You might be getting old if...

I woke up at 4:30 this morning with my head totally congested to the point that I couldn't breathe. I stumbled into the bathroom in the dark, careful not to step on one of our two Golden Retrievers and found the decongestant that I had just purchased the day before after having to show my Drivers License and sign a declaration along with my home address that I wasn't going to abuse Pseudoephedrine HCl. (That is a subject for a whole 'nuther blog entry.)

As I laid in bed waiting for the drugs to kick in and not being able to sleep, my mind started wandering. I started thinking of all of the things that we have now that were unheard of 50-some years ago when I was a child. I started thinking "You might be getting old if you remember when..." Here is a rather stunning partial list, starting with the first item that got the thought going:

  • Nose drops really were drops in the nose. You had to tilt your head back and your mom would drip two drops down each nostril and it was like a precursor to waterboarding. Oh, it was horrible with that yucky taste going down the back of your throat. Ewwww.
  • Paregoric was used. We had a little brown glass bottle in the medicine cabinet. I don't really remember much of why we used it (maybe ear aches?) but I just found out it is camphorated tincture of powdered opium. Hmmmm. I kinda miss it.
  • Q-Tips had wooden sticks.
  • You heated your house from a oil burner in the floor that had to be lit by hand and had a 'register' grate over top of the big rectangular hole in the floor. Wow it hurt when you fell on that thing. My mother used to hang wet clothes on one of those wooden expandable clothes rack over top of the register in the winter so they could dry inside.
  • There was NO clothes dryer except for a clothes line or the above wooden rack.
  • Washing machines did not have a spin cycle. You had to feed the wet laundry through two wooden or hard rubber wringers which would squeeze the water out and leave the clothes in a hard, flat pile. (Don't get your fingers caught in the wringer!)
  • The dog stayed outside, never came in and chased cars (and kids) down the street.
  • You rode your bicycle anywhere and everywhere, and did not wear one of those goofy looking helmets.
  • Skateboards were made out of a board and a skate. Seriously. With nails to hold the skate to the board!
  • Skates were two piece metal contraptions that clamped onto your shoe between the heel and toe and were tightened with a key. (Okay, so that's where the term skate key came from.)
  • Trash was put out by the street in brown paper grocery bags inside of metal cans with dented metal lids. The trash man would walk down the street, throw the can up onto a shallow flatbed dump truck where another man would pack the bags like bricks in the bed of the truck and throw the can back down where it was 'caught' and slammed to the ground.
  • Recycling meant saving newspapers for the Cub Scouts.
  • Cars didn't have air conditioning, radios, seat belts, automatic locks, electric windows (except for a Packard), or backup lights. Even turn signals were optional.
  • Every September, the auto manufacturers would come out with a brand new model, barely resembling last year's model.
  • Cars came with a 90 day, 3,000 mile warranty.
  • UPS and FedEx were random letters of the alphabet
  • Fax was what Sgt. Joe Friday was looking for on Dragnet. If you wanted to get paperwork to someone the next day, too bad.
  • Xeroxing and photocopying were exceedingly rare and expensive. There were actually copiers in stores where you could make a copy for a quarter (back when sodas were a dime.)
  • Every year or so you would remove the tubes from your TV set, and take them down to the drug store to test them in the tube tester. No, not the big CRT, but the small vacuum tubes that were the precursor to transistors. Don't forget to let them cool before you pull them out!
  • Speaking of TVs, there was probably just one in the house and you had to actually get up to change the channel and adjust the volume. Not to worry, though. There were only three or four channels to choose from.
  • The weatherman on TV drew on an actual map with a big, black marker.
  • When you turned your TV off, the screen dissolved into a little white dot that slowly faded away as the tubes cooled down.
  • There were morning and evening newspapers. We also had Grit which was delivered weekly.
  • Life, Look and the Saturday Evening Post came weekly.
  • People actually bought things like Kirby and Electrolux vacuum cleaners, Avon cosmetics, Fuller Brushes, World Book Encyclopedias, magazines, freezers full of meat, pots and pans, life insurance (Mutual of Omaha), brooms from the Lions Club and other stuff from door to door salesmen.
  • Air conditioning in a home consisted of a window fan blowing out at night and the windows dropped down to create a sort-of breeze. It is a special kind of misery trying to sleep on a hot summer night with 98% humidity and no wind.
  • No one wanted hardwood floors. Carpet was the new thing and it was measured and sold by the square yard, not the square foot.
  • Shag carpet was really neat.
  • The only way you kept up with music was listening to the radio. When FM came on, the sound was fantastic and everyone wanted to get a Stereo Hi-Fi for the home.
  • Records would break if you dropped them.
  • You had to replace the needles on record players or it would really mess up a record.
  • Christmas trees had lights that if one blew, all the rest went out, too.
  • Metal tinsel was put on Christmas trees.
  • Popcorn was threaded and also used to decorate the trees.
  • Boys actually wanted train sets for Christmas.
  • Santa sat in a little hut at the shopping center, not in the middle of a huge castle in a shopping mall.
  • Malls didn't exist and shopping centers were drawing crowds from downtown to the suburbs.
  • Kids walked to school or took the bus. No one drove (or was driven). Have an activity after school? Walk home if you couldn't get a ride.
  • No one called their mom to let her know where they were. As long as you got home in time for dinner, everything was alright.
  • Homework was a few pages of work, not hours of drugery (I still never did mine...)
  • Book reports were handwritten or typed on a typewriter (if you could find one)
  • Girls took typing class, boys took shop.
