Thursday, February 7, 2013

Before fast food

[This came my way recently. It describes the world in which I grew up, and maybe it will resonate with some of you. I have added a few of my own recollections in italics.]

A young guy asked the other day, "What was your favorite fast food when you were growing up?"

"We didn't have fast food when I was growing up," I informed him. "All the food was slow."

"C'mon, seriously," he said. "Where did you eat?"

"It was a place called home,'' I explained!

"Mom cooked every day and when Dad got home from work, we sat down together at the kitchen table, and if I didn't like what she put on my plate I was allowed to sit there until I did like it."

By this time, the kid was laughing so hard I was afraid he was going to suffer serious internal damage, so I didn't tell him the part about how I had to have permission to leave the table.

But here are some other things I would have told him about my childhood if I figured his system could have handled it.

Some parents never owned their own house, never wore Levis, never set foot on a golf course, never travelled out of the country, or had a credit card.

My parents never drove me to soccer practice [or any other kind of practice]. This was mostly because we never had heard of soccer. [We called it football. Our one-room country school's entire array of sports equipment consisted of a soccer ball, a baseball bat, and a couple of softballs. It was all we needed, and we had fun.]

I had a bicycle that weighed probably 50 pounds, and had only one speed.

We didn't have a television in our house until I was 15. [It was considered a big purchase at the time. In fact, I remember that the TV store guy brought three big "console" sets over (Philco, Admiral, and Sylvania) and left them all at our house for a week so we could try them out. I am not making this up!]

It was, of course, black and white, and the station went off the air at midnight, after playing the national anthem. [Unless you could tune in one of the American channels, there was no "daytime TV," just the "Indian head" test pattern. TV viewing was something you did in the evening, when the chores were done and the dishes were washed, by hand.]

Pizzas were not delivered to homes, but milk was. [I had never tasted pizza before I went off to university.] 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's still the best pizza I ever had.

As a teenager, I never had a telephone in my room. The only phone in the house was in the kitchen and it was on a party line. Before you could crank to ring "central," who was a lady on a switch board in town, you had to listen and make sure some people weren't already using the line.

Movie stars kissed with their mouths shut. At least, they did in the movies. There were no movie ratings because all movies were responsibly produced for everyone to enjoy viewing, without profanity or violence or anything offensive.

If you grew up in a generation before there was fast food, you may want to share some of these memories with your children or grandchildren

Just don't blame me if they bust a gut laughing.


  1. With the exception of a couple of things in this post, this sounds exactly like my childhood! We certainly did eat all our meals at home -- together at the dinner table. And if you didn't like what came out of the pot....well...that was tough. It wasn't restaurant service :)

  2. I'm srill wondering about the fact that you got jawbreakers for a penny. I got 3 blackballs for a penny but jawbreakers were way too expensive in my town.

  3. Well, you must be MUCH younger and therefore suffered the devastating effects of inflation in jawbreaker prices.

  4. The little one-horse prairie town where I grew up was the last place in Manitoba to get rotary dial phones -- not until the mid-1970s fer gawd's sake! Until then we had party lines and weird phone numbers. Our number was 365-W. Our neighbours on the party line had 365-J.