I Remember When

When you had a run in your nylon stockings and you took them to a lady who repaired them by picking up the thread and reweaving it.

When you had your threadbare winter coat taken apart, turned inside out, buttonholes closed up, and voilà you had a new coat.

When mornings the milkman came by and blew his horn so you could take your container down for him to fill.

When pasta and sugar were sold in little paper cornucopias.

When gas was short and you had to line up at the few gas stations which still had fuel.

When the baby carriage for your first (and second) born son was a hand me down.

When diapers were cotton and washed “after use.”

When you grated apples to feed your baby and dissolved a triangle of cream cheese (Nestlè formaggino mio) in the soup with pasta in the shape of stars or the letters of the alphabet.

When you were frowned upon if you didn’t wear black stockings when you were in mourning.

When an osteria was still an osteria where the men came evenings to play cards and have their glass of wine.

When first-grade students still wore smocks – white for the girls with a pink bow, black for the boys with a blue bow.

When you turned the collars of your husband’s shirt front to back when they were threadbare.

When you chose a fabric and then went to the seamstress for a new blouse.

When you took pictures of your children with a real camera and black/white film which was then developed and printed.

When you wrote letters by hand, or maybe on a typewriter, and it took ten days for them to arrive and then ten days to have an answer.

When you had a young woman from the country to help in the house and she referred to you as her “padrona”.

When it was spring cleaning time and you emptied out the wool from your mattresses, washed it and dried it in the sun and then put it back into the washed mattress cover.

When your mother-in-law carried around a brazier with burning coals to keep warm in winter.

When you used embroidered cloth envelopes for your napkins, or silver napkin rings.

When there were only a couple of channels on your TV and the female announcers were never allowed to show their cleavages.

When one of the best TV programs was It’s never too late, teaching illiterate Italians to read and write.

When not everyone had a TV set, and for the soccer matches the Italians would gather in the bars to cheer a game and you could hear them a block away when their team scored.

When the bed-time stories for your children were the TV ads called Carosello.

When the phone was on the wall in the entrance and you dialed a number or raced to take the phone off the hook.

7 thoughts on “I Remember When

  1.  I love this. It feels like a personal time capsule, but also one that would ring true for many of us, regardless of age or circumstance. It offers encouragement to tap into our own remembrances. Grazie!

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  2. Lovely memories… and with every day now I find myself sorting the such memories—mine almost a generation off of yours… brighter with each passing days and taking too much time from the present… your mother-in-law with the antediluvian brazier caught in the past of her present warding off the chill of the future… wonderful image!
    J

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When you picked up the phone and the operator said “Number please”; and there were three more parties on your line. When the cinema was only 25 cents! When you heard the song, “Pepsi cola hits the spot, 12 full ounces that’s a lot, twice as much for a nickle too, Pepsi cola is the drink for you”! When gas was 25 cents a gallon! When Gene Autry and his friend Tonto were radio stars, and you didn’t know what Tonto meant in Spanish! When women could only be teachers and nurses, and only if they were unmarried! Etc., etc. Were those the ‘Good old days’?

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    1. Never had Pepsi Cola. Our drink was root beer. Peanut butter and jelly sandwishes as we raced off to walk the mile to school. And yes I loved to listen to the Lone Ranger and Tonto. Since I never went to the cinema by myself have no idea how much it cost. Same for gas. On the radio there were the famous soap operas – Life can be beautiful, One Man’s Family, and I forget what else. Jane something or other who always mixed up words. I suppose women could only be teachers although my mother had her PhD and taught at university for a while and I had an aunt who was a nurse. Married and with three children. Over the years there were so many other things that changed. These remembrances cover only a scattering of them.

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  4. Most of these predate my Italian sojourn. I do remember doing Carosello when I was on Mille lire al mese in 1996. Lovely memories.

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