Those Were The Days


When I bite into one of my homegrown tomatoes, there's this moment when the juice squirts into my mouth that is just exquisite and almost indescribable.

Far different from the bland tomatoes you buy at the grocery store. You bite into one of those, and...nothing. You just can't beat the taste of homegrown tomatoes

For supper I had black-eyed peas, a baked potato with fresh chives and one of my patio tomatoes. I enjoy vegetable meals. Maybe because I grew up eating fresh vegetables at most ever meal. 

I wish I could once again taste that nearly sweet corn-on-the-cob slathered with butter, freshly-shucked of the silky strings. 

Or have another meal with those black eyed peas that my grandmothers sat on the porch and hulled. 

They worked all day out in the big garden, fixed supper, then sat on the porch and snapped green beans in preparation for another meal or canning session. While I ran about the yard with the myriad cats and dogs.


Oh my, the sweetness of the blackberry cobblers my great-grandmother baked. I'd pick the berries and she'd cook the cobbler. A tall glass of cold milk made for a tasty snack.

But if there wasn't something sweet for a nightly snack, we'd crumble leftover cornbread into a glass, pour milk over it and eat it with a spoon. Did any of you do that?

Our food did not have all the additives we have today. The chemicals in the air were not as prevalent. Clean living was the norm.  

Those were the days, my friend.


I was envious of all the town kids. I had no idea how good I actually had it. Though around 5th or 6th grade we did move into town as my grandmothers got too old to walk back and forth. 

Though we didn't have a car, those were the days of paneled station wagons. Remember those relics?  

If you walked down Main Street, you'd see a lot of station wagons and sturdy trucks lining the parking spaces in front of the stores. 

There was a Rexall Drug and beauty parlors (yes, that's what they were called) and small mom and pop shops.

A Coca-Cola was a dime. So was a double ice cream cone. You'd go into the Rexall Drug for these yummy treats. Back then pocket change would go a long way.
 

I don't recall that the noise was near what it is now. It was a small town. No cell phone ring tones to distract you. It was a time when you could "hear yourself think."

You'd hear an occasional car honking or the sound of a train out on the train tracks as it blew through town to parts unknown.

Nights were punctuated with the buzzing of mosquitoes and the snapping of those green beans being prepared for the next day's meal.  

After dark we'd go in to watch Gunsmoke or I Love Lucy or The Andy Griffith Show. Oh, and Rawhide and Bonanza. Remember any of those TV shows?

Remember Aunt Bee huffing and puffing over some perceived slight? How Andy would cajole and make light fun of her. Bug-eyed Barney was always stumbling into one mess or another, for which Andy always came to the rescue.


The world was so much simpler then. There was less crime and guns and mayhem. 

If there was an arrest, it was usually someone who had a little too much beer at the pool hall on Saturday night. They might have to be rounded up and spend the night in jail, where they were released come morning, penitent and contrite.

It was a time when neighbors knew one another and most every resident in town attended funerals. 

When the town basically folded up at 5 p.m. and the stores were closed on Sunday.

When one of the few sounds after sundown were dogs barking or the mournful sound of a distant train.

We had no idea of what was to come so many years down the road. We didn't anticipate the technology or hate or divisiveness. We could not have foreseen the world as it is now.

Life was less confusing. And in many ways, less daunting. 

I cherish those memories. They soothe me when the world seems to have turned upside down, and nothing makes much sense anymore.

They are as sweet as those cobblers fresh from the oven. Or those garden tomatoes that tasted like time had stood still. 


65 comments

  1. I can relate to everything you said in your post today. I wish we could turn back the clock to those simpler times. This old world is spinning too fast these days.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It does indeed seem to be spinning too fast. And out of control.

      Delete
  2. I miss those times too. My childhood was very much as you describe and yes, we also ate cornbread and milk. By the way, you can still watch the Andy Griffith show, gunsmoke, and bonanza. Andy griffin has never been off the air in all these years.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And that's because they are classics that never grow old.

      Delete
  3. I grew up in a very small, rural Virginia town. I can relate to everything you wrote about. I loved riding my bike all over town, going to the movie (usually a western) for only 9 cents, and the quiet of Sunday morning when nearly everyone went to church of some denomination or another. Paradise. I am so sorry that my grandchildren will never know that peace! Beautiful posting, Brenda.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our grandchildren are missing out. Yes, they have great technology. But you can't duplicate those simple precious times.

