Monday, October 20, 2014

The Green Thing: Back in Our Day ...

An Older Woman ... from Our Day
Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to an older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags, because plastic bags weren't good for the environment. 

The woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have this new green thing back in our day."

The young clerk responded, "That's the problem our generation faces today. Your generation didn't care enough to save the environment for future generations."

She was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store then sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so they could use the same bottles over and over.  Actually, they were truly recycled. But we didn't have the green thing back in our day ...

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things. The most memorable, besides household garbage bags and Halloween masks, we used the brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks.

This ensured that the books provided to us by the school, public property, was not defaced by our scribblings, as we creatively personalized our books on the brown paper bags. But it is too bad we didn't do the green thing back then ...

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and we didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn't have the green thing back in our day ...

Back then, we washed the baby's diapers, because we didn't have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts. Wind and solar power really did dry our clothes. But we didn't have the green thing back in our day ...

Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady was right. We didn't have the green thing back in our day ...

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not one in every room. And the TV had a screen the size of a handkerchief, (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana.

In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand, because we didn't have electric machines to do it for us.

When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam, or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working, so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she was right. We didn't have the green thing back in our day ...

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty, instead of using a Styrofoam cup or a plastic bottle every time we wanted a sip of water.

We refilled writing pens with ink, instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor, instead of throwing away the whole razor, because the blade got dull. But it's true -- we didn't have the green thing back then ...

Back then, people took a streetcar, or bus, and kids rode their bikes to school, or walked, instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service.

We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

Then again, maybe I really am just another selfish old person who needs a valuable lesson in conservation from a smart-ass young person ...

[Author Unknown]

“A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write.” ~CJ Heck


Anonymous said...

I absolutely love all these memories. Don't forget that many of these activities were left over from THE WAR (WWII) and we just kept it up. One more thing, I remember having our milk delivered in glass containers that were returned to be used again. Now I am aging myself!

CJ Heck said...

Yes, yes, yes! We also had a milkman who delivered milk in glass containers! I remember the bottles had little circular cardboard lids with a tab, so you could pull it off easily. Wow, what wonderful memories ... thank you, Patricia.

SciGuy52 said...

Hi CJ,

I got a new suit for easter along with new shoes.
There were the Coke bottles that gave thick glasses their nickname. They were made that way to last.
I made a compost pile to have worms for fishing. Saved hauling grass away and burning leaves...remember burning leaves in fall?
I wore my older brother's school uniforms until I outgrew him! Senior year of high school I got my first new uniform.
Sticks, soup cans and veggie crates were toys.
Snowstorms were "White Gold" and no one had a snow blower. We'd shovel the walk for $0.50 and the driveway for 25 cents more!


CJ Heck said...

Hi Mark! What a lovely blast from the past.

Yes, I do remember the smell of burning leaves every fall! You know, I can close my eyes and still smell them, even now. Kids today don't know what they're missing.

Everything you said, I can relate to. I remember we used to make stilts out of the large-size tomato juice cans. We turned the cans upside down, put holes up near the top on both sides, and threaded heavy twine through the holes. Then you tied the twine over your shoes. It made a distinctive "clop-clop" as you made your way down the sidewalk, too!

Yes, snow shoveling was a great way to make money! Snow days were awesome! My sibs and I loved carving out snow forts from the snow drifts, sledding, and ice skating on the ponds. Those were the days.

Oh, and I wore a pair of those "Coke bottle" glasses you spoke of, until I finally got contacts during my sophomore year in high school (laughing).

Great thoughts you shared! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

What great memories. I grew up with all of them. I remember getting an "It's a Boy" cigar on top of the milk bottles one day, the thrill of being allowed to "order" chocolate milk once in awhile, and watching the 1st color TV in the family over at aunt Carrie's house in Pasadena. I think we were instinctively "green" back then. Maybe we were more in tune with the environment then some previously thought. We boomers just love hearing about all we did back then. Way to go guys (grandparents etc) Thank you so very much CJ !!
--James Ferris