The Good, Old Days

My father liked to pose my two older sisters and me in front of beautiful backgrounds.

My younger son is big into old-time video games . . . well, they’re vintage to him at age 16. He scored a Sega Dreamcast system (circa 1988) for Chanukah and a much-coveted (for some reason) Atari 7800 system (1984ish) as a bribe reward for returning to his high school.

Recently, he was telling me how much he enjoys playing certain video games (which still include the Nintendo 64 and Game Cube, as well as the Wii and Xbox 360). Then he said, “Don’t you remember a favorite toy or game from your childhood?”

Already a photographer at age 8

Which got me thinking. The only real toy I can recall from when I was a kid was a stuffed monkey (Pierre) I adored. And I loved my first camera, a Kodak Brownie.

But other than that? We were a typical middle-class family of four kids, an overworked dad, and a stay-at-home mom (until my little brother, the hotshot Chicago lawyer, was eight) trying to survive and thrive in the 1950s and ’60s in the Chicago area. There wasn’t a lot of extra cash around for frivolous things.

The four mobsters, as my dad called us, in 1963 at Brookfield Zoo.

But who needed material items when you had siblings and friends? We played outside all the time, even when it was bitter cold. Moms wouldn’t let kids into the house unless it was time to eat, do homework, watch the “Ed Sullivan Show,” or go to bed. There were no exceptions!

I may not remember having toys, but I’ll never forget Tag, alley races, returning pop bottles for refunds, buying penny candy at the mom and pop candy shop, going to the beach (we lived far north in Chicago, close to Evanston and Lake Michigan), walking miles to and from the library (my mom didn’t drive), and just plain having fun with all the kids in our neighborhood.

For me, there was nothing better than playing with my siblings. That’s why my older son has a little brother.

Pigging out at age 7 with my aunt (left) and my mom . . . and dirty socks and sneakers.

Sure, the TV only had three channels, and, more often than not, it was black and white. But who had time to watch it when you were busy having fun? Few people were overweight, because we didn’t have fast-food places, and everyone seemed to walk—we were a lucky generation!

No, we weren’t wealthy in material items, but we truly were rich. Those were the days, my friend!

I’m sure after this long harangue that my #2 son was left with only one thought: Couldn’t Mom have just said yes or no?


2 responses to “The Good, Old Days

  1. EM, You were just the most photogenic of all of us. I love all the old pictures but especially the one of you with your Brownie camera. I do remember that somehow we had a toy box filled with beat-up old toys that we all shared. Were they used? I don’t know. I remember at birthdays and Chanukah being disappointed that we only got clothes. I do remember the aunts pitching in and buying me jewelry for something significant like grammar school graduation.(For example, I had a cameo ring that I loved) Did they do that for you, too? Looking back we really did have a great childhood with all our outdoor activities, long walks and library books!

    • I don’t remember getting anything but gelt for Chanukah. I did get a cameo ring; that was a nice tradition. You were a great leader of the four of us when we were kids, big Sis!

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