      Delete
  4. I have many of the same memories. One of my favorites was collecting coke bottles and turning them in to the little store down the road for a homemade milkshake. It was the best. I love my memories, but I guess the world keeps turning and each new generation has their own childhood memories. xo Laura

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't collect the coke bottles. Not sure why. Milk shakes even tasted different!

      Delete
  5. Our town was one block long and life was definitely much simpler. I still like cornbread and milk and home grown veggies are the best.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ours was more than a block but not more than probably half a dozen blocks.

      Delete
  6. That was just wonderful to read Brenda. It makes one long for days like that again. I try not to think too long about what is going on in the world, I don't understand all the hatred toward others. We need strong leadership to bring us back to a place where we should be. united and determined to love and honor one another in spite of our differences
    The pictures of your patio are just lovely. I only hope I can do justice to mine next year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It makes me sad to think of what is going on almost daily now. I don't think the US has ever been this divided.

      Delete
    2. The years before, during and after the Civil War were extremely divisive and violent in many parts of the country.

      Delete
    3. The world was divided during the Civil Rights era too, but for good reason. The calm you recall was not a minority's experience, and the change that followed was painful but for the better.

      Delete
  7. I was raised in a small town in Southern Illinois and can relate to those simpler times. I can't identify with the fresh vegetables because my parents moved to the city right before I was born. LOL If we didn't have cornbread, my Dad would use crackers and milk. LOL I don't think any of us expected the world we now experience. Thanks for sharing and bringing back many memories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like to see if what I write can ignite the same memories in others.

      Delete
    2. I was raised in a small town in So Ill as well (The Biggest Little Town in Southern Illinois) but it was in the 40s and 50s. I'll always miss that time and love my memories. I wish I had moved back.

      Delete
  8. I was raised in a small town too. I can relate to your whole story today. Enjoyed it very much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At least it is a distraction. Maybe that is all we can hope for.

      Delete
  9. Your memories of small town are exactly why we moved to the country. Hoping to give my kids a bit of simple living. Hope you have a great weekend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And good for you, Laura, for wanting a less complicated life for your children. Being out in the country and having all those pets are good for them.

      Delete
  10. Brenda, this is an excellent post. I grew up in the country but we would go to town to do our "trading" on Friday night. There was no work on Sunday, not even mowing the grass. We would have cornbread and milk or crackers and milk. I don't know if some of the things we did or ate came with them from the hills of Kentucky. Nothing like picking your meal from the garden! I helped my mom can and freeze for the winter. We have backyard chickens and gardens so we have recreated some of the activities of a simpler era.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We had chickens then. I remember the killing of the chickens for fried chicken. Don't much like that memory!

      Delete
    2. There is a good reason you don't like that memory, because it was unnecessary cruelty for a product humans don't need. And that is kind of the very definition of those times.

      Delete
  11. this was almost like a little novel brenda.
    so beautifully written and simple ... even moving one to tears. happy tears of "I remember that too!"
    remember the SMELL of a rexall drug store? it was wonderful!
    in the small town in virginia we would walk each other home at night amide the fireflies. I've never seen so many since! and on sunday after church the man who owned the drug store used to let us girls sit and have cokes at the little round tables and read the movie magazines without buying them... "if you're careful you girls! don't SPILL on them and watch how you turn the pages. don't mess up the corners!" LOL!
    such a grumpy sweetheart! who would do that today?
    your post is like a visit to mayberry itself. I even heard the theme song in my head.
    thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  12. That was so nice of him! No one would do that today. I'm glad I took you back to an easier and sweeter time.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I remember going to my grandparents house every Sunday, without fail, after church. We would eat some lunch and my parents and grandparents would drink coffee around the kitchen table and talk. My grandmother had turned her basement into a playroom for the grandkids. She had a real chalkboard that they must have gotten from an old school. We thought that was the ultimate and played school for hours.

