Biff America column: Low sitting in days of yore
My knees came up to my chin when I sat on the toilet, just another reminder of the “good old days.”
I’m sure many of the guests who stay at the squatting Moose Cabins do so for the old-school nostalgia; I was there for the price. My guess is, in the summer season, the place is packed and expensive. But during the cold months, you can get a great deal on a “rustic cabin” with nearby backcountry skiing.
The squatting Moose Cabins are decorated with the angler in mind. There were several wooden fish, fly rods, nets and paddles hanging in every room, including over an ancient toilet, which was about 9 inches from floor to lid (I just measured my home toilet; it is twice that high). After a long day of skiing, the low privy was tough on my knees, but sitting on it gave one the sense of driving a sports car. The only decorative gesture to winter sports was mounted over the bathroom door: a pair of 210-centimeter skinny downhill skis with bear-trap bindings guaranteed to break your legs.
The bed sagged like a hammock, and if that didn’t take the romance out of the air, there was a huge and substantial wagon-wheel chandelier over the bed that didn’t look to be too well attached to the ceiling. I slept that night wearing a helmet.
Not even 5 miles away was a fairly contemporary motel, but like many of us living in this modern world, we opted for character over luxury and convenience. We longed for the “good old days.”
It is my contention one of the ways that Donald Trump was elected last fall was he promised a return to the good old days. What is considered “those days” I guess is dependent on how old you are. But in truth, they are a better memory than reality.
For me, they might be when I arrived in Colorado and the streets were dirt and sidewalks wooden. I was young, dumb, broke and considered myself “wicked worldly.” During the good old days, there was unlimited parking and nine single women. In my memory, it was an idyllic time; it was wild, fun and lacked rules.
But the truth is that most of us were living hand to mouth, could not afford health insurance and had to relocate in the offseason to make enough to live. I remember cracking my tooth on a walnut shell and not being able to afford a dentist. Luckily, several days later, there was a huge brawl at the bar where I worked and I got punched in the face. I claimed the punch broke my tooth then, and the restaurant paid to get it fixed. (Pretty sure the statute of limitations applies here.)
Abundance of Jobs
For some, the good old days were when there was an abundance of blue-collar jobs. Yes, there was a time when there were more opportunities for an unskilled worker to hold down a manufacturing job and raise a family. But the sad truth is that desperate peoples in oppressed nations will do that same work for a fraction of the cost and only to be discarded when they are too old to toil.
Blame the North American Free Trade Agreement or allowing China into the World Trade Organization, but it is likely those jobs are gone for good. But it is important to remember that many of those same American blue-collar workers couldn’t afford health care after retirement until Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare into law.
Another reminder that the good old days weren’t that good is to recall that not too long before Medicare was being created, legalized segregation such as whites-only bathrooms contained in the Jim Crow laws were still in place.
Interracial marriage was still illegal until the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in 1967, and as late as 1963, it was legal to pay women less for the exact same job as a man. (John F. Kennedy passed a law in 1963 making equal pay a requirement, but …)
How Far We’ve Come
When I grew up, I knew only one black guy and I saw bigotry first hand. I knew only one guy who admitted to being gay (and about 30 who turned out to be). It is healthy to remember during the good old days that women and minorities were openly discriminated against. I will say, even then, this nation was head and shoulders above most in this regard and we have steadily improved.
I’m very happy how far we’ve come as a nation. Yes, my gal Hillary Rodham Clinton lost the last election, but with my voice and money, I will keep fighting for policies I believe to be right. It is fun to reminisce about the days of dirt streets, long, skinny skis and 9-inch toilets. But, at least in my opinion, America is already great and the high toilets and shorter skis are easier on my knees.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Biff’s book “Mind, Body, Soul,” is available at local shops and bookstores or shop.holpublications.com.
See something new at the 16th annual Vail Film Festival, screening over 40 films Thursday to Sunday.