A different time

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

We live in a different time.

It wasn't complicated back then.

We didn't lock our doors at night because we didn't think we had to.

No one ever broke down the front door.

Mom had a day for washing clothes which she hung out to dry, and a day for ironing. Both jobs took nearly all day. She used a wringer washer and a scrub board. Mom wore housedresses; dad wore khaki workclothes. We kids had school clothes and play clothes. When we got in from school, we straightaway donned our play clothes.

We had a record player and a radio for entertainment. On Saturday nights we popped a tub of popcorn and listened to the Grand Ole' Opry. The corn was popped on the kitchen stove in a pan (a stewer) with a dab of shortening added.. While the corn was popping, mom would shake the pan to prevent scorching. Usually she dribbled melted oleo on top just before serving.

Some times on Saturday afternoons, dad would dole out a dime for the afternoon matinee, usually a shoot 'um up western, starring Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers or Gene Autry. There was no nudity, profanity or violence, save for a fist fight or two and a shootout in front of the saloon.

My dad didn't play golf; mom didn't play bridge. We didn't travel, except to nearby fishing holes. I remember a place called Samples Bayou and Wolfe Bayou.

Dad shot squirrels, rabbits and quail. Mom fried them for supper. I didn't like the smell when mom boiled the squirrel heads.

We didn't go out to eat. Mom cooked our supper and we all sat down together at the dining table to eat. We usually had soup beans or butterbeans, porkchops or meatloaf, creamed potatoes and garden vegetables, like corn on the cob. Sometimes we had cake or pie, not store bought. We had corn bread or light bread, iced tea or sweet milk.

I never ate a pizza until after I married and left home. We didn't have a pizza parlor in my hometown, therefore no pizza deliveries.

People used to call them pizza pies.

We ordered our furniture from the Sears and Roebuck catalog. We didn't use credit cards, per se, but we had a charge card with Sears. We charged our groceries at a neighborhood mom and pop store one block away. Every two or three months, dad would pay off the total grocery bill and start all over again.

The only telephone in the house was in the living room. It was black with a rotary dial. The six members of my family shared the phone which wasn't used all that much.

My first used bicycle was a boy's bike, not a girl's, but I was proud of it. Dad used to spray paint our bikes, usually two toned, like red and white. It wasn't professional but we (the four kids) were satisfied with his efforts. He would first sandpaper away the rust spots, then put masking tape in place before he spray painted. We could hardly wait until the paint dried so that we could ride our bikes again.

"Is the paint dry yet, daddy?" I would ask. "Just wait a little while longer," he would say.

My mother didn't drive, so it was up to us to get from place to place. We had no car, but dad had a Chevy pickup. He used his pickup to go to work and had no time to chauffeur us around. All his life he worked hard as a laborer.

When I was very young, like nine or 10, my friends and I strapped on our roller skates, tied the skate key on a string around our neck, and skated on sidewalks near the house.

We played outside a lot because there wasn't much to do indoors. Outside there was jump rope, marbles, hide and seek, and hop scotch. My older brother shot baskets in a basketball hoop on a high wood post my dad erected in our yard.

I remember a time of food rationing, War Bonds, U.S. savings stamps, Uncle Sam posters. I was afraid that my dad was going to have to go to war. I learned later that he was classified as 4F and didn't have to serve.

When I was about 17, we got our first black and white television set. It had a snowy screen and only three or four channels.

Nevertheless it was quite a novelty and a new kind of entertainment.

In the early 50's, I enjoyed Sid Caesar's antics on the live 90 minute Show of Shows on Saturday nights. And I'll always remember costar Imogene Coca with her google eyes. They were quite a comedic team in those first years.

My other favorite was Milton Berle, host of Texaco Star Theater. He was the first major star of television in the late 40's and early 50's. His show aired on Tuesday nights. He was Uncle Miltie to thousands of viewers. At that time, he was outrageously funny.

Or maybe we were more easily amused.

I think we lived in a less stressful time.

We lived a simpler life, with simple wants

It was a different time.