    My dad's parents had a dog and lived on acreage so we could go outside and run around with the dog till we dropped! My grandfather would take me out to the plowed fields and we would look (and find) arrowheads. He would tell me stories about the Indians, our family, and listen to me chatter on about whatever was in my head.

    I think people just don't have the time anymore to sit and talk. That's what I mourn the most about today's life. Nobody just sits with a cup of coffee and talks about nothing and everything. Today's kids just won't have those memories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're so right! I imagine my daughter would love to have a place to take Andrew to run off his boundless energy.

      Delete
    2. I live in a small rural town with vintage houses with interconnecting porches, and some of us are on those porches all spring, summer and Fall. There is still time to enjoy that kind of leisure if you make the time.

      Delete
  14. Oh Brenda, I always enjoy reading what you write, but today's memories took me back to my childhood. I grew up on a farm in southwest Missouri and, although we never lived in town, I, too, envied my town cousins who seemed more sophisticated. I can almost taste the blackberry cobbler now! Hope you have a nice weekend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't tasted anything since that was as good as that cobbler. I can almost see the sprinkled sugar on the top of the crust glistening in the sunlight.

      Delete
  15. My childhood in southern Ohio was quite similar. My mom was a real 1950's housewife and embraced everything modern like frozen TV dinners and Kool-Aid, but we had relatives with big gardens and they gave us lots of vegetables. We ate our cornbread in buttermilk, however! We moved away from that area when I was 10, but years later my parents retired and moved back there. So I go visit there quite a bit and the Mayberry environment still is strong. I envy the closeness to a degree, but there is a level of everyone meddling in everyone else's business that is way too much for me. My mom still has several siblings living and they are so clannish they are like a tornado. It's hard to stand up to them. I have to be careful what I tell my mom in private because she tells her siblings and then they all let me know what they think. Well, frankly, they and my grandparents were all like that when I was a kid too, and it's part of the reason I don't have the strongest sense of self. It was pretty darned hard to develop it with such strong personalities around. It works out best for me to visit there but not actually live there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My grandmothers ate their cornbread in buttermilk. But I hated the smell and wouldn't taste it. Sometimes places are better visited in small doses.

      Delete
  16. Brenda, I totally enjoyed your post.. And I remember those days as well. We eat cornbread and milk or cornbread and buttermilk.
    The cobblers were so good back then, and when we didn't have a cobbler, Mama would pop a big pan of popcorn for our snacks..while watching Andy Griffin, Bonanza - Gunsmoke..
    The vegetables are so good [but as a child, I did not like them so well, and thought the other kids in town-- had such a better life.lol]
    I wish my grandkids could experience some the better times when social media did not take over their ever minute.
    Have a great weekend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel bad that my grandkids will never experience anything like this simpler time. Their lives are so different from what mine was back then.

      Delete
  17. I think we all long for the simpler times that we grew up with. Technology has made our world better in certain ways, but it has also made it worse. It's like no one today can take the time to look up from their screens. They aren't paying a darn bit of attention to what's going on around them. The worst is people on their phones in restaurants - instead of talking to their family members or friends around them.

    I grew up in a Chicago suburb that had just started. I was always playing outside with my friends...Kick the Can, Hide 'N Seek, Four Square, Barbies, baseball, riding our bikes, roller-skating, jumping on Pogo sticks, Cops and Robbers (bet kids can't do that anymore these days), swimming. I remember making our garage into a haunted house - and me and my sister charging the neighborhood kids admission. ;-) We played "house" and "vet" and even made up our own neighborhood Olympics. We walked to and from school (no buses; parents didn't cater to kids back then and drive them) and went trick-or-treating by ourselves blocks away. No fear of Stranger Danger back then.

    There's nothing like the taste of a garden-fresh tomato. I hate supermarket tomatoes - they're so hard and waxy and tasteless. As for fresh corn-on-the-cob, do you have any farmstands nearby? That's where I get my fresh corn all summer. You can boil it or even put it in the microwave.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How fun that you fixed up the garage on Halloween and charged admission! You and your sister were young entrepreneurs.

