Thursday, December 31, 2009


We’ve been conversing about other times, simpler times, my friend Janie and I, and of the things we miss in this fast-paced, ipod, texting, wheatgrass, flashmob, WarGames, CGI, please hold, Muzak, next, please, sugarfree, non-fat red tape Bluetooth white flag greenpeace black Monday Yellow Pages agent orange purple Jesus twitter tweet world.

You can follow her list, with photos, in her blog:

During our e-mails today, she added these, as well:
Ice cold Cokes in the little bottles (it never tasted so good!)
Wurlitzer jukeboxes with the pretty lights
Sonny and Cher
Flip Wilson
Father Knows Best
Old time tent revivals with rickety wooden benches
Burma Shave signs
Full service gas stations
Crinolines and bobby socks
The Smothers Brothers tv show
Debbie Reynolds in the Tammy movies
Tommy Sands

I’ll concur, and add a few of my own, since we’re reminiscing. I MISS:

Grady Nutt---Miss Minnie Pearl---Walter Cronkite---Gladys Taber---church bells--- Christopher Reeve---Beah Richards---chenille spreads---Pam & Jerry North---the scent of the earth at First Turning---orange popsicles---Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific---Kraft Theater---going caroling---Richard Boone---All-Day Singin's and Dinner on the Grounds---screen doors with springs---Andy Williams---letters in the mailbox---Martha Rae---mud pies---snow cream---caftans ---the scent of burning leaves---Rob and Laura---vanity skirts---John Ritter---Plum Nuts ice cream--- throwing bread to the bears---hayrides---Vacation Bible School---watermelon cuttings---black telephones---TAXI---those prickly Christmas corsages with artificial greenery and pinecones---Gilmore Girls---Andy Sipowicz---pink Desert Flower lotion---individual iced cakes at parties---crew cuts---wooden ironing boards---real clothespins---Alfred Hitchcock Presents---Mr. Rogers---the scent of Coppertone---Imogene Coca---Fred Waring---Alice at Tea in My Cup---jerky, screechy black-and-white Julia Child on Saturday afternoon---Miss Frances and Ding Dong School---Twilight Zone---mercury thermometers---the REAL Monday-Night lineup which included Designing Women and Hearts Afire, and culminated in Northern Exposure.
Reaching into a cooler or a Coke-box---the kind with lift-up lid and the vague scent of salty metal, with the arctic water and floating ice surrounding the little glass bottles of Coke.

The old pump-organ which occupied one whole wall of my Mammaw’s “middle room,” with its furbelows and fancy carvings, the old rough keys yellowed as horses’ teeth, and the decades of layers of hanging hats, pincushions, ribbon, bias tape, seam binding, tape measures, Cardui calendars, tussy-mussies, hatpins and dogtags giving it the look of a melted closet. I know I dusted the thing---I REMEMBER dusting it---I just can’t think HOW. I’d sit on the floor, put both feet onto the pedals, and pump madly for a moment, then hop up onto the stool, and quickly one-finger through “Ju-ust As I . . .” before the air supply wheezed silent.

Our little corner “caffay” with the floor of inch-square black-and-white tiles, where the eight turquoise boomerang-formica booths and six counter-stools served thousands of those sublime mustard/pickle/onion crinkle-paper hamburgers over the years, and a little steel sherbet-cup of vanilla ice cream with a string of Hershey’s syrup was the most elegant dessert on Earth.

And speaking of ice cream---there’s nothing to compare with a hot Sunday afternoon out under the mimosas, cranking up a freezer or two of banana ice cream---Eagle Brand, whole milk and a big hand of smooshed bananas---to serve soft and rich into wide soup bowls. I can feel the dust-heat and hear the scrape of those spoons.

Net or organdy or dotted Swiss skirts on kidney-shaped vanities. I coveted one of those with my whole heart; the trendy teen across the street had one, with a chair to match---it looked as if our town seamstress had made a housecall to stitch Spring formals onto both pieces of furniture.

