I am 77 and I recently started to remember things that used to be commonplace but that my children and grandchildren have never seen:
Snuff sticks and spittoons
Mule wagons in town
Greasy hair tonic for men and boys on Sundays.
When soft drinks came only in real glass bottles and you had to reach down in delightfully cold water to get one
Cotton fields everywhere and up to the edge of the road. Cotton presses in every town of any size that was on the railroad.
When newspapers were independent local voices
Real Southern orators with white coats and hats
When I saw my first foreign car (a Volkswagen)
When I had my first pizza (I was 18)
When the county courthouse was free to everyone and not a government fortress
When rolled down white socks were fashionable for girls
When college girls had to sign out and in
When college students lived without cars, apartments, and electronics.
Bib overalls worn by working men and boys, and in summer without shirts
Going barefoot most of the time in the summer
Tin roofs (delightfully restful in the rain)
Most roads were dirt except main ones.
Boys played with BB guns and lighter fluid
Boys spent all day unsupervised in the woods with rifles
Boys played sports, mowed lawns, and rode bicycles without helmets (and often without shoes)
When gas was 35 cents a gallon and no woman would be seen near a gas pump.
Everybody who lived in the country had multiple dogs that mainly slept under the house.
There was no television, no computers and only party-line telephones with the speaker you had to stand up to.
Nobody you knew had ever sent or received a long-distance call. Too expensive. We had “air mail” for important communications.
Nobody you knew had ever ridden on an airplane, unless in the military.
When a cup of coffee was a nickel or dime depending on how upscale you wanted to go.
When the weekly wash had to be “put through the ringer” and hung outdoors to dry.
Trolley cars powered by overhead wires.
Door deliveries by the milkman, the ice man (for non-electric ice boxes), the coal truck, and the telegraph boy.
Grammaw making biscuits every day from scratch.
Wagons taking cured tobacco to the auction house.
When hot dogs were 10 cents and milkshakes a quarter, along with 10 cent comic books. So, including bus fare you could have a great day downtown Saturday for one 50 cent piece and a nickel. Sometimes Grampa gave you an extra dime for another comic book, saving you from the tough decision between “Smilin’ Jack” and “Terry and the Pirates.” (Nobody, white or black) ever imagined a child alone downtown would be harmed.)
Clyde Wilson is a distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at the University of South Carolina He is the author or editor of over thirty books and published over 600 articles, essays and reviews