I have always suspected that the “good old days” may not have been so good. When I was a kid, our family didn’t have a car. Daddy walked to work and we children walked to school. Of course, a lot of people walked in small-town America, even my playmate whose family owned a brand new Frazier and thought that they were “big shots.”
Eventually, my family joined the ranks of the better off and we were really proud of our shiny, black Studebaker. We often went for rides, not to go any place in particular, but just to joy ride. Cars didn’t have automatic transmissions or air conditioning in the good old days. We rolled down the windows and let the wind keep us cool.
Of course, houses didn’t have air conditioning either in the good old days. If you were lucky, you might have a window fan. We were often hot and sweaty during the summer, but we didn’t know the difference. At night after supper, people would set on their porches to cool off, and kids would play tag under the corner streetlight.
Progress came to our small southern town when the local department store installed air conditioning. Everyone went to shop and check out the cool air, but we could not imagine that living in refrigeration would ever become a popular thing. Pleased with their innovation, the same store later installed an elevator. Again, everyone came to see and to shop on the second floor without even having to climb the stairs. The elevator had a driver who opened and closed the door and pulled the lever that made the elevator go up or down. We kids would sometimes use the stairs anyhow just to keep from bothering the elevator man.
The local movie also had refrigerated air. Every Saturday a western movie was shown after a short serial feature, a cartoon, the news, and the previews of coming attractions. This occupied children on Saturday afternoon for the immense sum of 12 cents. For another nickel, you could get a roll of Lifesavers, a Sugar Daddy, or a box of popcorn in the good old days.
Our favorite stores were the two cheap variety stores downtown, which were called 5 & 10s or “dime stores.” Yes, you could actually go shopping and buy something for a dime in the good old days. A kid could always find a yo-yo, rubber ball, or a comic book, if we were lucky enough to have a dime.
I spent many happy hours reading comic books and listening to the Lone Ranger on the radio. Radio was not only for music or news in the good old days; it also had entertainment programming. Of course, it was not long until television came along and changed the world. We scarcely knew what to make of the magic boxes that were just like movies at home. The pictures were black and white, but so were most movies so it didn’t matter.
It was a while before our family could save the money for a down payment on a television set. In the meantime, I continued to watch the radio and wish that it had a screen instead of a dial. When we finally acquired a new television set in a wood cabinet, the good old days were really good. It had only one channel and so we watched whatever came on. In the early days there were frequent technical difficulties, so often we had only snowy screens and test patterns to watch.
Life was simple and more basic in years past, but life was harder too. I wonder what kids nowadays will remember as being the good old days. My kids once thought things were really rough because we didn’t have a microwave or cable TV like their friends.
Now that I think of it, that does seem pretty difficult. I really don’t know how we made it through the good old days.
What are “good old days” to you? Can you imagine going without what we now consider necessities?