Forty years ago as a young teen I packed everything I owned into my Ford and headed to Florida. I had planned this journey, escape, for many months from the dreary, small farm town I called home, Hookstown, Pennsylvania. Hookstown was named after Captain Hook, but you can imagine growing up how people would snicker when I would tell them where I lived. Opportunities for a young teen in a small town after the demise of the Aliquippa Steel Mill were few. Recently, laid off from my office position in a construction company I had the cushion of unemployment until I could find work in sunny, Florida.
While driving to Florida on December 8, 1980 I heard John Lennon had been shot and killed. Ironically, one of the albums I had packed to bring with me on my journey to Florida was “Imagine”, one of my favorite songs and albums. I won’t bore you with all the words, but “Imagine all the people living life in Peace” Maybe, we should re-release this song and practice it’s lyrics. Living life in Peace is truly a American Dream!
Still in shock over the death of John Lennon I arrived in Florida. Things were not as lucrative here as I thought. After months of searching I did land a job with the County and was smart enough to stick it out for thirty two years. Minimum wage here at the start of my job was $3.35, when I left Pennsylvania I was making twice as much. Next came the American Dream of owning a home, getting married, having children and a dog in the fenced back yard.
Being single, only earning minimum wage, working for the Government at the time I had job security, so I purchased a travel trailer. I had enough money saved prior to the move to Florida to purchase a twenty-five foot travel trailer. I felt on top of the world owning my own tiny home. Actually, it was one of the best times of my life. Life was simple, no yard work, a pool I didn’t have to maintain and not much upkeep. I had plenty of time to enjoy the simple things in life.
The rest of my aspirations of the American Dream all fell into place, getting married, buying the BIG house, having a healthy baby boy, and a spunky poodle. I had fulfilled my American Dream and don’t regret any of my decisions at the time. Almost twenty years later things in the marriage weren’t working out so divorce was looming. Getting divorced was not in the plan, but necessary to keep my sanity. I kept the BIG house I so wanted and I now call it the “Money Pit” I’m now in the process of down-sizing and buying into the lifestyle of a retiree. My dream now is a condo near the beach, no yard, no pool to maintain or accumulation of things (junk) stored in closets. Traveling as much as I can, living each day positive and happy that’s this retiree’s new dream.
When I googled the American Dream here is the definition of the “American Dream” The American Dream is achieved through sacrifice, risk-taking, and hard work, rather than by chance.
Guess as time evolves your OWN definition of the American dream changes, but it all still involves sacrifice, risk-taking and don’t forget hard work. Everyone, tells me I’m “Lucky”, but it is not really luck, it is “Work”. Yes, I feel very blessed and fortunate for the life I have created!