Being only 19, and living quite a full and busy youthful life, sometimes it helps ground me by talking to old people about what their lives were like when they too were young like wot I am.
I broke into an old people’s home started to chat to the first non-anorak I could find (As this wasn’t a secure mental unit, there weren’t that many anoraks). I asked the old lady for help on understanding what life was like for her as a child, and one of my questions was, “What was your favourite ‘fast food’ when you were growing up?”
“We didn’t have fast food when I was growing up,” she informed me, “All the food was slow.”
“Slow? Seriously?” I responded, “Where did you eat?”
“It was a place called ‘home,'” she explained. “Mum cooked every day and when Dad got home from work, we sat down together at the dining room table, and if I didn’t like what she put on my plate, I was allowed to sit there until I did like it. You probably don’t believe me, and I bet you don’t believe that in those days we had to ask for permission to leave the table, either.”
Anyway, I listened carefully to what she had to say as she described a time, place and society from the last century that sounded completely alien to me, not to mention a little scary.
Apparently, some parents NEVER owned their own house, wore Levi’s, set foot on a golf course, travelled out of the country or had a credit card. Honest!
Get this. She didn’t have a television in her house until she was 10. It was black and white, and the station went off the air at 10pm, after playing the National Anthem and Epilogue; it came back on the air at about 6pm the next day and there was usually a locally produced news and farm show on, featuring local people.
Can you believe that she never had a telephone in her room. There were no mobiles, of course. I knew that. But, the only phone was on a party line. Before you could dial, you had to listen and make sure some people you didn’t know weren’t already using the line. Why would you agree to have a phone like that?
There was no central heating, no microwave, and no freezers, although they did have a tiny fridge.
Here’s an important one. Pizzas were not delivered to her home… But milk was. Eh?
All newspapers were delivered by boys and all boys delivered newspapers. Her brother delivered newspapers seven days a week. He had to get up at 6am every morning.
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 most anything offensive.
A neighbour had a brand new car, and she remembers looking in and seeing head lights dimmer switches on the floor, ignition switches and choke on the dashboard. The driver used hand signals to indicate he was turning left or right.
She told me of trouser leg clips for bicycles without chain guards, and her father had a soldering iron he heated on a gas burner.
From my visit I compiled this Oldest Person in the World quiz. Get somebody old and read the items out to them. Give them a point for each item they actually remember, not things they were told about.
1. Sweet cigarettes
2. Coffee shops with juke boxes
3. Home milk delivery in glass bottles
4. Party lines on the telephone
5. Newsreels before the movie
6. TV test patterns that came on at night after the last show and were there
until TV shows started again in the morning. (There were only 2 channels [if you
8. 33 rpm records
9. 45 RPM records
11. Metal ice trays with lever
12. Blue flashbulb
13. Cork popguns
14. Wash tub wringers
How did they score?
If they remembered 0-3 = They’re still young, or going senile.
If they remembered 3-6 = They are getting older.
If they remembered 7-10 = Tell them not to mention their age out loud.
If they remembered 11-14 = They’re the Oldest Person in the World!