Those Were the Days: Nostalgia Time


I was visiting a Kiwanian friend who graduated from Fredericksburg High School in 1945. I was telling him about our upcoming 60th reunion. He said that Fredericksburg was a tiny community back then, and several farm boys rode their horses to elementary school. Recess was always the time for baseball and marbles. Football wasn’t that popular as of yet. He is looking forward to going to his 70th reunion!

Now in the ‘30s and ‘40s, Pampa football was what everybody talked about in a gab session. The two big stars on the Pampa Harvesters during this time were Randall Clay and “Red” Mayes. They both went on to be football greats at Texas University! I remember as an eight or 9-year-old going to the Combs-Worley Barber Shop on a Saturday morning and sitting for at least an hour listening to the various town folks talk about Harvester football and our chances of beating the Amarillo Sandies and Lubbock Westerners! Very seldom did anyone discuss college or professional football. During baseball season, they talked about the Pampa Oilers, our “pro” baseball team, and everyone went to some of the games. I remember rooting for Joe Lewis, the heavyweight champion in professional boxing. I would be on our living room floor with my head up against our big 4-foot tall Philco radio, listening to blow-by-blow from that great sportscaster Bill Stern. Do you remember Coy Palmer reading the comics in The Sunday Pampa News? It was sponsored by the Sunshine Dairy, owned by Pinky Vineyard, with the song “This is your Sunshine Dairy Milkman…” played and sang by Coy.

I never remembered anyone talking about the Olympics, tennis, wrestling, or any girl sports. My, how things have changed, and I think it’s all due to our ability to communicate through the internet, TV, and all other electronic devices. But some of this stuff is going too fast…I think I will take the good ol’ days!

The downside is we have lost contact with our neighbors and even our kids. And what about all the jobs that have gone by the wayside: such as the milkman, the telephone lady that placed your call (mine was Lena Jean Smith), and the elevator guy. Then there was the service station (filling station) with a full-service fellow to fill your gas tank, wipe your windows, check under the hood, check your tire pressure, collect your money and bring you your change. (Actually, we have a local Texaco Station that still does this, but ironically, I don’t use it!) And back then, there weren’t any credit cards, it was all cash at $.25 a gallon, or some stations ran a bill for their good customers. Now we have supermarkets that bring you fresh milk any day you want to buy it, and fresh fruits and veggies from all over the world. The stores don’t have as many elevators, but we have moving stairs called escalators. Do you ever think about your parents who have departed us and what they would think about all the things that are at our fingertips?

I miss the good old barbershop where men and boys could go, listen and add to the week’s gossip, or watch the shoeshine guy pop his rag while making your shoes look like glass. Going to Hair Salons makes me feel uneasy having to sit around with women. However, I have discovered that female barbers do a pretty darn good job. I go to a “real” barber shop, the last real one in town…called Sonny’s Barbershop. It’s been doing business here for 70 years. Sonny, my barber, took over around 45 years ago. He inherited it. But now even Sonny has hired a female…funny thing is she has a little room in the back of the shop where she does her work. I’ve used her a couple of times; she massages your shoulders when she gets through with your hair… that’s pretty nice.

Boy howdy, remember all those beautiful cars we used to ride in? Not like these things of today that all look alike with more plastic on them than metal. The Desoto, Keizer-Frazier, Hudson, Nash, Buick, Pontiac, Ford, Oldsmobile, Chevrolet, Dodge, Plymouth, and Chrysler were there. All so different that you could recognize them the instant they turned the corner. I miss seeing the Packard, Edsel, and Studebaker. And, of course, the dream car was the Cadillac. They all had a certain class about them; each model had various additions to offer, like “power brakes and power steering.” Some even came in three different colors on them…and white wall tires…I really miss the white wall tires! Then, of course, now we have all those foreign cars thrown into the mix. And some have backup cameras, navigation systems, satellite radios, telephones…and Bluetooth. Actually, that ain’t too bad.

When’s the last time you went to a real circus? My parents took me to Amarillo to the Ringling Brother – Barnum and Bailey Circus as a kid. It had all the rides and, of course, the big tent with three rings and all the great acts with animals, clowns, and trapeze artists…what fun. The next time I went, I was a grown man with two young sons. It was in the Astro Dome in Houston. Our family went and had a wonderful time. Jon just told me that now the circus is regulated by the EPA, PETA, and I-don’t know-who-all regulations, the circus is not what it used to be. There are no more little cars stuffed full of clowns, no more dog acts, and limited horse and lion acts. Poo!

Do you remember the fifth-grade geography book? It was light blue and larger than the other books. When you opened the hardcover, there was an artist-colored drawing of what the future would look like! It had autos with bubble glass tops, airplanes, bullet trains, skyscrapers, fancy highways with spaghetti-bowl interchanges with all their loops and turns! I remember sitting at my desk fantasizing about living in a world like that picture. But, of course, I could never imagine all that actually happening! But, look at us today…so much beyond our wildest dreams!

Let’s talk about people in general. Whatever happened to a person’s word being his bond and a handshake sealed a deal, and then you could “take it to the bank.” Whatever happened to teaching our kids such things as honesty, integrity, upstanding character, setting goals, and how to reach them. The importance of being fair and honest to others through your business or as an employee of a company. What happened to respect for others, men helping ladies. We used to call that …being a gentleman!

I love the good music of the last four centuries. So many masters creating symphonies and beautiful music during this time. I must admit this stuff these tattooed, long-haired weirdoes call music is an insult to music! You didn’t actually say what you were thinking about them because you might “hurt someone’s feelings” or be called a prude.

I close by saying I thank the Good Lord I had the privilege of growing up here in America, here in the “Mayberry of the Panhandle,” Pampa. I went through WWII from the age of five to the age of nine. I watched the newsreels that showed the cemeteries with thousands of American boys buried. What an impression it left on me. They died for this country, this experiment called the United States of America. There is no other country like us. God Bless America.