— Life —

Memories of the Good Old Days

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I have the rare blessing of a lifelong friendship with my high school math teacher. Ms. Bowers taught me every level of math including trig, analytic geometry and calculus. When there were no more math classes to take, I became her aide, and she often reminds me of how hard I was on my fellow students. Occasionally she’ll call just to tell me how wonderful I am, and how much I still mean to her. I pour the love back to her, in deep gratitude for the way she mentored me through high school (without me knowing it). I always thank her for changing my life by insisting I leave East Texas and go to Austin to attend the University of Texas at the young age of 17. I shudder to think what might have been had I not followed her advice.

During a recent phone call we laughed about one of my greatest accomplishments: typing a perfect paper on a manual typewriter at the state, high school, regional competition. The mention of that machine sent me down memory lane, with visions of years gone by filled with appliances, cars, tools and gadgets that have been replaced with what we visioned as “space age” when I was growing up.  Do you remember these?

  • Princess telephone. When I got a pink one in my bedroom it was a sign I was growing up! I would spend hours cradling that receiver, lying on my twin bed with a floral comforter.
  • Black and white TV and the Beatles. I remember in vivid details the debut of the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. I was only 7, but I sat just a few feet away from the screen, squealing with delight as these handsome young men stole my heart.
  • Video cameras with light bars that could illuminate a ball field. My father would come in on Christmas morning as I was waking up, and it was like an entire movie crew had arrived. In the footage of those years, I was often squinting, covering my face or turning my head. Then there were cameras with film. Remember Instamatics?
  • The soda fountain at our small-town drug store. They had the best burgers and shakes, cooked while we sat on stools that spun around.
  • Simple games, like cat’s cradle and Jacob’s ladder with string, jacks, and those “fortune tellers” we would make from paper. Electronic games were only seen on The Jetsons, where you could put food in an oven and it would pop out immediately, fully cooked, like magic!
  • Drive-in movie theaters. We would take popcorn in a big paper bag, candy and cokes, in our old station wagon we parked with the back open toward the screen. This must have been a labor of love for my parents, dealing with giggling girls who wiggled more than they watched the show.
  • TV dinners. Remember Swanson fried chicken, turkey or Salisbury steak with mashed potatoes, peas and apples? We would sometimes sit with our TV trays watching evening variety shows. I can still taste the foil.
  • 8-track tapes. They were clunky, but played our favorite bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Pink Floyd and Elvis.
  • The Mark Eden Bust Developer I ordered with my college roommate. We burst into laughter when we received a plastic clamshell-shaped, spring-loaded exercise tool, with instructions about holding it in our hands, in different positions while squeezing to increase the muscles in our chests.

There are so many more that bring a smile to my face when I let nostalgia take me on an impromptu journey. What are some of your fondest childhood memories?



  • Barrbara Bergin September 27, 2017 at 6:38 am

    My banana bike, and being able to take off on it, and ride somewhere, sometimes far away. Not a care in the world, except to be home by supper.

  • Susan Tolles September 27, 2017 at 8:12 am

    Oh the banana bike! Mine had a gold sparkly seat. And a safe world not encumbered by television and video games. Great memories!

  • Michaele Hall September 27, 2017 at 9:24 am

    I remember getting my own princess phone at age 12 with my own phone line so the rest of the family could use the house phone! I recently ordered a pink princess phone for my home office and my young nieces were extatic! They called everyone they knew from this exotic new phone–guess some things don’t lose their charm no matter how long they’ve been around!

    • Susan Tolles October 4, 2017 at 9:10 am

      Wow! Your own phone line! You were a lucky girl! I recently went to my granddaughter’s birthday party at an art studio. The owner had decorated old rotary phone with brightly colored paint, and the little ones were having so much fun playing with it! But I had to show the youngest ones how to use the rotary dial, which they found fascinating! Definitely “exotic!”

  • 1010ParkPlace September 27, 2017 at 9:30 am

    Jiffy Pop and Chef Boyardee Pizza were front and center at slumber parties! How about bonnet hairdryers? Regardless of what you put them on and where you sat, they were awkward! Fun post, Susan! xoxox, Brenda

    • Susan Tolles October 4, 2017 at 9:11 am

      Oh that pizza! We were talking about that recently, wondering how many perservatives were in that box. We still buy Jiffy Pop for an occasional treat with our grandkids. We all get excited when the top puffs up!

    • Susan Tolles October 4, 2017 at 9:13 am

      Oh, and the bonnet hairdryers, with the velcro rollers, of course! My mom even made me get perms when I was young. Thank goodness those have gone away!

  • Laurie Oien September 27, 2017 at 10:21 am

    Oh my, yes, remember all of these. I so, so wanted a phone in my room and I was quickly told that would never happen. My mom was a good cook, but remember the TV Dinners were for Saturday nights when mom and dad went out. At the time, it was a great treat. Too funny!

    • Susan Tolles October 4, 2017 at 9:14 am

      Laurie, when my father would be out of town, my mother and I would cook fried shrimp and french fries. I remember standing on a chair by the stove, helping her drop those shrimp in a pot of hot grease. Not exactly healthy, but it was always a special treat!

  • C. September 27, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    Saturday night shampoo with curling our hair by mom. Pledge of alligance to the Flag of our great country. Respect and trying my best to follow the golden rule. Trying my best to teach my children the same.

    • Susan Tolles October 4, 2017 at 9:18 am

      I am with you, regarding the pledge and golden rule. We need to honor this great country, even with its flaws. It breaks my heart to see such hatred and disrespect in the younger generation. But many Millennials are committed to “social justice,” so we can pray that they make a bigger impact than those who want to tear us down. Solid values begin in the home, and kudos to you for teaching them to your children.

  • Marsha Scott September 27, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    My dad took me and some other girls to see Elvis in Houston, the FIRST time he came to town. I think my Dad wanted to see him cause I didn’t know who he was !!!!

    • Susan Tolles October 4, 2017 at 9:19 am

      ELVIS!! I can imagine the excitement in that place! All the squealing, crying girls, swooning over his swaying hips and smooth voice. What great memories you must have! I hope you have pictures!

  • Esther Zimmer October 2, 2017 at 9:10 am

    What a beautiful friendship! Eating dinner at the table is one of my fondest childhood memories and sadly, a ritual that’s starting to disappear. I heard from a friend who goes into people’s homes to do market research, that many families don’t even bother having a dining room table and in fact, houses are starting to be built with bigger TV rooms and no dining room at all. That makes me so sad. Esther xx

  • Susan Tolles October 4, 2017 at 9:22 am

    Esther, when my children were young, we had dinner at the table together every night. Now I see my children trying to do that as much as possible for otheir own families. It does seem like most families have lost connections with one another, and it is really sad. Definitely makes me long for “the good old days!”

  • Donna O'Klock October 9, 2017 at 4:27 am

    Oh, what fun Susan! I had a turquoise Princess phone, and a boyfriend at an out-of-state college. We’d whisper on it all night after my parents went to sleep. When the bill came and was $200 in 1968, I thought I would die… Two weeks pay! Ouch, that hurt!

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