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[personal profile] marence
Once upon a time, I loved listening to my grandparents' stories.* A time before television! Hell, even a time before electricity and telephones were in everyone's home! What fascinated me most, in hindsight, was the anthropological details: buttonhooks to put on boots and fancy dresses, heating irons in the fire for pressing fabric and curling hair, and the stoic acceptance of the cruel double standards of the day, for both women and immigrants. Photography was only done at life events, and was more portraiture than snapshot, and featured solemnity and dour glares. Only my grandfather, late in life, told amusing stories, and we only heard one afternoon's worth, about making and selling bathtub gin during Prohibition, and fighting the other ethic steelworkers in the tavern on the corner, and most surprisingly, how he lied about his age to get out of Poland. He was really 18 when he left, and said he was 15. Being only 5'2" and looking really young, they believed it and let me pass. Finally my grandmother's Polish harangues penetrated the fog of brandy and cherry pipe smoke and he sighed, saying "O.K. Enough."

My parent's** stories, by contrast, were relentlessly cheerful stories about deprivation and climbing the social and economic ladder. Two streetcars and a walk of three miles to get to work? Well, it was a job, wasn't it? And by working hard, look what we have now! With a little coaxing, my mother would talk about studying the ladies magazines and movie posters, buying fabric and using her sisters as dress models to recreate the designer wear she loved and couldn't afford. My father, in later years, would give her money and tell her to go buy a new hat when she was especially down.

Today, I ran across a link, and realized I am now old enough culturally to tell stories about the olden days. My friends, I give you 11 Sounds That Your Kids Have Probably Never Heard. Yep. Feeling ancient. All I have to do is find some kids to bore with my stories of "The Time Before Computers!"

*all born between 1897 and 1903, and immigrated to America from Poland just prior to WWI.
**both born in 1922, and they were married in 1942, before my dad got shipped overseas.


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May 2013

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