After the Fact: Oldies but goodies

Patience, the newly minted 10 year-old, asked, “Grandma (though I’m actually “Great-grandmother”), when were you born?” I replied with a date sometime during the Mesozoic era. “Wow! Were you in black and white?” Think about that for a while. She’s watched OLD movies featured on TV with me, and has seen OLD photographs up to and including some taken when I was in high school, all “in black and white.”

Frequently on “social media”, someone will post a picture or series of pictures with the caption, “Do you remember this?” or “How many do you remember?” Unfailingly, I remember every skate key, package of Black Jack gum, meat grinder or ice box. The latter, “ice box” does not refer to one of those chests taken on picnics or camping.  Equally, it is not a refrigerator though some oldsters may slip and refer to their contemporary appliance as an “ice box.”

Every few days, the ice man would come by my grandmother’s house to deliver a new block of ice to the little door on the outer wall of my grandmother’s kitchen. If my sister and I were outside on a summer day, he’d chip off small pieces for a special treat, the early day “popsicle” without all the sugar. We’d follow him down the road, hoping for another ice sliver with every stop: he was the “Pied Piper” of our childhood. And, I’m sure, the model for the latter day “ice cream truck.”

My first winter at Adams State was an eye-opener. My roommate at Casa Bonita, Anne Akers, grew up in Sargent and knew the ins and outs of cold weather. Really cold weather. Way below zero cold weather. She’d warned me about going out with hair still damp from the shower (we didn’t have bathtubs in the dorm) or thinking I could run the short distance to Richardson Hall without a coat. She also told me spit would freeze before it hit the sidewalk, but I never tested that bit of wisdom.

We weren’t supposed to cook in our rooms, but, of course, we all did. A few had toasters, but you didn’t want to fire those up in your closet. Anne and I had an electric popcorn popper, the kind where you put oil and kernels in the aluminum bowl and covered with a glass lid so you could see the smoke when you’d let the cooking get out of hand. Happily, there were no smoke alarms in the rooms or in the hallways. Being more familiar with “home cooking” than I was, Anne could whip up a tasty bowl of vegetable soup from scratch in that popper. And we discovered we could cook “minute steaks” too. There was no problem storing food: the space between our window and the outer screen was as good as a refrigerator most times, and only occasionally froze the food we’d stashed. It was the co-ed’s version of the ice box.   

I haven’t been in a dorm room lately, but I suspect they now come furnished with “apartment-size” refrigerators and microwaves for cooking the late-night snacks. And the pre-measured, pre-buttered bags of popcorn. (A hint: we had REAL butter on our popcorn! Sometimes, “roughing it” isn’t so rough!

And another hint: just like watching the movie won’t give you the answers to the test if you’ve been assigned to read the book, the re-makes to most of those great old black and white movies aren’t as good as the original productions. Clark Gable didn’t really say, “Frankly, Scarlett, I don’t give a damn.”