People are starting to call me Retro-Ernie because of all my articles dealing with “The Good Old Days.”
Well I can’t help myself; they really were good old days and to those young-uns reading this, let me tell you that some day you will be looking back on these present days as good old days. Believe me. Yes, we now have all kinds of sophisticated technological stuff that seems so great, but what does it really provide us? In the old days, television was free. Yeah, we only had three or four channels but Milton Berle, Arthur Godfrey and Friday night wrestling were all we needed.
The other day I was listening on my car radio to a station on the West Coast of Florida — WAVV in Naples. They were playing “easy listening” music and I was able to sing along with just about every song — Bridge over Troubled Waters, Dancing in the Dark, Blue Moon, etc., etc.
Try doing that nowadays. I watched the Grammy’s and could barely make out any of the lyrics, never mind sing along with them. So much for me being on American Idol.
There was a time that I actually looked forward to the postman coming. (They only were men then.) I might get a letter from someone or perhaps a commission check, but there always was something to look forward to other than a bunch of flyers offering pizza at special prices.
When I received a letter from someone, I had time to actually think about a reply. Now, when someone texts you they expect an immediate response. “I texted you 35 seconds ago and haven’t heard back yet!” (BTW, do you remember actually licking stamps?)
Everybody had electricity back then and no one ever thought about how much next month’s bill might be. It could be $14 or $15; who cares? I remember filling my car up with gas for $4 and asking my buddies to chip in a dollar each so we could drive someplace. No kidding! Remember pin-boys at the bowling alley? Trying to hit one with a ball or pin was part of the fun. (Hey, I was younger then.)
Flying: There was a time when you purchased a ticket from an airline, went to the airport, waited for them to announce your flight and then boarded the plane, Simple, huh? Then a stewardess, as they were once called, offered you a drink and choice of meal once you were on the way. The “stewardesses” were always young and cute too. (At least I thought they were.)
Here’s a tough one guaranteed to make me a few new enemies. Woman stayed home and took care of the house and children. I guess “Rosie the Riveter” changed all that. My mom always was waiting for me after I walked home from school with a bloody nose from John Batten punching me. My mother soothed things over and told me to stop fighting in the schoolyard.
We actually all ate dinner together at the end of the day, and not a fork was touched until Daddy got home at the same time every night. When is the last time any of you all sat down as a family?
Yes, I know women are now equal and are entitled to earn a salary so we can afford the new Lexus and Hi-Def TV, but I really liked having my mother at home. Oh, well!
Divorce: That was a word that only referred to Hollywood stars like Liz Taylor and others who were constantly changing spouses. We, and most comedians, would joke about it. Now I am sometimes embarrassed among friends when they start referring to wife No. 3 and husband No. 2. I have had only one for the last 49 1/2 years. People ask why and I explain because I always get the last word: “Yes, Dear.” Besides my wife doesn’t allow me to date, which severely restricts my social life. No, I only had one mom and dad and I loved them both!
Sports: We played baseball, football, hockey and just about every other sport and never had our parents around yelling at us or fancy uniforms. Nor did we care whether we were in first or last place. First base might be the garbage can lid, second an old phonebook, and if we had enough kids available, third would be and old carton. There was no Little League, Khoury League or any other league — just a bunch of kids who got together to knock a ball around and just plain have fun.
“Those were the days, my friend; I thought they’d never end.”