Saturday, August 1, 2009


by Jo Robertson

I've decided that new and improved isn’t always better. Even though many improvements can make life easier and alleviate our work load, sometimes I just miss the "old way."

Here are some of the things I miss on occasion.

I miss hanging clothes out on the line, the whole ritual of shaking out the damp article, smelling the sweet cleanliness and, wooden clothespin in my hand or mouth, stretching the clothes tight on a rope.

I miss not having to decide among a gazillion shows to watch on Sunday night. Knowing that Ed Sullivan was THE thing to see and millions of people across the country were watching it at the same time as me. No Tivo decision-making!
I miss backyards without fences where you could wave to your neighbor every morning. Robert Frost says “Fences make good neighbors," but I don't think that's true.

I miss the neighborhood store (ours was the Cavalier Store in Hopewell, Virginia) where you could stop for a sweet treat or a grocery item, and everyone knew your name (Come to think of it, I miss Cheers too!). And you didn’t have to worry about some pervert snatching you up four or five blocks from your home.
I miss hand cranking the ice cream freezer on a hot summer night where every kid got a turn at making the ice cream.
I miss letter writing. Or maybe getting letters is what I really miss.

I miss eight or nine people piling in a car and going to the drive-in movie where the cost was per car instead of per person. And you brought your own chairs to sit out on the gravel and your own treats in a Styrofoam cooler.

I miss drug store counters where you could get a coke float for fifteen cents and sit on a high bar stool watching the lady make it.

What about you? Anything you miss that's gone by the wayside? Or anything you're grateful you no longer have to do?


Kate Carlisle said...

Uhhhh...I miss spending the day with the Golden Rooster???

Kate Carlisle said...

Great post, Jo! I miss the old Woolworth's and the drug stores with the ice cream counters, too.

And I miss the old Doughboy pool we had in the back yard every summer. It was big enough to fit every kid in the neighborhood -- until the sides would collapse. My dad would kick everyone out and set it up again and we'd do the same thing the next day. Goofy but fun. :-)

And I miss Walter Cronkite. I confess to being a news junkie but I often get so overloaded with news and commentary and opinions, I sometimes wish there was one guy who came on TV every night and just told me about the most important news items and let it go at that! LOL

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Kate, has he EVAH visited you before? He'll be excited to have someone new to torment...uh, get to know!

Jo, great post! Ooh, I miss a lot. I miss the fact that when I was a kid nobody ever locked their door. I miss the fact that we used to roam the area in perfect freedom - kids these days are so supervised.

Joan said...

Clothes hung on an outside line....priceless.

Oh, yeah. Miss that a lot! There is NOTHING like the scent of clothes after drying in the breeze and sunshine.

I miss a store similar to Woolworth's Kate. Here in Louisville it was called Murphy's.

They had a diner attached and after shopping for school supplies, craft supplies (think cotton thread for crocheting), toys and hamsters (It was a multipy purpose store, what can I say?) my Mom would take us in and we'd get grilled cheese sandwiches or chicken salad on toast.

I miss Murphy's

Kate Carlisle said...

Hey Anna, this is my first visit with the GR! He's doing copy edits for me! Snork!!

I vaguely remember those days when we didn't lock our doors. And we always walked to school by ourselves. That's just unheard of today.

Joanie, when I moved to the Valley, we had Quigleys, where among the usual school supplies and such, we could buy mice and goldfish (the real ones, not the snack), oilcloth for our craft tables, sewing patterns and supplies.

I miss sewing my own clothes. OMG, I just thought of that. :-)

sherrinda said...

I miss kids getting to run all over the neighborhood unafraid. I also miss the quiet of being untethered to a cell phone. (I know, I know....turn it off, but the kids always seem to need me when I do that!)

PJ said...

Congrats on nabbing that wascally wooster, Kate.

Brings back lots of good memories, Jo. I loved helping my grandma hang clothes on the line. Couldn't do that here if I wanted to. It's prohibited by our covenants and deed restrictions.

Both drug stores in my hometown had soda fountains. We had great fun experimenting with different types of drinks (chocolate cokes, anyone?) that were made from scratch with syrup and seltzer and chocolate malts that were to die for. I miss that.

I miss A&W drive-ins with ice cold root beer served in frosty glass mugs.

I miss those drive-in theaters too. The one I grew up going to is still in business but I live several states away.

Helen said...

Congrats Kate make him work hard then

Jo what a lovely post I still hang my washing on the line I don't have a dryer

And when we were growing up no one ever locked their doors and we never used the front door only visitors that didn't know us used the front door LOL
Something I really miss is all the kids out early Chrissy morning with their new things they got of Santa kids used to always be out together showing each other what they got but that just never hapens anymore.

Have Fun

Louisa Cornell said...

Congrats, Kate. You're letting HIM do your copy edits? Oh NO !!!

