Proud To Be A Member Of The Round Scar Generation

Proud To Be A Member Of The Round Scar Generation

The other night as I drove home from a church meeting, I was listening to my car radio and one of those talk shows. Usually, I avoid those programs like the plaque because they only cause high blood pressure. My general listening is WSM, “The Air Castle of The South,” but that night I had been pushing the seek button trying to find a certain basketball game when I ran across this individual who was discussing the dangers of living in today’s modern world with all of its unknowns from chemical poisoning in our food to the shots we get for flu protection. I stopped seeking for a while to listen to this poor misguided person just to see how far some folks will go to be miserable over things they can’t do a whole lot about.

As the lady explained about the dangers of flu shots and other childhood vaccinations these days she considered dangerous, I thought about the round scar still on my left arm after all those years ago when I had to get all those smallpox shots back in the 50s to start to school. Having come from the generation where we got in a line for almost anything that dealt with puncturing the human body, I wondered how we ever survived. It seemed liked every six months as I grew up, I was standing in a line for the local health department nurse to get a shot for something. That was also at a time when the syringes and needles were used over with out the benefit of Snoopy Band-Aids. I can’t ever remember hearing my mother or anyone else being concerned about the side effects either. They were from a generation that could still remember that terrible disease. They just didn’t want us to get smallpox and had a dream to eradicate it. Those efforts and dedication paid off b ecause by 1971 the vaccinations were no longer required and kids now avoid having that round scar on their arms. Our scars are sort of like our “badges of courage” because we took the pain and the risk to eradicate a deadly problem in this country.

In the same sense polio was also eradicated and taken out of this country by our generation as well by first taking a lot of shots and then taking the vaccine on sugar cubes at local schools on Sunday afternoons. All during grade school I participated in the March of Dimes to get my card full of dimes to help other kids walk, but I remember most those trips by the entire family to stand in line at the local school to get our sugar cube of polio vaccine so I would not be one of those the dimes would be needed for. And in the very same way, no questions were asked, we just did what we thought we should do.  

As I listened to the lady talk on that talk show that night, I wondered if the programs accomplished during those days would have had the same results today. We didn’t have Internet to scare us half to death and chemophobia just wasn’t a part of our way of life. Talk shows didn’t go on for hours with their opinions from unproven facts and the news was only thirty minutes long rather than 24 hours a day.

I grew up in an age when milk pasteurization was just getting big to stop the spread of diseases such as diphtheria, salmonellosis, scarlet fever, listeriosis, brucellosis and typhoid fever. It was in glass bottles with cardboard caps and red cellophane around the top. Every child was to drink his milk at school for strong bones and got stars for doing so. We’ve now gone to milk in throwaway bottles with all type of flavors and added vitamins. But, we still have debates on what is safe and what is not.

As I drove on to my house that evening, I wondered just what has gone wrong. My mother never had sanitary wipes in the kitchen. She usually cut up the chicken for supper, chopped the eggs and maybe even spread the salad dressing with the same knife, but we never seemed to get sick. Plus, wax paper was about the only thing she had to wrap a sandwich in and I carried it in a metal lunchbox without a blue ice thingy for the better part of the day. I can still taste those sandwiches and they were really good. I guess it was the bacteria that gave them their taste.

I’m glad to be a part of the round scar generation. Maybe our contribution was just enough to help a lot of people enjoy life. And, one thing for sure, there will be no more seeking on the car radio for me at night. I’m staying with a sure thing and another round scar generation group like WSM.


– Pettus L. Read is Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at