While sitting with my niece the other day, our conversation shifted into what to watch on television. As she began flipping through cable channels we didn’t find anything interested so we decided to turn on the fire stick for something; new and scary. But in the interim of using the remote control to flip through many channels, I saw a character that looked vaguely familiar and took me back into my childhood. I had my niece to go back to that channel so that I could make sure I was seeing correctly. Hell, she was hitting that remote control button so hard and changing the channels so fast that my reflexes nearly snatched the remote control from her hands. But in any event, like I thought once she went back a couple of channels it was who I thought. It was Alfred Hitchcock I couldn’t believe it! It’s been ages since I last saw any of those classic movies. However, my niece was in disbelief that as a child my siblings and I had watched Hitchcock and many others black and white programs like Frankenstein. She was being judgmental which wasn’t much to my surprise considering how spoil she and her siblings are in having such a privileged lifestyle.
So me being me, I had to take little Ms. Missy back down memory lane from my neck of the woods. You see, I was born in the 60’s and proud to say that! However, not just this particular niece but all my nieces and nephews are fascinated when I bring up comparisons from then to now. Then our television programs were in black and white. We had minimum channels to choose from; 2, 5, 7, 9, 32, and 44. Our television often got bad reception leading us to use aluminum foil at the tip of the antenna to make the screen clearer. We had telephone booths with pay phones inside of them costing anywhere from five cents to twenty five cent to make a call. You had to insert the nickel into the nickel slot where it was labeled five cents. We had live operators who connected long distant calls unlike today. Most people used pay phones to prevent making long distance calls on their home phones. No one wanted those outrageous long distance charges to be added on to their phone bill. We didn’t have to use an area code to make a call then we just dial the seven digit phone number.
Moreover, growing up during the late 60’s and 70’s were truly golden years but then again it was pretty much still segregated in many cities and states. I didn’t elaborate on that topic because my niece was still laughing at me for wanting to watch Alfred Hitchcock. In the meantime, this little heifer was in awh and couldn’t get over some of the programs we watched such as; Rawhid, Lucy, Maude, Fish and so many other great classics. These kids today! Even though, I was on a ramp page I wasn’t finished and began to stare at her hair. She instantly laughed knowing I was about to speak on hair. I told her baby you know back then we didn’t have hair extensions, weaves, needles, threads, jell and all of those extra hair accessories that you are using or wearing. We wore our hair natural including wearing wigs using dipperdy doo gel for afros or for a press and curl.
I continued on and told her how CB’s radios were popular. My Father was a local truck driver back then and was quite fond of this little voice tool. In fact, many nights my Mother would go outside to get my Father from our car. He would be spread out laying across the front seat. Back then cars had no console in between the front seat having room for at least three to four people sitting in the front. Like I said, my Father would be laying across the front seat, with the CB radio in one hand while resting the other hand behind his neck with his feet planted on the ground speaking into the small hand microphone saying breaker, breaker one nine. Just then, another niece came into the room snapping her fingers to the sound of music from her iPhone on ITunes.
You know I couldn’t resist saying back in my days we didn’t have the popularized ITunes on a phone. Oh course, we had a radio and a small portable stereo component to carry from room to room. You know the kind with the leather exterior with a handle attached looking like a replica of a small luggage. When you opened the case you had; the record spinner, the needle and several 45’s tucked inside ready to get played. Then, our choices for music were the radio but most people purchased the latest; LP’s, 45’s, including cassette tapes. Meanwhile, cassette tapes were replicas of today’s video tapes. They were strictly used inside the cars. However, whenever, a LP or a 45 record was playing and got stuck on repeat we used a quarter or two pennies to place on top of the needle giving it a slit push with weight in hopes that the record would continue on playing where it left off. If that didn’t work we use rubbing alcohol to clean the record which was surely to work. Both nieces were fascinated as always! My younger generations didn’t have the opportunities nor the way of life that my siblings and I had. My parents taught us values and morals into being able to fend for ourselves. I teach my babies what life was like besides the fun and games. I want them all to know where we come from and to what degree we had to survive in order to make a difference not just in our lives but other people’s life. My parents were strict with rules. We had Saturday chores while watching American bandstand and Soul train in between cleaning. We had a curfew after school which was when the street lights came on. My siblings and I could never understand why we were always the first kids in the house while everyone else was still outside.
In conclusion, I don’t like saying that the younger generation missed out because none of them were born. I want my kids and family members to always remember the difference between each generational lifestyle. It wasn’t always easy for families but we improvised and made things work out for our best interest. We paved the way for them as our Parents paved the way for us and so on and so forth. Finally, I had settled down until another niece came in smacking on sunflower seeds. I couldn’t resist and said "do y'all know that then we soaked our sunflower seeds in pickle juice"!