After the Fact: Olly-olly-ox-in-free

Do you remember ever, on a summer’s day, saying, “I’m bored.” Neither do I. Growing up as the “leading edge” of the Boomer generation, we didn’t have television and our telephones were firmly attached to the wall, or to a cord that ran in through the wall. Granted, there are fewer places now where kids can play “kick the can” or “Hide and Go Seek.” Sandlot baseball has been taken over by Little League and the old swimming hole is off limits for swimming. And moms are more reluctant to allow their youngsters to venture far from the confines of their own front gate. All in all, we had more of everything than the kids today: more fun, more freedom, more places to play.

While I don’t mourn the passing of “the good old days” when I’m watching “Longmire” on Netflix or drinking an almost-instant cup of coffee brewed by Mr. Coffee, I do miss things like the 3 cent postage stamp, clothes pins that actually last past one hanging of just-washed clothes (done with no wringers, thank you!) and roll-up car windows. Did I mention that I’m one of the dying breed who still uses the “solar dryer”, otherwise known as a clothes line? I understand some upscale, hoity-toity planned neighborhoods now do not allow the installation of clothes lines in the manicured lawns of 48 cent postage stamp-sized back yards.

Back to the future, I also don’t own a Kindle but have a library card that allows me to read all the newest books in print. I can also use the computers there if I’d rather find quick and current information on Wikipedia. If all else fails, there are librarians who will help me locate whatever it Is that will provide the information I seek. I don’t believe Kindle will do that. And chat about the weather, current events or anything going on in our community that they know will tickle my fancy. Some will tell you the local library will soon become obsolete: I don’t believe that. There have been libraries since before the days of Alexander the Great and I expect they’ll be around a lot longer than those who say they’re a “thing of the past.” My very first date was over a shared book at the library table. And I supplemented my $5 weekly allowance from home while I was in college by spending weekends in the library, writing term papers for other students who couldn’t find their way through a card catalog with a GPS. If they’d had one.

When we did go to the movie, it cost a whopping 10 cents. Another 10 would get you a bag of popcorn. Our theatre didn’t offer beverages but had a free water fountain in the foyer. Most movies were in black and white, including the latest Pathe News and the weekly serialized “cliff hanger.” Those were the Tarzan or western or even sci-fi episodes carefully choreographed to last 10-15 minutes and end with audiences sitting on the edge of their seats, holding their breath in anticipation of the next installment.  Technicolor movies were as much a treat as was color TV. I’m still thrilled with watching some of the old movies not colorized, as many of the Christmas classics.

Speaking of black and white, do you remember when it was possible to get portraits hand-colored at “a small, aditional fee”? A former boyfriend had one of my pictures colored while he was stationed in Korea: he had obviously forgotten much. In the “painted’ version, my hair was an alarming shade of red and my eyes were blue. Only much later in the days of Clairol did I have red hair, and my eyes have never been anything but “muckledee-dun” hazel. That was my grandmother’s description. Hers were a pale blue, but I won’t tell you what she said about that. Some family jokes are best not shared in polite company, not even in today’s not-so-polite company when even the most timid will use four-letter words like “dang.”


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