I'm with you, Jo! I miss so many things. I miss kids being able to run the neighborhood and get in trouble and then scatter back home swearing you had NOTHING to do with it. (As God is my witness I have no idea how that potato ended up in the motorcycle cop's tailpipe! That's been my story for 43 years and I am sticking with it! Brian if you rat us out you are a dead man!)

Actually I have a clothes line on my property and have been known to use it to dry my towels and bedclothes and quilts. Can't beat it!

I miss trips to the Woolworth lunch counter.

I miss walking down the lane to the little shop in England and buying Turkish delight and Smarties with our pocket change. (REAL Smarties with the chocolate inside.)

I miss the afternoon naps that our Mom used to make us take whether we were sleepy or not.

I miss good movies that do not insult my intelligence or pander to young people with the sense of humor of a twelve year old boy.

I miss summer vacations in the family station wagon with my folks, my brothers and a very fat dachshund. The drive to Pennsylvania was long, but we always had a good time.

Miss road trips to Biloxi or New Orleans when Roger and I lived in Mississippi. Sunday afternoon in the French quarter at Cafe du Monde reading the Times Picayune Sunday edition.

And I miss days spent in the University of Alabama library doing research on whatever struck my fancy. I LOVE libraries - real ones with shelf after shelf of old books and bound magazines and big leather couches to stretch out on while you read.

Julia Smith said...

I'm still hanging out my clothes. Nothing beats the scent of clothes from the clothesline. Mmm...

Susan Sey said...

Hey, Jo--

Great post! I do miss alot. I miss the thrill of opening a packet of pictures that had just been developed. I miss writing letters. I miss getting them, too. My husband & I have a disk of emails rather than a shoebox of pen & paper letters. And they're lovely. But it's just not the same.

I miss must-see TV--knowing that all your friends were watching the same thing you were at the same time & being able to talk about it the next day at school. Now people TiVo stuff & DVR it, or catch it on the internet & the collective experience is gone.

But I still hang my clothes out to dry when I can. They come off the line stiff as cardboard but they smell like sunshine & wind. Love it.

Susan Sey said...

Sherrinda wrote: I also miss the quiet of being untethered to a cell phone. (I know, I know....turn it off, but the kids always seem to need me when I do that!)

Oh, I feel that one! I HATE my cell phone. Really, really dislike being forced to be available when I want to be off the radar. But then something happens & I need a cell phone & I'm grateful I have the stupid thing.

But I don't have to like it. :-)

Janga said...

Oh, clothes lines! I miss those too and falling asleep on sun-dried sheets.

I miss eating green plums and front-porch sitting and the rhythm of paper fans in church on Sundays. And I miss family TV viewing--all those Saturday nights watching Have Gun, Will Travel and Gunsmoke with all five of us watching and talking.

Becke Davis said...

Kate! Congrats on the GR!

I am weirdly nostalgic for the mosquito fogging trucks (probably DDT) that used to drive through the neighborhood at night, their gold foglights making everything look like that night scene in ET. All the kids in the neighborhood used to come out and tag along behind the trucks.

For fun, we'd hang out by Ned Brown Forest Preserve, watching the planes take off from O'Hare. Those were the days we used to have school field trips to the airport, where we'd get to walk around in actual PLANES.

I miss the excitement of getting a new Nancy Drew book, or having a dollar to spend at Ben Franklin -- because I could buy one of those cool, all-color books about Huckleberry Hound or Quick Draw McGraw, or even a Trixie Belden, for 79 cents and have enough left to buy jawbreakers and Mary Jane candies.

But mostly, I like things the way they are now.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, I vote for hanging washing outside. For a start, it saves on the power bill. And the stuff comes off the line smelling so great!

Oh, Susan, I hear you on the cell phone.

I have nostalgia for Easter eggs only being on sale just before Easter. Made them much more special. I can remember how excited I was when they appeared in the shops.

Christine Wells said...

Oh, Jo, what a great post! Although I have to say I still hang clothes out on my Hill's Hoist washing line and I don't know that I'd miss that if I didn't have to do it!

I do miss the days where kids could roam the neighbourhood more freely than they do now. We'd say goodbye to our parents in the morning and not be home until sunset, except perhaps to grab a bite for lunch. Now, I worry about my children being taken from their own front yard. Not a lot, but I certainly make sure I know where they are. They're little yet, but I know they're not going to have the same childhood I had.

I miss real barbecues, fueled with wood and sticks we picked up from the ground under the eucalypt trees in the back yard. What I really miss is the sense of having all day to do nothing in. Maybe that's just a part of childhood, but I think life is just a much faster pace now and we're never going to recapture that.

Congrats on the rooster Kate!

Joan said...

Send over that mosquito truck, Becke.....I could use it!

Walked around my house the other evening checking my flowerbeds

Came in with 15 mosquito bites! I know, I know! Had the same thing happen in DC.

