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2007: To Honor the Departed
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2009: And a Good Time was Had by All
2010: A Great Way to End it All
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...AND CHECK THE TIRES, PLEASE
13 October, 2011
I remember the very first time I pumped my own gas. There was a period where pumping your own was an option and you paid less if you did. But I was afraid I wouldn't know how to do it, so I always paid the higher price, a few cents more per gallon, for "full service." Full service included having an employee, or a team of employees, wash your windows, check the oil and other mysterious things under the hood, check the pressure in your tires, give you green stamps, and wave as they sent you on your way.
My friend Alison were doing something or other for one of the Lamplighters books many years ago and she offered to pay for my gas. We pulled into a gas station (which used to be called "service station" for a reason!) and she assumed I would be pumping my own gas. I was, frankly, terrified. I was always afraid that I would look like an idiot (which seems to have been my biggest fear throughout my life, which may have kept me from doing a lot of really very simple things). I remember putting the nozzle in the gas tank and not realizing that I had to lift the lever before I could pump. Alison showed me what to do and I guess I never looked back. I've been pumping my own gas ever since.
Full-service is a thing of the past.
So are green stamps.
Oh how excited Karen and I were about green stamps. They gave you stamps, based on how much you had spent at the gas station or at a supermarket and you went home and pasted them in a book. We would pour over the prize books for hours trying to decide what gift we wanted to get and how many books it took to get the book.
When you had filled enough books, there was a special redemption store where you could go and redeem them for things like a steam iron (believe it or not, I was once very excited about that!) or other appliances, toys, or special geegaws for the home.
There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, about Jackie Kennedy learning about green stamps and wondering where you could buy them. How we laughed at how the rich are different from the rest of us! (After the novelty wore off, the Kennedys would probably hire someone to lick all those stamps and put them into books).
Full service gas stations and green stamps are only a couple of the things that have somehow faded away into misty water-colored memories.
My father was a collector of records all of his life, starting with 78s and then a huge collection of vinyl jazz records of which he was very proud. He always told me those records would be my inheritance. Only by the time he died, vinyl was out of date and all those classic recordings that you couldn't find any more were being remastered on CDs and I practically had to pay someone to come and take the collection because I had no interest in them. Paul convinced me to save the 78s and when I contacted a collector, he reviewed the collection and told me it was useless because my father had not saved the original sleeves, which would have been the thing that made them valuable. So the old 78s sit there, worthless and the paper that would make them valuable was thrown away years ago, when he moved the records into albums.
Telephones are becoming a thing of the past. Now we call them "land lines" but I still say "telephone". I heard this morning that there is some high percentage of houses (I know two of my friends fit into this category) which no longer have land lines and rely on cell phones. Brianna and Lacie probably won't even remember when there were land lines.
Remember customer service? Remember when you could walk into a department store (remember department stores?) and find clerks almost hovering over you to the point where you wanted to tell them to just go away. Now good luck finding one when you are standing with an armload of items you want to give them money for. I've been to stores where there is ONE check-out stand for the entire floor, and if the clerk is helping a customer elsewhere, good luck getting your items checked out.
I suppose that every person who lives to a certain age starts to look back on the things that we remember fondly from our youth. I remember (barely) cream on the top of milk bottles. I remember milk bottles. I remember real blocks of ice delivered to my grandmother's ice box before she got a refrigeration unit in that box. I remember massaging the color dot into a block of white margarine to make it look like butter. I remember when Swanson's fried chicken was the only TV dinner you could buy.
I think if I start remembering anything else, I'm going to have to
lie down and take a nap....
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