Saturday, June 12, 2010

Growing Older With "Grays"

I think we a set like each of these at one time or another in our house when I was growing up. TV's were like pieces of furniture some as big as a love seat. Ours always had a set of rabbit ears on top with aluminum foil crumpled around the end of the never seemed to help but we fiddled with it endlessly and no one dared to take it off.

I remember when we got our first color set...I thought my Dad must have surely struck it rich. Happens he just struck a deal with someone on a used color set.
When I was a kid there were three channels (not counting PBS that we only watched in school for our Spanish lessons.) Channel 2 channel 5 and channel 11. That was wonder no one had bothered to invent a remote control yet.
When Ted Turner came along with WTCG (before it was WTBS) we had a new station to watch. Problem was there was nothing NEW on it to watch. Their repertoire was "The Three Stooges" "The Little Rascals" "Roller Derby" and old cartoons. But it was a new channel and all us kids were mesmerized. It wasn't a VHF channel but a UHF channel which meant the picture was even fuzzier and you could crunch and re crunch the aluminum foil on the rabbit ears but 'kinda' fuzzy was the best you'd get.
Ted later on changed it to WTBS and a star was born! He added "Let's Go to the Races" with Freddie Miller emceeing a horse race from who knows when that you could get little tickets for at the A&P and hope your horse won. I never knew anyone who had a winning ticket but he also added "Blondie and Dagwood" to his line up and it was our favorite channel as kids.
We never had an ice maker either. We had the little metal trays with the handle you pulled up to loosen the ice. I remember when the plastic trays came out and once again I thought my Dad had struck it rich. All you had to do was bend them from side to side and the ice popped out like magic!
We had one phone, a black rotary dial hanging on the kitchen TV set, in the living room and my mother bought one six pack of cokes to last a whole week. Everyone got one coke and since there were five of us my Dad got two. (maybe he WAS rich.)
Times were simpler and sweeter. If something was broken my Dad fixed it. If we needed new clothes my Mom sewed them. Our car was never new, most of the times embarrassing and my Dad worked on them as well. I remember the time he bought a new (used) station wagon with an electric back window right before we went on vacation. My brother , sister and I sat in that wagon all day before we left on our trip, mesmerized by the fact that you could push a button and the back window would roll up and down on command. We woke up at 4AM to get on the road early. Our cars didn't have air conditioning and it was best to get an early start in the middle of July leaving Atlanta and heading to Panama City. The car was loaded and we all got into our seats. My father hit the ignition and nothing happened.
We had played with the automatic window so much the night before that we drained the battery. My Dad was furious as we all got out to push our wagon off to jump the engine while my Mom sat behind the wheel. In the words of Jackie Gleason..."And AWAAAY we go!"
I honestly don't know if my three kid's could have made it growing up in the 50's and 60's. Kids are so spoiled today. The kids of rich parents are ridiculously spoiled and my own kid's growing up in middle class aren't far behind.
The past year has been a wake up call to them and in my mind that is a good thing. They now realize how lucky they have been and know for the first time in their young lives that "Life ain't easy."
When I was a kid you played in the dirt til you were old enough to learn how to ride a hand me down bike so big that your feet didn't even touch the ground. We skated the streets in skates you strapped onto your tennis shoes and tightened with a key. We did move on to white shoe skates (black ones for boys) and once again I just KNEW my Dad had been made vice president of SOMETHING!
We never dreamed of helmets or knee pads...that was what Bayer aspirin and Mercurochrome were for.
If you had told me when I was a ten year old little girl listening to a transistor radio and writing in my diary that I would have three kids one day, they would all have cell phones and TV's with remotes in their you know what I would have said?
"That means I'm gonna be really rich!"
No wonder I so much gray hair. No wonder neither of my parents did. My Dad died when he was 77 and hardly had any gray at all.
I don't know if I am growing old with grace but I am certainly growing old with grays.
Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't change my life for anything.
I WOULD like to transport all three of my kids back to 1960 for just one day. Wouldn't THAT be a hoot?? I 'd love to see them trying to text me on a rotary dial phone. Do you know how impatient they would get just waiting for the dial to click back around when they had to dial the O ?
Til next time...a time warped COTTON

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