By Gordon Garnos
THE ISSUE: Our kids really don't know much about American history, at least the history we lived through. And they probably don't even know about us kids collecting scrap metal for the World War II effort, or how we tore off tin foil off cigarette packages for the war effort early Sunday mornings before Sunday School. No. There is a lot of history out there they don't have the slightest idea about that were part of our growing up years.
THIS MAY BE A TRIP down Memory Lane, but so what. It's important they have a glimpse of things we had and that they probably never heard of. Of course, back then, just about every kid had a fascination about cars. The dimmer switches for the head lights were on the floor, the ignition switches were on the dashboard and heaters were mounted on the inside of the fire wall. That was also a long time before turn signals replaced sticking your hand out the window to tell the guy behind you which way you were going to turn. Sadly, they probably have never had the opportunity either to see a Packard or a Studebaker.
We didn't have much for bicycles during the war. If your bike had fenders and a chain guard you were lucky. No chain guard? Of course. It kept you from getting your right pants leg wrapped beneath the chain, which could lead to quite a spill if you weren't careful. Well, you either had to roll up your right pants leg or find a leg clip. Yes, a leg clip. And no fenders meant a dirty strip up your back if it rained a little bit.
Nor can we forget those ice boxes. It wasn't electricity that kept them cool, but a big hunk of ice. I remember my dad, getting rid of that thing in favor of a fridge with all the workings mounted on top. It was ugly, but somehow or another it kept things cool. And speaking of household things, we had milk deliveries in glass bottles with pasteboard stoppers. The cream was always on the top. Our first phone number was 53 and when my hometown went modern it became 53J and all you had to do was tell the telephone operator the number you wanted. Sometimes it was just easier to tell her you wanted to speak to Bud at the grocery store.
THEN, ON WEEKENDS once in a while, we got to go to my aunt and uncle's farm and got to "rubber" on their party line phone. There weren't many secrets back then.
BT (before television) families gathered around their radios on Sunday evenings to listen to stories that were fit for the entire family. And it was 5:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from WNAX that we got to listen to the adventures of Jack Armstrong, the All-American boy, followed by the Lone Ranger, and Mom never had to worry about us hearing a swear word over that radio.
If your family was fortunate to have a phonograph player you got to listen to Tommy Dorsey, Harry James and a dozen other "big bands," and there was none of this "whop, whop, whop" they call music today.
GETTING BACK to that fridge, there were even two metal ice trays for our comfort. Later there were even levers to help you get out those stubborn ice cubes.
Kids today probably haven't even heard of candy cigarettes, or wax Coke-shaped bottles with colored sugar water. And to go to the Lyric Theater it only cost 12 cents and a dime for a good -sized sack of popcorn. And speaking of movies back then, there was no need for any of them to be "rated" like they are today. Ever since they let Clark Gable... Who? Clark Gable...get by with saying "damn" in "Gone With the Wind" it seems every new movie today has either "hell" or "damn" in it. And those words are pretty mild compared to most of the other words used. Little is left to the imagination.
Perhaps our generation was born before television, penicillin, polio shots, frozen foods, Microsoft, contact lenses and the pill, but, somehow, we survived. Kids today probably don't even care about the things and such that we grew up with, considering all they have today and that is too bad. Then, I wonder if they ever think about who were the people who invented all that stuff they have today?....
Gordon Garnos was long-time editor of the Watertown Public Opinion and recently retired after 39 years with that newspaper. Garnos, a lifelong resident of South Dakota except for his military service in the U.S. Air Force, was born and raised in Presho.
The Gods of Liberalism Revisited
The lie hasn't changed, and we still fall for it as easily as ever. But how can we escape the snare?
Monday, July 21, 2008
By Gordon Garnos