Friday, September 23, 2022

Where the Old Road Used to Go


It’s Free Form Friday! Anything goes!

Today is my half birthday. I know not everyone observes them. When I was growing up my mother would make half a cake on that special day. It took years for me to figure out what happened to the other half. (She only made one layer, split and stacked it. There was no other half.) 

At any rate, thinking of days gone by made me think of things my parents used to say. I suspect that everyone’s parents had a few quirky expressions that were particularly unique to them.

My mother:

  • If they say it’s new and improved, it isn’t.
  • He doesn’t have the sense God gave a grasshopper.
  • If she told you to jump out the attic window to see if you would bounce, would you?
  • He’s a pill.
  • Her face would stop a clock. 
  • God stacked the deck against Adam and Eve. He put that snake in that garden.
My father:
  • That’s where the old road used to go.
  • (When answering the telephone) Howdy! (Pause) Pretty fair, yourself?
  • Down the road apiece (when asked by children how far the destination was)
  • People put ketchup on french fries to cut the grease. (This truly annoyed my mother)
  • Let’s have more of that good gunk. (A recipe he liked)
  • Well, this is interesting. (A recipe he never wanted to eat again)
My parents’ formative years were full of things that were mysteries to me: traveling by train and by streetcar. My mother told stories about running out to pat the milkman’s horse, or how exciting it was when the ice delivery came for the icebox. My father grew up in a much older Cleveland, attending parties in houses that had since been torn down, and had attended plays in theatres that now stood vacant.

They clearly remembered life during the Depression and food rationing during The War. Did you know you could collect a whole dish set just by going to the movies? They talked about listening to the radio in a way that almost made me sorry I’d missed those years before television. They seemed to me to come from a world that did not exist anymore, as far away from me as the American Revolution or the time of Classical composers.

Perhaps part of that was how the world was hurtling forward during my childhood: the 1960’s. Television was moving from live to pre-recorded, from black and white to color. Packaging in grocery stores had been cellophane, waxed cardboard, glass.  It transformed in the blinking of an eye to plastic, plastic, plastic. Rockets were going to the moon, music was electrified and pulsating with new rhythms. Traditionally all-male colleges and universities were admitting women.  

It seemed to me as though my world was running away from the world of my parents as fast as it could. 

Today I am wondering if that’s how every generation feels. Did my parents feel that way about my grandparents’ world? Do my children feel that way about me?

Anyway - - now it’s your turn. Did either of your parents have certain expressions that you identify particularly with them? Have they become a part of your vocabulary? Have they worked their way into family stories?

Tell me. I’d love to know.

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