By: Vince DiPasquale
I would like to take the time to reflect on memories of my life and how much the world has changed over the past 77 years.
I was born on May 24th, 1940 in the city of Camden. Back then, life was simple and centered on hard work. My Dad started working for the railroad for 14 Cents an hour in 1920. I remember that we had an ice box, a coal stove in our kitchen that we cooked on and got dressed around in the winter. We had the ice man, milkman, bread man, the huckster, who peddled pots and pans and sharpened knives, the fruit man, and the ice cream man on his bicycle.
We wore dungarees (jeans), boy’s hair in ducktails, tight pants and white socks. Girls wore poodle skirts and people dressed up to go to baseball games. Ball players lived in our neighborhood; we rubbed elbows with them in the grocery store. They worked jobs to earn a living in the off season. Sports were just a game.
I went to a World Series game in 1950 to see the Yankee’s play the Phillies. Tickets were $12.00! The first TV was black and white, with a 7 inch screen, only one channel. We experienced WWII that brought us together as a community. So many people lost their loved ones, yet we came through it as a stronger nation and family.
Our lives were centered on radio and TV. Baseball games were played in the day time, no lights. Many a night, in the summer, we slept outside on our doorsteps because there were no air conditioners.
My Dad cooked pigeons. They were called, “the poor man’s chicken”. We were very isolated in our community and our big trip was going down the shore, especially Wildwood.
The church was the center of our community. We lived in a world of secrets and fear. Things like drug addiction, other lifestyles, mental illness, were not talked about and kept out of mind. Everyone had a role ~ men went to work, women stayed home, children were taught to be seen and not heard. So much was never discussed. At times people lived in fear of each other. Everything was based on your external image. “The Brady Bunch”, “Little House On The Prairie”, “Leave It To Beaver”, “The Archie Bunker” show and of course, “Ed Sullivan” on Sunday nights!
We had a strong work ethic based on faith and service towards others. Struggle and earning your way was the secret to life. There was always a fear of change.
History teaches us that change is a process that could take many years and generations. At times we have to experience going from one extreme to the other. During the 60’s and 70’s we experienced a revolution in our society. Everything that was in the closet came out and our world was turned upside down. The age of new technology began with the computer that connected us to the rest of the world. In movies, on TV and even on stage, everything opened up ~ reality TV, nudity, language, violence, inter-racial marriage, gay and lesbian unions. As technology grew, we became so dependent on the technology that it has led to laziness and complacency.
We went through a new period and almost everything became a business. Sports are no longer a game. We have evolved into a world of classes ~ the elite, upper, middle, lower middle, lower class and poverty. We were warned by all the great historians that our cities are the heart of our society. Once again, it’s easy to live in a fantasy world than to face reality.
We are being reminded that if we build our world on lust, gambling, power and money, they can become our new false gods. We must work hard to use technology and face the future in a spirit of faith, trust and service to others. To live in fear is to live in death, to live in spirit, openness and compassion is to live a simple life of faith and love. Everything in life needs to be earned. Struggle, hard work combined with prayer and meditation are the ingredients to allow us to face life in the spirit of love. Remember the importance of giving service to others, by sharing our gifts and talents to all we meet.
Remember a famous quote, “Be in the world but not of the world.” As I celebrate the month of my birth, I would like to share with you one of my favorite mantras for life.
“I’m grateful to God for all of my life experiences. I will try to be open with an attitude of gratitude for all that will be. But above all, I am grateful for each day that God allow me to be his servant on this earth”.
May we all embrace our history with a spirit of love, humility, and service. Sending prayers and love to all. Enjoy the newness of spring; take time to smell the roses.
May God bless us all on the journey of life.