Thursday, January 22, 2009

Small Town Memories

A conversation with a former classmate over this past weekend got me thinking about the experience of growing up in small town Rochester as we did in the 1960s. Some things have definitely changed. For example:
  • We never went to a mall to see Santa. We stood in line at the Hills Theater, where Santa held court in the lobby, to await our turns to sit in his lap and tell him our Christmas wishes.
  • Trash night didn't involve rolling the cans to the curb. It meant tossing a match into the burning barrel, usually an old 55-gallon drum out back of the house, where our parents burned the household trash each week. I remember Dad standing there tending his trash barrel fire and shooting the breeze with our next-door neighbor, who was doing likewise.
  • There was quite a bit of home shopping going on, and it had nothing to do with the Internet - the "bread man" and the "milk man" came to the kitchen door of the house. My grandmother also watched for the arrival of the Jewel Tea salesman and kept a copy of the Spiegel catalog handy for other shopping needs.
  • Long before the Paint Creek or Clinton River recreational trails existed, we kids walked the railroad tracks, balancing one foot in front of the other on the rails to see who could go the longest without slipping off. These were active railroad lines with several trains a day coming through, and our parents had told us not to play on the tracks; which, of course, is probably why we wanted to do it anyway (guess that cat's out of the bag now).
  • Every March, our parents had to stand in long lines at the Secretary of State office in a house on Walnut St. to buy their new auto license plates. Everybody's plate expired on the same day, and there was no renewal by mail. A new "Water Winter Wonderland" plate was issued each year.
That's just the short list. Over to you, readers - feel free to add your own items in a comment for all to enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. At Halloween, the Dads' went out to the street in front of their houses and put two road flairs in the ground between the sidewalk and the street when the siren went off. They had bought the flairs from the Kawanis (I think) members who came around beforehand on a truck with a calliope mounted on it. This signaled the official start of "Trick or Treating"