I know that many of you are close to my age, so I decided to write something that will not only make you feel good, it will also give you the opportunity to reminisce about the “good old days.”
One of my more interesting memories is about going to the movies when I was young. And by young, I mean from about age 7 to 12. We lived in Cranford in New Jersey, which was a small town then. To go to the movies, we walked from my house, through a few blocks, up a hill and across a river and bridge, and then through town to where the movie theater was, Once there we paid 19 cents to get in… and once in, we were able to watch the movie over and over again if we wanted to. We also got cartoons and a newsreel. No adult or parent ever went on Saturday afternoon and most kids watched that movie more than once.
As I got a little older, we found out that if we stopped at the 5 & 10, we could buy a huge bag of popcorn for 10 cents. Which we all did. Of course, we could buy popcorn at the theater and it was also 10 cents, but was a little bag instead of the really big one from the 5 & 10. So for 29 cents we could have a wonderful afternoon. And it is important to note that no one got a ride to the movies, we all walked. And we walked without adults or parents. We all knew not to talk to strangers and God forbid, to ever accept a ride from a stranger. So we walked and learned how to behave and make decisions without a parent.
Just a side note here – my mother never played with me nor did she ever make a “play date” for me. Back then we played outside with our friends and as a rule, we walked to school, came home for lunch, and walked back. Along with friends. And if we wanted to play with a friend who lived a block or two away from our house, we did. The rules for me and all the other kids that I knew were about the same. You could go out and play all day long. But there were two reasons that you knew when it was time to come into the house. One was when the street lights came one and the other was that as a rule someone’s mother would ring a big bell to signal it was time to go home. When we heard the bell, everyone scattered and went home. And it is interesting to note that no one I knew had a watch!
One of my favorite stories that my mother always hated to hear was when I broke my arm. I was about 8 or 9 and went to play with a friend named Nancy Tidebock, and she lived quite a ways away from where I lived. Well, we were playing in the park near her house when Billy Riggs, who just happened to live next door to me, pushed me down and I broke my arm. Of course, we went to Nancy’s house and her mother called my mother. My mother didn’t understand where I was because I had another friend named Nancy who lived about a block away. So she told Mrs. Tidebock to tell me to walk home. (I always wondered what Mrs. Tidebock thought about that instruction, given how far away I lived.) But I started to walk the long way home, holding my broken arm across my chest and crying the whole way.
My mother had no idea why it took me so long to get home, and when she realized how far I had had to walk, before she even decided what to do about my arm, she called Mrs. Tidebock and apologized! The good news was that, of course, she got me to the doctor who set my arm and when I got home I was able to sit and watch Mrs. Riggs paddle Billy with a canoe paddle! Then he had to come over and apologize as well. I just loved it and it made getting my arm broken almost worth it.
When I was in 5th grade we moved to Fanwood, also in New Jersey. It is interesting to note that no one ever asked me if I thought it was okay. Back then, parents did what they thought was right for the family and it happened. In fact, I didn’t even know we were going to move until the day we did! And once there, I met lots of other kids and life went on. Probably the favorite story that I have told my husband and my children was about our Christmas tree. My father worked in DuPont in Newark, and when it got close to Christmas we were never able to go and buy a tree. So, in order to save money, my father would go to some railroad station that he knew in Newark and buy a big bundle of trees for about two or three dollars. Of course, every single one was horrible, a real Charlie Brown tree. So once he got them home, he would pick the best one, stand it up and then the tree building would begin. He would cut branches off the other trees and drill holes in the trunk of the one he had selected and then shove glue into the holes he had drilled and put in a selected branch. I would like to tell you that when he was through we had a lovely Christmas tree, but that would be a lie. What we ended up with was a strange looking tree that looked like it had been assembled by a blind man. Needless to say, when I grew up and had a family of my own, we always went and picked out a wonderful tree that God made, and every single one has been just terrific.