Wednesday, January 15, 2014


                             THAT WAS THEN. . .


Once upon a time, there were doorbells, milk shoots and cod liver oil.
People talked over Tide-scented sheets and undershirts drying in the breeze.
Crickets sang us to sleep in our twin beds from where we could see the stars through the screens.

Grandmas and Grandpas were not strangers, and they certainly weren’t “cool.”
They didn’t travel the globe and post photos on a website for the whole world to see
They looked old and acted old, and they gave us perspective. We knew, next to them, we were still young. We loved them and looked to them for their wisdom and unconditional love.

Telephones had cords that were curly, and you could play with them while you talked and sometimes the “party line” could be heard talking too. Phones were bulky and cumbersome, and you had to stick your finger in the hole for each letter and number, dragging it around the round circle to make a connection.

Moms wore aprons and cooked in old pots handed down from their own mothers.
Their mothers still made the Thanksgiving pies. Holiday meals were always the same dishes at the same grandma’s house, and everyone sat at the big table except the kids who had to earn their place. Kids were not allowed to leave the table until their plates were clean. 

Cars made noise and smelled bad. Men with soldier-type hats pumped the gas and wiped off the windshield, and drivers paid cash. Gas was cheap, and sometimes you got stamps for it to put in your book so you could trade it in for prizes.

Bread was soft and doughy. It had calories and no fiber.It came in a red, white and blue package, and you couldn’t wait to put cinammon and sugar on the first piece out of the wrapper.

Dogs weren’t allowed in the living room, and they were let out in fenced yards.
They were trained not to bark at night so people could sleep.

Children learned to be seen, not heard. They could not wrestle in the house or dance on their dressers. They played with toys and used their imaginations. During the day, they played outside and didn’t want to come in when they were called.

Children were assigned chores. They had to take out the garbage, wash and dry the dishes, clean up after the dog and do their homework before any television was allowed.

They got dirty, fell down and skinned their knees and got in arguments with their friends. They tattled on each other and made up five minutes later.

Dads went to work, and mothers stayed at home. They baked cookies, chaperoned Girl and Boy Scout outings and bragged to their friends about how the children had grown and how many teeth they’d lost.

Parents took their kids to cottages and campouts. Kids were taught to be thankful and learned to say so. 

Teachers taught spelling and cursive, and students in early grades took short naps after milk and graham cracker snacks. Teachers taught the value of reading and encouraged kids to color outside the lines and draw from their imaginations. Kids made potholders and clay ash trays to give to their parents. 

Houses came equipped with clothes shoots so dirty clothes could be swoshed down to the basement where the washing machine waited. The mangle was down there too, and Moms mangled while listening to Helen Trent and Arthur Godfrey.

Women dressed up to go out. They wore high heels, hats and gloves when they shopped downtown. Skirts and dresses were the norm. Feminine was a given. Men wore hats, and they opened doors for women. Women said “thank you.”

People “dropped by.” They rang the doorbell first. Families got together on Sundays, and dinner was early. We said grace, and we asked to be excused from the table. No toys were allowed where there was food, and everyone got a chance to talk.

How times have changed.