Were the Good Old Days all Good?



Leslie Goes Boom

A Mixed Bag of Memories

By Leslie Handler

Remember Dippity Do? It was awesome. You put this gel-type substance on your wet hair, set it in wire curlers, let it dry, and when you removed the curlers you had stiff, perfect curls that when brushed out, created a lovely, soft, shiny curl to your hair. I miss Dippity Do. I googled it recently. The good news, is that you can still buy it. The bad news is that they proudly advertise that it doesn’t make your hair stiff anymore, as if that’s a good thing. Brushing that stiffness out, is what made it the perfect product. They just don’t make stuff like they used to.

Nothing is made to last anymore. Remember the TV repairman? Now, if your TV is broken, you just buy a new one. Everything is “throw it away and buy new.” Our clothes get thrown out if they need a repair. But remember the sewing box? We all had one. It always included a needle and thread, scissors, a tape measure, some spare buttons, snaps, and elastic. We actually repaired our wearables. Now, lady’s clothes are made with such thin fabric, it’s commonly accepted that not only will they not last long, but we will also have to wear a camisole under almost anything we buy to make up for the thin see-through fabric used in our ready to wear.

I can remember the time before we had 20 loyalty cards attached to our key chains. Back then, instead of giving you a coupon to buy more stuff with your loyalty card, they actually gave you something for your loyalty. We received every drinking glass in our house for free from the local gas station, and our dishes came from the neighborhood grocery store. You got a new glass with every fill up; a new plate every time you spent a few bucks at the grocery store until you had a full set of dishes.

And who can forget S&H Green Stamps? Nowadays you can only find them in the attics and basements of those of us old enough to remember what they were. We find them, we hold them, we hesitate to throw away a book completely filled with stamps, but in the end, we toss them aside like everything else today.

I recently had a neighbor giving away old National Geographic magazines. They weren’t in mint condition but they were in very good condition. Some of them dated as far back as the 1920s. I took a few hundred off his hands from the ‘20s through the ‘70s. They aren’t worth enough to ship if you were to sell them, so they’ll just collect dust on my shelves giving me the enjoyment of seeing them until I someday move them to my attic or basement giving someone the job of reminiscing and then tossing them.

Heck, even I don’t last. I go to bed earlier, and my parts are wearing out as well. Some of us can still get replacement parts as our old ones wear out, but mine are still original. Gee, I hope they keep replacing parts when I need them. Otherwise I too might end up in the trash if I break something. They’ll just go out and buy a new clone of me.

With all these fond memories of things that used to last and bring us joy, it took a recent movie to bring me back down to reality. A few months ago, I went to see the movie Hidden Figures. It gave me a little reality check as to all the things that happened “back in the day.” One of my earliest memories was walking into a Sears store with my mom and learning about the signs above the water fountains that said “whites only” and “colored.”

I remember when you could still go to lunch at Woolworth’s counter…well, some of us could. I remember playing a board game called “mystery date game.” One player always got the “dud.” I guess we weren’t teaching much inclusion back then.

I can remember how cool we kids thought it was to get a box of “cigarette” candy and look like the grown-ups, and I remember occasional school days when we had to “duck and cover.” How awesome to give your kids air raid drills in school. I had fond memories of commercials with Bill Cosby that just seemed so cute when they tried to sell me Jell-O pudding pops. We all know how that story ended.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the good old days weren’t always so good. They were kind of a mixed bag. I choose to try to look at things more positively and consider how far we’ve come. Even though in my lifetime alone we’ve gone from vinyl, to tape, to CD, to digital, I choose to follow the old Blockbuster video rental mantra: “Be kind, rewind.” If we’d just all remember kindness for the next ones to come, I think we’ll all be able to remember the good old days.

Let’s chat.  What fond, or not so fond, memories do you have?

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