I remember when my Mom use to send my sibs and I to the corner store to buy a tube of toothpaste or a loaf of bread. We didn't have a lot of choices back then. Toothpaste was either Pepsodent or Colgate and the bread was either brown bread or white bread. Margarine was a novelty then because I remember my Mom had to add this packet of colouring to it and mixing it in her huge bowl. Yogurt and skim milk were unheard of and nobody talked about cholesterol levels or high blood pressure. Butter was added to everything, especially in baking and in basting the roasting turkey.
Family cars were either Ford or Chevrolet--Volkswagen wasn't available just yet and Toyota, Nissen and Honda were still on some future drawing board. Radio was a major form of home entertainment and television was slowly seeping in. Telephone party-lines were still a source of entertainment because anyone who called would have an audience and nothing was "secret." The phones were not push-button or computerized, but rotary or dialed. There were no computers, video games, iPhones, iPads or anything that hinted at a distant future. "The Man Who Came to Earth" was the sci-fi sensation to ever hit the screens because it was about a space visitor who looked like us and a few years later, "The Body Snatcher" was the sci-fi hit that scared us kids from eating broad beans. Saturday Matinees was where all the kids went on Saturday afternoons to watch Hop-a-Long Cassidy, Roy Rogers and Tarzan movies--to name a few. The only panhandlers on the streets were the few drunks who occasionally gave a dime to little kids who had a parent with them. Nobody went to the doctor at the first hint of any pain or discomfort. We all had home remedies we used first and when, even chicken soup failed, then, and only then, were doctors consulted. It was normal to have a vegetable garden or fruit trees you actually used. Bountiful harvests were generously shared with family, friends and neighbours or else, canned, preserved or jammed. Blackberries were edible berries, not an electronic. Mom always baked so we never knew store-bought cookies except at Christmas when we were gifted with tins of Peek-Frean. Comic books were a treat and often our allowances would be spent on our favourites. If my sibs and I had kept our comics in mint condition and sold them now, we would be comfortably rich. But of course, who knew? Our comic books were read and re-read 'til it was barely held together. At school, girls played grass hockey which was deemed lady-like and yet, active. I never thought it was a lady-like sport because there were too many girls who played by smacking their hockey sticks against their opponents' ankles rather than aiming for the ball. The boys had baseball and soccer. Girls weren't allowed to take automotive or woodworking classes while boys were not allowed to take cooking or sewing classes.
The reason I started reminiscing about all this is because the grandkids will never know the "hardships" that we endured in our childhood. These 21st century kids will never experience the thrill of collecting fresh eggs from the hens. It was a chore then, but looking back, it was fun too. The joy of digging up new potatoes or pulling young carrots out of the soil. Vegetables fresh off the vine or out of the ground were always tastier than anything bought in the produce section of the supermarket. These young kids were born knowing their electronics--iPads, iPhones, blackberries, interactive video games, etc. What once was a fantasy in "Dick Tracy,"--a comic strip detective, who wore a 2-way wristwatch as his communicator--is now a reality with micro-video screens on your wrist.
Health today is a major worry. It is no wonder stress and blood pressure escalates with every calory ingested. At times I feel as if I'm stradding two worlds and sometimes long for the simpler life with fewer choices. On the other hand, technology has come a long way and I have embraced my computer, email and basic cellphone. Shopping can be overwhelming with its multitude of choices, but when it comes to winter, it's nice to know we can have fresh fruits and vegetables from around the world. It's interesting to compare how much things have changed in my lifetime so far and how much more it will change in the grandkids lives. One day they'll look back, remembering all the simpler things in their childhood. And I like to imagine the grandkids giving a spiel to their offsprings, about the "good old days."