Off the Hook: That era so long ago


That era so long ago
For some of us, it “just seems like yesterday.” That’s an old expression I never understood, until the last few years. There was a fantastic era just a generation or so ago.
It was only 10 years after World War II. It was a time of rebuilding our country. It was a much calmer, respectful (almost prudish as we look at it today) and certainly safer environment for both children and adults.
Electronic devices have brought a wonderful convenience, but have made it possible for the whole world to be spying on each other. Today many think it’s OK to spread true and untrue comments traveling to hundreds or thousands of miles per second.
Here’s a glimpse into what might have been a better time.
Does this mean anything to you – black and white? It referred to televisions that we had in the late 1950s. In fact, I don’t believe it was until the early 1960s that we had a color television in our home. It was 24 inches, measured diagonally, and a box type TV.
Oh, we were so excited to have color. We would spend many minutes on every show trying to decide how dark or light the color should be.
But back to those black-and-white TVs. Often, you could hardly see for all the “snow.” That was a disturbance of muted white dots all over the screen, many more than you wanted, and the picture was not clear at first. To fix that, many TVs had their own exterior antenna that sat on top with two metal pieces about two feet long, going out in a V shape. You would spread those “rabbit ears” as far as needed to get better reception.
Chet Huntley from New York And David Brinkley from Washington were the big names on NBC Nightly news, that ran from 1956 to 1970. They’d end each newscast saying “Good Night, David, Good Night, Chet.” Do you think that would fly now?
My friend, Susan said her mom used to cut chicken, chop eggs and spread mayo on the same cutting board with the same knife and no cleaning with bleach in between, but they didn’t seem to get food poisoning. I believe that was true, but now I really find it disgusting. I would never do such a thing because of all we know.
Weekends found us all roller-skating down to the corner candy store where for 10 cents we shared the latest “Archie & Veronica” comic book. You can understand why roller-skating for transportation on the sidewalk is a thing of the past. Now if kids go far we require adult supervision, knowledge of cell phone emergency capabilities and a lecture on “stranger danger” and how to use 911. This is just to leave home with friends. Sadly, there’s a good reason for that. There are many more threats to children these days.
Fortunately, we have cell phones to help keep track of them. The term “cell phone” for kids in the 1960s would have conjured up a phone in a jail cell. A pager was the school PA system. Speaking of school, we all said a prayer and sang the National Anthem each day, and staying in detention after school caught all sorts of negative attention.
How did we all make it through without seatbelts and bike helmets and booster seats? Even in the 1970s there were, what we consider now, archaic children’s car seats. My young children sat right next to me in a seat that hung by metal bars over the back of the front seat. We thought that was fine.
If he cried or needed something, I could reach him. Sounds crazy now, doesn’t it? In these educated times, for safety reasons the children are in the backseat and sometimes the car has to be pulled over to handle a situation in the back. Hmmm. Maybe the 50 mph speed limit made that much difference in safety.
In those carefree days, children played “king of the hill” on piles of gravel left on vacant construction sites, and when we got hurt, Mom pulled out the 48-cent bottle of Mercurochrome (kids liked it better because it didn’t sting like Iodine).
Now it’s a trip to the emergency room, followed by a 10-day dose of a $99 bottle of antibiotics, and then the parent calls the attorney to sue the contractor for leaving a horribly vicious pile of gravel where it was such a threat. Our world is sadly “sue happy” and people also want to blame others for things they did 50 years ago. Is there no forgiveness left?
Here’s to the good old days when we could make fun of each other without everyone getting their panties in a bunch. All things considered, how did we ever survive? My love and good wishes to all those who survived that wonderful era!
(Melanie Behrens –

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