Sunday, January 13, 2013

Blocking Out the Crankiness

I'm a little cranky today. I can't find one pack of potato chips in this whole damn place that I like and since snacks is my major food source that is enough to throw off my whole day.  My stapler is MIA and I am too lazy to go search for another one because that would only mean I would have to address the ton of paperwork on my desk. I have an entire 90 count of Trazadone "unaccounted for" so I need to ferret out the person that is accountable for the unaccounted for Trazadone. I also had 30 hydrocodone tablets "unaccounted for", that culprit was found immediately, I hate it when the pharmacy screws up, get it in your head, I don't trust you so I always do a count on any meds that come from you, and I would appreciate it if you would not ever give me that bullshit warehouse excuse again! I have managed to give out two doses of Phenobarbital, one dose of Synthroid, two doses of Atenolol and one allergy injection without causing any major bodily harm. I think I will sit back here at my desk, door closed and ignore the rest of the day. Instead of paperwork I am going to blog. Unfortunately the ton of paperwork from yesterday and the price of having to get new glasses again has fried my brain and I seem to only be able to reflect on the simplicity of life in the past. So I am going to take a trip down Memory Lane to cheer myself up.

Chatty Cathy

I feel it only fair to start with the biggest injustice of my life. Chatty Cathy. I must have been around 7 or 8 when she came out in her little blue dress with the white blouse under it, face covered in freckles and teeth. Those teeth had me fascinated, I had never seen a doll with teeth showing before. I didn't give a shit that she actually talked even though at times she got "stuck" and sounded like Satan which highly amused me, I just wanted her because of those teeth. I begged, I pleaded and still I didn't get a Chatty Cathy doll, my mother thought her endearing teeth made her look "creepy". Then it happened, one of my best friends and neighbor that I played with every day got my beloved Chatty Cathy for her birthday. But being the stingy child she was she wouldn't let anyone play with her toys. I was devastated. To this day I still haven't gotten that Chatty Cathy doll.

Rotary phones and party lines

Black rotary dialed phones with actual operators and party lines? You simply picked up your phone and an operator would say "Number Please" and you gave her the number you were calling. Funny I can still remember our number was 555J and my Aunt's was 886B, she then connected the lines for you at a switchboard. Along with this came party lines. It works like this 6-10 different households (neighbors, sometimes total strangers) share the same line, each has a phone in their own home, kind of like having an extension in your house today. Only one person at a time could use the phone, but any of the other 5 could pick up their phone in their homes and hear the conversation. If anyone else was using the phone, you were just shit out of luck until they hung up.  Obviously not a well thought out plan, do you realize how much fun a 10 yr old can have with a party line? We had one, a party line of 6. We had one old witch on ours, Mrs. Swayzee, who listened in on one everyone else's conversations, sometimes rudely butting in with a comment of her own. I loved it when my mother would lose her temper and let fly on Mrs. Swayzee. It also made her a target for us kids, we never bothered anyone else, ok I lied, we bothered everyone else on our party line. If we could catch a conversation it was heaven, bring out the belches, the farts, the high pitched squeals, taped music, banging pots and pans together, anything we could think of to disrupt their conversation. Luckily for us there was no way to trace back exactly which line the trouble makers were coming from. Then some idiot got smart and gave everyone their own line. I like to think we had a part in furthering technology.

Wringer washing machines and clothes drying on the line

Saturday was wash day, we had this set up until I was about 8 and then my mother moved into the future when my Dad bought her an automatic washer and dryer. She loved the washer but wasn't so sure about the dryer, she claimed it took the "fresh smell" out of the clothes. When she discovered she didn't have to iron the clothes that came out of the dryer she suddenly forgot about that all important "fresh smell" and never looked back. The way it worked was you filled the tub with water, some had to be filled by hand with buckets of water, we were high class and actually had a hose that connected to ours that filled it just like it does the automatic washers today. Can you believe we actually had a laundry room with this monstrosity in it? Anyway once you put the clothes and detergent in the tub agitated (ours by just pushing a button, others you had to hand crank). Repeat without detergent to rinse. Then each piece of clothing was run through the ringer at the top, you fed the clothes in like a pasta machine, twice, to wring out the excess water. Then your ready for the outside clothes line and wooden clothes pins and prayed for no rain. I use to think it was hilarious in the winter to watch her take the frozen clothes off the line, stiff and holding their shape as if someone just disintegrated inside them and try to stuff them in a clothes basket to bring them in. Today, I just thank God that I was too young to help with laundry and that my mother was the type that didn't think children should do household chores beyond carrying our plates to the sink after dinner.

