Inside the Brown Bag

By Peg Brown

The Things Not Missed

“People seem to get nostalgic about a lot of things they weren’t so crazy about the first time around.”—Author Unknown

We already know this is not my 40th birthday or even my 40th reunion—and certainly not my 40th anniversary (unless you add two marriages together)… Nope! This is the 40th column—or around that number, I think.

As I read the above quotation, I thought perhaps this unknown author might have been reading my columns. Over the past several years, I have written about 50,000 words waxing nostalgic over a way of life lost when I left Ogdensburg at age 17 and never returned for more than two months, two weeks or a few days at a time. I must also add that the subjects of those columns might indicate that I am a bit of a Luddite—“Those that are opposed to, or slow to adopt or incorporate new technologies, computerization or automation” into their lifestyles. That’s probably best confirmed by the fact that I just started using a smart phone this past Christmas when it was thrust upon me by well-meaning family Santas. (Trust me, I was not happy—especially when it was accompanied by another package presenting a Fitbit!)

So, I’m taking a break from nostalgia and making a list of things I DON’T miss about those good ol’ days.

Getting up and walking to the television every time Dad wanted to change the channel;
Washing and drying dishes—by hand. (In spite of the fact that my Mother never had a dishwasher until she moved into independent living, it would be the first thing I would install—even before a washing machine.)
Sleeping on brush rollers under a bouffant hair dryer;
Getting dressed under the flannel sheets in the morning because there was no direct heat on the second floor;
Turning on the oven every time I wanted to warm something up;
Fearing the whistling pressure cooker would explode as we were making a boiled dinner;
Taking clothes off the line after they had frozen;
Hanging clothes on the line—any time;
Making coffee in a machine that used actual grounds instead of pods;
Crank windows (in cars);
Stick shifts—(actually that’s a lie; I’ve had a stick shift most of my life until the muscles in my leg started to rebel every time I used the clutch);
Telephone operators and party lines;
No copy machines— (I can’t even remember how we made copies of documents we needed to save—unless we used that dreaded carbon paper and flimsy tissue);
Racing home from school to get the milk before it froze and the cream popped the cardboard top;
Push button cash registers—(my very first job was as a grocery clerk—you actually had to type in every price for every item);
Girdles—(I think I mentioned this before—but I am grateful for Spanx!);
Refrigerators where you had to open the door to get to the 12” X12” freezer compartment;
While I’m there—ice cube trays;
Non-air conditioned cars—actually, anything not air conditioned;
Linoleum floors that needed to be waxed and scraped periodically;
One family car;
AM only radio stations;
Just three television stations;
Orange juice that you had to defrost and mix with water;
Card catalogs;
One bathroom;
Department Store Catalogs—(okay, I’m a convert here—online shopping is just too easy—I do have to add that the highlight of our fall as children was the arrival of the Sears Christmas Catalog);
Fleas on my dog;
Non-high speed dentist drills;
Manual typewriters;
Payment books for major purchases;
Encyclopedias–(what did we ever do without Google?);
Push lawn mowers;
Bath rooms with no showers;
Coal furnaces (the real fear at Christmas was that I’d find just a lump of coal in my stocking—because, of course, Santa knew EVERYTHING);
Camps without running water and bathrooms;
No Coke Zero—or any other diet drink (well, there was TAB and Fresca when I was a teen-ager, and Metracal was just coming on the market);
Waxed paper and rubber bands for leftovers in the ‘frig’— (I am an environmentally challenged champion user of zip lock bags!);
Stacking records if you wanted to hear more than one song or one album;
Smoke filled restaurants;
Flat irons without steam and spray;
No calorie counts on food labels;
Stockings and garter belts;
Bellbottoms (which I think I wore in the ‘70s with a macramé belt);
Fallout shelters and air-aid drills where we huddled under our desks in elementary school;
Bouffant hairdos;
Not being able to fast forward through commercials;
Finding a roll of film and wondering what could be on it—then taking it to the drug store to be developed;
Making fudge without a candy thermometer (I never got the “soft ball” stage and we always had to eat the fudge with a spoon);
Home fries—(this needs an explanation: Mom worked as a secretary for a construction company during the building of the Seaway. Dad was charged with starting dinner at night before she got home. For over two years, we had home fries every day. To this day I can’t even order them for breakfast at the Donut King when we’re visiting.)
Bacon grease kept in an empty soup can on the sink to be used for frying (see home fries);
Washing your hair in the sink while kneeling on a chair;
Walking five miles up hill both ways to school in a blizzard—just kidding!

I’m sure you can add to this incomplete list. But, as this column is much shorter than most of my previous columns, maybe there are more things I miss than those I don’t. Shocking!