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I Want To Go Back

Source: Valerie Barbera

I want to go back to when life was simple. Let’s say sixth grade. It was spring, and I had just gotten a new bike for my birthday. I road it everywhere, especially to the family-owned penny candy store called Knipps, with the gummy wooden floors. I was so excited to go there because the new Beatle cards may have arrived. After buying my stash, I headed home singing at the top of my lungs, to whatever was the current hit on my transistor radio.

A transistor radio was a battery-operated portable device that played the AM radio stations like Johnny Dark on WCAO. It was about the size of a smart phone but bulkier. It had a rotating antenna which could be strategically positioned for the best reception. Everyone had one. It was the first time music and information became portable. It sparked a musical revolution called Rock ’n Roll.

I usually would be up at the school playing baseball with the boys. I would run up to the school with my greased and worn baseball glove and a hardball to check out what games were going on. I would see the dust stirring in the distance and know that the game to join was in the far field. I would join left field since no one was there. Then it’s our turn at bat. I was an overly confident tomboy when it came to baseball. My turn at bat. I am nonchalant, almost diminutive, in my short-statured stance. This is how I trick the cocky boys in the outfield. Gets the newcomers every time since I’m just a girl! My old buddies look at each other and shout “Move back. ” I give it everything I got and lob it along the third-base line. My dad taught me how to do that. Homerun! Now that feels good.

In those days, my happiness depended on the weather because I loved being able to go outside and play. We’re talking ”free-range” play with the neighborhood menagerie. The only limitation was to be home by dinner, which was announced by a sound, louder than a Maine foghorn, emanating from a frustrated mother shouting ”It’s suppertime!” If there was a delay in our response, she sometimes used expletives. ”It’s suppertime. You better get your *** back home or else!” It worked.

Those were the days, my friend. When McDonald’s hamburgers were only $.25. When Bazooka gum had real flavor. When the only smoking you did was to puff on a thin white 100% sugar cigarette with an artificially colored pink tip. When polio was the only concerning disease that I had ever heard of because, at school, we had just been given a sugar cube doused in medicine that would prevent it. Milk was real. Sugar was real. Natural orange juice was challenged by a new powdered drink called Tang, which we were told that John Glenn and the other astronauts drank for vitamin and mineral supplementation while out past the Earth’s atmosphere. It was up there with quickset Jell-O, Pop Rocks, and the introduction of Cool Whip.

It was a time when the news was reported and not rendered towards any political stance. Although during times of unexpected crises, some newscasters would get teary, like Walter Cronkite announcing the death of President Kennedy. See the video here. The newsmen seemed to more human and less robotic.

Sunday nights were the best. We looked forward to watching the Ed Sullivan show on our black-and-white TV. His show highlighted a variety of guests ranging from a little animated mouse called Topo Gigio to the first time that the Beatles played their music on American soil. They were revolutionary- their hair, their music, their vivacity. It caused quite a stir and started a cultural shift for the younger generation. Meet the Beatles here.

Sundays were non-productive. Work was put aside. Stores were closed. It was the day to visit friends and family. I would go to church in the morning, come back for lunch, and either go for a Sunday drive with my parents (seatbelts not required) and perhaps catch dinner at a local restaurant. But most Sundays, we went down The Point to visit my granny and my relatives, who were always welcoming and fun.

You won’t believe this, but girls straightened and slightly curled their hair by rinsing out frozen orange juice and wrapping their long hair around it. They secured the cans with bobby pins. Another alternative was to wear sponge rollers and bobby pin curls with a cap to cover your head as you slept. This was the preference of our moms. I remember coming down as the morning light streaked the smoke-saturated air. My mom would be reading the paper in her housecoat and her sponge rollers covered with a cap. Ah, those were the days!

Yes, it seemed like simpler times. There were not as many choices, not as much noise, more time, fewer distractions, and a Post-war pride in the great United States of America.

I want to go back. Don’t you? Would love to hear your memories. Leave them in the comment section. Thanks.

It’s nice to be back.

Carol❤️