Being retired, one has time to think. Being retired, during a pandemic one has even more time. Therefore, I determined that I would recollect things which happened in my youth. For example, when I was a very young sprout, there were a number of people in my neighborhood who did not have a refrigerator. What they had was an ice box, which lasted forever since it didn’t really have any working parts. What it had was a large section in which you put a big block of ice which then kept food more or less cold. The best part for kids was when the ice man came. He would use ice tongs to pick up a big ice block that he would take into the house. Once he did that the kids would crowd around and grab pieces of ice – which were probably unsanitary. However, on a hot day the chips were bliss!
Back then Cracker Jacks were not the only thing that had a prize in them – although the Cracker Jacks prizes were kind of neat. However, a lot of goods had prizes in them. For example, most of the powdered laundry soap (soap not detergents) had gifts in them. It could be dishes, glasses, tea towels or you name it. Every mother would pick up her Oxodol. Rinso, Super Suds or what ever and collect the bounty. Kids, naturally looked to the cereal boxes for their toys. Pep (which is no more) had airplanes that you built and stuck a penny in the nose. They were supposed to fly, but seldom did. However, they were models of World War II fighter planes so that was all that was necessary. Other cereal boxes also had rings, secret code information and an amazing assortment of objects to keep a kid entertained.
You could also go to a soda fountain establishment that sold ice cream. You often had the opportunity to get a nickel cone that would have a paper around it.You would then carefully peel off the paper and perhaps find that you had a free cone the next time you came. It was also possible to buy an Eskimo Pie on a stick and when you were done find a “free” imprinted on the stick for your next one. By the way, to return to the present, if you want an Eskimo Pie today you had better hurry up as the company is changing the name to who knows what to better conform to today’s standards.
I must not forget to mention service stations. They called them “service stations” since when you pulled in to the pump the attendant would fill your tank, and then check the oil, water and your tire pressure for you. There was one chain of stations in the Pittsburgh area that went even beyond that. I do not remember the name of the chain, but after you filled your tank and paid for the twenty cents a gallon gas, you could go to their outside display of dinnerware. You were able to select a plate, bowl, cup or whatever you needed and take it home with you. It wasn’t too long before you could have a serving set for four. They were pretty nice dishes too.
I wonder what the kids of today will remember way down the road? Maybe, the hardship of having parents home school them! Bet their memories will not be as good as ours!
Villager Barry Evans writes about Life in The Villages.