Kathy Bassett's column, "The View from Maybell," appears in the Saturday Morning Press.
I was talking to a friend in Craig a couple days ago, and we got to laughing so hard about how it was when we grew up. Our grandchildren never are going to realize what life was like back then.
How fun was it to be able to pick up your phone to call someone and there might be other people talking on the line. It was called a “Party Line.”
If you needed to make an emergency call, most folks were good about hanging up and letting you make your call.
If it wasn’t important, it was common practice to listen in and see what Aunt Lizzie or Uncle Harold was up to. Us children took turns calling stores, and asking them silly things such as, “Do you have Prince Albert in a can?”
If they replied they did, then we’d giggle and tell them to “let him out … he might smother.”
Or, we might call up a random number and tell them we were the sewer company, and we’d had just about enough out of them! We didn’t worry about getting caught because whoever heard of “caller ID?” Oh, we had fun on the phone.
I remember my grandma talking about pot. I don’t think she smoked it, though. It was something she kept under the bed to use in the middle of the night. It had a lid on it and was also known as a “honey pot,” among various other names.
To “brody out” meant to skid half a circle with your brakes locked up. A “brody knob” was a knob placed on your steering wheel allowing you to drive with one hand, leaving the other free to put around your date.
A “Chinese fire drill” was a car stopped at a red light and all occupants of the car got out and ran around it, then got back in the car while holding up traffic.
“Don’t have a cow” had nothing to do with cattle. It meant “Don’t flip your wig, don’t go “Ape,” or in other words, don’t get ”hacked” off.
And who could forget those jacked-up, far-out “blown” Chevy’s with the glasspacks that could really lay down some scratch in second gear?
A lot of families didn’t have television, only the rich ones. I remember a neighbor who had a TV, and then one day, they acquired “color” on their screen. Color TV back then meant you taped a sheet of some kind of clear plastic cover over the screen and the black and white picture then became partly red, partly blue and partly green.
Wow. Those without TV made up their own adventures and fun. We had to use our imaginations for many things, such as picking cherries, putting them on a safety pin attached to a long string and going down to the ditch to catch a fish.
Never caught anything but crawdads.
We’d have carnivals. Now, that took lots of imagination. But we sat up boxes and had different things to do such as popping balloons, throwing balls at cans, and the word would got out around town about the carnival on Walnut Street.
The rich guy with the “colored TV” actually even let us use his horse once to sell horseback rides to children coming to our carnival. Riding a horse was worth at least 3 cents even if the owner did lead the horse around.
There usually were five or six children putting on the carnival, so after a wonderful day of fun and adventures, we’d split the money up — usually about 15 cents each — and everyone would run to the neighborhood store and buy penny candy.
You could get a whole little sack full for 10 cents.
There were things such as root beer barrels, little wax bottles full of sugary liquid, and then you chewed the wax for gum, candy cigarettes, gum that would make your tongue green and just a whole bunch of stuff.
We’d load up the two or three things for a penny, and of course, it would take us a long time to pick and choose carefully each item that we bought.
Adults were allowed to spank their children and any other bratty child if the need arose and nobody sued.
Teachers were allowed to paddle children, and that was nothing compared to what you were going to get when you got home, so children tried to behave most of the time. I remember a child getting caught chewing green gum in school, which wasn’t allowed, so the teacher made him sit the rest of the day with the gum on his nose.
That’s not saying we were perfect angels.
I can remember several times whenever the folks would go to town or somewhere and leave us home to “behave ourselves,” and somehow or another, the other neighborhood children would congregate at our house and we’d all go upstairs and crawl out the bedroom window onto the roof of the kitchen.
Then we’d take turns jumping off the roof into the garden to see who could jump the farthest. Nobody ever broke a bone or got hurt, but I can’t imagine why not.