"Hey Dad," My Son 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."
"C'mon, seriously. Where did you eat?"
"We ate at home," I explained.
"My Mom cooked every
day and when Dad got home from work, we all sat down
together at the table, and if I didn't like what she
put on my plate I had to sit there until I did like
By this time, my Son was laughing
so hard I was afraid
He was going to suffer some serious internal damage,
so I didn't tell him the part about how I had to get
my Father's permission to leave the table.
Here are some other things I
would have told him about
my childhood if I had figured his system could handle
My parents never: wore Levi's,
set foot on a golf
course, traveled out of the country, flew in a plane
or had a credit card.
In their later years they had
something called a
"revolving charge card" but they never actually used
it. It was only good at Sears-Roebuck. Or maybe it was
Sears and Roebuck. Either way, there is no Roebuck
My parents never drove me to
soccer practice. This was
because soccer back then was just for the girls.
We actually did walk to school.
By the time you were
in the 6th grade it was not cool to ride the bus
unless you lived more than 4 or 5 miles from the
school, even when it was raining or there was ice or
snow on the ground. Outdoor sports consisted of
stickball, snowball fights, building forts, making
snowmen and sliding down hills on a piece of
cardboard. No skate boards, roller blades or trail
We didn't have a television in our house until I was
12. It was, of course, black and white, but you could
buy a piece of special 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
I was 13 before I tasted my first
pizza. It was a
Sam's Pizza at the East end of Fruit Street in
Milford. My friend, Steve took me there to try what he
called "pizza pie." When I bit into it, I burned the
roof of my mouth and the cheese slid off, swung down
and plastered itself against my chin. It's still the
best pizza I ever had. Pizzas were not delivered to
your house back then, but the milk was. I looked
forward to winter because the cream in the milk was on
top of the bottle and it would freeze and push the cap
off. Of course, us kids would get up first to get the
milk and eat the frozen cream before our mother could
I never had a telephone in my
room. Actually the only
phone in the house was in the hallway and it was on a
party line. Before you could make a call, you had to
listen in to make sure someone else wasn't already
using the line. If the line was not in use an
Operator would come on and ask "number please" and you
would give her the number you wanted to call.
There was no such thing as a
computer or a hand held
calculator. We were required to memorize the "times
tables." Believe it or not, we were tested each week
on our ability to perform mathematics with nothing but
a pencil and paper. We took a spelling test every
day. There was no such thing as a "social promotion."
If you flunked a class, you repeated that grade the
following year. Nobody was concerned about your "self
esteem." We had to actually do something praiseworthy
before we were praised. We learned that you had to
All newspapers were delivered
by boys and most all
boys delivered newspapers. I delivered the "Milford
Daily News" six days a week. It cost seven cents a
paper, of which I got to keep 2 cents. 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
Movie stars kissed with their
mouths shut on screen.
Touching someone else's tongue with yours was called
French kissing and they just didn't do that in the
movies back then. I had no idea what they did in
French movies. French movies were considered dirty
and we weren't allowed to see them.
You never saw the Lone Ranger,
Roy Rogers or anyone
else actually kill someone. The heroes back then would
just shoot the gun out of the bad guy's hand. There
was no blood and violence.
When you were sick, the Doctor
actually came to your
No, I am not making this up.
Drugs were something you purchased
at a pharmacy in
order to cure an illness.
If we dared to "sass" our parents,
or any other
grown-up, we immediately found out what soap tasted
like. For more serious infractions, we learned about
something called a "this hurts me more than it hurts
you." I never did quite understand that one....
In those days, parents were expected
their kids. There was no interference from the
government. "Social Services" or "Family Services" had
not been invented (the ninth and tenth amendments to
the constitution were still observed in those days.)
I must be getting old because
I find myself reflecting
back more and more and thinking I liked it a lot
better back then.
If you grew up in a generation
before there was fast
food, you may want to share some of these memories
with your kids or grandchildren. Just don't blame me
if they wet themselves laughing.
Growing up today sure ain't what it used to be like in