August 08, 2004

Things I miss

Rachel Ann has a wonderful post about her oft silent grandfather. Read the above link, then come back.

Okay, yer back?

Well, as you have read, I wrote in the comments:

Aah, a bittersweet memory. That sounds like the title of a book about trading the complex essence of the beautiful for the simplicity of the superficial and ending up with pretty emptyness. Or something.

Keith Richards once said that "the eyes are the whores of the senses." I don't remember the exact context, but that line always stuck with me.

I was going to try to write a post about specific instances where we've lost the proverbial scent of the flowers for the showyness of the blossoms. But I want to just spout off about a few things that I miss about the way things used to be, as I've been thinking about these (just a little, now and then) since reading a post at Random Pensees, where he said all there is to say about soda fountains.

Watermelon. I swear watermelon doesn't taste like it did when I was a kid. Now, maybe my taste buds have changed a little in the past 30 years. But, usually, that means that sweets are too sweet now. But most of the watermelon I come across now doesn't taste as sweet as I remember, it just tastes bland and the texture is more heavy and soggy. I don't remember ever having a slice or hunk of watermelon as a kid that was anything but firm, light and oh so sweet. Never!

Ice Cream Trucks. Remember the ice cream trucks that rode around in the late afternoons during the summer? The driver rang the bells and all the kids in the neighborhood came running out with their 15 cents, or whatever it was. You'd stare at the, seemingly, hundreds of pictures of what he had in the freezer.
But, if you wanted a cone, the guy in the truck, dressed in white with white cap on his head, pulled a lever and sploodged you a soft cone of vanilla or chocolate ice cream! Then he'd ask if you wanted shots. Yay, for shots!

Now we got this truck that comes around in the late afternoons blaring some synth-o-crap through loudspeakers. You go up to the truck and there's, maybe 15 or 20 items to choose from, and no fresh ice cream dispenser. And the guy doesn't even wear a uniform. It's just a Circus Man freezer case on wheels.
Bring back fresh ice cream trucks!

Penny candy! Remember the rows of big glass jars of penny candy in the drug stores? You scooped out a few of these and some of those and, hey, let's try this one today! The guy with the visor on his head counted them up. For, y'see, each peice cost a penny.
About ten years ago a went into a candy store in the *gag* mall. I flipped up the little door on the plastic dispenser and got a few of these and a few of those. The chicklette behind the counter weighed my little bag of treats. 8 bucks! WTF?!!!

An' speakin' of plastic, everything's made of plastic! Toy trucks, milk bottles, bathtubs, toboggans (if you can find any), toothpicks, tongue depressors, and, ferscrisakes, Lincoln Logs! You can't build a wooden log cabin out of plastic!!!

Drive-In Restaurants. You pulled up to the parking spot and the waitress came out and took your order, then she'd come back with the tray that she clipped onto the car door. I don't know why that's actually better than any other way of doing it, I just miss it, that's all. You can eat in the car without having to struggle with the lack of elbow room while you jockied things around. Just once more in my life I'd like to pull into a drive-in restaurant on a nice summer's day.

Drive-In Theaters!! These I really miss. The last one 'round here closed when I was in High School. No better place to watch a movie after a hot summer day than by sitting in the car with the windows half-open, watching the movie on the gigantic screen, with the speaker hanging on the driver's side window.
When the movie was over, you didn't have to fight the crowds through the lobby of the 12-screen megaplex to get to your car; you're already in your car! You just put the speaker back on the poll and off you went.

Of, course, Drive-ins will never be profitable again because they'd have to have several speakers per car to offer the THX surround-sound (or whatever they call it these days). The only remaining active Drive-In that I know of is in Skowhegan, Maine; some seven hours away from me. Road trip! Who's with me?!

The old Hershey wrappers. Remember those? The candy bar was wrapped in silver paper and the silver paper-wrapped bar was wrapped in the brown paper sleeve. As you ate the Hershey bar you shimmied it up the sleeve and tore more and more of the silver wrapper apart. Aaah, memories.

Chief Big Wheel! OMG! He was just the Drakes version of a Hostess Ring Ding. (Or was he the Hostess version of the Drakes Ring Ding?) Aaah, foggy memories.
Chief Big Wheel was one of my favorites as a kid. The cake was in a yellow wrapper, and the logo was a Big Wheel with an Indian Chief's headdress, holding a tomahawk. Tasty little guy!

Wax Harmonicas. You could actually play them, and then you ate the wax. That was weird. Do they still have wax candy? Beats me.

Candy necklaces! We'd go out playing all day in the woods and in the yards and getting all dirty and sweaty while eating these pieces of candy that we'd been wearing on our necks all day. What were we, nuts!!

Okay, I could go on forever with this, probably, so I'll just stop now. Thanks for letting me yammer on about

things I miss.

Posted by Tuning Spork at August 8, 2004 10:24 PM

I just wanted to drop you a quick note to tell you that I'm happy you enjoyed my little thing on the soda fountains! I enjoyed you list. It got me to thinking!

Posted by: RP at August 9, 2004 10:07 AM

Someone bought the Delsea Drive-in about four months ago, and the article in the paper said he was going to open it again soon. The old screen was in good condition and he was going to put an arcade in the building, and was thinking of maybe constructing a roller rink. Well...The drive-in opened just last week to rave reviews.
By the way, Kim and I went to, at the time, the
last drive-in in the Northeast last year. It's in Delaware. It was pretty much like old times, but guess what? No speakers! You tune your radio to
the required frequency and Voila! Much cheaper,(for the owner) no rain, cold air, or BUGS!
Unless you're someone near my age who has kept his Model T since high-school, you got a radio,
so everybody's covered.

I think we'll take a trip over to Vineland
one of these days for some more retro movie viewing. (Is it legal to try to grab your wife's
boobs, or is it just pimply girlfriends you have to shoot for?)

Posted by: haveayen at August 11, 2004 01:37 AM
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