Do you think Baby Boomers invented ThrowBack Thursday as a way to continue touting everything we did or had was better and best? TBT affords us a stage and setting to look back affectionately on our school days, our toys and to desperately try to hold onto that powerful position we held for so long in the news, the culture and well just about everything. Just musing….
Anyway it is TBT and here at Pbenjay it is also Thursday’s Top Ten so let the list begin;
1. Skate Key and Metal Roller Skates
Long gone are the days of roller skating along the sidewalks and driveways we once knew. Nowadays yes kids do roller skate but they are wearing shoe skates – WoW just like what only professional skaters wore when I was growing up or you got to wear them if you went to a skating rink. Learning to skate is hard enough but when you are dragging clunky metal skates along with you and wearing real shoes so your skates can stay attached to the toe of your shoe, well that’s a whole other experience! And you hung your skate key around your neck so you wouldn’t lose it!
2. Church Key and Miss Rheingold
I’m sure just about everybody still has one of these can openers but did you know it was called a Church Key? I wrote about the origin of that term previously – see blog post: https://pbenjay.wordpress.com/2011/07/07/once-common-now-obscure-do-you-know-what-these-phrases-mean/ And let’s not forget Miss Rheingold! Every year, the photos of 10 or more gorgeous women would be on a poster in the package stores (yes I lived in CT and that’s what we called them) and people would fill out a form and vote for the prettiest Miss Rheingold.
3. No Draft Window
At one time this small triangular window was standard equipment on every American automobile. Some folks called it the “no-draft” (its official name), some called it the “vent,” and others (including my Mom) called it the “wing.” Whatever the name, the purpose was the same: in those days when air conditioning was a very expensive option and opening the main driver side and passenger windows caused too much turbulence (not to mention noise) the no-draft provided quiet yet efficient air circulation while driving during warm weather.
4. S & H Green Stamps
I used to love pasting the green stamps into the books and constantly checking and re-checking the number of books we had and looking in the catalog as to what we might get. Green stamps were given out with purchases at grocery stores and gas stations and many other places. Quite the incentive to shop where they were given out, sort of like points on your American Express card. This was pretty much a 1950’s thing but I think I may have to admit still collecting some in the 60’s!
5. Typewriter Eraser
Even after White-Out and correction tape were commonly available, neither worked well on onion skin (a type of very thin paper regularly used for multiple carbon copies…perhaps we need to add a twelfth item to this list…) and typewriter erasers were still a necessity. The abrasive end was used like a regular pencil eraser, and then the typist brushed away the resultant debris with the bristle end.
6. Motel Wall-Mounted Bottle Opener
Some older roadside accommodations still have a bottle opener mounted on the bathroom wall, but a lot of the guests in those cases are stumped enough to ask the front desk, “What the heck is that thing?” We refer you back to the bottle-opening end of the church key and further explain that pop machines (“soda machines” to you heathens) at most motels in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s dispensed pop the way God intended – ice cold in 10-ounce glass bottles with a small ring of ice floating in the neck. There was a bottle opener included on the machine, but a lot of folks preferred to wait until they returned to the sanctuary of their room before they popped the cap off and enjoyed that first refreshing sip. And then there were those (wink-wink) who eschewed the pop machine but traveled instead with a cooler full of beer. That’s why the opener was usually mounted in the bathroom – all that beverage spillage was easier to mop up off a tile floor rather than have it soak into the carpeted areas of the room.
7. Pull Tabs
In between cans requiring a church key and today’s pop tops there were pull tab soda and beer cans. The convenience of not requiring an opener was revolutionary, but the innovation came with a downfall: a new type of litter. Instead of disposing of their pull tabs responsibly, many folks simply discarded them on the ground before chugging away. Walking barefoot on the beach in the 1960s and ’70s was often something of an obstacle course; those tabs weren’t always immediately visible, but they were razor-sharp, and savvy sunbathers included Band-Aids in their picnic baskets for the inevitable sliced toe.
8. Self-Service Tube Tester
30-plus years ago when a TV went on the fritz you called the TV Repair Man. He was so ubiquitous that he made house calls, but his services were expensive (and today’s Cable Guy has taken the TV Repair Man’s vague “I’ll be there sometime between X and Y o’clock” promise to a new level). Since a good percentage of the TV malfunctions back then were due to malfunctioning vacuum tubes, DIY Dads started diagnosing and replacing the tubes on their own, saving both time and money. Almost every drugstore, hardware store, and even grocery store had a self-service tube testing machine stashed among the gumball and cigarette machines. Dad (or Mom or whoever) simply brought whichever tubes he thought suspect and tested them on the machine to see whether they were functional. If the tube in question was kaput, there was a wide selection of brand new tubes stocked in the cabinet underneath the machine available for purchase.
9. The Palmer Method
Learning the Palmer Method of longhand now known as cursive, with the Sisters of No Mercy (oops I mean Mercy) was hard enough, I can’t imagine being a lefty and trying to write on the slant, paper tilted and all. My classroom at St. John’s looked just like this photo. The alphabet banner was posted above the blackboard and the pull-down maps right below. Maps on a roller like a window shade.
10. Smith Brothers Cough Drops
I remember these well, and Luden’s Cherry Cough Drops. When we were kids, any little sniffle and cough was a reason to ask for a box of these candies, er cough drops.