“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” Mark Twain
In October I’m going to be 68 years old. While I can think of a lot of things I don’t like about getting older, age does have some advantages. For example, young people need to read a history book or go on the Internet to learn about the past. But when you’re in your late 60’s you have accumulated so many life experiences and memories that you’re able to rattle them off endlessly to your spouse, co-workers or bored grandkids. So while I still have all of my mental faculties (which some people might dispute), I’m going to start listing some of those recollections on my blog. Here we go:
I remember going into a restroom and having to insert a nickel or dime into a lock to get into a stall. While some restrooms had a free stall, if the one you were in didn’t and you had no money, you were out of luck.
I remember going to Sears and looking at the bones in my feet using a fluoroscope. Fluoroscopes were really just x-ray machines and in the 1950’s most shoe stores in America had them. They were finally banned when it was realized that the radiation they emitted was probably killing people.
I remember that to make a long distance telephone call, you would need to call the operator to have her do it for you. If you said, “I would like to make a person-to-person call..” it would cost extra. But if the person you were calling wasn’t home, there would be no charge. And speaking of telephones, I recall when you needed to report an emergency you called the operator, not “911.” 911 dispatch centers were not widely in place until the 1970’s. Most telephone operators were women btw. Why? Because the job paid so little.
One more thing about phones. Back in the 1960’s most people had a “party line.” This meant that two or three families all shared one phone line. When you picked up your phone to make a call it wasn’t unusual to hear another person on your party line talking. If someone hogged the phone it could turn into a running battle with a nearby neighbor.
I remember when margarine was white. It turned people off however because it looked like lard (pig fat, which was used in cooking). So manufacturers decided to color it yellow. The dairy industry protested of course so in some states you had to mix in the food dye yourself (which came with the margarine) to make it look like butter.
I remember when Americans ate horse meat. Yes, horse meat. During World War II and the post war years beef and pork were rationed and Americans turned to this stringy red meat as an alternative. While even suggesting eating it today would horrify a lot of people, back then it was no big deal.
I remember being paid $1.25 an hour in my first job in 1964, which was the minimum wage at the time. Two years later I joined the Marine Corps and was paid $86 a month, or $0.41 an hour. Two years after that I made it all the way up to $0.81 an hour, but still not close to where I had started.
Terri remembers when grocery store meat departments and butcher shops had sawdust on the floor. This allowed blood and fat to be absorbed and made for easy cleanup at the end of the day.
That will do it for now. Much more to come later before I begin to forget.