Narrative: “When I was your age…”

Piece of Folklore:

“My father used to tell me this story usually when we weren’t being grateful, so, he just, if we were being lazy or you know. So he would just kind of tell us how we really had it, how easy we had it today ‘cause when he was growing up. You know, he grew up in Indiana you know. He used to have to go to school, you know. And it would be snowing pretty heavily, and he couldn’t afford shoes. So, he had to walk to school in bare feet, and he was thankful that he had, even though he had no shoes when going to school, he was thankful for school. And he would have to go all the way to school and there was like this really steep hill. He went up the hill to reach the school and after school on his way home, somehow, it was another, you know, there was another steep hill too. And he walked up the steep hill both ways you know to school and back and he was thankful. And, so stop your complaining.”


I collected this piece of folklore from the informant, my father, inside the informant’s house during an interview. The only reason I knew this was folklore was because when I was growing up my middle school band teacher used to tell me the same story about when he was growing up. What’s interesting about it is that my band teacher grew up in California where there was little to no snow, so I know his was just a story. But I thought it was interesting how my informant’s father who grew up in Indiana knew the same story even though the two states are almost on opposites side of the country.

My Thoughts:

This piece of folklore is a way to represent how easy kids have it today compared to previous generations. Even though whoever is telling the story most likely did not have to walk to school, barefoot, through the snow climbing uphill both ways, it is meant to represent a time when many families did not have access to the kind of resources that are available today. Even though the people telling the story probably have access to everything they would need in order to get their kids to school safely, this story comments on the progress of technology and the overall increase in wealth of our nation. At one point in time, there probably were people that had to walk in the snow (hopefully not barefoot) long distances to get to school. But now, the overall quality of life due to advances in technology has made an occurrence like that less likely with school buses, driving, and car pools, kids should be able to get to school in the snow without too much of a struggle. So, this story is really commenting on the progression of our society.