Rolller Rinks

Roller skating was a big part of my pre-teen and teen years, I actually started around 10 yrs old. It was easy for me, my best friend's uncle owned the local skating rink so we had full use even if it was closed. We used all that practice time when it was closed and could skate like pro's by the time we were 12 yrs old. We did all the jumps, spins, etc. But the most important part of skating was the skates. My parent's paid a fortune for each pair of skates (if your just going around and around the rink any skate will do, but our kind of skating required special made skates) and I would wear a pair out in 6 months time. All our rollers, skate strings, bearings and toe stops were free because her uncle also sold them and just let us pick out what we wanted whenever we wanted. We had strings and wheels in every possible color. But that skate pom was a necessarry accessory. It ALWAYS had to match the wheels and strings and be decorated with something, now you could use a multi-colored skate pom as long as at least one color in it matched your wheels and strings. I had a drawer that held nothing but skate poms in all different colors and shapes.  I'm telling you we were skate connoisuer's of the skate world. Later on after my husband joined the military we found ourselves in North Dakota. I figured I was so good at roller skating that ice skating shouldn't be that different. First time on the ice my balance was fine and I was soon ice skating like I had done it for years, until it came time to stop.  I broke my nose, my arm and was bruised all over. No one remembered to tell me the "stopping" technique is entirely different. Do you know how embarrassing it is to have your four year old try to teach you how to stop so you don't end up in the hospital again? I never did get that stopping down very well, unless there was a snow bank handy. Now I was a pro at skating straight into a snow bank to stop myself.

We never locked our doors when we sleep at night and our house had two sets of french doors, one slider, double front door, back door and the basement door. You didn't need to, you felt safe. Most of the time my parents didn't even close all the doors, the ones with screens were left open.

My parents drove a Mercedes and a Cadillac, the keys stayed in the ignition all the time and the top to the Mercedes was rarely put up(only on rainy, cold or snowy days), day or night. Someone stealing your car was not even a thought or concern. We had a garage but I honestly don't ever remember seeing a car parked in it.

We played outside until midnight, even at the age of 8 or 9 yrs while our parents played cards on the patio, or the neighbors sat on one or another's patio just to chat. We didn't stay in the yard, we ran and terrorized the entire neighborhood. There was no fear of kids being snatched and kidnapped. We went trick or treating alone and hit every house in town, we didn't have to worry about anyone putting razor blades or poison in our candy and a lot of our treats were homemade goods, those were the best ones. Back then a missing child simply meant he/she had decided to eat dinner at someone's house and forgot to call home and tell Mom or Dad.

I think formica tables were a requirement back then, my mother assures me they weren't but she has lied to me before when she covered up that the cat ate my hamster so I don't believe her since everyone I knew had one in their kitchen. Wood was fine for the dining room, but never the kitchen.

Most homes had only one bathroom, thank God my Dad had better sense and built our house with three, if he had not it would have been an ugly scene and I fear some of us would not be alive today. But that was rare, many families with 4 or 5 kids, or more had one bathroom to share.

Bread, milk, cottage cheese and butter were delivered to your door. I didn't realize someone brought them for years, to me it seemed like it was just magically there when you woke up in the morning. I still have the set of thermal glasses they delivered cottage cheese in once for a promotion, I stole them from my Mom a few years ago when she threatened to throw them away. I'm not really sure it could be considered a theft when she stood there and watched me gather them up then threw in a few Corning Ware baking dishes too.

The paper was delivered by boys on bicycles. I hated our paper boy and use to set traps so he would wreck in front of our house. But I did love watching my Dad chase our St. Bernard around the house, and it was a big house, to try and get the newspaper every night before the dog could shred it. My Dad use to come up with all these elaborate plans to beat the dog to the paper, they never worked and we rarely ever got a newspaper that was not shredded on the corners or had holes bitten out of the middle of some important article they wanted to read. This same dog ate a tire off of one of the cars, literally chewed the concrete steps off in big chunks (my Dad fought the concrete company for months over "bad concrete" until he actually saw the dog doing it), ate a corner off our house which was made of stone, drag the clothes off the clothes line (I suspect this might be another reason my Mom grew to love her automatic dryer), followed us to school every day and refused to leave, the school finally gave in when the weather got cold and just let him in the building where he spent his days wandering around visiting different classrooms and taking naps in the principles office, he would lay down in front of doors at home or lay in a bathtub and refuse to move (you just don't pick up a St. Bernard and move it out of the way) the only way to bribe him to move was to give him a half gallon of ice cream. We had a freezer in the basement that belonged to this dog, it was full of nothing but ice cream. We had to put him in the house when we were in the pool, he considered everyone that went in the water as someone he had to save and would jump in and drag the person trying to swim out of the water. No child under the age of 3 was getting away from him, he had his imaginary perimeter that he thought that child should be in and if it wandered out of his perimeter he would go grab it by the clothing and drag it back, my mother always said he was the best babysitter she ever had.

Riding the horses as a family, sometimes with friends that also owned horses. My parents raised Arabians, but we had other breeds as well and we loved to trail ride. Well everyone except my Mom's Appaloosa, who always, without fail would stop and take a nap during a trail ride. Riding through creeks, jumping fences...I so miss my horses.

The preparations for visiting family that lived out of town (all of an hour and a half drive). The kids had to have a blanket, a pillow, stop for food, stop to pee at least twice, pushing and shoving in the backseat because someone "touched" someone else. God, I drive further than that now just to go out to dinner but back then it was a big deal.

