Remember How It Was

good stuff

By Sandra Dempsey Post

When March arrives, I feel like a survivor when it comes to the weather. Granted abundant snow can fall during those 31 days, but rarely does it linger long. Perhaps March is as eager for warmer weather as we are since we go from moderate to cold, snow, dreariness, and shortly after the snow melts, we’re back to thinking spring. Then April bounces in with sunshine, and the promise of higher temperatures. Even if they aren’t balmy, they aren’t freezing and we start feeling warmer and content. But we all know it takes April showers to bring May flowers and we must accept that. Our patience is tried by the continual change in weather, but we hang on optimistically knowing the “good stuff” is right around the corner.

We may describe good stuff differently, but in early spring, it generally means more sunshine than gloomy skies, light rain which is necessary, but not that deluge type, and temperatures requiring a jacket of sorts, but not winter gear we just recently packed away. Those of us living in central Illinois know weather is typically unpredictable, but we enjoy the beauty and charm of four seasons throughout the year so we stick around and learn to adapt. Before we even realize how quickly time goes by, the cold is gone and humidity has arrived. We’re flipping fans and air conditioners on just to keep it cool. And so it goes, like much of life. Before we can comprehend where years have gone, we’re watching kids and grandkids working their first jobs, graduating from high school, making decisions that make us uneasy even though that’s how our parents felt about us decades ago. 

Sometimes it’s good to take the day off, reminisce, laugh at some of what’s funny now, but wasn’t funny when it happened, and silently say thanks for our blessings. Let’s hop on the “Do you remember when train?” and revisit some of those times that linger sweetly today.

In 1966 life expectancy was 70.2 years. The statistic did not indicate if that was for a male or female, or perhaps both. All U.S. cigarette packs had to begin with a warning:  “Caution!  Cigarette smoking may be hazardous to your health.”  Average income was $6,899 per year. A postage stamp cost five cents; a new car $2,653; and the average rent $120 per month. Favorite TV shows included The Twilight Zone; The Lucy Show; Green Acres; Bewitched; and The Beverly Hillbillies among others.

In 1970 the word “spork” became the official name for the “scoopy-stabby” plastic utensil when it received a patent. Sporks continue to be sold today. 

1971 introduced the Waltons as a stand-alone TV movie, The Homecoming: A Christmas Story. I was a huge fan of the series which played on CBS for 10 years. As a newlywed I thought my dream family was discovered. Seven children whose mother was serene, sweet, and who rarely lost her temper or patience. It took me multiple episodes to realize how hard she worked, what little social life she had, and that she cooked three meals a day. I decided to reconsider my options, realizing even the best of TV is not necessarily accurate for real life. I was a fan the whole ten years. 

At the other end of the spectrum was All In The Family, a show that provided humor while influencing some serious conversations about bigotry, the role of women in the family, and discussions about how things were changing in society. We learned to reconsider our values as we laughed initially and later thought on a deeper scale. 

Though sales of Swanson TV dinners soared as convenience food starting in 1954, they weren’t necessarily considered home-cooked meals. In 1962 Swanson provided an excuse for folks feeling guilty about serving a frozen turkey dinner at Thanksgiving. They were rewarded with a writing set with the purchase of two dinners.

Frozen dinners came of age in an era when women were entering the workforce at a steady clip. Banquet was introduced in 1964. While some details for dining together for the holidays have changed through the years, decorative paper plates that can be tossed after the meal, fancy paper napkins, and sometimes disposable “glasses,” it’s difficult thinking frozen TV dinners would be a hit in today’s society.

Interestingly a newspaper recently printed a story about leave-behind tableware. “Latest trend includes gifting potluck platters, plates, and bowls to the host.”  The article explains, “there is nothing better than an evening of friendship, food, and pleasant conversation.” When potluck dinner parties wind down for the night, there is often uncertainty about what should happen to the bowl, tray, or platter used to bring the signature dish to the party. The solution suggested is leave it. Prepare your favorite delicacies at home, and present the food, dish and all, to the party host. While I value generosity, I also value some of my dishes as they have much sentimental value to me. They were my mom’s or mother-in-law’s or a gift from a friend, or even from my grandmother. I wouldn’t want to part with them. This trend could last for years, or it might not. All a matter of timing or when it’s replaced by another trend.

For folks who have saved items of varying size, appeal, usefulness, or simply for nostalgia, there can be money made when the conclusion that “enough is enough” is reached. The difficulty in securing that money is all in the timing. Most of us remember when Beanie Babies were hot commodities. Lunch boxes were collectibles, Star Wars toys especially if the box they came in remained intact, Cabbage Patch Dolls, Chenille bedspreads used for making stuffed animals—the list is long. The number of people who successfully cash in on such purchases is short. Buyer Beware!

May your memories be joyous and bring you smiles and satisfaction. May the sun shine brightly. Happy reminiscing and Happy Spring!


For additional informative and inspirational articles visit 50 Plus News and Views Greater Peoria Area online edition today.

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