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Howdy DoodyEditor’s Note: This from a friend, with a little bit of editing from yours truly:

Growing up isn’t what it used to be, is it? But how you feel about what follows may depend on just when you grew up! And whether today you’re running 10Ks or practicing tai chi.

Someone asked me the other day, “What was your favorite fast food when you were growing up?”

“We didn’t have fast food when I was growing up,” I responded.  “All the food when I was growing up was . . . slow.”

“C’mon, seriously? Where did you eat?”

“It was a place called ‘at home,’” I said.  “Mom cooked every day and when Dad got home from work, we sat down together at the kitchen table, and if I didn’t like what she put on my plate I was allowed to sit there until I did like it.” By this time, the kid was laughing so hard I was afraid he was going to suffer serious internal damage. I didn’t tell him the part about how I had to have permission to leave the table.

But here are some other things I would have told him about my childhood if I figured his system could have handled it:

Some parents never owned their own home. If they did, the mortgage was small. And they paid it off. And they never were foreclosed on or kicked out of their home.

They never wore Levis, never set foot on a golf course, never traveled out of the country or had a credit card. In their later years they did have something called a revolving charge card. The card was good only at Sears Roebuck. Or maybe it was Sears & Roebuck. Either way, there is no Roebuck anymore. Maybe he . . . moved on.

My parents never drove me to soccer practice. This was mostly because we never had heard of soccer.

I had a bicycle that weighed probably 50 pounds. It only had one speed. Slow.

We didn’t have a television in our house until I was 14. It was black and white. The station went off the air at midnight, after playing the national anthem. It came back on the air at about 6 a.m. It usually began with a locally produced news and farm show featuring local people.

I was 17 before I tasted my first pizza; it was called “pizza pie.” When I bit into it, I burned the roof of my mouth and the cheese slid off, swung down, plastered itself against my chin and burned that, too. It’s still the best pizza I ever had. At a place called Micelli’s. It’s still there, but I’m not sure if Micelli is.

Pizzas were not delivered to our home, but milk was.

I never had a telephone in my room. The only phone in the house was in the kitchen and it was on something called a party line. Before you could dial, you had to listen and make sure some people you didn’t know weren’t already using the line.

All newspapers were delivered by boys and most boys delivered newspapers. I delivered a newspaper, seven days a week. It cost 10 cents a paper, 25 cents on Sunday. I got to keep 2 cents. I had to get up at 5 a.m. every morning, before the TV programming came on (and the family pet Cocker Spaniel would make sure I did). Some Sundays my little sister would help me because I had almost twice as many Sunday papers to deliver as dailies. On Saturdays, I had to collect the 95 cents from my customers. My favorite customers were the ones who gave me $1 and told me to keep the change! My least favorite customers were the ones who seemed to never be home on collection day.

Movie stars kissed with their mouths shut. At least, they did in the movies. There were no movie ratings because all movies were responsibly produced for everyone to enjoy viewing, without profanity or violence or most anything offensive.

And the only metal on people’s faces were on their teeth. And only girl’s had holes in their ears, and no more than one per ear, and not big enough to see through.

If you grew up in a generation before there was fast food, and when those who were nominated to run for President were trustworthy and presidential, you may want to share some of these memories with your grandchildren.

Just don’t blame me if they bust a gut laughing. Or look at you like you’re strange. Very strange.

Or just maybe some of them look at you with envy. Whether or not they admit it.

Today, kids have the “advantage” of growing up with cell phones, computers, electronic games, social media, etc., etc. But their Halloween treats have to be run through a metal detector. And they can’t walk to school by themselves.

Growing up isn’t what it used to be, is it?


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  • I died laughing at the pizza bit!
    I remember my first pizza too. I was probably 15 or 16.
    And same here…NO fast food until we were old enough to buy it ourselves. (Baby-sitting money: $ .50 per hour was a deal back then!)
    Ah, the good old days…when kids played outside in the dark and parents didn’t worry about them getting kidnapped or killed.
    Like I said in your last blog, Ron. We need a bigger basket.

  • I can totally identify with each and every aspect of this piece, including Micelli’s on Las Palmas Street in Hollywood right across from something else nobody sees anymore–a block long magazine stand where I spent a lot of time. I have a theory that the advent of TV has ruined society, especially in America. And now a TV icon is in line to possibly become the president of the United States, which proves my point.

    • Except for posting at the hour those young boys would have been rising to run their newspaper routes (!), you are not alone in identifying with this piece. I have received more comments, online and off, to this blog than any I have done.

      A little smaller than the one to which you refer, but I bet you will also remember the similar magazine stand on Robertson Boulevard (at the southeast corner of Pico and Robertson, outside the the large grocery market, both long gone).

      As a youngster, I used to go to SC football games in the Coliseum on Saturday afternoons. Here I am in Dallas for the day to watch SC play Alabama! Some traditions persevere!

      Thanks for sharing your insightful TV theory. The old SC games were at noon, and could only be caught on the radio. Today’s game is in the evening on prime time TV.