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08 August 2008

When you're an old fart, what nostalgic stories will you tell about when and where you grew up?[More:]

I just watched a documentary in which a 90-year-old rancher waxed on about windmills. He grew up around them and now has dozens on his ranch, mostly as pets. He talked about how when he was growing up, in the Texas Panhandle, the only entertainment around was climbing the windmills and sliding down the pipes.

It's so quaint now, but, like everything else, at one time it was just day-to-day life.

So, when you're ancient and you have a captive audience of whippersnappers, what do you think will be interesting to them? Or, what do you think will be flat-out boring to them, but interesting enough for you to drone on about?
For me, I think it will be popping tar bubbles on our rural gravel road. The truck would come out once a year and re-tar. During the heat of the day, we kids would run up and down the road, popping the tar bubbles. It passed as fun, but our mothers HATED the resulting tarry footprints.

There was also a ditch in front of our house that collected water from spring/summer thunderstorms. My best friend and I, not having pools, would sit in the ditch by the side of the road in our bathing suits. For *hours*.

(Yeah, we were bumpkins.)
posted by mudpuppie 08 August | 00:02
Slamdancing to the Forgotten Rebels!
posted by arse_hat 08 August | 00:31
Butchering chickens at 2am Sunday morning because a wolf had gotten into the coop, then going to church at 9.30.

The zipline in the back field, miles of 4-wheeler trails through the woods, sledding under a moose.

Summers on the fishing boat with the family: pulling in the seine, salmon scales coating everything, playing on the beach, my dad stepping off the edge of the boat on his birthday and coming up swearing, testing the survival suits and no one believing Melissa's had a hole in it, Apple Core Baltimore, nearly sleepwalking into the ocean.
posted by rhapsodie 08 August | 01:38
I already do this, and I'm only in my early 30s. Just the other day I was waxing nostalgic about how, when I was a kid, telephone lines used to frequently cross and you would be able to hear the conversations of strangers. I don't think that ever happens anymore.
posted by amro 08 August | 08:30
Tar bubbles! We used to pop the ones on the bulkhead down the shore. I can smell it so clearly.

Sometimes when I see the girlie laying on the sofa playing on the laptop, I am compelled to regale her with tales of my elementary school computer use. There was no monitor! No colors! Just black ink on paper, basically a giant typewriter. And to use it, you had to call in to the main computer and then put the (corded, rotary) phone in a cradle! It was a world without WebKinz!

posted by jrossi4r 08 August | 08:50
I am an old fart (well, at least, lately I feel like one):

Typing my papers on a typewriter;

Not having email or the internet or a computer;

Not having a cell phone -- no one having a cell phone;

Having a TV with an antenna, and having about 5 channels total, with a few not very clear;

Going to church every Sunday;

Eating dinner at the table with the family every night;

Having a "party line" -- sharing our telephone service with another family in our town.

Good night, John-Boy!
posted by Claudia_SF 08 August | 08:58
I will tell them about pinball, and how you could stand barefoot at the Sev (7-11) and play for hours on the Dark Knight machine on just a couple quarters, and how when you won a free game, the machine would "knock" -- some piece of metal with a serious spring attached would whack the game's wooden cabinet from the inside -- and the guy behind the counter would shout, 'Hey, kid, go easy on the game," and if you bothered to respond, it'd be something like "Look, I just got a free game, that's all," and then he'd accuse you of fucking around with his machine, and you'd say, "Look at my score," and he wouldn't give a shit about your score, so you'd buy a Sgt. Rock comic and go home with a free credit just sitting there in the machine, and you'd complain to the other kids about how unfair that guy was, but at least he wasn't a dick like Mr. Stickle, who deflated any balls that came into his yard and went out of his way to get you in trouble with your parents.
posted by Hugh Janus 08 August | 09:13
I already tell them about the Florida town I grew up in. My parents told and still tell me. My dad always has beautiful and funny nostalgic stories. Hugh's pinball story reminded me of one of my dad's YooHoo (He would steel YooHoos out a machine for ages with a coin on fishing line before he got caught.) My stories aren't as good as my father's. Not yet at least.

