What do you see out of your window today?


One way to look at aging - although somewhat differently - is to consider how much has changed during our lifetime. The truly extreme changes were brought home to me some years ago when my wife and I attended a Grandparents Day when our grandson was in about fourth grade. Questions the students asked, and especially their reaction to our responses, put a different perspective on how we lived as youngsters. The party line telephone boggled their minds. Could people really listen in on your phone calls? There were different rings for each party. When you picked up the phone to make a call and someone else was talking - what did you do? There was no such thing as Little League. A few kids got together in a vacant lot in the neighborhood, chose up sides and played ball. But the game always stopped on the rare occasions when an airplane flew. That was an event. I remember my father took me to Bethany where there was a small airport with a grass runway. We watched the planes take off and land. In grammar school the children asked if we had air conditioning in the classrooms. Sure! We opened the windows. What about fans in the rooms. One grandparent said yes. She went to school in India. Girls played jump rope. Double Dutch was a favorite. The boys didn’t even watch. There was also hop scotch which required someone coming up with a piece of chalk to draw the lines. Most of us can’t forget the old ice boxes with the large pan under it to catch the melting water. If you forgot to empty the pan it was a disaster. We lived on the third floor of the house and put a sign in the window to let the iceman know how many pounds to deliver. The card had 25 and 50 on one side and 75 and 100 on the other. The milk man delivered daily. You would put a note in one of the empty bottles if you wanted to change the normal order. In the winter the milk would start to freeze and push the cream up out of the bottle if you didn’t take it into the house early. The milkman used a horse and wagon and changed to a wagon on runners to cope with the snow. There were no supermarkets. You walked to a corner grocery. The clerk put everything in a big paper bag after first using a soft lead pencil to write the cost of each item on the bag. Then it was added up and you paid cash or charged it. There were no credit cards. We had coal furnace. The truck couldn’t get close to the house to dump the coal into a chute into a bin in the basement. My job was to count the number of bags of coal (I think they were 20 pound bags) to make sure we got the right amount. Another job was to shift the ashes. In that way we could salvage the coals that had not burned and use them again. Talk about air pollution! The dust rose all the way to the third floor. The ashes were saved and put on the sidewalk in the winter. There was no television. We listened to the radio with all of its sound effects, doors opening, horses running, glass breaking. Oh yes, and then there was the movies usually on Saturday afternoons. There were two features (the main movies), Movietone news, a cartoon, a serial which made you come back the next week to see what happened, coming attractions. It took the whole afternoon. Sometimes you stayed to watch one of the movies a second time. We thought life was great.

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 air-conditioning,coal furnace,double dutch,Grandparents Day,ice man,jump rope,Little League,milk man,Movietone,party line telephone
  Waterbury, CT
Jun 16 1940


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