Mark L. Hopkins: Things were different then
Consider this relief from the news coming from Washington D.C. and North Korea in recent days. I thought you might like to hear about a recent conversation I had with a granddaughter.
She asked me what my favorite fast food was when I was growing up. I told her we didn’t have fast food when I was her age. All the food was slow.
“C’mon, seriously. Where did you eat?” she asked.
“Well, McDonald’s hadn’t been created yet in my day,” I replied. “Mom cooked every meal and we sat down together at the kitchen table. If I didn’t like what she put on my plate I was allowed to sit there until I did like it. During the school year we carried our lunches in paper sacks. Mostly, it was liverwurst on crackers and, if we were lucky, peanut butter and jelly on bread. Milk was carried in a glass jar and sat on the window ledge to keep cool.”
Later, I thought about other things I could have told her about my childhood though I am not sure if her system could handle it.
Some families never owned their own house, never wore Levi’s, never set foot on a golf course, and never traveled anywhere they had to say in a motel. Who could afford such extravagance?
My mother never took me to soccer practice. That was mostly because we had never heard of soccer. We did meet on a daily basis in the summer with the other kids of the neighborhood for a baseball game. When we didn’t get enough for a game we played an off-shoot of baseball we called Indian baseball. You could play it with three on a side. (I’m not really sure Indians ever played baseball.)
We didn’t have a television or a car or a telephone while I was growing up. My grandmother had a television. It was black and white, and the station went off the air at midnight, after playing the National Anthem and a poem about God.
I was in college before I tasted my first pizza. When I bit into it, I burned the roof of my mouth and the cheese slid off, swung down, plastered itself against my chin and burned that, too. It is still the best pizza I ever had.
Pizzas were not delivered to our home, but milk was. All newspapers were delivered by boys. My older brother and I shared a paper route. We delivered newspapers six days a week. It cost 7 cents a paper of which we got to keep 2 cents. Mercifully, it was an afternoon route so we didn’t have to get up at 6 a.m. every morning. On Saturdays, my brother had to collect 42 cents from the customers. His favorite customers were the ones who gave him 50 cents and told him to keep the change. His least favorite customers were the ones who never seemed to be home on Saturdays which meant he had to go back again and again until he could catch them at home.
Movies were the big attraction in our town. The local theatre changed class “B” movies on Friday, Sunday, and Wednesday. It cost 10 cents to get in and popcorn was 5 cents. They ran a serial with the movie to keep you coming back. Every one ended with a “cliff-hanger.” There were no movie ratings because all movies were produced without profanity or violence or most anything offensive. When Clark Gable came out with that line, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” in “Gone with the Wind,” it horrified the more gentile public. Preachers preached against the … ”What is this world coming to?”… society, and some swore off of movies altogether. (Well, no one really swore in my day.)
Well, I knew before I started talking to her, she wouldn’t believe it.
— Dr. Mark L. Hopkins writes for More Content Now and the Anderson Independent-Mail in South Carolina. He is past president of colleges and universities in four states. Books by Hopkins currently available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble include “Journey to Gettysburg” and “The Wounds of War,” both Civil War-era novels, and “The World As It Was When Jesus Came.” Contact him at email@example.com.