What can I say...I'm just so sweet...


Suz? Suz?

Beth said...

Fun post, Jo! Up until a few years ago, I hung all of our clothes out to dry (my mom still hangs out her sheets, towels and white clothes *g*) but too many allergies and too many bugs forced me to stop. I do love sheets fresh from the line, though!

Now that my eldest is a few weeks away from starting his senior year, I've found myself missing the days when he would snuggle with me in the mornings while I read and he watched Sesame Street. The way we worked on puzzles, played cars and make believe games for hours on end.

He was gone all last week and I actually missed the kid's drum playing! I'll be a wreck next fall when he heads off to college ;-)

jo robertson said...

Hi there, everyone. We had a Bandita snafu today in the Lair, but all's good now.

Kate, I think copy editing is a very good job for the rooster to take over. He should be earning his way now, don't you think?

Doughboys! How could I forget. The first pool we ever had was a doughboy, a huge one on a redwood deck. I'm shamed to admit that if the kids swum all day, I'd call that a bath and let them go to bed. Hey, it's all about shortcuts, right?

jo robertson said...

Ah, Anna, that's real nostalgia. Not locking doors is unheard of nowadays. Way too dangerous. I loved the small-town feeling that gives.

You don't dare leave your children unsupervised now. There's too much danger all around. Maybe it was there all the time and we're just more aware of it now.

jo robertson said...

LOL, Joanie. At first, I thought you were making fun of me! There is something so spring-time-ey about clothes hanging on the line. As a girl in Virginia where it rains at the drop of a hat, I remember the frantic race of getting the clothes off the line before they got soaked.

jo robertson said...

Joan said: I miss a store similar to Woolworth's Kate. Here in Louisville it was called Murphy's.

Murphy's! I love that name! But actually it sounds more like the name of a bar, an Irish bar!

Becke Davis said...

Joan - I know, there were some benefits to that bug spray!

jo robertson said...

Okay, Kate, I'm just totally envious of you. Sewing your own clothes. I did sew some of mine as a girl, but I was never the happy homemaker seamstress.

But I remember as a girl feeling like I'd finally arrived when I could set in a sleeve and a zipper. Big deal for a 14-year-old girl!

jo robertson said...

Sherrinda, my kids were just saying the other day how during the summer I send them outside in the morning and they'd play until it began to get dark without checking in. I never thought to worry about them. So sad we've lost that.

BTW, I love your name. My sister's name is Linda.

jo robertson said...

LOL, PJ, so funny about hanging out laundry being prohibited. Our neighborhood's supposed to prohibit parking cars on the street, but I've noticed lots of people don't abide by the rules.

Did A&W go belly up, then? I thought I still saw one the other day. The frosted mugs are the best idea! I keep a cold glass with ice in it in my freezer so I'll always be ready for my ice cold Pepsi! Learned that from A&W.

jo robertson said...

Oh, Helen, you've restored my faith in the power of the clothesline! Everyone once in a while, we'll go all GREEN and try to save energy by using one of those indoor drying racks, but we have sooooo much laundry.

We used to have a clothesline out back, but I'd always forget the laundry and the sprinklers would come on and soak them. Arrggghhhh!

jo robertson said...

Hi, Louisa/Pam, what lovely comments. You should've written this post today. Thanks for sharing.

Good for you, Julia. You're saving the earth one line of laundry at a time. And you're right; not much smells better than fresh laundry waving in the breeze.

jo robertson said...

Susan said: Now people TiVo stuff & DVR it, or catch it on the internet & the collective experience is gone.

That's so true. I love that phrase, "the collective experience."

There is something so lovely about old letters. I still have the love letters my husband wrote me.

And when I had my seventh child by C-section, I wrote each of the other six a special letter and left it on the mantle. The baby weighed 11 1/2 pounds and I just had a bad feeling about the surgery. Nothing happened, but the children still have their letters.

Silly and sentimental, but they enjoy them.

jo robertson said...

Susan and Sherrinda, I feel the same way about my phone at home. I don't want to answer it just because it rings!! But this compulsion comes over us and my husband and I scramble for it.

I really hate getting phone calls and talking on the phone, but I remember as a young mother spending hours on it. Probably to save my sanity. That was in the days when the phones were either desk or wall ones and you could get an extra long cord. Mine went about 60 feet LOL.

jo robertson said...

Oh, Janga, I loved Have Gun, Will Travel, mostly the song, I think. I went around the house singing it all the time, "a knight without armor in a savage land." Ha, ha.

Front porch sitting has definitely gone by the wayside in the face of technology. In fact, front porches are gone!! We don't have done although we do have a patio out back with a glider.

jo robertson said...

Great comment, Becke! Not a chance the kids would get near a plane now without a ticket!

