I have the rare blessing of a lifelong friendship with my high school math teacher. Ms. Bowers taught me every level of math including trig, analytic geometry and calculus. When there were no more math classes to take, I became her aide, and she often reminds me of how hard I was on my fellow students. Occasionally she’ll call just to tell me how wonderful I am, and how much I still mean to her. I pour the love back to her, in deep gratitude for the way she mentored me through high school (without me knowing it). I always thank her for changing my life by insisting I leave East Texas and go to Austin to attend the University of Texas at the young age of 17. I shudder to think what might have been had I not followed her advice.
During a recent phone call we laughed about one of my greatest accomplishments: typing a perfect paper on a manual typewriter at the state, high school, regional competition. The mention of that machine sent me down memory lane, with visions of years gone by filled with appliances, cars, tools and gadgets that have been replaced with what we visioned as “space age” when I was growing up. Do you remember these?
- Princess telephone. When I got a pink one in my bedroom it was a sign I was growing up! I would spend hours cradling that receiver, lying on my twin bed with a floral comforter.
- Black and white TV and the Beatles. I remember in vivid details the debut of the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. I was only 7, but I sat just a few feet away from the screen, squealing with delight as these handsome young men stole my heart.
- Video cameras with light bars that could illuminate a ball field. My father would come in on Christmas morning as I was waking up, and it was like an entire movie crew had arrived. In the footage of those years, I was often squinting, covering my face or turning my head. Then there were cameras with film. Remember Instamatics?
- The soda fountain at our small-town drug store. They had the best burgers and shakes, cooked while we sat on stools that spun around.
- Simple games, like cat’s cradle and Jacob’s ladder with string, jacks, and those “fortune tellers” we would make from paper. Electronic games were only seen on The Jetsons, where you could put food in an oven and it would pop out immediately, fully cooked, like magic!
- Drive-in movie theaters. We would take popcorn in a big paper bag, candy and cokes, in our old station wagon we parked with the back open toward the screen. This must have been a labor of love for my parents, dealing with giggling girls who wiggled more than they watched the show.
- TV dinners. Remember Swanson fried chicken, turkey or Salisbury steak with mashed potatoes, peas and apples? We would sometimes sit with our TV trays watching evening variety shows. I can still taste the foil.
- 8-track tapes. They were clunky, but played our favorite bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Pink Floyd and Elvis.
- The Mark Eden Bust Developer I ordered with my college roommate. We burst into laughter when we received a plastic clamshell-shaped, spring-loaded exercise tool, with instructions about holding it in our hands, in different positions while squeezing to increase the muscles in our chests.
There are so many more that bring a smile to my face when I let nostalgia take me on an impromptu journey. What are some of your fondest childhood memories?