The ladies-in-black at the really elegant clothing stores in the larger towns. I imagined they had a training school for these take-no-prisoners, brusque women, like some sort of college with courses in “No-nonsense” and “Abrupt.” They all wore their glasses on chains around their necks, had crisply-permanented or upswept hair, and wore thick-heeled old-lady laceup shoes; every look at you seemed delivered through a lorgnette. Thank goodness I was only there to hold Mother’s purse.

Sample sizes. The tiny lipsticks, usually white plastic, about as big as a good squeeze of toothpaste, with a teensy real cover and a tiny cylinder of real lipstick---the ends usually flat on two sides, like a roof on an elf-house. The little pots and jars of real cold cream and moisturizer and astringent, and wee stoppered drams of cologne---the real stuff, not those magazine tear-outs or those nose-clogging “cards” foisted out by brittle women in Nordstrom and van Maur.

Dishes in products---many a little home kitchen was furnished with one-at-a-time wheat-pattern dishes from boxes of Duz, and I once had quite a nice collection of pale blue glassware---goblets to juices, extracted carefully and excitedly each week from boxes of Rinso, the powder as blue as the glass. Gas stations had dish-a-week giveaways, too, with a fill-up.

Cartoons and newsreels and the Saturday serial at movies. This new practice of  filling up the gaps before and between shows with thunderous car and Coke ads, and the seat-shaking noise of “trailers” for twenty minutes just isn’t the same, somehow.

Waitresses in uniforms, especially pink ones---nylon a bonus. Extra points for Dr. Scholl’s shoes and a pencil through the perm.

The scent of old-time grocery stores, with hints of spice and onion skins and the arid crisp dustiness of dried beans, the pungent hit of flyspray, the exotic float of musk from the big hanging stalk of bananas, and the sweet vanilla/licorice/chocolate mingle of the candy case. All enhanced, of course, by a flappy screen door with a green-painted metal “Nehi” or “Grapette” guard-strip just at hand height. Bell optional, but gratifying.

It seems I must have had a word-quota to use up, and I’ve just flung them all out amongst you on this last day of the year.

They come with warmest thanks for dropping in, passing by, speaking out, or in any other way participating in this odd and wonderful possibility called the Internet.

I look forward to the days ahead, full of promise, and wish you all well and warm and happy in the New Year.



Southern Lady said...

What wonderful old memories you have so eloquently conjured this morning, Rachel. I have a couple more to add and then I promise to stop: (1) Captain Kangaroo and (2)A & W Drive-Ins where you could get huge frosted glasses of root beer and the best hamburgers and "curly-Q french fries" in the whole world. Not to mention, making "laps" and seeing and being seen by all your friends. Ahhhh ... the good old days!

Thank you for the trip down memory lane. May your new year be filled with happy times and memories as sweet.

Keetha said...

What a great post! I loved walking down memory lane with you. You write so well and so evocatively.

I miss The Pig Stand on Highway 49 in Belzoni, Mississippi.

I miss quiet and having to rely on your imagination to pass the time.

Keetha said...

I forgot one: I miss the cards in library books you used to have to sign. I loved looking to see who else had read the book I was about to check out and liked th eidea of someone looking at my name later. I always signed it with a flourish.

Kouign Aman said...

Keetha, yup!

RachelDear, you need an Avon lady. They still provide an ample supply of "The tiny lipsticks, usually white plastic, about as big as a good squeeze of toothpaste, with a teensy real cover and a tiny cylinder of real lipstick---the ends usually flat on two sides, like a roof on an elf-house. ... and wee stoppered drams of cologne".

I miss peaches in the grocery store. Whatever it is that shows up now looks just like a peach, but isnt one.

Southern Lady said...

I love the picture of the organ, Rachel. That, too, brought back old memories of one my aunt and uncle had at their weekend getaway cabin deep in the Louisiana woods. I spent many happy (and sometimes frustrating) times as a child trying to play it.

Kim S. said...

Rachel – we had those tiny Co’colas on Christmas eve. A tradition in my family ever since my Pop Denson would go get crates of them at the big Coke plant. He’d ice them down on the 23rd so they would be good and cold for his and Aunt San’s Christmas Eve party. And I should have known that you were a friend of the North’s. Every time I get to NYC, I look for signs of them.