  • Gas was pumped for you while the windshield was cleaned and the oil checked. No, really. And the price was 32.9 cents per gallon, AND you got Green Stamps, AND you got a map if you needed one.
  • 7-11 had sliding glass doors that stayed open at the front of the store and the soda bottles were in one of those cooler cases that had the sliding top that you had to lean over to get into.
  • You bought a sandwich at 7-11, you had to pop it in a toaster oven and it took about 3 or 4 minutes to warm up.
  • Motor oil came in cans that had to be opened with a can opener, or one of those push-on opener/spout devices. Believe it or not, it was easier to put oil in your car from a can than from the plastic bottles we now use.
  • Beer cans and then soda cans had to be opened with a can opener. Pop-Tops, when they came out, pulled all the way off of the can with a little ring and a tab. People would drop them back into the can and then occasionally swallow or get choked on them. (Darwin rules!)
  • All soda bottles were 3 cents deposit (in VA) and the big quart bottles (High-Rock came in these) were 5 cents. There were NO plastic bottles, NO throw away bottles, NO cans (except for beer.) Many a kid made a decent amount of pocket change picking up bottles by the side of the road and cashing them in.
  • Grocery stores had carts at the front of the store to drop your bottles in when you came in to shop. It was the honor system when you checked out and told the cashier that you brought in bottles. I had to sort them out when I worked in a grocery store and it was not a fun thing to do.
  • Cashiers actually had to punch in prices for each item on the cash register and I (as a worker) had to price everything with a pricing stamper. Remember that sound? ker-chnk, ker-chnk, ker-chnk. A really good stocker could price a case with 12 cans in about 3 seconds. And we had a cool holster that held the stamper on our belt.
  • Kids went to public school with the girls wearing dresses and the boys wearing white shirts and often ties.
  • Schoolboys got graded on whether they wore a belt and carried a handkerchief.
  • With rare exception, white kids and black kids went to different schools.
  • Growing up, you really didn't know the difference between a Jew and a Christian, except that the Jewish kids got more holidays off than we did. Muslims were something you learned about when you studied the world's religions along with Budhists and Hindu.
  • Barefooting was standard operating procedure from May to October except when going to church or school. Tetanus shots were to be expected at some point each year.
  • The summers were really, really hot. I mean really hot.
  • There were no Interstate highways, very few freeways and no bypasses around small towns on the highway. Even divided highways were rare.
  • You boarded an airplane by walking across the tarmac to a flight of steps attached to the back of a truck. Your airplane ticket had that red carbon paper built in.
  • You actually got fed a meal on a flight.
  • Credit cards were called "charge plates" and were issued by the store or a local bank.
  • Layaway was how you bought things you couldn't quite afford.
  • Friends and family could walk out to the gate at the airport to wave goodbye.
  • Public restrooms required a dime to open up the stall.
  • Calling long distance was a BIG DEAL and was usually reserved for Christmas Day or special birthdays
  • Birthday parties for kids didn't look like Christmas
  • Drive-in movie theaters were everywhere and some even showed X Rated movies outdoors.
  • Schools gave kids vaccines on a sugar cube.
  • Parents wanted their kids to get vaccinated because they knew what polio, smallpox, measles, flu and other diseases could do to children.
  • U.S. Savings Bonds could be bought by purchasing a 25 cent stamp each week and when you filled up the card you redeemed it for a bond.
  • Mercury from a broken thermometer was something a boy played with, not something to involve a HazMat team.
  • Your parents purchased health insurance at the beginning of the school year for incidents since most people did not have insurance of their own.
  • Braces weren't cool
  • When you wore out the knees of your dungarees, your mom ironed on a patch and sent you back out to play.
  • Rainy days were B O R I N G. All you could do was read or play a game with your brother or sister (and that usually turned into a fight.)
  • Your mom would spend hours ironing clothes.
  • If you wanted to know something, you had to ask your parents, or go to the library and look it up.
  • Comic books were 12 cents each.
  • Bullies were the rule, not the exception on playgrounds.
  • Self-esteem was not something anyone worried about.
  • You could actually learn something in school without using a computer. Books, paper, pencil, straight edge, compass (that pointy thing with the short pencil used to draw circles), chalk, blackboard and the occasional movie or filmstrip was all it took to get a decent education. (I never did use that french curve thing that we all had to buy.)
  • If you failed a grade, you got to repeat it again.

Wow, I could go on and on but I must stop.

I am a little over 50 years old and looking back, it is stunning how much things have changed. If you look back just 100 years, man had just started to fly in airplanes, horses ruled for transportation and telegraph was just about the only way to have rapid communications. 100 years! 100 years before that, Thomas Jefferson was president and 100 years before that the settlers and Indians were still 'working things out' while little wooden ships brough more people over from Europe and Africa.

What gives me pause is thinking about how much more change we are in for in the next 50 years. If our government and narrow-minded individuals and groups can get out of the way, and crazy, wacked out Islamists would quit blowing themselves (and everyone else around them) up, we could easily, in 50 years, be energy self-sufficient and bring the rest of the world out of poverty. The downside is that if everyone is out of poverty and health care is universal, there are going to be a LOT more humans around on this planet.

Two things mitigate this frightening fact. Healthy, well-off people don't have a lot of children and technology/knowledge allow a lot more people to be sustained for the same amount of effort.

So, there you go. Now... how old do YOU feel?


五王 said…

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