Folks toss that term around freely, Old School. What exactly does it mean? Depends on when and where you were born, I think. “I’m old school” uttered by someone from the Midwest in his 80’s might mean “I beat my kids when I was parenting… and they are all the better for it.”
When an old Marine says it about his Paris Island boot camp, he means that he and his fellow Marines were physically assaulted by drill sergeants who took pride in being as evil as they could dream of behaving. “I’m old school Marine Corps. No women, no gays, no mercy. No problem. When the DI knocked our teeth out, we’d say, ‘Thank you, sir’ through a gurgle of blood.”
Old teachers talk at retirement banquets of the days before the consolidated school districts when kids played handball with their teachers over the lunch hour break, when the nearby kids walked home for lunch with their stay-at-home moms. “Kids were good then. They had respect. Said the pledge and prayed every morning.”
Implied in these nostalgic vignettes is the superiority of the Old School to the modern or New School approach to anything moral or social. You don’t hear folks claim to be Old School when it comes to technology.
Gramps. “I love dial up.”
Grankid. “You mean you still use dial up for your computer, Pops? That’s annoyingly slow.”
Gramps. “No, I mean dial up as in rotary phone.”
Grandkid. “What the fig is a rotary phone, Gramps?”
I lived through the Old School. I’m here to tell you that it was not better Take the infamous party phone line for example. I don’t know how it worked exactly, but back in the day you shared a hard wired phone line with various neighbors in order to save money. (Privacy was and is still expensive, my bloggidos.) You would have to pick up the land line phone cradle to see if anyone was already engaged in a conversation, yep, back in the Old School. Sort of like today’s public toilets– you have to physically inspect the stall before you drop your privacy and engage. It was slower and less secure, as you can imagine. Only an audible click announced someone joining the party line… which could lead to cheap entertainment or fun stories… or a beating.
Old School, as I recall, allowed spousal and child abuse to quietly go onward as a family matter or a tradition. It was none of the neighbors’ business if a kid was bruised or a wife had to hide for days as a black eye healed. A solidly naive Old Schooler could say that such stuff did not happen back in the golden years of the 40’s, 50’s or 60’s because it was not reported. Heck, it wasn’t even a crime then. This is circular logic. Similar to saying that kids did not smoke cigarettes because that was illegal. Or there weren’t as many DUI’s before breathalyzers and the harsh drunk driving rules since MADD came along. Absurd. Not keeping statistics is not the same as having no statistics to keep. That’s a triple negative, if you are wondering why it’s hard to decode in one reading.
I recall that drunk driving and alcoholism in general were the source of jokes back in the Old School. There was the one about the drunk guy who thought he put his Olds 98 in reverse down at the Huntington Crab House; he dropped it into drive, but since he was looking behind himself, he accelerated across the sidewalk and through a plate glass window, finally stopping at the table he had just exited after two pitchers of beer and a pair of back fin crab cakes. Seems he forgot to leave a tip. He ponied up a couple of bucks and put it in reverse all the way home with a ketchup dispenser stuck on his hood ornament.
We were aware of other kids whose parents beat them, not just a corrective slap or paddling, but a full body, bruising beat down. Gary King and Duane Beattie come to mind, but so do lots of other kids. Eric Emker’s screams flew out of his open windows in the summer when his military father knuckle punched him for opening up the house to us neighborhood boys and making baloney sandwiches for each of us. There were lots more stories from the Old School, not so pretty or inspiring nostalgia. Hey, it was not our family’s business now was it? No cops were called. No name was given. Domestic violence had not been coined yet. Abuse was euphemistically called discipline back in the Old School.
Then there was Mr. Reynoldo the pedophile who lived on the sharp hill of the Parkway with his invalid mother. He molested boys whenever he could. Everyone in the neighborhood knew it. We boys talked among ourselves and to our parents. The parental advice was, “Don’t go around that man.” We ignored such passive consent to evil. On snowy nights we would pound his house with snowballs from the undeveloped hillside across from his den of sodomy. On Halloween it was eggs. He’d come lurching out in a rage and we’d laugh the nervous laugh of adolescent vigilantes as we ran like foxes across the cedar spotted field behind us. He only caught the slow footed and slow witted boys.
Ah, the Old School. Same as the New School, Fool.
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again
Don’t get fooled again
No, no!Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss
So be true to your school now
Just like you would to your girl or guy
Be true to your school now
And let your colors fly
Be true to your school
Rah rah rah be true to your school