The country duo The Judds have a song I loved about asking mamma about the good old days and it is fitting here as though not everything was great about the ‘good ole days’, many things were. And even the things that weren’t, nostalgia makes it ok to miss them.
I am not ashamed to say I miss my childhood. It was overall awesome despite the beatings, evil teachers and hardships as I was free to flourish and be myself without having my creativity stifled or questioned. As a child of the 80s, I knew what was hard work, what was manners and what role as a child I had so I never had a problem for the most part. The only thing that bothered me was when people told me to do stuff that made no sense. If it makes no sense then I’m gonna question it and back then you didn’t ask questions what adults said as THAT was seen as a sign of disrespect. When I see children asking questions nowadays I realise how good they have it as in my day you would feel the back of an adult’s hand as that would be considered talking back. Definitely not something I wanna cherish from the good old days.
But to get back on track, most of the memories of ferris wheels, jumping cannals, stealing jumbelin, climbing hills, picking fruits, playing hookey from Sunday school are great ones as Claude McKay said we were innocent of passion, we were just being children, wild and free. See if you love this journey down memory lane as much as I do.
When pickney had manners. Yep back then, every adult could potentially whoop your ass for misbehaving so you said “good morning” to every body and pretended to be an angel once you were in their line of vision.
There were no smart phones or gadgets. And we didn’t miss anything. The most ‘electronic’ a device we had was a view finder. That was so cool back then. I think it still is.
People gathered communally to watch neigbour’s TV. Remember ‘Beverley Hillybillies’ and ‘Dukes of Hazard’? Those were the shows we all loved but back before every household had one, the first person in a community would be nice enough to allow everybody who can see to squeeze in and watch. It actually didn’t matter what was on, we were just happy to be seeing something, if the antennae would allow.
JBC signed off at midnight. You could always tell what time it was when you heard the anthem playing. It was time for bed because there was not much else to do than maybe listen to the radio.
Benny Hill was the ‘rudest’ thing on TV. As a kid I remember trying desperate to stay awake to when this risqué English comedy came on a Tuesday night if my memory served me well. All the shenanigans and bawdy rhyming songs that took place were so sinfully hilarious it was forbidden. Compared to what is on cable television nowadays, Benny Hill seems like ‘Benny Hinn’ in comparison but back then it was adult titillation at its best.
People actually read books. Way before Kindle we were happy with Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Dick and Dora and My Book of Bible stories , Aladdin, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and a host of others. Reading may not be everybody’s cup of tea but reading was my thing as I learnt more from books than I did in an actual classroom at times.
We loved Santa Barbara, Falcon Crest, Dynasty and Dallas. Television is one of the best inventions ever and long before the days of reality TV dysfunction, we had soap operas and drama series to occupy our minds and the work place as we hated villains, loved the good guys and yes we all wonder to this day, who shot JR Ewing!
Every kid was a karate move fanatic. In the late 70s and early 80s it was all about karate movies and we were all karate experts as we would practice what we thought the Shaolin masters did on the silver screen. We idolised Silver Fox and Bruce Lee and all thought we could repeat the crazy aerial acrobatics we saw on the films. At times all we did was end up hurting ourselves but we sure had fun in the process.
Our curfew was when the street lights came on! We didn’t need watches to know when to get ourselves home. As soon as the lights came on, we scampered off to our respective homes to eat, tidy, do our homework and go to bed.
We loved to carry trapper keepers and igloos to school. Long before JanSport bags were the in, kids lugged around a lot of stuff to and from school on public transportation and most of us had our trapper keepers to organise our folder leaves especially if you were in high school. You also needed an igloo for your cool drinks and for water as sometimes depending on your school, that could have been a luxury.
Girls wore ribbons not weave. Remember as girls we wore ribbons and pretty clips in our hair? Now girls younger than ten have in weave and hair extensions. Now explain to me how difficult is it to comb a child’s hair? I raised a daughter so I know what it takes to groom a black child’s hair so I simply don’t get it.
We wore stone/acid wash jeans. In the 80s it was all about getting a pair of stone wash jeans to wear to a school fete or barbecue and we would be the hottest thing since slice bread!
LA Gear and Reebok sneakers were the brands of choice. Granted I never owned one as a child or even as teen so I could only dream of sliding my very holey bobby socks into one.
People went to the fence or window and hailed their neighbours and not text them. Yep, we were a generation of yellers with no apologies. “Miss Myrtle you have any curry?” or “Pansy, mama sey she a beg you set some ice cuz she ago tung (town) fi buy fish!” Who needed a phone when your vocal cords were in good order.
We sent letters and not email. I remember have penpals from all over the world plus relatives in the US and UK and going to the post office to buy stamps in batches and white envelopes, sending letters and waiting anxiously to get mail from overseas. Now all we get are bills in the mailbox.
We sent pictures and not Skype. We went to a photo studio and took pictures and sent them overseas to our relatives periodically, not like today when we can simply turn on a device and see someone half way across the world.
We got up to work the TV. First of all it was one dead channel so we had to get up to turn it on an off . We didn’t have remotes so in most households that ‘manual’ labour fell to the youngest person in the family.
We didn’t have word abbreviations. We spoke patois but we learnt English in school so there was no ‘lol’, dwl’, smh’ or anything like that. We had to write everything out.
We went to school fairs and fetes. There were no all night dances and dash out sessions and if we were at a party in our neighbourhood and stayed past our curfew trying to act grown, best believe the person playing the music will announce ‘Nikki, your granny sey is time fi go a you bed!”Talk about embarrassing!
We got plenty of fresh air and exercise. Yep, just like Ceelie said in the Colour Purple. Nature was our god mother and she took damn good care of us. Plenty of Vitamin D and we didn’t wear any sunscreen either. Today kids play wii to get exercise. Seriously?!
We made some of our own toys. Yes we had store bought toys but we also loved making stuff like wheel and wire, milk box trucks, dolls from mango seeds etc. Kids today do not know how to do anything but make a mess.
We did chores. From making our beds to even getting up early to feed goats, pigs and chicken, children did chores around the house and the yard without questioning their parents. Nowadays they walk out of their clothes and expect a helper to pick up after them.
We did not whine! In my day whining was such a serious no-no, it could get your jaw re-arranged. If you asked your parent for something and they said no, that was it. You moved on. You didn’t whine, pout, stomp your feet and you certainly could not throw yourself on the floor and have full out tantrum. Not if you didn’t want to end up hospitalised!
We parted company with ‘las lack’. We didn’t BB, whatsapp or text ‘ttyl’ (talk to you later). You ran your friend down and slapped them and shouted ‘las lack’.