I watched an older woman berate a very nice 18-year-old kid (son of the owner who is my friend) who works at the gym because she held the door for him (he was carrying in a box) and all he said was, "Thank you, I appreciate it." Sparks flew out of the back of her head and she tore into this kid about how disrespectful he was because he didn't say, "Thank you, ma'am." She got right in his face going on about how she's retired from the Air Force and it got to the point that I stood up and stepped between them (she was tiny) and looked her in the eye and just said sternly, "WALK AWAY"! She turned and walked away and didn't make another sound. It was all captured on video and she's gone now.
Use ma'am or don't use ma'am but sometimes in this crazy world you just can't win...
The story sounds like something I could’ve written because I grew up when that culture was dominant. I recall sitting on the stump waiting for the milkman to walk up in his white outfit with a white bow bow tie. My grandmother gave me the change to pay him and I believe it was $.30. I can still remember the smell of the sweet magnolia trees along the street and the sound of the large locomotive train engines nearby. Just like my dad used to say “life was better back then.”
I wasn't born until 1970, but much of what I recall was as how @RTexasF described. I was fortunate to have both parents. We lived in a lower mid-class subdivision built in the late 1950s of basically identical 1000sq/ft Cape Cod style homes. My family of 6 lived in one w/ a single bathroom.
Fast forward 5 decades, I have a family of 6. My wife an I have been married 24yrs. Kids are 21,19,17,11. I've worked my butt off so my wife could be a stay at home mom. We live in a rural-ish area in a good smaller school district. My hart aches every day with the feeling I should have / could have done better for my kids. I believe I've done my kids an injustice by sending them to public schools. I've been trying to convince my wife to home school the 11yr/old things are getting so bad IMO.
I guess where I'm going with this, do you think our fathers felt the same way? Mine passed years ago, but I believe he was happy how we all turned out.