Do you remember newsreels before movies, Blackjack chewing gum, roller skate keys, Butch wax, party lines, and cereal with prizes in the box?
Did your mom buy her groceries at a particular grocery store just to get that free dinner plate? Did the groceries come with an added bonus – S&H Green Stamps?
Well, Howdy Doody folks, you are officially older than dirt.
The realization that some of what we grew up with is no longer around today recently drew quite an online conversation among neighbors.
Arlene Dalton had a lengthy list: “Really cool toys in Cracker Jacks and cereal, skate keys, metal charge-a-plates, dog tags we ordered from our schools (my father made my sister and me really nice ones), party lines, powdered toothpaste, phone booths everywhere (you could call for a dime), original poodle skirts, hairdryers that went over your head with a tube that attached to the blower, and starting in elementary school, Bank of America savings books that you would bring to school once a week and deposit anything from a penny or more.”
Jane Hope used to thumb through the Sears catalog, and mentioned old-fashioned newsprint, “the kind suitable to use in the outdoor toilet.”
“Wait, I don’t miss those,” she admits, amusing her neighbors.
However, Linda Miller used the Sears catalog to choose toys for her Santa list. To many like Miller, the Sears and other catalogs were the ultimate pre-Christmas wish book.
“One thing that is quite a shock is to see what I had for toys on display at museums,” Guy Meredith says of his coveted toys. The Salem man also delivered newspapers from a bicycle. “A huge number of people – maybe most – had home newspaper delivery.”
Miller adds, “I do not miss the library card catalog. Our online library resources are wonderful.”
Susie Williams likes that kids in her generation could call the operator to ask for anything – the time, help with homework, or just to hear a friendly voice.
“The operators were always kind to us little ones, back when,” Williams says.
Kelsey Pantovich works in the dental field, and says “youngsters” in their twilight years are constantly telling her that they miss “the old sink spittoons and don’t like the suction tool.”
“I am 72, and have, in fact, mentioned the spittoons to dental staff,” Meredith responds. “Having one’s mouth vacuumed out is not quite the same.”
“Cars without seatbelts and airplanes with smoking,” offers Michele Mueller. “It’s a wonder any of us made it. Oh, and cameras with film.”
Maggie and Bob Nunes still have their original Polaroid camera.
Former food places are a popular miss. Darcy French lists Bob’s 19-cent hamburgers. Joel Pickett misses Black Angus and “Jackie Winter’s rib place by Fred Meyer South.” “Who remembers if that’s the BBQ Pit on Commercial Street, greatly missed by Marilyn Eldred?”
Other treats included 25-cent Dairy Queen ice cream cones, the Colony House and getting coleslaw with a burger and fries.
“Even the drive-through places had coleslaw,” says Pat Mallette, who doesn’t miss “typewriters or the dreaded mimeograph machine. I sure don’t miss cars without power steering, but I do miss the little triangular window you could open for just a little air.
“I miss galoshes that you wore over your shoes in rainy weather,” she adds. “I don’t miss coal furnaces of the coal cellar, a little room in the basement. The coal delivery man opened the little window, inserted a chute, and in poured the coal. Cough, gasp.”
Jeanne Nielson misses cars that don’t require a computer technician to fix, and Jane Hope shares her teenage errand of stopping at a gas station to buy “a quarter’s worth of gas – one gallon.”
“I went from a Ford to the VW Bug and was happy to be able to fill the tank for $2.50,” says Nielson, who grew up in Orange County, Calif. “Not too long before that, gas wars put the prices as low as 19 cents.”
And in California, “there was always a gas war on,” Meredith says.
The prices, Nielson says, “look good even when translated to today’s dollars.”
Jerry Hawley agrees, saying, “It was good, when in a hurry, to stop at a service station for one dollar’s worth of gasoline and get the oil checked and windshield washed.”
“Not all prices increased at the same rate,” Nielson adds. “A work shirt for 74 cents in 1967 is another thing. The inflation rate on those is mind boggling.”
Even directions, which can sometimes be hard to follow as we grow older, have been championed.
“State Street downtown used to go east and west,” reports French, who also mentioned riding in the bed of a truck on the highway.
For Larry Lewis, one loss was Skateland that used to be at Commercial and Hilfiker long ago.
What Bob Tribotti misses most is listening to Fibber McGee and Molly on the old-time radio.
“When I was still living in Southern California, my wife and I would attend events put on by SPERDVAC, The Society to Preserve and Encourage Radio Drama, Variety and Comedy,” Tribotti says. “We attended several recreations of radio shows including LUX Radio Theater and others. SPERDVAC is still around.”
Neilson also listed her ‘50s favorites as Saturday morning cartoons on TV – “good cartoons, not the weird stuff they have now. And 25-cent movies for kids at the theater in downtown Tucson. My brother and I would ride the bus downtown – never had a problem – then grab lunch at the Woolworth’s lunch counter after the movies. Best grilled cheese sandwiches on the planet.”
She also joins others in wishing today’s parks were like the past, “clean and safe, for kids and adults alike to go to, even in the evenings.”
“Kids running free outside, including on the active railroad trestle among the abandoned lead mine tailing piles in the 1940s in Joplin, Miss.,” adds Hope to the conversation. “And in The Holler behind our neighborhood, where there were poison ivy and snakes -- and supposedly bums, but we didn’t see any. We showed up for meals and didn’t have to say where we’d been.”
The Nunes reminisce about walking all over town as children “in complete safety.”
“We used to go to our local five-and-dime store and buy treats for the movie on Saturday afternoon,” Maggie says. “We’d call our friends on our party-line phone and get together on someone’s corner to play Kick the Can or roller skate. We had the first transistor radios then 8-track stereo cassettes. We had reel-to-reel music tapes. So many other things.”
Jeanine Renne misses the “actual music videos on MTV.”
And who could go a day without picking up a rotary-dial phone to listen in on the latest conversation from that stranger on the party-line?
“The most fun a 10-year-old could have on a rainy day,” says Charles Aylworth.
For Douglas Henderson, playing in the mud captured his youthful attention.
But perhaps the best missed most of all is the time spent with family and friends, most agree.
“Having big Sunday dinners with the family,” says Linda Schellenberg.
Robin Barney misses the simplicity of life, the “ringing of a cow bell” instead of a text on a cell phone to come home for dinner. She says parents back then trusted children not to get into trouble and if they did, they handled it.
“I miss the sound of children outside playing, and pulling your red wagon with your sister in it to the store to buy bread,” she says.
Quinn Amaro sums it up nicely: “A simple life – life is so complicated now.”