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Monday, December 28, 2015

How did you picnic when you were a kid?

Picnics have been around since before I was born and, believe me, that was a long time ago. Nowadays, if we go on a picnic, we stop by Fred Meyer and grab an eight-piece pack of fried chicken and a few pints of various salads and maybe some Jo Jo’s (the most awesome super-fries in the world) or find a drive through that strikes our fancy.

Back when I was a youngster, there weren’t any fast food places that I recall and grocery stores didn't carry ready-to-eat food. I wasn’t the one driving around, but I don't recall a deli in our neighborhood in Scottsdale.

Mom made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on store-bought white bread, the fluffy kind that tore to pieces if the peanut butter was laid on too thick. We didn’t have baggies of any sort, either. The sandwiches were wrapped in waxed paper or aluminum foil. We took a few apples, maybe a box of cookies, and a bag of chips. Ah, remember Wampum chips? They were the ‘other’ corn chip; tortilla-style chips weren't available in bags yet. There were two flavors of potato chips: plain and barbecue. Nothing fancy like the gyro or biscuits and gravy flavored ones I saw recently. Times were tough…

 We put the goodies in an honest-to-goodness picnic basket, not a paper bag or cardboard bucket. Ours was made out of wicker — the natural fiber kind, not plastic. The set came complete with Melamine-type plates (sectioned with ridges so the beans didn’t slop over into the potato salad or sandwich). There were probably paper plates available, but we never used them. We shared a pitcher of Kool Aid or were treated to a bottle of soda, always making sure we saved the pop bottles to cash in for Popsicle money.

If we wanted music, we could open the car door and listen to music on the AM radio. No Sirius, iPods or streaming tunes through a smartphone; just crackly receptions and those obnoxious DJs who talked over the beginning and ends of every song. Of course, there were battery-operated transistor radios around. They came out around 1955. Aw, how great to listen to music without power cords. Just make sure you didn't bend or break the antenna!

We sprayed DDT-type bug spray or swatted flies and mosquitoes with a fly swatter, but otherwise were pest free. We didn’t have to worry about being interrupted by phone calls either. There was no such thing as a portable phone, much less cell phones. That’s why it was so important to let someone know where you were going and when you were coming back. Sort of like a flight plan for a day trip on the road. If you weren't back when expected, friends or family called around or came looking for you.

So, how did you picnic when you were a kid? And how do you do it now? For me, it’s a breeze: drive through. Oh, and make sure you ask for extra napkins, just in case your fast food is messier than my mother’s PB & J’s.

What kind of convenience food did they have in Revolutionary War era America? Find out about Evie’s ‘fast food, colonial-style’ in Naked in the Winter Wind, the tale of a 21st century woman who finds herself in a new and improved body in 1780s North Carolina. Amazon  Nook

Thanks for looking!

Monday, December 7, 2015

When I was a kid (more 60's nostalgia)

When I was a kid...I drank water out of the faucet or a hose. Drinking it from a plastic bottle was not only ridiculous, it was impossible. I don’t recall anything being in plastic bottles. And filtered? What was that? If water had to be ‘pure’ — as in good enough for baby formula — it was boiled first. If you wanted it cold, you took it from the pitcher in the fridge or added ice cubes that came from one of those knuckle-buster aluminum trays. And woe be to the person who didn’t refill it!

Beer and soda were available in glass bottles, but a ‘church key’ or a sharp corner had better be nearby; there were no twist caps. In Scottsdale, there was a two cent deposit on smaller bottles, five cents on quarts. My brother started his first 'business' haunting construction sites, talking the workers out of their empties so he'd have Popsicle money.
You could get beer in a can, but a bottle opener was needed; pull tabs weren’t around either. Oh, and a lady never drank alcohol from a bottle or can. If she, dear me, did drink spirits, it would be from a glass or frosted mug and after the kids went to bed.

We only got soda on rare occasions. Coca Cola in a six-ounce bottle was extra special. You’d think a bigger bottle would be better, but those cute little clear aqua/green curvy containers called to every one of us. The ‘soft drink’ we usually got was powdered and required one cup of sugar and two quarts of water be added. At one point, they even had root beer-flavor! I remember Kool Aid, Welch’s, and some other brand: Rite-Ade, maybe? If you know, please leave a comment below. The uncertainty is bugging me.

One thing we did have in the 60s that is still around now, at least in many places and in the summertime: ice cream trucks. Yup, back then they came at nap time, too. I can still hear my mother’s mild cuss words, ‘Gosh darn them’ or dag nab it’ when the worn out recording of ‘kiddie music’ disturbed the neighborhood. The dingy-white van with colorful decals came rolling up the road at about two miles per hour. Oh, and he (they were always older men) would get really mad if we stopped him before Mom let us have money. We didn’t always have coin or deserve a treat, but it was fun catching up to him and seeing if he still had bullets available.

Coca cola can adIf you weren’t alive back in the early 60’s when unbreakable soda containers became popular, here’s a bit of trivia. The ‘pull tabs’ were not attached. One of my early memories was of picnicking with my grandmother. She made a game of scouring the campground with a stick, picking up all the discarded pull tab rings with the angular aluminum seal still attached. She made it a game to see who could gather the most. Gross? Yes, picking up others' garbage was, but her early environmental responsibility stayed with me.

Are you setting a good example for others? Let’s hope we all are. Grandparents don’t stick around forever. That's why some of us are here: to replace them. So, live long, be healthy, and set a good example for others. You never know who’s watching you!

She awoke in a different time and without a memory.Already tired of the holiday shows on TV? Grab a long book and get lost in another time era and location. Here's one of my favorites: and (Nook)

She awoke in a different time and without a memory. Was this mountain man really her husband?