Friday, July 15, 2011

The way things were 'back in MY day.'

I was recently shopping around for a suitable replacement for my aging Ford F150 4X4 pickup truck (13 years old, and starting to cost a fortune to keep in reliable shape).  While kicking the tires on a Chevy 2500, I asked the sales guy 'says here 6.0 liter engine, what's that in cubic inches?' 

The sales guy looked at me like I had three heads.  He then replied, 'you should probably know that one, that's the way they USED to measure displacement way back in YOUR day.' At 56 1/2 years old, I started thinking he was right.  I SHOULD have known that little tidbit.  Turns out that a 6.0L engine is 377 cubic inches, but that is not the only thing that is now different in today's world from 'back in MY day.' I just stopped paying attention and never noticed that engine displacement terminology switched to the metric system.

As a 5 year old in the summer of 1960, I vaguely remember waiting for the 'iceman' to show up in the projects down the street from me, where me and other kids would hang around hoping he would have a few shards of ice for us that had broken off the blocks of ice he delivered to folks too poor to afford those new fangled 'refrigerators,' and still depended on ice boxes to keep their cold cuts cold.

I was in junior high school when the milkman still delivered milk to our front door, and retrieved our empty quart bottles that we set out for him the night before.  When did that stop?  That service was kinda handy, as I recall.  Now, you have to drive to the Piggly Wiggly, schlep a gallon of the stuff from the Piggly Wiggly shelf to your car (or in my case, truck), and then from your car to your new fangled refrigerator. 

And as a grade school kid during the summer, my mom would kick me out of the house with instructions to go play and not come back until dinner time.  With my Murray-brand knock-off 'Sting Ray' bike with ape hanger handlebars and banana seat (my folks were too cheap to buy me the real deal, a Schwinn Sting Ray), we had parental authorization to ride as far away from home as our little legs could pedal, and nobody gave that a second thought.  Just as long as we made it back home in time for dinner.

Now a little 8 year old boy cannot walk 6 blocks home from summer camp without getting abducted, murdered and dismembered by a sick, evil weirdo in Brooklyn, New York.  Things ain't the way they used to be back in MY day, no siree Bob.

Yup, things were a whole lot different, way back in MY day.

15 comments:

Kid said...

Yea Fredd..... it's a different world. (I had the same childhood you did.)

Trestin said...

I was thinking similar thoughts today, and I grew up in the 80's and 90's.

Z said...

Fredd, this literally brought tears to my eyes.
Yes, when DID those sweet days stop? I long for them again.
There's an artist named Thomas Kincaid whose art always struck me as 'too pretty' and 'too sickening sweet'...but today, I look into his sweet pictures of "Main St USA", with the church steeple, and people walking by, and lights on in traditional beautiful homes, and think "I want to BE there"..
I want America back....with all that you described in this beautiful piece, in those paintings of normalness and goodness.
I loved your piece..thanks. But, it saddens me a lot. Our poor children.

Fredd said...

Z:

Our home has four Kincaid numbered pieces hanging on our walls, each depicting the 'good ol' days.'

I suspect that those good ol' days still had the same perverts trolling for unsuspecting victims, but we simply did not have the 24-hour news cycle to broadcast the evil back then that we take as every day occurances today.

I still will not even consider letting my 9-year old daughter ride her bike 1/4 of a mile to her friend's house in our subdivision.

Times indeed have changed. The good ol' days are gone.

Fredd said...

Kid:

Yeah, remember them good ol' days? I grew up in the Great Pacific Northwest (Oregon) where I could pedal up to the local convenience store on my Murray Stingray (again, a knock-off) and buy a can of Shasta grape pop and a Hostess blueberry pie for 25 cents out the door.

That was when a quarter was actually worth bending down and picking up if you saw one laying on the ground in the parking lot. I still do, but wonder why I go through the trouble. I don't bother with nickels or less anymore. Forget pennies, not worth risking throwing out my ancient back....

Oy

Kid said...

Fredd, a quarter in those days was a lot of money. It would buy 5 pieces of candy. I had a used Schwinn that my dad taught me to overhaul. One speed. Press backwards on the pedals for brakes, idle for neutral. When I was 11, I got a lime greed used transistor radio for my birthday that cost my folks 50 cents. I hated it. Put it on the couch with a note to 'take it back' (since they probably needed the money more than I needed the radio) They were offended so I kept it. Heard MUSIC for the first time when the Beatles tune "I want to hold you hand" came blasting through as I was walking to the railroad tracks to test my manhood for the thousandth time.

Sure is a different world.

Fredd said...

Kid:

I recall vividly riding by Linda B's house (Linda was a year older than me, and I had a major league crush on her at the time), and listening to her and about 4 of her girl friends screaming at the top of their lungs to 'I want to hold you hand' playing the 45 RPM record on her portable turn table; must have been 1964 or thereabouts.

And a quarter was indeed a lot of money, at least to me. That was my weekly allowance amount.

Kid said...

Good stuff Fredd

Silverfiddle said...

Thanks for this thoughtful piece. We didn't have icemen and milkmen in my little farm community, but we could walk the streets safely.

Yes, there were perverts lurking back then, but I doubt they were as prevalent. Also, they were more likely to get the **** kicked out of them back then than they are now.

Z said...

Fredd, I'm not so sure about the perverts; we all know they existed, but I think they weren't exposed to the sick stuff we have even in prime time TV today, the internet, etc., and that it's much worse now. Conscience kept them on the straight and narrow (most, the sickest are going to act out, no matter what)
And yes, the 24 hr news cycle and the 'fame' from being exposed has encouraged some of the pervs, probably...and I think too much bad news weighs too heavily on our citizenry, too.
I long for the old days of "News at six, film at eleven!"

Fredd said...

Z:

We all at times pine away for those 'good ol' days,' when in fact those days weren't all THAT good.

In the 'good ol' days,' I had no choice but to pay a stock broker $50 in commission to buy a block of common stock (plus the cost of the stock, of course).

Now I can do it with a few key strokes, and $9.95 squeeze to the good folks at TD Ameritrade.

That, and my life expectancy is around 78 now, versus 58 not all that long ago.

Z said...

Yes, Fredd, but when one talks about morality and integrity and love of country and safety for our children, etc.,...those WERE generally MUCH better days, don't you think?

Fredd said...

Z: Agree with 3 of the 4 values you cite that were better in the good ol' days: Morality, integrity and love of country have eroded since then, clearly.

Safety of children? Depends on one's perspective on that one.

1. I recall going on a camping trip with my family in our pickup truck and riding in the back bed under the canope for hundreds of miles; no safety belt, no concern to what would happen to us back there should we have wrecked.

2. Again, we were free as kids to explore the world on our own starting roughly at the age of 6.

3. I don't ever recall seeing a bike helmet until the mid-80's or so, and if you were a kid and wore a helmet while riding your bike, you were guaranteed a wedgie at some point.

4. By some miracle, I survived sleeping in my drop side crib. What were they thinking? (I hope my sarcasm shows here).

Krystal said...

I remember milk being delivered. It was REAL milk too, not the homoginized and pastuerized crap you get at the store.

And it came in GLASS containers that made it really cold!!!!

Anonymous said...

Abducted or murdered in Brooklyn today??? NYC is waayyy more safe than it was in the late 1960s/70s. You were more likely to get hurt in brooklyn back then, than you are today. Yes NYC still isn't the safest place on earth. Though Of course the pre 1970s society has many ups compared to today, but you make our present society sound as if its a warzone.