ernest & America Maxfield

Maternal Grandparents- Ernest and America Maxfield

Back in the day, children and teens rose before daylight to do chores. This became a pattern for them in their adult lives—you get up early to work—either at home or at a work place. The team concept was never questioned. If you lived under a roof, you helped with whatever needed to be done.

My mom’s mother, my Grandmother Maxfield, relayed how she relished every second of her childhood play time. They helped cook and clean up dishes without microwaves and fancy appliances, or pre-packaged meals and restaurant curb-side takeaway. They sat down at a table for meals and talked to each other.

Back in the Day: A Simpler Life

To our kids and grandkids—perhaps to us—a simpler life without modern conveniences and before the digital age, is a suppressed life that lacked entitlement and individual rights. We imagine it as boring with stifled creativity.

Listen, friends.They were thankful for what they had, and grateful for their family and for their life. For every piece of their time period and history that seems ghastly to us, there’s a counterpart of integrity and deep character weaved through the chapters of their stories. When times were hard, they pulled together in the spirit of family and community.

My grandparents often noted, “Back in the day, boys and girls learned social manners and certain etiquette and ethics were expected of them.” It’s true. Many of those values were instilled in me. I was taught to be respectful. Along with my siblings, we learned to be kind and to share. There was a work ethic enforced, to contribute by helping around the house. We knew that one day we would get jobs and contribute to society.

While I enjoy becoming technically savvy, honestly, I’m thankful there weren’t computers and smart phones when I was growing up, or the vast selection of mind-less and spirit-less television programming we now have access to. My siblings and I enjoyed playing outside. We read books that we held in our hands and turned real pages with our fingers. We entertained ourselves by being creative and imaginative.

Back in the Day: Manners and Ethics

My family in the 90's for Old Fashioned Day at Church

My family in the 90’s for Old Fashioned Day at Church

Is it me or is our current culture mass producing kids and adults without a work ethic and who lack social manners? Is becoming a contributing member of society a dying breed? I’ve noticed that being rude and crude is popular in public and on social media. It’s mimicked in the shows and videos we watch. Is goodness, justice, kindness and common courtesy becoming a thing of the past?

I fear we have swung the pendulum so far in the name of modern and innovative progress, that we have let the good and wholesome ethics of our pedigree fall from our family trees.

Why are we appalled at the lack of moral compass in our day? Maybe it’s the backlash of letting parts of what were grand in our ancestor’s generations slip away from us.

How do we deal with a changing culture as believers? The prophet Micah would tell us, back in the day:

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  (Micah 6:8, NIV)

God’s Word will always be applicable for our day and give us the antidote for godly living. As Christ-followers, we should set the bar for social manners and work ethic in an ever-changing culture.

© 2016 by Karen Friday, All rights reserved

My blog site is currently undergoing a make-over. In the coming days, you’ll notice a new custom lay-out, user-friendly features and continued inspirational posts.

March 17, 2016 at 10:10 am | Uncategorized

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Pam Collins says:

Love love reading all you stories. They are so uplifting and eye openers. Keep praying for me and my situation. Love you

Karen says:

Thanks, Pam. I continue to pray for you and your family. Take comfort in this, the Lord sees, knows, and is always there. I pray we act on Micah 6:8, “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Love you, friend.

Carl Wright says:

What a great post Karen. With the new technology so much has changed these past few generations….and not really for the better.

Your photos are very precious. I often long for a simpler life. Thank you for the challenge as a Christian to set that bar for social manners and work ethic.


~Carl~ 🙂

Karen says:

Thanks, Carl. I truly believe this from the post, I fear we have swung the pendulum so far in the name of modern and innovative progress, that we have let the good and wholesome ethics of our pedigree fall from our family trees. May we rise to the challenge to set the bar high. Thanks for reading and commenting! Blessings!

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