Hammertime: Surviving yesterday and adjusting to today

Mike Rainone


On those really cold days I look forward to just sitting around our condo, and then in between snacks and naps I really enjoy playing board games, watching old movies, and browsing through our many district history books and photo albums. This is where so many great memories are rekindled with family and friends, while sharing all the countless good times and the occasional mis-adventures that most of us all likely had while trying to grow up in and around Ponoka over those gala years gone by.

For those of us who have now reached ‘senior-ship’, there is no doubt that along the way we have had to take a deep breath and then bravely admit and patiently accept the fact that we have come a long way from rambunctious kids to excited young adults and beyond, which has certainly been a challenging but amazing adventure. Of course there continued to be so many wild, occasionally weird, but mostly wonderful changes that have invaded our usually organized and now more tranquil lifestyles, which we have slowly but graciously accepted. This week, this melancholy and quite often forgetful 76-year-old columnist would like to share some of my favourite memories with all of you, many of which I am sure that you all can relate to, as well as hopefully recalling a whole lot that have been happily tucked away among your best and all the rest recollections of days gone by from in and around Ponoka?

Wasn’t this us?

• In most of our 700 square foot homes where our parents raised three or four or more kids and assorted pets we had a ‘living room’ where we would all congregate on many occasions during the day or night. If it was mealtime we were all beckoned to gather at the kitchen table for three meals a day, to play games, or for ‘family chats’ that would quickly solve those everyday problems and skirmishes.

• I so vividly remember that in our tiny little cottage along Riverside Drive we only had one television, one phone, and one radio, none with remote controls, but all of which could not be turned on until the homework and the chores were done, and our hands and faces were clean.

• Most of us as kids really looked forward to going to the store with our parents and casually shopping and just hoping that we might get a treat. We had to behave while the cashier added each item up on a big cash register, and then the goods were all stored into paper bags and boxes and paid for with real money, because there was no such thing as scanning or swiping in those days.

• There was also that time so many years ago when the friendly milkman, postman, and mailman would knock on your door, and they actually knew our names, petted the dog, and never delivered ‘junk mail’ or letters addressed to ‘The Occupant.’ Everyone in and around our town and county got to know and respect the doctor, the minister, the policeman, the teacher, the store keeper, the coach, and many others because they we were all family friends or neighbours.

• There was actually a time when just one glance or the sound of the horn was all it took for even us kids to know what make and model of a car was outside, and maybe even who it was, because everyone usually knew everyone else in our small and friendly town. No one ever hesitated to ask for help, to offer someone a ride, for a little extra gas, or a push or a boost if your battery had died.

• Our music for dancing, singing, parties, and romancing came from a home or car radio with big knobs and no push buttons. In those days just about everyone had a phonograph player, as well as stacks and stacks of 45 or 78 plastic records that had a hole in the middle. I now understand that many of these grand old rocking relics are now making a comeback after decades of obscurity?

• For those of us who were in the mood and getting tuned in and frisky in the roaring 1950s and ’60s, if we could gather up enough cash you could ‘soup up’ our old jalopies with whitewall tires, fender skirts, fins, bobbles, beads, blue lights and all the rest of the glitz.

• It was the cardinal parental rule then that we took our lunch to school and ate it in the lunch room, but many of us still snuck out and dashed down to the local Pool Hall for a game or a quick dip in the Battle River. For snacks we had potato chips that tasted like real potatoes, but the greatest delight was always mother’s homemade cookies, tarts, cakes, and pies, which were all hidden way up in the kitchen cupboard.

• Weekends were always a joy because there were always lots of community picnics or outdoor and indoor games and events, where everyone was invited, and packed a lunch and shared. Whether it was a game of hockey, baseball, football, or whatever, the rules were fair, everyone got to play, and there was no ‘video replay.’

Like all the rest of you I will keep trying to learn, love, and appreciate all the new technology and perks that has invaded our present living space , and if not we can always ask our grand-children to put us in tune with the times. But now and then, how sweet it is to rub shoulders with our next generation to share our nostalgia in a blast and lots of laughs about our great and glorious past. In the mean-time please stay warm, but try to get some brisk fresh air, and have a great week, all of you.

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