DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN . . . ?
All the girls had ugly gym uniforms instead of leotards?
When it took five minutes for the TV to warm up and the picture was black and white?
When nearly everyone's Mum was at home when the kids got home from school?
When all dogs were mongrels? When pocket money was a shilling (a quarter) and you'd reach into a muddy gutter for a penny?
When nylons came in two pieces and all your male teachers wore ties and your female teachers had their hair done every day and wore high heels?
When you got your windshield cleaned, oil checked, and gas pumped, without asking, all for free, every time?
And you didn't pay for air? And, you got Green Stamps to boot?
When laundry detergent had free glasses, dishes or towels hidden inside the box?
When they threatened to keep kids back a grade if they failed . . . and they meant it?
When boys and girls went steady?
When no one ever asked where the car keys were because they were always in the car, in the ignition, and the doors were never locked?
When you could lie on your back in the grass with your friends and say things like,” That cloud looks like a ..."
When you could play soccer with no adults to help kids with the rules of the game or to argue with the referee, because there was no referee?
When stuff from the store came without safety caps and hermetic seals because no one had yet tried to poison a perfect stranger?
When being sent to the headmaster’s office was nothing compared to the fate that awaited the student at home? Our parents and grandparents were a much bigger threat! But we survived because their love was greater than the threat.
When Saturday Morning Pictures showed Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, Laurel and Hardy, the Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers and Flash Gordon, and not extended commercials for toys?
And the long hot summers were filled with bike rides, pick-up games, Hula Hoops, swimming in the river, sucking sherbet through a liquorice straw, and sharing Tizer with your friends.
How many of these do you remember: sweet (or do you say candy) cigarettes, soda pop machines that dispensed glass bottles, coffee shops with tableside jukeboxes, penny chews, home milk delivery in glass bottles with cardboard stoppers and newsreels before the movie? How about telephone numbers with a word prefix (Mayfair 601), party lines, peashooters, home perms, 45 RPM records metal ice cubes trays with levers, carbon paper, roller-skate keys, cork pop guns, washtub wringers, reel-to-reel tape recorders, slide rules, Hornby wind-up train sets, Meccano, lead soldiers, cigarette cards, best friends, wooden dolls houses, catapults, Airfix kits and five-stones (or perhaps you called them dibs).
I remember saving a penny by walking one bus stop nearer to home and spending it on an apple. I remember when a foot of snow was a dream come true. I remember when the fat kid was always the last to be picked. I remember fixing a card to the spokes of my bicycle to make it sound like a motor-bike. I remember when you’d see soldiers in the street in uniform. I remember sitting in a pub garden drinking Vimto with the mums who were drinking milk stout while the dads were inside drinking mild and bitter. I remember Dandelion and Burdock delivered by the Corona lorry. I remember the ice truck taking two foot cubes of ice to the ice cellar belonging to the big house on the corner. I remember chimneys catching fire. I remember giving up my seat on buses to ladies and being thanked by being told she would pray for me. I remember chimney sweeps with soot-black faces. I remember holding a newspaper up against the fire-grate to make it draw. I remember second-hand bikes and hand-me-down clothes. I remember bomb sites. I remember slums.
It was a different world then – as different as the worlds of Isaac Asimov, James Blish and Theodore Sturgeon.