By definition, you know you're getting old when you start doing things normally associated with "old people." I thought during this conversation we'd review some of the things only old people would remember doing.
For instance, you're old if you remember using (on a regular basis) operator-assisted phone calls with a real, live operator coming on the line and asking "number please. I called " 42-J ... a lot -—which was the phone number for Geneva Drug Company where my dad had his optometric office. If you wanted to get in touch with him at home, you asked for 362R. That number got busy whenever there was a coroner's call. Yep, Daddy was elected county coroner for four terms starting back in the 50s. You're old if you recall this bit of southeast Alabama political trivia.
If you remember going to the drive-in movie theater — you're getting old. In Geneva, we were lucky enough to have three drive-ins within a short drive from home. There was the H&R, the Starlite, and the Top. The H&R was my family favorite. They had promotions during the summer — like packing as many people as you could inside one vehicle — and you all got in for a total of $1.00. Quite a bargain when you consider the prices for walk-ins today.
The walk-in theater was the Royal just down the street from the county courthouse and across the street from the old county jail. You could buy your admission ticket, a Coke, and a good-sized bag of popcorn all for the ridiculously low price of 25 cents. If you remember a movie theater deal like this ... you're old.
You're getting old if you remember Coke machines (in Geneva all soft drinks were referred to as Cokes) that dispensed their products in glass bottles. You can see the history of Coke machines (real Coca-Cola products) by visiting a ton of websites dedicated to the subject.
You're kinda old if you remember Teaberry chewing gum. It goes back to 1900, but was perhaps best remembered for its commercial featuring a song by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, "The Teaberry Shuffle."
And you know you're old if you remember going to the Five and Dime to buy peashooters. If I remember correctly, the shooting straw came with a packet of peas that served as projectiles. I was always cautious with peashooters ... concerned that I would somehow inhale and get one of the peas stuck in my windpipe. Fortunately, I managed to survive that stage of childhood and never had to have a pea surgically removed from my throat!
Do you remember metal ice trays and the handle used to empty them? I never got the hang of walking from the sink to the refrigerator without spilling any of the water from the trays.
Lots of my contemporaries remember sticking S&H Green Stamps in the "Saver Books" that were available where you shopped. You could also pick up a catalog to see what you could redeem for your books of stamps. When she was a teenager, my wife got a really nice AM/FM Stereo as the result of her mother's shopping at the local Piggly Wiggly grocery store. We still have that radio.
Do you remember mood rings? You've got a few years on you if you do. They were fads that first hit the markets back in the 1970s and are still around. The original mood ring was supposed to indicate the overall mood of the wearer. According to several articles I read preparing for today's conversation, there seems to be some connection between the color of the stone and the wearer's body temperature. If you're thinking about buying a mood ring, you might want to remember the Latin phrase, caveat emptor.
TV was new to Geneva back in the 50s. I remember going to friends of my parents (who had a TV). It was like a "happening." I'm surprised my mother didn't make me wear my church clothes to go over and have an evening of TV. First, we had dinner and helped clear the table. Then, we gathered in the living room, dimmed the lights, and started tuning in the fuzzy picture. I think we watched Channel 3 out of Pensacola most nights. If you remember the top-rated TV shows in 1954 (when our family got a TV), you watched "I Love Lucy," "The Jackie Gleason Show," "Dragnet," "You Bet Your Life," "The Toast of the Town" (later known as the Ed Sullivan Show), "Disneyland," "The Jack Benny Show," "The George Gobel Show," "Ford Theatre," and "December Bride."
And finally a tribute to the principal's office everywhere ... the location of the Mimeograph machine! I mentioned in a previous conversation, the unique smell after the janitors had swept the elementary school floors with Zep sweeping compound. Well, my wife insisted that I add Mimeographed documents to the list of smells we associated with school. She loved them both. The makers of Zep and Mimeograph fluid were batting a thousand when it came to good school smells. Remember one or both of them? I guess we can add "olfaction" to the 3 R's.
So, there you have a brief, totally unscientific, test of your age by memories. Personally, I believe you're as old as you think ... those aches and pains are all in your mind!
Have a great week.