I was outside with the hose the other day when a familiar smell from long ago wafted into my nose. The smell brought back memories of the scent of the hose as you leaned over to get a drink out of it. It seems that this is something that just isn’t done anymore but I remember during those long hot summers (in which we were outside ALL day) if we wanted a drink, we got a drink out of the hose. As I stood there foolishly grinning at the memories that came up with that particular memory, I got to wondering what other traditions are gone. Traditions or customs that this generation will not have the pleasure of experiencing. Let’s see if you remember some of these things as well!! If not, you must be from that younger generation!!
Of course, as I mentioned, is drinking from the hose. And as a kid, it wasn’t something that was done neatly! The water would be gushing out faster than you could drink and the water would drip down our shirts. It would be hot and we would have been banned from the house – when we were thirsty we were directed to the hose. The water wasn’t always cold – if the hose was sitting in the sun the water would be fairly warm. But it would get colder as you drank. And once it was nice and cold, the hose almost always got turned on the kids standing around. We would put our finger over the opening and everyone would squeal and run. It was a good time. There was also a day when there would be a big bucket on the porch and a dipper. When you got thirsty, you grabbed the dipper and had a drink. But even I can barely remember those days!
Then there was riding in the back of a truck. We lived to ride in the back of a truck! And I’m not talking just sitting in the truck bed – I’m talking standing in the back, hands on the cab and wind in our hair. It was awesome and I believe it is now illegal. When we weren’t standing in the back of the truck, we were sitting on the open gate of the tailgate with our legs dangling. Bumps were exciting to say the least!! Some of my fondest memories involve riding in the back of a truck. [Someday maybe I’ll tell you about the year I rode in the back of a truck from Alabama to Ohio to attend a cousin’s wedding!]
If you grew up in the South, you might remember the annual tradition of loading up the dogs and taking them up to the school for their rabies shot. There would be hundreds of dogs with their owners in line to get their dog up to date on their shot. You would see your schoolmates, your neighbors; even your teachers (It was hard to believe that they had a life away from school – not only did they have a life, they had pets as well!!). It seemed I always had that dog that wanted to be alpha – and the dog’s name was always Sam. We had at least 4 dogs named Sam as I grew up. I would stand back from the crowd and the vet would come to me when it was our turn.
And then there was school. I attended a small county school (and by the way – I wouldn’t trade it for the world!). We had 92 kids in my graduating class. My 8th grader is in middle school band with more players than that! It was hotter than blue blazes when we started back at the end of August. Every classroom was equipped with a monster fan that sat in the window blowing hot air around. When I hit high school, I was thrilled to find that the band room was air-conditioned. Maybe that is why I spent so many lunches in the band room practicing! I still remember the day when we heard that one of the city schools was closing early because their air-conditioning broke down. It was the first inkling I had that all of us were not in the same boat. I guess I didn’t know many city kids!
Speaking of air conditioning, we didn’t have such a luxury at my house either. We had an attic fan that at least moved some air but some nights it was hard to get to sleep. I would put my pillowcase in the freezer so that I would have something cold near me when I went to sleep. Years later, my parents installed air conditioning. I don’t think my Mom ever allowed the temperature to go above 68. She was making up for lost time! And now, I follow in her footsteps. Not only do I need it to be 68 degrees when I sleep, I need a fan blowing on me as well. My kids complain about freezing but I’m still compensating for all of those hot, sticky years!
And as I touched on in the hose discussion, we were outside. We belonged outside. We stayed outside all day going from one person’s house to another. A couple of us had horses, a couple had bikes and the roads were safe enough for us to take our adventures from one home to another without fear. Now the road is so busy I don’t even feel comfortable with them walking on the side of the road much less riding their bikes down the center line!
And do you remember full service gas stations? What a treat that would be today! You would pull in to the station, hear the ding, ding of the signal that told the employees that someone was there. The employee would trot out, fill up your car, wash your windows and check your oil and water! Not only did you get all that service, you would sometimes also get dishes as an incentive to use that station for your next fill up! All of this for $0.30 a gallon! Actually it was less that $.30 for a long time. I still remember the day that my Mom huffed about a gas station that was $0.30/gallon. She drove right past indignantly saying “that is ridiculous – thirty cents a gallon for gas”!
There is so much more – if we wanted to make a phone call while we weren’t home, we would look for a pay phone. Otherwise you wouldn’t make a call. No cell phones at all! Party lines – houses that shared a common line – what an experience that was! My best friend was on a party line and when we talked, the other person would pick up to tell us to get off the phone. Or she would just listen to our conversation. The phone would have a different ring depending upon which house the call was for. Oh – and long distance calls. They were a big, big deal! None of this “just calling to chat”. You normally had something to say and you normally got to the point. I remember calls from Europe when I was young and the rush we had in getting my grandparents to the phone before the bill racked up. And did I mention that all phones were a rotary dial! I hated that we had two zero’s in our number – it took a lot longer to call than if we had one’s instead!
One of the things I miss is getting actual letters in the mailbox. Birthday cards, pen pals, notes from friends – it made getting the mail much more fun than heading down to the mailbox for the latest installment of bills!
I didn’t realize how many memories would come up when I started this post. Everyday, I think of more things that the current generation won’t experience. Some good, some not so good but that is the nature of progress. Maybe I’ll add more ideas later as they come to me. Until then, I will give thanks for the memories…….