this 'n that

Recollections of the past often bring memories of “the good old days” flooding back. It’s fun to look back at something that took place earlier in our lives, reminisce a bit, and perhaps even learn more about it.  Plus, remembering the past can be good for us. Research suggests that reminiscing can stimulate the mind, raise spirits, increase vitality, and inspire optimism. 

Back in the ‘60s, it was common for mothers to grab a piece of tape when it was time to cut children’s bangs. The technique was used on both boys and girls. It was supposed to leave bangs straight and keep cut hair out of the eyes. The process worked pretty well some of the time… but not always. It was easy to end up with bangs that were too short once the hair sprung back into place without the weight of the tape! Still today, there are parents and grandparents cutting bangs with a little help from some tape.

Lots of homes had swinging “saloon doors” between the kitchen and dining areas in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Most could swing back and forth in either direction and that made things easy when your hands were full. Just back up to the door and you’d go right through into the other room! However… swinging doors could be a problem if someone else happened to be on the other side of the doors about to come through in the opposite direction. When that happened, someone usually ended up dropping something on the floor, losing their balance, or even getting hit pretty hard by the door!

Some folks called them blackboards while others called them chalkboards, but it really didn’t matter. Whatever you called them, you probably spent your school days watching teachers write across them with chalk. Then either the teacher or a student would use one of those gray felt-covered erasers to wipe it all away. Every now and then, someone would have to “clap” a couple erasers together to loosen and release all the built up chalk dust. Plenty of us enjoyed clapping erasers and erasing blackboards when we got the chance. Very often, somebody would grab an eraser filled with chalk dust and leave an imprint of it on a friend or foe’s back.

Remember pull tab cans? They made it possible to drink straight from the can without tracking down a can opener. But they weren’t without their drawbacks. After all, pull tab cans no longer exist today. Some folks had trouble opening them. And the pulled off tab sometimes left sharp edges behind. Then there was the problem of what to do with the tab after you pulled it off. Millions of pull tabs ended up tossed along roadways, at parks, on sandy beaches, and anywhere people opened cans. If you’re a Jimmy Buffet fan, you probably remember the line in “Margaritaville” spotlighting the issue… “I blew out my flip flop and stepped on a pop top.”

Lots of us remember movie drive-ins with a sense of wistful nostalgia. One of the things we remember most vividly about watching a movie from our automobiles was listening to what happened on the big screen through a clunky metal box stuck in driver’s side window. Some drive-in speakers sounded much better than others. So, if the lot wasn’t too crowded, it was common to pull into a few spaces to try out different speakers until we found one to our liking. And positioning a speaker was quite a process too. We had to crank down the window by hand, grab the speaker off its post, place the speaker in the window, and then roll the window back up just right to lodge the speaker in place. Usually, there was a little space left open… just enough to let in the humid night air.

Once upon a time… owning a full set of encyclopedias was a dream to aspire to for many people. It was also a bit of a status symbol for the typical American family. Purchasing an encyclopedia was a rather hefty investment, because each set had multiple volumes. Today… like almost everything else in the publishing industry… encyclopedias have gone digital and are found on the Internet. Fans of the classic sitcom “Friends” remember the very funny episode when Joey wanted to buy a set of encyclopedias, but could only afford to buy a single volume. He ended up with the “V” volume and became an expert on anything and everything beginning with the letter “V.”

Most folks around back in the ‘70s remember the big push to replace chocolate with carob. Carob was supposed to have a delicious chocolaty flavor and was considered to be much better for our health than actual chocolate. Carob was marketed as the PERFECT chocolate substitute. It could be eaten as is or used in place of chocolate in recipes for treats like pudding or brownies. Few true chocolate lovers jumped on the carob bandwagon. Carob wasn’t horrible and its consistency was similar to chocolate… but it just did not taste all that much like chocolate. Carob is still around, but it’s no longer expected to be anything other than what is. These days, carob doesn’t pretend to be chocolate.

Sewing your own wardrobe was once quite common occurrence, but has almost faded away over the past few decades. Lots of us “seasoned” folks remember when the majority of families owned at least one sewing machine. Most girls growing up in those days either learned to use a sewing machine either in home economics class at school or by watching a family member operate one. Some of us even remember “hand-crank” sewing machines, which were around prior to the handier electric models. Before portable sewing machines became popular, most sewing machines were built into a wood cabinet that extended via a leaf that folded out to the side of the machine. Sewing machine cabinets also had a convenient compartment that flipped open in front for storing supplies like bobbins and thread could be stowed.

The television series “Hazel” was a popular with families across the United States back in the ‘60s. The show about a live-in maid named Hazel (Shirley Booth) who took charge of the family she worked for. Often, it was hard to tell who actually ran the household Hazel or her “boss” Mr. Baxter. Hazel had nicknames for everyone in the family. Mr. Baxter (Don DeFore) was “Mr. B,” Mrs. Baxter (Whitney Blake) was “Missy,” and their son Harold (Bobby Buntrock) was “Sport.” The role of Hazel earned the actress two Emmy Awards. The show originally ran from 1961 to 1966 and continued airing in syndication for decades.

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