If you’re not a Baby Boomer, you may not remember this old, heavy, black phone. When I was growing up, it could be found in just about every home in America at one point. Party lines came along with it. What is a party line you ask? It means that you shared phone lines with neighbors. You could pick up the phone to make a call and hear your neighbor talking. If you did, you had to put the phone down and wait your turn. If you were anxious to make a call, it seemed like they were talking, talking and talking, the conversation never ended. Unless it was an emergency, you didn’t interrupt. You graciously waited. Party lines, 5 brothers and a sister helped teach me patience and tolerance.
Back than, there were no cell phones or laptops. You had to be creative, find your own entertainment and learn to live with each other as a family. There were no on-line games, social media sites, and the television didn’t have hundred’s of channels. There was no cable; we had rabbit ears and antennas to bring the picture in on the television. We have come a long way in technology, but I truly appreciate the simply things in life. Times were gentler back in the day. It seems like we go a hundred miles an hour all day everyday now.
I look back at my childhood, and it was a much slower and gentler time. We entertained each other and families spent quality time together. Here’s what my childhood looked like:
- We played games together. – I remember spending hours playing Candy Lane, Monopoly, War, Old Maids, Hide and Seek, Mother May I, Hopscotch and roller skating on the sidewalk. When I got older, we spent Sundays at the roller skating rink.
- We played baseball in our backyard.
- We caught fire flies at night and butterflies in the day.
- We went to the local Burger Joint for the most delicious burgers, fries, and the thickest shakes that you can imagine. No McDonald’s burgers for us.
- We walked our neighborhood and explored nature all day. Our parents never worried about us, and we were carefree.
- We watched television as a family on Saturday mornings. Sunday nights we watched most of my father’s favorite shows, but we watched and was happy to do it. We popped popcorn on top of the stove in a pan and watched Tom Jones, Hee Haw, Lawrence Welk, and Gunsmoke. I’m telling my age here, but they were good times and I’m comfortable with my age, ha!
- We gathered pop bottles in a red Western Flyer wagon and returned them for pennies. Yes, pennies. We could buy candy all day for a quarter from our local stores. We had Pixie Sticks, Kits, Red Hots, Fire Balls and Bon Bons. Pay Day and Baby Ruth’s were my favorite candy bars and still are.
- I lived in a small town, so the local carnival in the summer was a big deal. We had a parade with local High School marching bands, fire trucks from all over the local areas, clowns, and floats. I can still feel the butterflies in my stomach from the Ferris Wheel. My mother allowed us to stay until closing, mid-night, while she played Bingo. We even walked home in groups at that time of night, without worry of being snatched, raped or harmed in some way.
- We waited for the ice cream truck, Mr. Softie, to come to the neighborhood. We got so excited when we heard the music. I always got a a blue or red Italian Ice or a Push Up. For years, I didn’t know the Italian Ice flavors were Cherry or Blue Raspberry. They were just colors to me.
- Saturday mornings after the cartoons, mom and dad went grocery shopping. Each week one of us kids would get to go with them and pick out whatever we wanted in the store. If it didn’t have to be cooked, they allowed us to eat it in the car on the way home. That was a treat and a great time for whoever’s turn it was.