When you say Easter Eggs, Anna, do you mean the chocolate ones? Everything's seasonal now, though, isn't it?

jo robertson said...

Christine said: Although I have to say I still hang clothes out on my Hill's Hoist washing line and I don't know that I'd miss that if I didn't have to do it!

That seems to be the key, doesn't it? If you HAVE to do it, there's no fun it is. It's just plain old work.

Ah, I think that all-day thing is one of the wonderful parts of childhood, although I do see children having far little unstructured time nowadays. I think those are the times we learn to be creative.

jo robertson said...

Got a little mosquito problem, Joan? Why is it that some people attract them and others don't. Boyd could stand knee deep in a swamp and not get a single bite! Must be something in the body chemistry?

jo robertson said...

Oh, Beth, babies leaving the nest. Very hard on mommies! Especially the boys, I think. You know they have to grow up, but you just want to hang onto them a little while longer!

I miss snuggling with newborns. I think my kids are all finished having babies, so I probably won't get any more.

Virginia said...

Congrats Kate on nabbing that rooster!

I miss all the things you mentioned because I was raised in a small community where everyone knew each other and you didn't have to lock you doors because your neighbors where family and walked right in. Now you have to lock down everything in site if you want to keep it. Your storage buildings, cars, anything you have if your want to keep it you had better lock up. We do still have a Drive in movies in a town near where I live but we don't got there. Those were the good old days.

Pat Cochran said...

I miss the days in my early teen years when we could take a quilt,
an armload of books, and spread
out under the trees. We would read
away the afternoon, listening to
the wind's rustling through the
leaves on the tree. No one would
bother you, except the pesky little
boys from the neighborhood.

Pat Cochran

Donna MacMeans said...

What fun Jo. I remember all that stuff especially the drug store counter (grin). Those were the days.

I miss having the whole family crowd in to watch The Wonderful World of Disney - which was a really big thing then. My mother would make popcorn and it was a real event.

I miss record albums - or more accurately - the album covers. There was some great art on those covers. Those little things on CDs isn't half as impressive.

I miss sing-along-with Mitch. We'd all sing along to the bouncing ball - great way to learn the right lyrics to songs (of course, they had to be old songs).

I miss bobby socks, saddleshoes, and those skirts on petticoats that stuck out. Not the most comfortable to wear, but they looked good on the "big girls" (my older brother's girlfriends).

I miss comic books with heroines that don't look like that if they fell down, they'd bounce on their boobs. I miss the ads in those comic books for sea monkeys.

What fun!

PJ said...

Jo, A&W is still in business, just not where I live.

PJ said...

Donna, are you sure you didn't live my childhood? It sure sounds familiar! (grin)

jo robertson said...

Hi, Virginia!

I wonder if the generation before us said the same kinds of things? Did they wish for the good old days? My grandparents didn't have indoor plumbing and lived through the Great Depression. They saw the coming of the airplane and the NY stock market crash.

They probably thought how good their parents had with their horse and buggy, no cars on the road, everything slow.

jo robertson said...

Sigh, Pat, you almost make me want to take a blanket and lie under the two huge pine trees we have in the back yard. Trouble is, it's way too hot!

jo robertson said...

Ooooh, vinyl, Donna! What memories. I still have a Beatles album, but no player to play it on.

We called those crinolines, I think, Donna, the underskirts you wore to poof out your poodle skirts.

jo robertson said...

Whew, PJ, glad to know A&W's still in business. Best root beer ever!

LOL, I think we all had very similar childhoods. It's fun to think about, but I wouldn't want to relive those days.

Becke Davis said...

Still have all my Beatle albums, too, Donna. We even bought a turntable (at Urban Outfitters, of all places.)

We used to watch Wonderful World of Disney, too. And Bonanza.

I loved saddle shoes! Wore them long after they'd gone out of style.

PinkPeony said...

Hi Jo!

I used to drink out of the garden hose when I was a kid. All the kids in the neighborhood did the same! I miss my old skates, the kind that had a skate key..clipping playing cards to the spokes of Huffy bike with clothes pins...the grilled cheese sandwiches at the Woolworth counter and just the smell of a Woolworth's store...the popcorn machine was the first thing I'd notice whenever I walked in there..playing hide n seek, freeze tag, Red Rover, shooting marbles, Simplicity and McCall's pattern books and buying 45 rpm records of the latest singles.
Congrats on the GR Kate.
Jen ;-)

jo robertson said...

Becke, we wore saddle shoes and penny loafers. Did you wear those? With the actual pennies in the slit?

And you weren't out of style. You were just waiting for them to come back in! Everything old is new again, right?

jo robertson said...

Hi, Pink!

Drinking out of the garden hose? We still do that LOL. What about running through the broken fire hydrant? They always show that in the old-time movies, and honestly, I never saw a broken fire hydrant. Or for that matter, one in use!

Thanks for the memories, Jen.