As a gift for my Mom’s birthday, I took her back to Beaver, the quaint town on the Ohio river where she grew up. As Mom and I walked from her brick home on the corner of Bank and Commerce along her usual route to the store where Grandma sent her to buy milk and bread, I stepped back in time. I never knew Mom had a green bike named Bess with a basket for her bunny. That her mother paid her a nickel to play with the girl up the street instead of the boys in the alley. And how my grandfather, the principal of Beaver High School, turned away a boy who came to take Mom out on a date.

Back then, kids played outside. Grandma blew a whistle twice to call Mom and my uncles in for supper. And, like many mothers in those days, Grandma’s schedule went like this: she washed clothes on Monday, ironed on Tuesday, sewed on Wednesday, cleaned on Thursday. We’re not sure what she did on Friday. Rested, we hope.

Being in Beaver sparked many memories for Mom. She pointed out the canteen in town where everyone went for dances, the ice cream shop where she worked after school (which is now a pizza parlor, but has the old counter and bar stools intact), even the pigeon lady’s house. We ducked into every store, even the bakery where Mom once charged a lady lock on her parents’ tab and later had to pretend she was hungry for dinner (and explain the tab to her father).

A highlight was when we knocked on the childhood homes of Mom’s friends. The 94-year-old father of Mom’s high school sweetheart still lives in his home and is dating a lovely lady who remembered that my grandpa taught her biology (before he became the principal).

This got me thinking about being a mom back then. Sure, electronic temptations didn’t exist. Moms didn’t arrange playdates or organize activities. When a friend knocked on Mom’s door, she grabbed her bike or skates and off they went until supper. Thus, the whistle. Was parenting harder then or now? What do you think?