THURSDAY’S TOP TEN
With a birthday approaching, an onslaught of nostalgia is taking over; now more than ever, memories of childhood toys, songs from my own angst-ridden high school years and thoughts and memories of things I grew up with. Household items I saw my mother use and my own childhood experiences that I know my kids never saw or had and now that they are grown up and having kids of their own, these things are lost to yet another generation and some gone forever, some will be found in antique shops.
- Rotary Phones: telephones with dials, with phone numbers that began with letters like DI for Diamond or WA for Waldorf and sometimes with a party line. Can you imagine picking up the phone to make a call and hearing other people already talking and it isn’t your sister on an extension (there were none) in another room. It’s a whole other household and each “party” had their own special ring. It was rude to keep picking up the phone to see if they were still talking and it was definitely rude to listen in on a conversation. Life is so much easier now, all you have to do is be near some idiot on their cell phone and you can catch the entire conversation.
- Transistor Radios: I remember the birthday that my father gave me my own transistor radio; it was green and in a leather carrying case. Loved it! Of course I couldn’t download 400 of my favorite songs and it didn’t cost anywhere near as much money.
- Darning Egg: I watched my grandmothers darn and I’m not sure if I ever saw my mother darn a sock but one thing I’m sure about is my kids never saw me darn a sock and although I had a darning egg (don’t remember how I acquired one or why), I doubt they ever saw it. Why darn socks? The world was not so disposable then and my grandmothers had lived through the depression and they knew the value of saving a pair of socks for a couple of more months.
- Hot Water Bottle: I think most of them were made of dark red rubber with a stopper and like a few other “vintage” cures it was used for a lot of ailments. A stomach ache, a headache, cramps…you name it, Mom would give you a hot water bottle and tuck you into bed. Sometimes, your grandmother might even knit, crochet or sew a cover for the bottle and then it didn’t have to get wrapped in a towel.
- Wringer Washers: These were on their way out when I was growing up in the 50′s but there was one in our basement for a long time. Wow, imagine doing a load of clothes and diapers in this tank like washer and then instead of the machine spinning out the water, you fed the clothing between two roller and cranked it and squeezed the water out. Wash day probably was a half day’s work then.
- Milkman: Life had its conveniences even then and having the milk delivered to your doorstep was one of them. Every back doorstep had a milk box on it. You would write down your order for the next delivery if you wanted something extra like heavy cream or buttermilk. Real glass bottles with round paper caps; AND in the winter when the temperature really dropped the cream literally rose to the top and pushed up and out of the bottle like a frozen milk pop. Sometimes I got to lick that frozen creamy popsicle.
- Tooth Powder: Strange but true and not exactly popular by the time I was old enough to understand what it was. Now I collect some of the old tins when I find them; but then, well who wanted to use yukky powder on their teeth when the latest thing was “STRIPE” toothpaste. So cool!
- Pressure Cooker: These were scary things. Never knew what Mom was cooking in it but it whistled, steam escaped and above all, we all heard stories about the pressure cooker lid blowing off. From what I understand, a pressure cooker was not for the inexperienced cook, but it cooked food quickly.
- Electric Frying Pan: I received one as a wedding present in 1968 and used it for many years. I don’t know if they still sell them but I might look into getting one because they were great! Large with high sides and a temperature dial and a lid with a movable vent and best of all you could cook on a counter or tabletop which is a grand idea when all four burners are in use. I wonder why I stopped using it, I wonder where it went – maybe with the “ex”?
- Telephone Dialer: Going back to the Rotary Phone – ladies didn’t want to break a nail or chip their polish so they used a “dialer”. Often given away as an advertising premium, these dandy little helpers enabled you to quickly dial a number and leave manicure intact. Dialers were around a long time; there are antique dialers, Tiffany dialers as well as the plastic give-aways and lots of secretaries had a combination pen or mechanical pencil with a silver ball at the end to be used as a dialer. Interesting!