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Viewpoint: New year triggers memories and a resolution

I never thought I would commit the crime of living in the past, but recently that’s just what I did.

In view of our latest bout of cold weather, I remembered that there were many years of my youth where the temperature was more than 20 degrees below zero. St. Paul Public Schools never closed because of the temperature. Most of us had to walk to school because there were no buses.

Reflecting on the fact that snow was deeper and temperatures were colder when I was young, I looked at the weather records over the past 50 years. The statistics line up with my recollections.

Other than weather predictions, some things do stick with you from your youth. We didn’t have snow pants or jackets made from the Nylon fabric we have today.

Our clothes were made from wool. When we got home after playing outside, our woolen mittens were clumped with snow. Our pants and jackets were wet.

If I close my eyes, I can still smell my woolen clutches drying on warm radiators.

Most children at our elementary school made resolutions when we returned to school in January. Primarily an exercise in learning to write, I wrote that I would “obey my parents,” even though this was shocking news to them when I told my mother about my resolution.

Many people now are promising to swear off fast food because of the large number of calories that contribute to being overweight. That will be hard to do because busy people are in a hurry to get their children to basketball practices and other events.

Unlike today, we never considered thinking much about eating more healthful foods.

Our mothers cooked healthful foods. All children ate fruits and vegetables. If you didn’t eat what was served, there were no snack items to fall back on. Potato chips were eaten once a year at picnics.

In 2014, most people promise to lose weight and get more exercise.

That would have sounded silly to people living in 1954. My family was very well off at that time. It never occurred to me to ask for a ride. We walked.

Even if I could, I wouldn’t return to that time in my life. Some of the values, such as eating more healthful foods and getting more exercise, are not worth what was denied to a society that only valued those who were “white or male.”

I committed the crime of thinking the past was better than today’s world, but it was only a trip back in time to a world that seemed better than it was.

There is much to look forward to this coming year. We should try to listen to each other and tell people how much we appreciate them being in our lives.

I thought about a quote from Jimmy Valvano, coach of the North Carolina State basketball team.

Dying of cancer in 1993, he made a memorable speech during an ESPN award television show.

Paraphrased, he said that if you are thinking, laughing or feeling enthusiastic every day, you are having a good day

“Don’t give up,” he said. “Don’t ever give up.”

This year, I promise to think about his quote every day. If I laugh or cry or feel enthusiastic, I’m having a good day.

Retired Bulletin reporter Judy Spooner writes an occasional column for the newspaper.