Getting Old! – Remember When?

I receive a lot of articles on “getting old” asking “do you remember when …. “I don’t usually post them because they don’t relate to Middle Village. But this one was an especially good one … and we can all (just about) relate to “getting old.”

Not only that, but this particular article triggered memories of something we had done in Middle Village. I thought that, perhaps, it might trigger some of your memories of Middle Village events.

I’ll post my own recollections as a “reply” to this article. I would enjoy hearing some of your memories as they relate to Middle Village. And now, finally, here’s the article (sent to me by our beloved friend, Myrna Berbiar Abelson).

“For my Over 40+ Friends………

—-Sometimes words get me to thinking, like …..

“Fender skirts!” What a great blast from the past! I hadn’t thought about fender skirts in years. When I was a kid, I considered it such a funny term. Made me think of a car in a dress. Thinking about fender skirts started me thinking about other words that quietly disappear from our language with hardly a notice.

Like “curb feelers” and “steering knobs.” Since I’d been thinking of cars, my mind naturally went in that direction first. You kids will probably have to find some elderly person over 40 to explain some of these terms to you.

Remember “Continental kits?” They were rear bumper extenders and spare tire covers that were supposed to make any car as cool as a Lincoln Continental, but never worked, in my estimation.

When did we quit calling them “emergency brakes?” At some point “parking brake” became the proper term. But I miss the hint of drama that went with “emergency brake.”

I’m sad, too, that almost all the old folks are gone who would call the accelerator the “foot feed.”

Here’s a phrase I heard all the time in my youth but never anymore: “store-bought.” Of course, just about everything is store-bought these days. But once it was bragging material to have a store-bought dress or a store-bought bag of candy.

“Coast to coast” is a phrase that once held all sorts of excitement and now means almost nothing. Now we take the term “worldwide” for granted.

This floors me On a smaller scale: “wall-to-wall” was once a magical term in our homes. In the ’50s, everyone covered their hardwood floors with, wow, wall-to-wall carpeting! Today, everyone replaces their wall-to-wall carpeting with hardwood floors. Go figure.

When’s the last time you heard the quaint phrase “in a family way?” It’s hard to imagine that the word “pregnant” was once considered a little too graphic, a little too clinical for use in polite company. So we had all that talk about stork visits and “being in a family way” or simply “expecting.”

Apparently “brassiere” is a word no longer in usage. I said it the other day and my daughter cackled. I guess it’s just “bra” now. “Unmentionables” probably wouldn’t be understood at all.

It’s hard to recall that this word was once said in a whisper: “divorce.” And no one is called a “divorcee” anymore. Certainly not a “gay divorcee.” Come to think of it, “confirmed bachelors” and “career girls” are long gone, too.

Most of these words go back to the ’50s, but here’s a pure-’60s word I came across the other day: “rat fink.” Ooh, what a nasty put-down!

Here’s a word I miss: “percolator.” That was just a fun word to say. And what was it replaced with? “Coffeemaker.” How dull. Mr. Coffee, I blame you for this.

I miss those made-up marketing words that were meant to sound so modern and now sound so retro. Words like “DynaFlow” and “ElectraLuxe.” Introducing the 1963 Admiral TV, now with SpectraVision!

Food for thought: Was there a telethon that wiped out lumbago? Nobody complains of that anymore. Maybe that’s what castor oil cured, because I never hear mothers threatening their kids with castor oil anymore, either.

Some words aren’t gone, but are definitely on the endangered list. The one that grieves me most? “supper.”

Save a great word. Invite someone to supper. Discuss fender skirts.”

– Spencer


Spencer Wulwick – May 29, 2004

Speaking of fender skirts, it brought me back to the age of 18 and my very first car: a beautiful Pontiac hard-top convertible.

Many of my friends will remember the car, because we all had great “fun” with it … at my expense. I remember one time, when a group of girls were pushing the car up Bear Mountain with Sid Schwartz (if I remember correctly) not helping, but urging them on. But, I digress.

The car – as best I recall was – two-tone … and you have to picture this. The top of the car was a cream color and the bottom was dark green. The dark green fender skirts matched the bottom of the car.

One night, while driving with a bunch of friends, someone spotted an identical car … EXCEPT …. that the other car had contrasting cream color fender skirts.

No matter how I protested, worried about being stopped by the Police or, worse yet, an angry car-owner touting a gun, my friends INSISTED that we SWAP the fender skirts and that is just what we did.

Although we never saw the reaction, we always tried to picture what the car-owner must have thought upon approaching his (or her) car and finding different fender skirts.

A few days later, back we went, found the car, and swapped the skirts back to the original. If the car-owner wasn’t a “drinker,” I wouldn’t be surprised if (s)he started tipping the bottle after that incident.

I honestly don’t remember who was in the car with me, when we pulled this little prank, but it was probably “the twins,” and somehow I just can’t see something like this happening without Sherman Heller being involved. (Love ya, Sherman).

Any of my friends remember the incident …. and are ya willing to admit it? lol

– Spencer


Alan Taub – May 31, 2004

How about the add-on sun-visors on some model cars? I had a 1950 olds and had it put on.

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