Friday, August 29, 2014

Do You Remember These

The world is so different. Like all people who are getting older I seem to remember a much simpler world than the one my children and grandchildren have experienced. Some things are definitely changed for the good but there are some things that make me shake my head with dismay.

I am certainly in favor of things like air conditioners and indoor plumbing for instance. All the hatred in the world can be done without. I am sure that I just did not experience the hatred so maybe it was just the cocoon I was raised in that sheltered  me from it.

I thought it would be fun to remember things from the past. If they are not something I have an actual experience with I will make a note but I made use of at least most of these.

Duck-and-Cover was the air raid drill we did at school where we would duck under our desks and cover our heads with our arms to protect us from atomic bombs.

There were no computer printers that make as many copies of whatever as one wishes. For a test at school the teacher had to use special mimeograph paper to type it up. Then she would fill the mimeograph machine with its special ink and place her typed copy on a cylinder. She would turn the crank that turned the cylinder to make the copies she needed of the test. Eventually they were powered by electricity so the cranking was not needed.

Howdy Doody. We could not get The Howdy Doody Show in the town where I lived but we always watched it when we went to my grandparents' farm. The characters on that show are the stuff of history. Besides Howdy Doody and Buffalo Bob  there was Clarabell the clown who was played by Bob Keeshan who went on to become Captain Kangaroo.

Other characters were Mayor Phineas T. Bluster, Heidi Doody (Howdy's sister), Dilly Dally, Inspector John J. Fadoozle America's number 1 private eye, Captain Windy Scuttlebut, Sandra the Witch, and the curious Flub-A-Dub. (Deep breath)  J Cornelius Cobb, The Featherman, Sir Archibald the Explorer, Chief Thunderthud father of Princess Summerfallwinterspring. And they all lived happily in Doodyville.

Grocery stores and gas stations gave Green Stamps with each purchase. You put them in the special Green Stamp book and when you had enough you could redeem them for all sorts of merchandise... FREE.

Gym shoes were reserved to wear on the indoor gym floors. Outside shoes were made of leather. When patent leather was made girls had to be extremely careful because they were so shiny and boys might see the reflection of panties in the shoes. Gasp.

Beatniks (who I only saw on television) were all emaciated and dressed in black. The men had scraggly beards and none of them ever smiled. They frequented dreary coffee houses and wrote and recited depressing poetry.

The big threat to the world was the Cold War and Communism.

Hoola hoops were a huge craze. They were made by making a circle out of rubber tubing held in shape by inserting a piece of cork into both ends and stapling it in place. We then put them around our waists and twirled them for hours. They make a comeback about every ten years.

Driving along the highway you were almost certain to spot the Burma Shave signs. They were a series of signs that when read in order made a funny quote. The last sign simply said Burma Shave.

Frisbees were another craze. They are plastic discs that float on the air when tossed to someone else. My mother told me they used to use the lids from cans of food in the same way after they made sure the edges were dulled.

Bell bottom pants were modeled after sailors' bell bottoms. The legs flared out just above the ankle . Some had bigger bells than others. Hip huggers were pants that had a very low waist meaning they fastened about 2 or 3 inches below your waist. Hip hugger bells were about as "hip" as you could get.

Route 66 was the major highway in the United States. Remember... you can get your kicks on Route 66.

Polio vaccine was invented and all school children were being vaccinated to begin the effort to eradicate polio.

The starter for cars was located on the floor right next to the clutch. You had to do a contortionist's move to reach all the pedals necessary to start the car. There was a throttle on the steering column in case you needed a bit more gas to help start it. To dim or brighten the headlights also required a button on the floor. But a lot of people put a knob on the steering wheel. It was called many things but suicide knob and "necker's" knob were probably the most well known.

Chemise dresses were called sack dresses because they had no defined waistline leading some critics to say it looked as if the woman was wearing a gunnysack.

All movies and TV programs were shown in black-and-white. That is because they were filmed that way. When they began to show movies in glorious color TV decided to follow suit. That meant that everyone had to buy a new television to accommodate the technology. That meant no more of those silly plastic covers that were green on the bottom, clear in the middle, and blue at the top to give the illusion of color to a television program.

Photographs were also black-and-white. It is hard to remember how difficult it was to take a picture yourself. The lighting had to be just so and no shadows allowed.

Royal Crown Cola had special bottle caps. After you opened the pop you peeled the cork (all bottle caps had a cork lining) from the inside. After you drank the pop you rinsed the bottle thoroughly and filled it with water. You had a handy way to sprinkle your clothes for ironing.

Speaking of laundry we used those old wringer washers. You filled them with water and put in the detergent. After washing the first load you would turn off the agitator and send the clothes one by one through the wringer. I was always thankful that we had an electric operated wringer instead of using a hand operated wringer.

From the wringer the clothes dropped into a tub of rinse water. You would then refill the machine with another load of clothes to wash as you rinsed the clothes and put them through the wringer into another tub of water just to make sure you had all the detergent out. Another time of putting them through the wringer into a basket. Then you hung them on the line to dry. A sunny breezy (but not windy) day was best.

You would repeat this process until all the laundry was done. When the clothes on the line were dry you took them down to make room for the next load. Anything that needed to be ironed would be lightly sprinkled with water and carefully rolled up. Steam irons were not in common use so the moisture from the water made it easier to iron the clothes the next day.

Soda pop was sold in vending machines but they were certainly different. They sat flat like a chest freezer. The glass bottles were lined up with the caps at the top. You would insert your money then slide the bottle along by its cap until it reached the opening that allowed it to lift out of the machine. To open the bottle (no twist-off caps) there was an apparatus on the side of the machine with a little bin below it to catch the caps.

In the summer it got hot. Most homes did not have an air conditioner. Many did not have fans except for those little round oscillating things. And usually only one of those. To keep cool we spent a lot of time sitting under a big shade tree hoping for a bit of a breeze. Maybe we would slip away with a stick and bit of fishing line with a hook and sinker to fish. It was more to dangle our feet in the water than the hope of catching any fish. If we had running water my father might wait until very late in the afternoon to spray the outside of the house with cold water. You would not believe how much that helped.

How many of these things do you remember? Candy cigarettes, wax lips or mustaches, wax pop bottles with flavored water inside, penny candy, 5 cent packages of baseball cards with a piece of very hard bubble gum inside, Blackjack, Clove, and Teaberry gum, 15cent burgers and 10 cent fries at McDonalds, Cracker Jack with GOOD prizes in them, or turning the crank to make homemade ice cream. Man am I old!

I have not even touched on so many other things. Another time perhaps. Maybe my creaky old body needs a nap.


  1. Emma, I do remember so many of the things you posted about. We always sprinkled the laundry and then rolled it up before ironing. Frowing up, we had a B&W set, candy cigraettes and wax bottles with sweet syrrup, square bubble gum lacks with a comic inside, cracker jack candy bought for the prizes.