Remember these from the 'good old days'?
By Michael O'Hare
Published: Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, 8:15 a.m.
It was one of those emails that takes one back to the “good old days.” This one, shared with me by co-worker Roseanne Linko recently, took me to a web page showing things from the 1960s and ‘70s and asked “do you remember?”
Of course, I did. And I suppose it goes this way for everyone: It doesn't seem that long ago that these things were in common usage.
I can't resist offering some thoughts about what I saw there:
• Curb feelers: Thin wires hung from the wheel well of cars that would “feel” the curb and issue a scratching sound that would alert you that you were too close to the curb. I scuffed up many white-walled tires for lack of such feelers. I much prefer the black-walls of today, though I have nicked up a few wheels too.
• Typewriter ribbon: A picture shows one with black and red ink on one ribbon. I started my time as a reporter on a Royal typewriter. When the keys stuck, or the ribbon's ink faded, I didn't have to call the IT department and explain the problem and hope they could tell me how to fix the key or change the ribbon.
• A wooden potty chair: What do parents use for their kids today? Is the difference is that they are plastic. Potty chairs seem a pretty necessary thing.
• Passing notes in school (identified as original texting). Really, nobody does that anymore? It would seem to be a lot easier and less conspicuous to pass a small note than to be using one's thumbs to tap out a message.
• A photo of a guy writing “Sorry No Gas” on a sign by a station's pumps in 1973. I drove from Pittsburgh to Kittanning and back five days a week then. The rest of the time I spent in gasoline lines. It was a bizarre time.
• Chalkboard erasers: There was nothing like the smell of chalk dust wafting through the air in the classrooms. Wonder what kids are made to do now when they get caught talking in class since there are no erasers to clap together?
• A push mower: I have actually seen these being used lately, at least on smaller lawns. Are they making a comeback? My arms starting pushing forward and backward just as the thought of it. It does have a particular sound all its own.
• Candy vending machines: I think they are still around in some places. I remember the ones in which the candy bars (when they were really large enough to be considered bars and not bites) were on thin metal shelves and each half fell out from under the bottom most candy bar when coins were put in. It was a real talent to be able to flip all those shelves up and shoot in the candy in short order when it was time to fill the machines. A job for the ushers in a movie theater. I know because I did it.
• A wringer washer: I can remember my shirts coming through the wringer, sliding out into Mom's hand as thin as paper until she shook it out and hung it on a line. When Mom said, “Man, I feel like I've been through the wringer,” I knew exactly what she meant.
• A milk box at the back door: Cold milk or cream — even chocolate milk — delivered each day right to the door. If you needed extra, you left the milkman a note. My Uncle John was a milkman. I remember kids stopping his truck so he'd give them a chip of ice from the back. That was refrigeration in those days. Not only did the milkman come into the backyard, so did the garbage pickup guys. They put the garbage in their own can that they carried and off they went. They even took our garbage out of cans that were in the ground.
• Drive-in movie car speakers: They could never be loud enough for today's moviegoers. Of course, lots of young folks in those cars weren't listening anyhow. I only know that because I was a ramp boy (usher for cars) at a drive-in too.
• Metal doll houses: These were taken out of the box and little tabs were put into slots and bent down to make the walls and roofs hold together. I didn't have a doll house, but I had a cowboy cabin that was the same thing. The outside and inside walls, roof, windows, etc., were all painted to look like the exterior and interior of a real family home or ranch house.
• Avocado teapot: The caption with a picture of one says it was a time of “avocado green everything, teapot, stove, refrigerator.” Mark my words, avocado will come back in style again sometime.
• Walking dolls: A caption with a picture of the 1960s dolls says: “They walk in front of you and you hold their hands as they walk...although rather stiffly...knees didn't bend!!” And here I am thinking that my granddaughters will someday say that about me.
• Ice trays: The site shows one of those trays that had a metal divider for the cubes and when it was time to take out some cubes you pulled back a metal handle that supposedly freed the cubs to fall out. They didn't. Don't ever, ever, ever bring those damn things back.
There was lots more on the website, but unlike the web I have run out of time and space. I wonder how long it will be that newspapers show up on such sites?
This all goes to show you (well, me, anyway) that the good old days, the good current days and the good days to come have nothing to do with things. They have to do with good times shared with those we love.
And don't bring back those ice trays!
Meandering appears Fridays. To share your thoughts on this column (or on most anything) with News Editor Mike O'Hare, write to the Leader Times, P.O. Box 978, Kittanning, PA 16201 or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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