Bellevue Herald-Leader

One night before the little league season ended, I was sitting on my deck and kind of half watching a baseball game that was being played on one of the diamonds at Ensign.  A mom approached her son in the dugout with a bottle of water.  

She then kind of pulled him outside the dugout to spray him head to toe with bug spray. I couldn't help but notice the dissimilarity from when I was a kid, back in the olden days of the 1950s.

Firstly, I never played in an organized game of softball...not ever.  Maybe once, in PE, but I don't remember much organization.  There were no softball leagues for little girls, preteen girls or in my case, high school girls.  We did have neighborhood pick-up games where, if you wanted to join, you learned to follow the protocol of the sandlot elders.

  Two of these elders called dibs on "captains" and tossed the bat for the proverbial playground order of picking teams, usually counting eagle claw. Most of us who weren't picked first knew that we weren't the best (we wouldn't even have picked ourselves if we had been captains), and the last one picked just picked up his glove and joined the team that was stuck with him.  No one needed therapy... I don't think.  Frequently, someone had to take their dog home because it wouldn't quit taking our ball. We didn't have tied games, everybody wasn't a winner and the game usually ended with a signal from the "noon whistle" or as my 5-year-old grandson called it "the lunch alarm."

   No one ever furnished us with snacks or treats at the end of our game.  No one brought us bottled water (we would have died laughing back then with the thoughts of paying for water).  Certainly, there were no Yetis (believe it or not, I once bought a  full-sized refrigerator for less than the cost of one) or HydroFlasks (and there is probably a newer one that I am not aquainted with).  

I guess the  1/2 to 1 gallon red and white "picnic type" jugs were the first personal water bottles.  I am sure there weren't any energy drinks available. Most of us had plenty of energy without them. Just Kool-Aid and Lemonade. No one was overly concerned about sugar consumption then.  There were no diet drinks or low or reduced-fat items, I don't think.  

There also weren't 100 different brands and /or flavors of potato chips, no Doritos or FunYums or Combos or ... you get the idea.

A lot of candy was sold by the pound over a candy counter,  which was manned by a lady who   scooped, weighed and bagged your purchase. And even though they were only a nickel, candy bars were just an occasional treat.  We ate the white bread "with the red, yellow and blue balloons printed on the label."  

   We did usually have a "water bottle" in the refrigerator at home to have cold water to drink.  When outside, a garden hose or one of the springs on the hill worked for us (hey...we could have bottled REAL spring water had we been entrepreneurs).

And we  no spell check to find out how to spell "entrepreneurs."

  $8 or $10  Bug Spray?  We used to run behind the "fogger" that was pulled around town pumping some kind of chemicals into a cloud that was supposed to eliminate mosquitoes.  It evidently didn't do us any long term damage.  It evidently didn't do us any long term damage.  It evidently didn't do us any long term damage... But, really,  I still hardly ever get bitten by gnats or mosquitoes, maybe the fogger stuff  worked also when it was inhaled.  

  We all should have melanoma too, as there was no sunscreen, and the only reason we didn't want to get sunburned was that it hurt, not because we were afraid of skin cancer. We limited our exposure until we needed to put a tee-shirt on.  Some fair-skinned kids wore bandaids on their noses or zinc oxide slathered on their beaks.  I remember wearing my hair in braids and getting "my part" sunburned.  

  Parents, it seems, were a little more "relaxed" as far as keeping an eye on kids.  I remember on more than one occasion, someone saying "Joey, take your little brother home to get his diaper changed!"  or parents saying "I have been looking all over town for you!"

  We didn't spend a lot of time in the house.  All the homes that I knew only had one tv.  We got 3 channels. There wasn't much for kids programming except for Saturday mornings.

And If Dad wanted to watch "Friday Night at the Fights" brought to you by Gillette or "Your Hit Parade" or "Gunsmoke" or Edward R. Murrow, well, that's what we watched or found something else to do.  

Classics like the Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan and the Christmas cartoons were broadcast only once a year, so if you missed them, you had to wait another whole year.

  We also didn't have air conditioning.  No one that I knew had an air conditioner.  We frolicked in a lawn sprinkler that seemed to produce ice cold water even on the hottest of days.  There are also pictures of my brother and me when we were really little in our private pool...a washtub.  

We made tents on the clothesline ruining both blankets and clothespins that we pounded into the ground.  And of course, using dad's hammer that I probably never put back.  He once said that if he had all the tools back that we lost in our quest to build forts, he could open a hardware store.

 True that.

  The Good Old Days?  Yes and no.  

Last week when the temperatures were in the '90s and the heat index was over a hundred,  the good old central air felt mighty good.