Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Before You Were Born Things Were Different - Part 2

I like the way my brain will suddenly take me to a place I haven't remembered for a long time... like the time my friend and I bought DQ blizzards. They said they were so thick you could turn them upside down, and they wouldn't fall out of the cup. My friend liked that and turned his upside down for all to see. We saw the blizzard quickly slide out on the ground... the smile was gone... and advertising became a scam.
When I was a kid, meals were different than they are now. We ate stuff people cringe at now. During my week the typical fare included kidneys, pork liver, beef tongue, blood pudding, pieces of bread with brown sugar and milk, pig tails, tapioca, kool aid, and salmon patties, to name a few. Since my dad was a hunter, we also had rabbits, pigeons, ducks and venison, often with shotgun pellets in it. Margarine was white, but came with a colour pack if you wanted to make it yellow. Roast beef, pork chops, and turkey were sort of normal. Spaghetti was rare. My grandmother could make a whole meal in a wood stove... potatoes, roast, veggies, and pie. It always amazed me how it would be cooked perfectly with no burning. She even chopped the wood. There were no fast food places until, as a teenager, I discovered pizza. One pizza place was called Vito's Cave. It was downstairs, and it was like being in a cave. My first time there I had to watch others because I didn't know how you should eat pizza. And the only kind of donuts was honey-dipped. Eventually they added chocolate-iced honey-dipped. We never bought more than one or two at a time.
People have always had pets, but in those days kids' pets were a little different than today. Dogs were popular, but I can't remember anyone with a cat. In cages we had rats and turtles. I had a huge white rabbit that we mated with some guy's male rabbit, and there were 11 babies. He got to pick first, and I gave them away after that. My favourite pet was a baby raccoon I found in the woods. I put him in my bicycle carrier and took him everywhere, and he got lots of attention. Then one night a big old raccoon attacked him, and he died. My dad took his shotgun out in the yard (this was in the city) and shot him down out of a tree. That mulberry tree reminds me that we had no driers, so washed clothes were hung on a line in the yard. The birds liked the mulberries, and it was common to have purple bird droppings on your clothes. In the winter the clothes froze stiff as a board... funny sight.
By the time I got to high school I was very naive and very young because I had skipped a grade. We had 2 choices... the academic and the tech high schools. I had no ideas about the future, except that I liked music and chose it for an option. I found out that my mother didn't make lunches, and I ate in the cafeteria. I was already a sports star, so I tried out for the track team and the basketball team. I guess we were shorter in those days. Our centre was 5'11''. Today everyone is more than 6'. School was school and had some new and baffling things for me. I took Latin and always wondered why. Physics was a total mystery to me, and I had no interest in people who lived hundreds of years ago, so History was the absolute worst thing ever. The outcome was a report card with 96% in Math and 50% in History. Of course I blamed it on my Grade 8 History teacher. Something many of you never heard of was the provincial exams to graduate from high school. Every kid in Grade 13 in Ontario academic high schools wrote the same tests, and your marks were published in the local newspaper. What a slam for some that was. My buddy, who was nicknamed "Ace" because he couldn't pass anything and once had a score of 1 on a Chemistry test was so embarrassed. His marks were like Math 19, Eng 38, Physics 10... I kid you not... right there in the paper for all to see.
The last thing I want to do in this blistering piece about life before you were born is to talk about how we managed to survive without technology and batteries. Here is what most kids and adults carry in their pockets in 2012: a mobile phone, all your favourite songs to listen to, access to the internet, a movie player, the latest sports scores from around the world, a gps locator and maps of everywhere, all your books to read, text messaging to any phone number, all your friends e-mail addresses, the phone book yellow pages, what restaurants, gas stations, hotels, and tourist attractions are nearby, dozens of games to play, a camera, a video camera, a tape recorder, and more. Did you read that I wrote "in their pockets"? At home today are: a television with 300 channels from around the world, a machine that records a hockey game which is on at the same time you are watching a basketball game, a computer loaded with family photos that can be made into a slide show and burned to a dvd for watching on your tv, an elaborate games machine for all kinds of games and with some you can get out of your chair and hit baseballs or ski or sing or play the guitar, and so much more. Now believe it or not, here is what I had for activities: a pen knife for whittling, a gun carved out of wood, a used bicycle, a baseball glove, a woodburner tool, a fishing pole, a bb gun, paper and pencils, and a wooden sword. In high school I got drums, a guitar, a record player, records, and a girlfriend. Did you notice that not one thing needed batteries? I spent all my waking hours outside doing something when I wasn't in school. I joined the Boy Scouts, and we did a lot of camping in summer and in winter. I loved the woods and the snow, and there are stories about trying to open a can of beans when you forget a can-opener, taking an entire 70-page newspaper to get a fire started, and cutting a hole in the ice to get water and sticking a little evergreen in it to keep it open and being unable to pull the tree out of the hole with 12 guys. Youth, before you were born, grew up learning to create and develop physically active things to do.
Uh oh... I lied. I just thought about candies and munchies in the dark ages. Soda pops were coke, orange crush, wishing well lemon-lime, root beer, and Vernor's gingerale. There were no chocolate bars for a while. We had black licorice only, suckers, jelly beans, and boodle bags (a very small bag with hard candies and different sweets). We didn't have chips, cheesies, pretzels, and carmelcorn. The big treat was an ice cream cone, or a candy apple from the lady in our neighbourhood who made them and sold them from her house. We munched on a lot of fruit. I loved oranges, pomegranites, grapes, and peanuts (not a fruit). I'll stop now. Imagine the fun I had as a teacher telling my students these stories. What a wonderful time it was before you were born.

1 comment:

  1. I have to agree. Well, even though technology has helped us improve our living (were more comfortable nowadays, it has made transaction better (no need to go to the bank, it has made education easier, online pharmacy technician courses, it has made shopping easier, etc,. I do hope that people don't forget that it is still more fun to talk in person and not in FB, that it is still better to get off your couch instead of waiting for the delivery.