Patricia Craig Johnson --- Searching for My Ancestors --- Sharing My Life Stories

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Who Would Have Thought It, A World Without -----------

As a person that has lived a long time, I can’t help thinking of the things that are gone now.  It is interesting how we lose things that were so familiar in another time and don’t even realize they are going away.  It is like a real live magic show, now you see it and now you don’t.  It is called life.  However, I would like to document some things that are no more, and that I miss.

I could not have imagined a time when there was no Texaco station on every corner.  In the 1950’s I was a partner in owning a Texaco filling station.  I don't hear that term much today, a filling station. The big Texaco sign was a welcome beacon to those that needed their automobile filled with gas, oil checked, washed, or serviced.  And of course at 33ȼ a gallon, folks didn’t often fill up completely because $2.00 bought six gallons and you could go a long way on six gallons.  Especially young folks didn’t fill up very often.

It was standard procedure to pull up to the pumps and someone would come out, greet you, ask what was needed, they would do it, and you never had to get out of your car. And windows were always washed and kept spick and span with the regular attention.

I don’t mind filling my own gas but it sure was a nice thing in the old days.  I can’t remember when they went completely away, but I am grateful I can remember so well those "full service" days.

Woolworth stores, oh my, they were a standard item in almost every American town I ever lived in. You didn't have to look far in a new town to see where the Woolworth store was.  They were in the center of any town.  The wonders of taking a 50 cent allowance to Woolworth's and shop for the longest time deciding what to buy.  Coloring books, paper dolls, puzzles, jacks, games, crayons, paints, toy cars and trucks for David. I didn't notice any adults watching us with suspicious eagle eyes.  Maybe they were there, but they didn't make it obvious at all.  We could handle things and try them out and take our time deciding how to spend our allowance. The one thing my mom always tried to do is give us an allowance every week. Sometimes she missed but not too often.
And then there was the lunch counter in every Woolworth store.  It was a good way to start feeling grown up, to sit up there at the counter and order a Coke or other soft drink.  What neat memories, and I am sad to say they are gone now.  For awhile there was an offshoot of Woolworth called Woolco Stores but those rode off into the sunset as well.  Woolworth Stores were an important and subtle piece of our childhood memories.  I love the memory.
Oh the wonderful world of drive in theaters.  It was THE place to be in the 1950's.  It was the first step to being independent, out of the house, not under the scrutiny of parents.  Of course, the idea was to watch the movie, but somtimes it was also a place to meet up with friends and see what was new with them.  Who went to work where, and who was going with who, important things like that.  And of course, who had been called up to go to Korea.
Or sometimes it was a place to get very well acquainted with the opposite sex.  Many a teenage romance started in a drive in theater. It was the perfect place to cuddle up and feel all grown up with no adults watching.  One big danger was to fall asleep and not wake up until after your curfew.  There were a few other things as well, but we won't spell those out right now.  Just use your imagination.

Falling asleep was the theme of the Everly Brothers hit song "Wake Up A Little Susie".  I can personally relate to that song, along with the whole generation that were teenagers in the 50's.  It seems a tame event compared to the ways of teenagers today, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

What were record stores? Saturday night was a special night when I was a kid.  It was the only night, other than Wednesdays, that stores were open until 9pm.  Drug stores and grocery stores were usually open late, but the regular stores weren=t.  I spent many a Saturday night at Zoellner=s Music Store.  I would save up my babysitting money and my allowance and buy 78 rpm records for my little record player.  When you went in the music store, there were big deep bins that held records.  They were sorted by the type of music, Popular, Western, Classical, Jazz, Easy Listening, etc.  I would thumb through the records and if I found one I thought I would like, I would take it to one of the little listening rooms along the wall of the store.  They were a cubicle, about big enough for two people.  There was a shelf with a record player on it and two chairs.  That is where I listened to the record to decide if I wanted to buy it.  If I didn=t like it I would put it back in the wrapper and put it back in the record bin. Try doing that today at WalMart.

              It seems like an image from another world to me, now.  It seemed perfectly normal then.

Last in my reverie today, the days of the phone booth. It was a symbol of getting help if you needed it. It was the beginning of a phenonemon that we have advanced to a much higher level today.  The idea that you would need to talk to someone while you were out and about your errands, to or from work, in case of car trouble etc, etc.  But you had to physically get to it by walking!  For quite some time it was a reliable way to call someone.  In the last years it was not so reliable, mainly because it wasn't needed as much, so no maintenance was done on them. They finally went the way of other old technologies. But in their heyday they were the latest and greatest.  Not exactly a safe thing, especially in the very unsafe world we live in today.  Especially at night, when you were sort of trapped inside, and everyone could see you in that situation.  And of course, there was the last minute fumbling for coins, and the anxiety of "is it working?"  Maybe this is the least of my things I sort of miss.

As a matter of fact, this is a good way to end the story for today.  Change is not bad.  Some things, and most things, needed to be changed.  It is what makes life interesting.  The constant change, and we need to embrace it, but without forgetting how it was before. I relish my lifetime and memories, but certainly enjoy the new and exciting things to come. Thanks for reading and listening.  Patj

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