Every Saturday going to the grocery store for groceries and getting comic books and junk food. I always came home with 9 or 10 of them, took a bath, put on my baby doll pj's and then laid in front of the fan for hours reading, snacking and keeping cool. No one had air conditioners back then, it was the fan or nothing.

Beeman, Clove, Black Jack and Teaberry gum?

Candy cigarettes? Because smoking was "cool" back then.

Lucy and Ricky sleeping in twin beds?

Drive-In movie theaters?

RC Cola?

Bonanza every Sunday night?

When you got your first color television?

Transistor radios?

Those horrible metal lawn chairs that burned your ass if you didn't keep them in the shade?

Silly Putty?


Jingle Jumpers?

When nylons came in two pieces? The guy that invented panty hose was a genius!

Making bracelets from gum wrappers or making daisy chains?

Mallow Cups? I still find these from time to time and buy a shit load of them at one time.

Girls using the small empty juice cans to roll their hair? Please tell me why!

Girls using brush rollers and sleeping in them for the 30 minutes of curl they provided the next day?

Getting inoculations and a TB test at school?

Settling down in the den floor with your brothers and sisters, cousins or best friend to watch scary movies?

Sammy Terry's Nightmare Theater and his pet spider?

Free gifts such as wash clothes, glasses or towels in boxes of laundry detergent?

Being forced to watch Watching  Bing Crosby's Christmas show on television every year?

Playing freeze tag or cigarette tag?

Swapping class rings with your boyfriend to show you were going steady?

Waiting on that sweetheart ring and then the pre-engagement ring? No one I knew ever made it all the way to the engagement ring phase. LOL

The phase girls went through wearing white lipstick and nail polish?

There was no home delivery from restaurants? How did I ever survive that one?

I will always regret that my children didn't get to experience the simpler, safer side of life and have the freedom I did as a child to just be a child.

Today, I really want to go back there!


  1. I was feeling thoroughly depressed in thinking about where my life was heading and now thanks to you, I feel thoroughly depressed about all the things that I miss from my childhood.
    There are far too many to mention, though many appear on your list.

    But like you, I wished that Spawn had gotten to experience the simplicity of life back then and the freedom that came with it.

    Thank you Shea for taking me back to my childhood...gonna go and slash my wrists now...♥

    1. Well I do what I can, I figure after Ophelia's visit you should be able to handle anything! I checked out and commented on Spawn's blog, he's doing a great job. I joined.

  2. Wow, what a great post!!! I was born in 1968, and my mom was born in 1942. You were most likely born somewhere in between? I enjoyed reading this so much because it is like a trip back in time. You are a great writer, really nice descriptions. :)


    1. Thank you! I was born in Dec 1954. I'm glad you enjoyed my "Feel Sorry For Myself" post.

  3. PS-- thank you for having me on your sidebar, too! you really made my day! xxo

    1. Where have you been? You have been on the sidebar for a long time now. LOL It may be that I was playing around with my backgrounds again and decided to use a code that just used a drop down box, I think I took that off a while back so everyone else could visit the good blogs.

  4. I subscribed to your blog based souly on its title, before I even read anything. Because you described my life. Then I read on and found the pompom roller skates. We're going to be friends, I think.

    1. Welcome Therese! If you read back into the posts beware my language can be terrible, I'm sarcastic and usually hold nothing back. I really have no filter. Anyone that realizes the importance of Pompom roller skates is a friend of mine!

  5. Our old rotary phone is still in the guest room at my parents' house. I keep asking if I can have it. They keep saying no. Ha!

    1. Well you could always just take it like I did my Mom's corning ware dishes. I wish I still had our old one. My Mom has one now that she doesn't use but it's avocado green, you know the famous color of the 70's? I want a black one.

  6. I haven't read the post yet, before I do I just wanted to tell you how happy I am to see you back.

    1. Thanks Monkey, it's been a hard road filled with writer's block, pneumonia and family members that think acting like idiots is somehow normal and not stress producing for those of us that have to clean up behind them. I'm glad to be back.

    2. I did actually read it after I wrote this but I was at work and we have to smoke outside. By the time I finished, I couldn't feel my fingers to type a proper reply.

      I loved this trip down memory lane. I do remember a lot of these things, though automatic washers and dryers were pretty standard in my youth. But I'm with your mom on the doll, she's creepy and it's all in the teeth.

    3. So Monkey I guess this means you won't be buying me a Chatty Cathy doll either? She isn't creepy, she is cute!

  7. Loved reading your deja' vu' posting. Definitely a reminder of a much simpler life!

    1. I know and I have a tendency to let my mind slip back to those days when I get over stressed. Yesterday was one of those days.

  8. Really enjoyed this. Although I remember ice boxes. Waaayyy before your time!!!

  9. My sister had Cathy and I never got to play with her either. She wasn't very nice, she used to hit us til we cried and then tickle us so we'd laugh before mom came in.