“Times” A feature by Heradio Luna


The other day someone asked, “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. However, I could eat mesquite beans as fast as I could pick them off the trees.

“C’mon, seriously. Where did you eat?”

“It was a place called ‘at home,” I explained. “Mom cooked every day and when Dad got home from work, we sat down together at the kitchen table, and if I didn’t like what she put on my plate I was allowed to sit there until I did like it.”

Some parents NEVER owned their own house, never wore Levis, didn’t know what a golf course was, traveled out of town or had a credit card. Very few people had credit. We ordered from Montgomery Ward catalogs or maybe 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 little league practice. We didn’t have a car, in fact, we never owned a car until I graduated from high school. Furthermore, we didn’t have little leagues then. I never had a bicycle. I never owned store-bought toys. I had to make my own.

My family didn’t have a radio until I was 14 years old, never owned a television. First television I had was after I got married, it was, of course, black and white. I never tasted a pizza till I was around age 30. I never wore a suit until I was 26 years old. The only reason I wore that one was because my brother passed it down to me. I never had a telephone in my room. My sisters didn’t have a phone either.

In fact, nobody had a telephone. Milk was delivered to our house, in milk bottles, and we fetched ice from railroad cars after we bought our first real ice box. We never had a newspaper delivered to our house. 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 movies. I don’t know what they did in French movies. French movies were dirty and we weren’t allowed to see them.

Growing up isn’t what it used to be, is it? Mom always kept a little bottle of soda with a stopper full of holes which she sprinkled clothes with when ironing. There were no steam irons around yet. We had wood heaters and wood stoves in our house. We furnished the fuel for the stoves by chopping wood, and sad to say yours truly did his share of the chopping. We also had things called quinqués, or kerosene lamps. These critters kept our nostrils well lubricated with soot. First thing we did in the morning was blow our nose to clear the nostrils of that black stuff. We never had toilet tissue. In our outhouse we had an assortment of old catalogs, both Sears and Montgomery Ward. Then people wondered why so many people in our day died from cancer of the rear.

After I got married, the first car I owned had head light dimmer switches on the floor, ignition switches on the dashboard. I used hand signals when turning because cars didn’t have turn signals. None of the cars had automatic transmissions. We had to switch gears by hand. I know it’s hard to believe, but I actually owned a car that I had to crank in order to start it.  Good old ’29 Ford Convertible.


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