I Remember When …

Newspaper vendor, Paddington, London, February...

Newspaper vendor, Paddington, London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is my walk down memory lane. What a nostalgic time! I remember when newspapers cost 25 cents (a mere pittance by today’s standards — but, with the internet, ebook readers, and iPhones/iPads, who buys newspapers these days?), and my dad would often give me a dollar to walk up to the convenience store on the corner — a leisurely five-minute walk — to buy a copy (the Friday edition was an extra-special bonus, with its 5-8 page insert of full colour comics). I would then use the remaining 75 cents to splurge on candy … specifically, chewing gum with gushy fruit centers (these are not the Fruit Gushers of today) … and still have 25 cents left over.

A bag of Frito-Lay's Cracker Jack, featuring S...

Frito-Lay’s Cracker Jack (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I remember when you would get actual bonus (not “free”, as they are marketed today) items in Fruit Loops and Corn Pops cereal and Cracker Jack boxes that wouldn’t require you to mail away 4-6 proofs of purchase, a completed rebate form, and $5-$10 (in cheque or money order) to cover shipping and handling fees that were more than the cost of the “free item.” Sure, the bonus item was often a plastic ring, a sticker, or a trading hockey card, but it’s the principle that counts, and honestly, a t-shirt doesn’t take much room in the cereal box (have you seen smashed tees?)

I remember when you could visit the neighbour next door without worrying about accidents, kidnappings, and well, anything else bad. Parents trusted other kids’ parents to supervise.

Vancouver Museum and Space Centre, Vancouver, ...

HR MacMillan Museum and Space Centre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I remember when school field trips to places like the MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver only required a signature on the waiver form from one’s parents — no fundraising on the part of students (or, more correctly, the parents’ part) was required. Although these were day trips and not two-week journeys to Europe with teachers in tow.

I remember when the cylindrical, family-sized plastic swimming tubs with attachable lightweight ladders (sold through the Sears summer catalogues) cost a few thousand dollars. And how, when I was in Grade 6, a very popular, soon-to-be-retiring teacher was given a 16-foot canoe as a retirement gift from the entire student body (Kindergarden and Grades 1-7!) It was actually hauled into the auditorium for all to see! Back then, when money had real purchasing power, that canoe represented at least a couple of thousand dollars. Apparently my schoolmates had parents who were very well off, or they held many, many fundraisers.

I remember when putting 25 litres of gasoline in your car actually got you very artistic and laser-etched drinking tumblers at the local Petro Canada station — without paying 25-30 cents extra per glass (which would eventually happen, and not that much later, thanks to the extreme popularity of this promotion).


Atari Pong video game photo credit: onepointzero via flickr CC-BY-SA 4.0

I remember when Atari’s Pong was the video game to play on your TV. You could be entertained for hours, even without the company of another individual, with the monochromatic paddle and white bouncy ball.

I remember when board games like Monopoly were still hugely popular party games — video and arcade games were still niche.

I remember when cellphones were the size and shape of) cordless phones, minus the base.

I remember when there were no such things as Dollar Stores! You shopped at Safeway, Woolco, Woolworths, or Zellers, and went to the States on the weekend to check out what Target, Nordstrom’s, and the other retail outlets (like Walmart) at Bellis Fair in Bellingham, Washington, had to offer.

English: IKEA store, Southampton

IKEA store, Southampton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I remember when Richmond, BC, was still miles and miles of grass, farmland, cows, horses, ducks, pigs, and chickens, as far as the eye could see, and then some. IKEA Richmond was the one and only IKEA in Canada, and had the first children’s play area (Småland) to be filled to the equivalent of a ten-year-old’s waist levels with plenty of coloured balls in BC. Even if you were “too old” to join in, IKEA proper was a home furnishings museum / interior designer’s dream –where you wouldn’t have to pay admission to come in and stare :), and all the amenities of home (more or less), including washrooms and restaurants, were there to make your shopping experience as unrushed and relaxed as possible.

I remember when open house at UBC meant a fun trip to Vancouver, to ooh and aah at all the cool faculty/school exhibits (especially the sciency ones), and you could get those dot matrix computer paper printouts of “art” like the Mona Lisa and Einstein, which were not made up of pixels or dots, but letters and numbers, repeated over and over! Just Google ASCII art. 🙂

I remember when snow days and Christmas were events to look forward to, and days to wake up (and wake up everyone else) very early on.

I remember when all you needed was imagination and/or a book to have a good time. And, I still do!


3 thoughts on “I Remember When …

Your comments are like chocolate for my soul ... I can never get enough of them! Bonus brownie points for witty comments! I love a good turn of phrase. :)

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