My friend Val has inspired me again. I hope she won’t kill me for sharing her story, but here goes. This time she was telling me a story about when she was seven years old and leaving the house to go to swimming lessons. To get to the pool she had to cross over her street which had just been freshly tarred. Remember those big tar trucks? Ah, does that bring back memories, the smell of fresh hot tar on a summer’s morning.
Val’s mom (who incidentally sounds a lot like my mom) made her put plastic bags over her flip-flops so that she would not get fresh tar on her shoes. Well, you can about guess what happened can’t you? Val stepped into the street and those flimsy plastic bags immediately stuck to the tar covered street stopping Val in her tracks. Unfortunately her body did not get the message from her feet and it continued to move forward. With her feet firmly affixed to the road Val fell down in the fresh tar and by the time she rolled around trying to get herself unstuck she had tar all over her nice new swimsuit. She said her mom got mad at her for ruining her suit. Really Mom? What did you think was going to happen sending a seven year old out in that get-up? You really couldn’t see that coming? You are supposed to protect us from harm. Instead you sent us out into the world in hazardous footwear.
It was the 60’s and I’m sure that our moms probably read that tip in the ‘Ladies Home Journal’ or something because my mom used to do the same thing as well as every other mother on our block. They all had a ‘bread bag drawer.’ In the winter, back in the days before Gortex, Mom would also construct make-shift snow boots using bread sacks and a couple of pairs of knee socks. Off we would go into the snow and the muck in our waterproof footwear that crinkled as we walked displaying the Wonder Bread logo out of the tops of our socks.
Our moms used bread bags for everything. I don’t know if you could even buy Zip-loc bags yet (maybe they had them in France or somewhere, but not in Missouri). We took our sandwiches to school wrapped in waxed paper or Reynold’s Wrap and it all went into a brown paper bag or your Bobby Sherman lunch box and when you ran out of brown paper bags you could use….a bread bag. Some practical neighborhood mothers just turned them inside out and shook out all the crumbs, but my mom actually washed them out and hung them with a clothespin attached to the kitchen curtain rod to dry. This could be why I’m such a terrible housekeeper today. She set a standard that was impossible to live up to, so I just gave up. Mom even ironed sheets and pillowcases…can you imagine? It was different time.
Our parents let us run behind the fogger truck inhaling the fumes of DDT because they didn’t know better. We rode in the car without a seat belt or car seat. We rode our bikes without a helmet and also in the back of pick-up trucks. We drank from the hose and shared a soda with our friend – nobody died. What else do you remember?