      Delete
  18. This was a great post, and I loved all the comments.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Oh Brenda, how you have taken me back. Thank you. We did not realize what a wonderful life we had back then. My father loved to crumble corn bread in a glass of buttermilk just like you described. We truly *lived* then. We breathed and touched and were an integral part of life. The smells, tastes and enjoyment of a simple and real life. How I loved meals at my grandmother's house with all the fresh, homegrown foods. I remember how much fun it was to go to the dime store and pick out some little toy for 5 or 10 cents. It almost seemed like even the birds song and the wind in the trees sounded better then. Maybe because there wasn't all that background noise we have today. The world has become such an angry, loud and fast moving place. We need to read things like what you wrote to give us a break, take us back and take us away from what life has become. It is sad the world has changed so. Thank you for sharing your memories and bringing back mine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. With all the tragedy happening in the world, I wrote this because I wanted to give us a breather from it all.

      Delete
  20. I enjoyed that lifestyle too. Sent outside to play all day and returned for dinner. Loved to ride my bike and roller skate..no helmet or elbow or knee pads, just total freedom. We caught moths, bees, ants, and stink bugs. Enjoyed riding our stick horses playing cowboy and Indians. Walked to town with friends and spent time looking in the five and dime store and no one had to tell us to behave....we knew to look and not touch. Great time to grow up. Patty McDonald

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We knew how to behave ourselves, didn't we? We understood authority. I never learned to roller skate. I'm pretty clumsy and I just kept falling down until I finally gave up!

      Delete
  21. We didn't start locking the doors of the house or taking the car key out of the ignition till the early 70s. Imagine nowadays leaving your keys in the unlocked car!

    Anyone remember when mothers would leave the baby in the baby carriage outside the store? You'd be arrested for child endangerment now. lol

    Back then women mostly were home all day and kept an eye on things. People mainly spent their whole lives in the same area and had roots and histories that bonded them to their neighbors and communities. Communities had a common moral code. I think that all reigned in a lot of the crime we see today.

    And we were children back then, unaware of the bad things that did happen. I suppose our parents would have a truer recollection of the good old days. Even so, back then was much nicer than now.

    ReplyDelete
  22. When I compare today's world with my childhood days, it makes me sad. I remember a time when we kept the front door open to get the night time breezes through the screen to cool down the house at night. I remember taking my little brothers and sisters a couple of blocks away to swim in the park wading pool and my mother did not worry. We "swam" and then sat at picnic tables and strung macaroni tinted with food coloring to make necklaces to take home. What fun! And at night we caught fireflies in jars, and made tents on the clothesline and slept outside, and woke up damp in the mornings, but what a great sleep we had. We left our car windows down at night and no one worried about the car being stolen. The neighbor kids and us put on plays and all the neighbors came and sat on chairs and watched the show. So fun! You knew all your neighbors and we walked the block at night and visited with them. We could walk over and visit with a neighbor without calling first and they were glad to see us. Most houses had front porches then, not the generic houses they build today. Everyone had a flower garden, and most everyone had gardens and yes, we ate real tomatoes, not the stuff they pass off today as a tomato.I remember skating so much I wore out the wheels and I was sad as I knew I could not expect new ones until Christmas. Well, I could go on and on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I could read all your memories for days! I just love talking about the "good old days."

      Delete
  23. I've had this ear worm (song lyric) in my head today, for 300 yesterday's and most likely, tomorrow. 🎼...and I don't feel at home, in this world anymore.🎼

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me either. I feel like a square peg that's been trying to squeeze into a round hole.

      Delete
    2. Count me in on this feeling too.

      Delete
  24. So many happy memories. I love reading your descriptions of your youth. I did not live int he country but a suburb and while growing up nothing was open on Sundays or holiays except the local convince store. We ate health home cooked meals and my grandmother made ever loaf or bread and dessert we ate.

    Those wer simple happy days. There is so much hatred and violence and the idea of "erasing" every part of history that someone doesn't like is beginning to wear me out.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hi Brenda~

    Great post . . . very thought provoking! I also grew up in a small town in, Idaho, I still live in a small town in, Idaho. The small town I grew up in isn't a small town any more, it's a metropolitan area, and there are too many people for it's old streets.

    I remember, Rexall Drug stores, we had one right around the corner from the theater. We used to go watch matinees during summer break, and we would stop at the, Rexall Drug, to buy penny candy before going to the show. They had one of those scales that would tell your fortune and your weight, we always wasted a nickle on it.

