Hey Dad," one of my kids asked the other day, "what was your favorite fast food when you were growing up?"
"We didn't have fast food when I was growing up," I informed him. "All the food was slow."
"C'mon, seriously. Where did you eat?"
"It was a place called 'at home,' " I explained. "Grandma Stewart cooked every day and when Grandpa Stewart got home from work, we sat down together at
the dining room table, and if I didn't like what she put on my plate I was allowed to sit there until I did like it."
By this time, the kid was laughing so hard I was afraid he was going to suffer serious internal damage, so I didn't tell him the part about how I had to have permission to leave the table.
But here are some other things I would have told him about my childhood if I figured his system could have handled it:
My parents never owned their own house, wore Levis, set foot on a golf course, traveled out of the country or had a credit card. In their later years they had something called a revolving charge card. The card was good only at Sears Roebuck. Or maybe it was Sears AND Roebuck. Either way, there is no Roebuck anymore. Maybe he died.
My parents never drove me to soccer practice. This was mostly because we never had heard of soccer. But also because we didn't have a car.
We didn't have a television in our house until I was 11, but my grandparents had one before that. It was, of course, black and white, but they bought a piece of colored plastic to cover the screen. The top third was blue, like the sky, and the bottom third was green, like grass. The middle third was red. It was perfect for programs that had scenes of fire trucks riding across someone's lawn on a sunny
I was 13 before I tasted my first pizza. It was a Luigi's Pizza on the west side of Cleveland and my friend, Ronnie, took me there to try what he said was "pizza pie." When I bit into it, I burned the roof of my mouth and the cheese slid off, swung down, plastered itself against my chin and burned that, too. It's still the best pizza I ever had.
We didn't have a car until I was 15. Before that, the only car in our family was my
grandfather's Plymouth. He called it a "machine."
I never had a telephone in my room. The only phone in the house was in the living room and it was on a party line. Before you could dial, you had to listen and make sure some people you didn't know weren't already using the line.
Pizzas were not delivered to our home. But milk was.
All newspapers were delivered by boys and all boys delivered newspapers. I delivered the Cleveland "News" six days a week. It cost 7 cents a paper, of which I got to keep 2 cents. On Saturday, I had to collect the 42 cents from my customers.
My favorite customers were the ones who gave me 50 cents and told me to keep the change. My least favorite customers were the ones who seemed to never be home on collection day.
Movie stars kissed with their mouths shut. At least, they did in the movies.
Touching someone else's tongue with yours was called French kissing and they didn't do that in the movies. I don't know what they did in French movies. French movies were dirty and we weren't allowed to see them.
If you grew up in a generation before there was fast food, you may want to share some of these memories with your children or grandchildren.
Just don't blame me if they bust a gut laughing.
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