Things I tell them:

When I was your age there weren't all of these people here. There weren't as many cars. There didn't used to be all of these tall condos. This was a farm. There weren't all of these houses here. When they complain of the heat, I tell them I never knew what hot was and I played outside from 9a to 9p and drank out of the hose. I tell them about my adventures with insects and nature and walking in the woods and playing in the "field". I tell them about climbing Japanese plum trees and eating them. I tell them about swinging off Moody bridge on vines. I tell them I was never allowed to drink Coke as a kid. I tell them that Coke was in glass bottles and how we used to bring them to the Jiffy to cash them in. I tell them about how school lunches were delicious and we had melamine trays, not Styrofoam. I tell them that the beach used to be a lot wider. I explain erosion.
posted by LoriFLA 08 August | 10:16
One of our close family friends died recently. The funeral was beautiful and a many of his friends spoke at the funeral about times growing up. Our friend didn't wear shoes to elementary school. Most of the kids didn't. I never wore shoes either as a kid, but I wore them to school. I remember going barefoot in Pantry Pride and my soles were black. God, we were hicks. I loved that story about my friend. They could probably afford shoes but it was Florida and they were hicks, walking on dirt roads to school barefoot.
posted by LoriFLA 08 August | 10:25
Using the beach as our baseball field in the summer, and not caring whether beachgoers in our "outfield" got hit or not. We were there before they were.

Grunion hunting, usually unsuccessful. We'd give up and go up to bed.

Swimming or surfing at night during red tide, any disturbance in the water making blue phosphorescence.

The older kids either blowing up or burning down lifeguard towers, just for the hell of it.

Two weeks in the hospital, delirious, from a surfing injury, while they debated the fate of my spleen (I got to keep it).

The phone booth that the tourists used, that was broken, and for months we lifted out the coin return reached into the box and reaped all the coins. We felt rich, one summer, doing that, before they fixed it.

Ah, LoriFla, there are worse things than growing up in a beach town, no?
posted by danf 08 August | 13:51
Coke in glass bottles. They were still ten cents in the machine at Standard Distributors downtown, and we'd bet on whose bottle came from farthest away; back then, glass Coke bottles had the location of the original bottler on the bottom. One time I got Hilo, Hawai'i!

Honeysuckle growing up the telephone pole -- if you're going to lick the stems, pick from up high, above the level the dogs pee on.

The giant magnolia tree in our front yard, its leaves so dense that nothing would grow beneath it. In the hot summer I'd sit in the cool dirt beneath that tree and watch the endless lines of ants.

The woods behind the house were full of paths, and mom and I would pick muscadines and blackberries there and come back scratching spots of poison ivy.

Finding an arrowhead and a rusty old Civil War saber.

Re shoes: I wore them to school, but the instant I got home they came off, and they stayed off all summer long. And none of us got worms, either.
posted by BitterOldPunk 08 August | 16:47
Re shoes: I wore them to school

Only in winter. In summer we were total hillbillies.

Having a TV with an antenna, and having about 5 channels total, with a few not very clear

We had three channels til I was 12, when we got five. And I'm only 31! (And have never had cable).

My stories will be about roaming totally unencumbered through the bush, swimming in the massive stormwater drains they have since blocked off (as at least one kid died every time it rained and they filled and were very fun to swim in [actually surf when it was raining really hard]) and music, movies and other media being difficult to get your hands on - now I just google whatever I want (if I can't find it on usenet) and it miraculously appears.

And being filled with wonder at visiting a foreign country. Now you can see clips and photos and read lots before you go and it's not so foreign anymore. The world has definitely got a lot smaller.
posted by goo 08 August | 17:57
Spending summers on the family farm, feeding cows, ponies/horses, chickens, geese, cats, dogs. Collecting eggs, helping with hay-baling (hated that!), collecting vegetables and fruit from the gardens. Mucking out the barn, grooming the horses/ponies, just wandering in the fields 'cause I could - the cows were used to "small people" and left us alone. Finding old cow and pig jaw bones (the farm has been in existence for almost 300 years now) and rusted horse and pony shoes in the areas around the barns and outbuildings. Watching bats fly at dusk.

Playing in the flooded roadways after heavy summer rains. I did this with my kids, too, and have photos I hope they'll cherish eventually. Biking around the neighborhood in summer from morning until evening and never worrying at all. My paper route at age 12. Bell bottom jeans. Hair down past my butt.
The "way-back", a large swath of land past our backyard where our imaginations ran wild. Walking to school!!
posted by redvixen 08 August | 19:23
Coke in glass bottles.

Oh god yes. I used to go to the Western Auto on Main Street with my dad on Saturdays, because he always had some project going. These trips were in the pickup truck, sans seat belts and car seats. I remember my dad tossing beer cans out the window and into the bed of the truck.

Anyway, Western Auto had one of those old coke machines where you'd put your dime in, then open the glass door to retrieve the coke. The bottle opener was attached to the machine, and the bottle caps fell down inside. It was conveniently located next to the peanut machine (don't remember if it was Tom's or Lantz's) so you could funnel your $.10 worth of peanuts directly into the coke bottle. (Be careful! Salt and coke make a big fizz! Get ready to slurp up the overflow!)

The shop also had a creaky wooden floor and smelled like motor oil.

I miss that place.
posted by mudpuppie 08 August | 19:41
HOLY CRAP... cast iron bollocks?! || Stop grinding your axe and shove it up your ass PETA