See It Go Up!
By DANNY MINTON
“Look,” said Dick.
“See it go. See it go up.”
Jane said, “Oh, look! See it go. See it go up.”
“Up, up,” said Sally. “Go, up, up, up.”
With these words, children of the fifties were introduced to a family who had been part of the lives of children decades before and would continue into the next. I was one of those who grew up with Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot, Puff, and Tim. For many of us, the fifties were a “Dick and Jane” world. The depression was in the past, and for a short time, we were between the stress of wars. Television was relatively new, with approximately one TV for every 3.75 households, and those were only black and white. There were no calculators, computers, cell phones, or microwave ovens. The internet was the public library, and our first phone had no number pad or dial. You picked up the receiver, clicked the button, and waited for a nice lady to ask what number we’d like. “Number, please,” she’d say and connect us to our friends around town. Clothes dried on a wire line in the backyard; our family ate at the table most days with dishes washed and dried by my brother and me.
Playtime was spent outside with the phrase, “Be home before dark.” We caught fireflies (Lightening Bugs as we called them) in jars, collected bugs for class, climbed trees, waded in the creek, and spent Fridays walking down the street to Rice field to watch the Plano Wildcats play football, and then walk back in the dark. We played dodgeball, ante-over, hide and seek, baseball, football and rode our bikes all over town. Social media was knocking on the door of a friend to see if they wanted to play, go to a movie, or hang out. Life was simple in our “Dick and Jane” world.
I do not doubt that life in the fifties would have been different with cell phones, color television, computers, and all the appliances that make household work easier and faster. I’m glad we have them and use them many times every day. However, as great as many modern conveniences are, they have hindered life in some ways. It’s affected not only our youth but adults as well. Today instead of the 3.75 households having one television among them, those 3.75 households would have nine televisions. With computers, cell phones, pads, and televisions, the average U.S. household has over 12 screens. As a result, we spend more time in front of our screens than in face-to-face relationships. Even in public, you see families who spend time on their cell phones instead of interacting with each other.
The internet and online devices have opened a world once kept from children and ignored by adults. Now twenty percent of the searches on the web are pornographic. Social media provides a place for people to complain, criticize, and belittle others through the privacy of anonymous names. We are inundated with fake news, manipulated pictures, and scams of all sorts daily. Oh, they were there in the fifties, but primarily through ads in the back of comic books. In many instances, some of today’s conveniences, when misused, have destroyed marriages, negatively affected our young, and divided people, at times leading to violence and other dangerous acts. Influence today comes not only from family and close friends but the added opinions of millions of others through a world opened by the progress of life.
I look at life and the world and realize we will never return to the “Dick and Jane” days. Most of those days have changed; some have faded away, while others have remained alive today in the face of things that want to pull us away. The one true thing that has made it through all these changes has been Jesus Christ. Although church attendance is down, fewer people believe in God, and even fewer make their way to a church service on Sunday; he is still alive and well.
Recently the world saw a young 24-year-old man fall on a football field caused by a cardiac arrest. Silence filled the stadium as medical personnel worked frantically to revive him. In those moments and the hours to come, prayers went up from millions of people from national television to quiet vigils at the hospital. For this brief, shining moment in history, people who rarely attended worship, who complained about public prayer, and who questioned why God allows bad things to happen bowed their heads, in the stands, on the fields, in their homes, and around the world and asked God to be with him.
Days are not as simple as the fifties, with so many things and ideas that can make it challenging to plan and live our lives. It’s not easy being a young person today. The challenges of being an adult, husband, wife, or parent seem more complicated even with the progress of the modern world. In all this, the one thing that we can always know for sure is found in words quoted by the writer of Hebrews, “He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” so that we confidently say, “THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?” Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:5-8 (NASB)
I hold the days of Dick, Jane, Spot, Puff, and Tim in my heart. They are part of my past days of joy and friendships. However, I also hold fast to the years I live in now. Without them, I’d not be able to share these thoughts. Communication with people worldwide has made it possible to share the Gospel with people we have never met. All the conveniences we enjoy have helped to make life easier and open new ways to serve the Lord.
The first picture in “Fun with Dick and Jane” shows Dick tossing his balsa plane into the air, shouting, “Look, see it go. See it go up.” When things around you make you depressed or you feel the things of the world pulling you away from God, stop, pray, and “See them go up.”
Danny Minton is a former Elder and minister at Southern Hills Church of Christ
I am of your generation and agree that reflection is a precious gift. I also try to embrace the present and hope for the future.