    There was a small park at the end of our small neighborhood, and we used to spend hours and hours there, just hanging out and playing basketball or night games. I'm sure it wasn't the kind of night games played today... ;0)

    We used to eat bread and milk for supper, it was delicious, and it had to be homemade bread or it would just get slimy. My grandfather would put spring onions in it from the garden, that was what he loved, and we loved him. Thanks for the walk down memory lane...it was amazing.

    And yes, noting like a fresh from the garden tomato!

    Hugs,
    Barb

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Back then there were no "helicopter parents" and children were allowed more freedom. Times were not so scary.

      Delete
  26. Sounds like a time I would have preferred to live in :) Thanks for such a beautiful post, Brenda.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Must sound far-fetched for someone you age!

      Delete
  27. Bonanza .. Brenda you made me remember when I was in about 5th or 6 th grade and on Friday night my parents and I would go grocery shopping and then race home to eat dinner and watch Bonanza. I would sit on the floor leaning against my Dad and we loved the show!
    We moved to the Adirondack Mtns from NYC and it was a dream come true for my parents who had honeymooned on Lake Champlain. For my siblings and I it was idyllic. We had so much freedom and could go anywhere. We grew up in my great grandmother's farm house and loved our new country lives. We never went back except to visit relatives. One summer my Dad who had never gardened bought me 30 tomato plants because they were so inexpensive ! Can you imagine 30 plants for a family of 5! We gave away tomatoes all summer and had a "help yourself free table "! This summer in Md visiting my grands they had such a vegetable table with pay and make your own change. Taught my grands how to make stuffed peppers! Nothing tastes as good as fresh vegetables and living in the country!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's good for children to live on farms and see what goes into their food and milk, etc.

      Delete
  28. I grew up on a farm and in a small town, too. And what you say takes me back to those simpler times. If only we could go back--even just to visit. I don't know if they were really simpler times or if we just remember them that way. I remember those years as a child. Maybe life wasn't that simple for the adults. Who knows--most of them are gone and can't tell us.

    Thanks for the time travel, Brenda.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Oh my Brenda, my grandmother would eat "milk toast" made similar to your version with cornbread. She'd fill a tall glass with crumbled toast and pour milk over it and eat with a spoon. I didn't and don't care for it because I've never liked the taste of milk unless it has chocolate in it! Lol. Sweet memories tho.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I liked it then. Not sure I'd like it now. Haven't had milk and cornbread in many years. I'd almost forgotten about it!

      Delete
  30. I cherish these old memories too, and I would love to have one of those old paneled station wagons! The milk over cornbread was what my father ate almost every night for supper, although it was buttermilk he had. Their big meal of the day was dinner, at noon.

    I believe I think more and more of childhood days, the older I get. Even though we lived in a suburb of Nashville, not the country, most of what you write about here was typical of my neighborhood and certainly of my mother's activities. Lately I've thought about how much she accomplished in a day and then I realize that there were so few distractions. No World Wide Web, one telephone, one television set that was never turned on during the day. She did listen to Stella Dallas on the radio while she ironed. I don't even remember any rules about how far we could go in the neighborhood. It was understood in the summer that we'd be out playing with friends. When I was older, a young teenager, I was expected to help with all the canning and preserving. I liked all of it except shucking bushels of corn outside with my dad--I hated coming across the grub worms or whatever they were called in the corn. We did go many weekends a couple of hours away to visit grandparents in the country and all the aunts would bring food for the weekend and the men would sit outside and churn ice cream. But I would be where I almost always was if I had the chance, somewhere with my nose in a book!

    Lovely days indeed, Brenda. I think more and more how I can make my life simpler like those days.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My nose was in a book much of the time too.

      Delete
    2. Fall leaves....raking them into piles and jumping into them!

      Delete

I always enjoy reading your comments and having you join the conversation here at Cozy Little House. It is like having a gathering of friends sitting in my cozy apartment. Enjoying coffee and dessert, chatting and having a good time.

Please be kind with your comments. We all need kindness in this world. That's not to say you can't state your opinion! Everyone should be able to state their own opinion in a kind and thoughtful manner.

I appreciate each and every one of you!