Friday, February 22, 2013

Way Back When

I don’t wax nostalgic often, but every once in a while several seemingly un-related conversations will get me thinking about how things used to be. This was such a week. It began with a casual conversation in the kitchen with our youngest son, Carl. He was telling me about a goody bag his daughter, our Melodi, got at a birthday party.

“One of the things in there was little white sticks,” he said, holding up his fingers to show me. “They were just like the candy cigarettes you used to get, but no red tips,” he laughed at the silliness of it. They even came in a little box.

“I remember when there were licorice pipes, too,” I said. They were black (as all real licorice is) and shaped like the pipe Sherlock Holmes smoked. Are they still out there or have the candy police held sway?

The next night we were at dinner with friends and the subject of old cars came up. “What was that little button on the floorboard we tapped with our foot? The brakes?” As soon as I asked I realized the absurdity of the question. The other five at the table rushed to correct me.

“No, that was for the headlights.”

And there followed a discussion of whether it had been a good idea for car manufacturers to take them out. The upshot was the women preferred the light control on the steering column and the men liked to be able to tap their foot on that little sucker on the floor. I guess they didn’t actually go away until the 70’s or 80’s. Anyone remember?  

This afternoon I visited my daughter-in-law, Heather, and she mentioned marring her table once with an iron.

“I’m not used to ironing,” she said. “I was really pressing hard and left a mark on the table.”

This reminded me of the catsup bottle sprinkler my mother used to use to dampen our clothes before she ironed them. A chore most women have abandoned with glee over the years.

“She used an empty glass catsup bottle and a special topper that looked like something you’d find on a watering can. She probably got it for a dime at the grocery store,” I said. That was way back in the fifties when I was quite small, but I remember that bottle.

We also talked about some things we have now that we didn’t have back in the day. Like the ATM. Good grief. When we were first married you had to make sure you got money out of the bank on Friday if you wanted to have money for the weekend. And then you could only use it on Saturday because almost every story was closed on Sunday. I kind of miss that. The stores closed not the inaccessibility of my money. Money at your finger tips any time we need it is a Good idea.

Remember Pong? Oh my word. Did that signal the beginning of the video age or what? People would sit for hours playing a game that now seems incredibly Stone Age.

Such are the times we live in. I love all our modern conveniences and wouldn’t give up my ATM for love nor money. But once in a while we should look back and marvel at how far we’ve come and how much we don’t realize it most of the time.

So – what do you remember?

Image: Kenneth Cratty                                                              Free Digital Photos


  1. I remember the headlight button on the floorboard. When I first got my license my parents' vehicles had them. My dad's pickup truck had manual steering - that was interesting to drive! I also recall when restaurants were about the only thing open on Sundays. As far as candy goes, I remember those cigarettes, but I didn't care for their flavor. How about wax lips, remember those?

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Have a great weekend!

    1. Oh, Karen! I loved those wax lips. LOL There was just enough glamour and sugar to keep a kid happy. Thanks for stopping by - always a pleasure.

  2. It seemed like for ironing, my Mom had a soda bottle with that sprinkler top. And she'd roll the clothes and put them in the refrigerator before she ironed. Or am I crazy? I remember the old wringer washing machine and it was sitting in our very small bathroom.

    As for candies, I certainly remember the candy cigarettes and those licorice pipes. Remember the little wax soda bottles with colored liquid inside? And those strips of paper with candy buttons on them? I still see those around and used to buy them for my nieces and nephews when they were young. They'd get a kick out of hearing how it was the stuff I loved as a kid.

    Thanks for the memories.

    1. Cindy, My grand kids all hush up when I ask, "Want to hear a story about when I was a kid?" LOL I probably embellish them a little, but they love it. I do remember those wax soda bottles! And the glass soda bottles worked as well as the ketchup bottle. I remember damped rolled up laundry, but not putting it in the fridge. Glad those days are gone!

  3. I remember the sprinkler, the rolled up clothes set aside to let them dampen. I don't remember if Mom put them in the refrigerator or back into the laundry basket. Also I remember the hand wringer, separate from the washing machine. (I go back a bit farther than you and Cindy) Once while Mom was out hanging up the clothes, I decided to be a printer and put the newspaper through the wringer. Mom wasn't very pleased about my ambition. Another thing I remember is a tin can with holes punched in the bottom = the chopper for strawberries. Mmm! Shortcake.

    1. Marion, you scamp. A newspaper, huh? LOL Haven't heard of the strawberry chopper, but I sure love shortcake! Won't be long now before that season is upon us. Jam, Yum.

  4. I think you would put the ironing in the refrigerator if you couldn't get to the ironing right away. We probably saved a lot of money before the ATM machines. Fun to look back and appreciate what we have now. Wendy

    1. Wendy, I think you're right. Otherwise the laundry could get moldy. Yech. Love to hear from you!!