During a conversation with a man in his mid 30’s, he asked what was my favorite fast food when I was growing up in Pittsburgh, PA. I explained we didn’t have any fast food when I was growing up. By comparison, all food was regular every day slow food, cooked from scratch.
The man knew we didn’t have todays modern technology, but no fast food? I explained we ate at home every day when Dad came home from work. Mom cooked every day after work and we ate a family dinner together every night. We all pitched in to clear the table, Mom hand washed the dishes, we dried them with a kitchen towel and returned them to the kitchen cupboard.
One of the first eat in or take out eating places was a pizza restaurant. The pizza pie was so different than Mom’s family meals, we were all anxious to have a pizza treat. It was served hot with gooey cheese and a choice of extra toppings.
The big event, during my days in elementary school, was to go to the VETS hall to watch television on Tuesday evening. The Milton Berle show was on. That’s right. One show, one channel. We bought a floor model television when I was about 9 years old. By then there were several evening shows, all for family watching. Ratings weren’t necessary. The rest of the time, turning on the TV meant watching a circular test pattern.
Telephones were our link to friends and family. Before dialing we had to listen to make sure someone else was not talking on the party line. Private one party phone lines were developed years later. Our phone was attached to the kitchen wall so we could sit down on a chair at the table and be comfortable while talking. It was not a private, portable set up.
Purchases were paid for in cash or by checks. Credit cards had not been invented. Personal bankruptcy was not available as a way out of greedy spending. We knew that if we took care of our money, it would take care of us. Sears probably invented the first credit card to be used only in their stores.
I had a sturdy bicycle with one speed, which today would be called slow. After taking a typing class in high school, I decided a typewriter would be helpful since some of the teachers were requiring a typed assignment for homework instead of a handwritten submission. I sold my bicycle to buy a manual typewriter. Bartering skills were helpful to satisfy trades and compromises.
All newspapers were delivered by neighborhood boys after school. They rode their bikes to the customers house and threw the paper to the front door. Once a month the paperboy would come to the door, hand the newspaper to Mom and exchange it for cash to pay the monthly bill. Even though tips were optional, most people gave a few extra coins. People in the neighborhood looked out for each other.
Those memories are some of the best parts of my life.
Growing up isn’t what it used to be, is it?