Memories Of Our Youth, by Rich Paschall
If you are over 21 what do you remember from your youth that is no longer around today? If you are under 21, I am guessing you can remember your childhood well and most things are still around. If something has already disappeared, by all means, comment below.
For some of us, the early days are in the distant past. You know, as in history. While some things may stay fresh in our memories, for other things we have to look at old pictures, or Google 1950s or 60s to look up things on the internet. This is to jog our memories of toys, stores, and technology that have gone away. I will try to stick to memory. If I start looking things up, I could probably fill multiple articles here.
Toys have certainly changed. I remember a toy box, a big wooden container, that held many toys. I can not recall when that went away, probably on one of our many moves. We had toys made out of wood as well as a stuffed animal or two (or three). I remember small plastic toy soldiers. They were green and very durable. Toy soldiers were popular then.
Outside we would get down in the dirt and play. I do mean dirt, not on the grass. Trucks and tractors were fun. My friend next door had a farm set and we could create a farm, as if we had any idea what they were like. Marbles were fun too, but I didn’t like games where we would bet. I did not want to lose any “cat’s eyes” or “boulders.”
We had skates that attached to our shoes. Oddly enough you could not use gym shoes or just any old shoes. You had to have shoes with soles on them so the clamps would go over the edges. It was great fun to go to the roller rink where they had shoe skates. When we were older we were able to get our own skates. I think I was in seventh grade when I got mine and I went skating often. There are few roller rinks left in the metro Chicago area and none nearby.
Inside we could enjoy television on our giant 19-inch black and white television. Sometimes the picture did not come in too clearly, especially channel 2 (CBS) and we would have to play with the antenna until we got a better picture. I was the remote control. I would have to get up and go to the televisions to “fix” the antenna, turn the volume up or down and change the channel. There were only 5 channels when I was very young, so there was not a lot of channel hopping.
Transistor radios were important when we became teenagers. They were about the size of a cell phone, but a lot thicker. They would run on 9-volt batteries, not some thin rechargeable lithium-ion thing. We were cool when we could carry around something that played music. This was our idea of “cutting the cord.” Chicago had two radio stations blasting our rock and roll off their 50,000 watts of power. AM rock and roll stations have gone away.
Before the days of VHS recorders and digital cameras, I had a Super 8 camera. It was allegedly a step up from the standard 8-millimeter cameras and film. The film was in a cartridge and did not have to be threaded in the camera. I wish I still had mine as I think it would earn some good money on eBay. Despite what some film buffs may tell you, 8 and super 8 are not coming back.
Have you seen the video of young people trying to figure out how to use a rotary phone? I am not sure it isn’t a put on, but then again when would people under 21 have seen one? In a movie? Would landlines even accept the pulses generated by such a phone? I do have an older push-button phone I bought at Sears many decades ago. It’s plugged into my Magic Jack so it works a lot like a landline. There no reason to have an actual landline anymore, is there?
My first computer was a Commodore 64. It was a step up from the Vic-20 which somehow operated on tape. The C64 used the large floppy discs and had a whopping 64 KB (kilobytes) of RAM (random access memory) and 20 KB of ROM. Yes, it was not very powerful, and if you wanted it to do more than play simple games, you had to write the code yourself. It was not practical, but owning your own computer was a novelty and I suppose they were relatively inexpensive.
At home, there were no CDs or tapes for our music. We had 45 and 33 1/3 RPM records. The 45 typically had one song per side, while 33 1/3 were albums with about half of the songs on each side. The numbers represented the speed or “revolutions per minute,” the record was to be played. A good turntable and quality speakers were a must as we got older. People will still tell you today that vinyl records on a good system represent the best sound for music. Now the problem is you need many cabinets full of heavy records to store the same amount of music you can keep on your phone.
One important thing missing from modern society is the phone booth. Yes, there were little booths on the street with pay telephones. In an era before cell phones, these were very handy for urgent calls. As they started to disappear we became concerned about Superman. You may not know this, but before the 21st Century, the phone booth was a necessary commodity for saving the world. You see, Clark Kent would go into a phone booth and take off his clothes and his Superman outfit was underneath. Seriously!
No, I don’t know what happened to the nice suit he left in the phone booth. Maybe some homeless man got it. And yes, I do think it must have been uncomfortable to have that cape under his shirt. Since the common phone booth was glass on all sides, I am surprised that no one ever noticed in Metropolis a man in a phone booth taking off his suit. I do know that Clark Kent was remarkably good at doing this in a very confined space. What does he do now, I wonder?