As I awaken from a short nap today and sat enjoying a cup of cappuccino, my mind went back in time to my childhood. I thought of the big city of St. Louis, Missouri where I was born. It was a city not suburbs as some of us call city today. I remember the two and four family flats around the neighborhood. Most families rented. The flats were not air conditioned. Instead, a fan was placed in the window for cooling. Neighbors sat on the front porch steps to cool in the evening. Those buildings were very hot in the summer time. Children played on the sidewalks such games as hop scotch and jacks. Some kids were lucky enough to own a bicycle. Our treat consisted of getting a nice cold snow cone from the snow cone man when we heard the musical sound of his truck coming. Our parents were blue collar workers. They were proud to have jobs in factories near by. After a hard day of work some listened to the Cardinal baseball game on the AM station of their radio. You could smell the aroma of home cooking coming the apartments. Dinner time was called super time and lunch was dinner. A hearty lunch consisted of half a bologna sandwich and a can of Campbell’s chicken and noodle soup. Super usually included some form of potatoes, a meat and gravy, peas or beans. Children did not complain about their meals and Mom’s enjoyed cooking them.
Week ends came and some Dads might have a beer or two. Mothers did the weekly grocery shopping at an outside fruit and vegetable market. Meat was purchased from a butcher at the meat store. The butcher was a friendly sort of chap with meat blood stains on his apron. He always cut and wrapped a generous good portion in white freezer paper. The butcher knew all his customers by a first name basis.
Some times families enjoyed the parks on Sunday. I remember the bright colored plastic table clothes spread out on picnic benches. Huge bowls of potato salad, slaw and all the fixings were there for a wonderful picnic meal. Adults and children played softball, badminton and shared a lot of laughter and fun. At the end of the day we were relaxed, a little tired, sometimes sun burned, but happy. That was life in the big city.
Later I remember the move to a small town. It was a much slower pace. The town has one grocery store not a butchers shop. There was a town square that sat right in the middle of the town with the stores around it. You could see the old cotton gin where farmers brought their cotton in wagons to be ginned and bailed. Sometimes there was country music players in the square for the town folks entertainment. It was very important to get to town at the right time on Saturday evening for the town drawing. I remember waiting anxiously to hear who would win the prize for the week.
On Sunday most folks put on their go to meeting clothes and attended church. Everyone’s shoes were shined and dressed in their best clothes. You could see men’s faces freshly shaved. Women looked as though they just walked out of a country fashion magazine. Hats were properly taken off prior to entering the building except for the ladies. Of course they displayed their hats proudly on their heads clipped on with hat pins.
Sunday dinner was a big thing in the small town. Tables were prepared with the best dishes. The windows of the houses were open. Curtains were swinging back and forth in the windows. You could smell chicken and okra frying. Potatoes were being mashed with real butter. The gravy was simmering in the skillet. Fresh pies were coming out of the ovens. Beautiful red tomatoes were sliced from the garden. The families gathered around at the table and enjoyed a feast. After dinner some nodded off for a nap while others just relaxed as if there was not a care in the world.
If you are a boomer reading this I hope it took you to a place of importance in your life. I hope you will share your story with others that will listen. Most of all, I hope that it has instilled in you the memory of what is really important. Simple can sometimes be the most priceless of things that we have! Ask yourself, is it too late? Maybe your family can still have some of this on a beautiful week end coming up soon.