"Hey Dad," one of my kids asked the other day, "what was your favorite fast
food when you were growing up?"
"We didn't have fast food when I was growing up," I informed him. "All the food
"C'mon, seriously. Where did you eat?"
"It was a place called 'at home,'" I explained. "Grandma cooked every day and
when Grandpa got home from work, we sat down together at the dining room table,
and if I didn't like what she put on my plate I was allowed to sit there until I
did like it."
By this time, the kid was laughing so hard I was afraid he was going to suffer
serious internal damage, so I didn't tell him the part about how I had to have
permission to leave the table. But here are some other things I would have told
him about my childhood if I figured his system could have handled it:
Some parents NEVER owned their own house, wore Levis, set foot on a golf course,
traveled out of the country or had a credit card. In their later years they had
something called a revolving charge card. The card was good only at Sears
Roebuck. Or maybe it was Sears AND Roebuck. Either way, there is no Roebuck
anymore. Maybe he died.
My parents never drove me to soccer practice. This was mostly because we never
had heard of soccer. I had a bicycle that weighed probably 50
pounds, and only had one speed, (slow). We didn't have a television in our house
until I was 11, but my grandparents had one before that. It
was, of course, black and white, but they bought a piece of colored plastic to
cover the screen. The top third was blue, like the sky, and
the bottom third was green, like! grass. The middle third was red. It was
perfect for programs that had scenes of fire trucks riding across
someone's lawn on a sunny day. Some people had a lens taped to the front of the
TV to make the picture look larger.
I was 13 before I tasted my first pizza, it was called "pizza pie." When I bit
into it, I burned the roof of my mouth and the cheese slid off,
swung down, plastered itself against my chin and burned that, too. It's still
the best pizza I ever had.
We didn't have a car until I was 15. Before that, the only car in our family was
my grandfather's Ford. He called it a "machine."
I never had a telephone in my room. The only phone in the house was in the
living room and it was on a party line. Before you could dial, you had to listen
and make sure some people you didn't know weren't already using the line.
Pizzas were not delivered to our home. But milk was.
All newspapers were delivered by boys and all boys delivered newspapers. I
delivered a newspaper, six days a week. It cost 7 cents a paper, of which I got
to keep 2 cents. I had to get up at 4 AM every morning. On Saturday, I had to
collect the 42 cents from my customers. My favorite customers were the ones who
gave me 50 cents and told me to keep the change. My least favorite customers
were the ones who seemed to never be home on collection day.
Movie stars kissed with their mouths shut. At least, they did in the movies.
Touching someone else's tongue with yours was called French kissing and they
didn't do that in movies. I don't know what they did in French movies. French
movies were dirty and we weren't allowed to see them.
If you grew up in a generation before there was fast food, you may want to share
some of these memories with your children or grandchildren. Just don't blame me
if they bust a gut laughing.
Growing up isn't what it used to be, is it?