Stroll with me...close your eyes...and go back before the internet...before bombings, aids, herpes, before AK47s and crack...before SEGA or Super Nintendo...way back!
I'm talking about sitting on the curb, or sitting on the front steps...about malt shops, hide-and-seek, and Simon says. Lunch boxes with a thermos, chocolate milk, going home for lunch, penny candy from the store, hopscotch, butterscotch, skates with keys, jacks and Cracker Jacks, hula hoops and sunflower seeds, wax lips and mustaches, Mary Jane's saddle shoes and Coke bottles with the names of cities on the bottom.
When it took five minutes for the TV to warm up.
When nearly everyone's Mom was at home when the kids got home from school.
When nobody owned a purebred dog.
When a quarter was a decent allowance.
When you'd reach into a muddy gutter for a penny.
When your Mom wore nylons that came in two pieces.
When all of your teachers wore neckties and female teachers wore dresses and high heels and had their hair done every day.
Remember running through the sprinkler, circle pins, bobby pins, Mickey Mouse Club, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Kookla, Fran and Ollie, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand...all in black and white, and that your Mom made you turn it off when a storm was brewing. When around the corner seemed far away and going to town seemed like going somewhere.
Remember The Lone Ranger and Tonto, The Shadow Knows, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Trigger and Buttermilk…as well as the sound of a real mower on Saturday morning...summers filled with bike rides, baseball games, bowling, visits to the pool...and eating Kool-Aid powder with sugar from the palm of you hand.
Remember climbing trees, making forts, lemonade stands, cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, staring at clouds, jumping on the bed, pillow fights, ribbon candy, angel hair on the Christmas tree, white gloves, walking to the movie theater, running till you were out of breath, your first haircut, laughing so hard that your stomach hurt...remember that?
Remember not stepping on a crack or you'd break your mother's back, paper chains at Christmas, silhouettes of Lincoln and Washington, the smells of school and "Evening in Paris" perfume. Playing baseball with no adults needed to enforce the rules of the game. When no one ever asked where the car keys were because they were always in the car, in the ignition, and the car and house doors were never locked.
Remember when you got your windshield cleaned, oil checked and gas pumped without asking—all for free—every time. You didn't pay for air and you got trading stamps to boot. When laundry detergent had free glasses, dishes or towels hidden inside the box. When it was considered a great privilege to be taken out to dinner to a real restaurant with your parents.
Do you recall when the worst thing you could do at school was flunk a test or chew gum. The prom was in the gym or the lunch room and you danced to a real orchestra. When they threatened to keep kids back a grade if they failed—and did. Remember when people went steady, and girls wore a class ring with an inch of wrapped adhesive tape so it would fit their finger. When being sent to the principal's office was nothing compared to the fate that awaited the student at home.
But golly-gee, I was half grown by the time most of these things took place. Go way back when some families didn’t even have a radio, and those who did had to have an antenna strung between trees in order to get any reception. We didn’t have sidewalks where I lived, but I did have a pair of second-hand clamp on skates with keys that I used in the milk barn, jumping the cow piles to hone my skills. We turned outhouses on their backs on Halloween, and only kids twelve and older were allowed to go trick or treating. It was great fun to throw rotten watermelons on the school principal’s front porch. And remember the nickel bottled drinks? Seems like they were always such a special treat. And every drug store had a fountain and lunch counter. Before McDonald’s and Burger King that was the place to get an after-movie hamburger. They also had fountain suicide cokes that were so potent it seem like you were drunk.
I also remember Little Orphan Annie, Jack Armstrong, the Green Hornet and Fibber McGee and Mollie on radio. I remember the Saturday night baths in a washtub in the kitchen, filled with hot water from several pots on the wood cook stove; the bar of Lifebuoy soap that was always handy in case a nasty word was uttered; slopping the pigs; and on nice warm days, of lying on top of an old sow while my daydreams turned to knighthood and damsels in distress, and of jumping off the barn with paper wings.
Yes, then as now we were in fear for our lives, but it wasn't because of drive-by shootings, drugs, gangs etc. Our parents and grandparents were a much bigger threat! We survived because their love was so much greater than any outside threat that we might encounter. With all our progress, don't you wish... that just once you could slip back in time and savor the slower pace...and share it with the children of today?