Opinion: I long for the good ole days

By LOUIS BREAKFIELD,
Either I long for the good old days, or I feel sorry for the youth of today who missed out on so much that people my age were able to enjoy as youngsters.
 
For instance, today’s generation missed out on “the real thing,” Coca Cola. When I was a wee lad, Coke sold for a nickel. Around 1959, my little world crumbled as the price for a bottle of Coke went from a nickle to six cents. But for 70 years the price of Coke remained at a nickel.
 
That should be proof as to how important even a penny was in those days. As competition, there was introduced Big Cola. It wasn’t as tasty as a Coke (but what is) but it came in a 16 ounce bottle as opposed to the 6 ounce coke bottle.
 
Ever wonder where Coca-Cola got its name? Well the Cola referred to the kola nut which flavored the original, and Coca refers  to the coca leaves which still flavor the drink today. But original Coca-Cola contained cocaine, which made it truly “the real thing.” Not so, today.
 
Today, it is against the law to import coca leaves . . . unless you happen to be the Coca-Cola company. That’s right. Coca-Cola is the only company allowed to legally import coca leaves for its product.
 
Almost everyone has a cellular telephone today, but many people like me also have a private “land line.” Telephone service was not always so private. You haven’t experienced frustration unless you were ever a member of a party line.
 
Way back in the late 1880’s the telephone company began to offer the party line. A party line is a service whereby several telephones are connected by a loop, meaning that several households were connected to the same telephone line.
 
After World War II the demand for telephone service, especially in rural areas, exploded. The cheapest and by far the most popular were the party lines.
 
Memories of my childhood telephone experiences were of two things . . . a heavy rotary phone and the party line we were on that encompassed seven households. Frustration was in the form of two unique attributes of the infamous party line.
First was actually getting to  use the phone in my house. There were always and I mean always at least two elderly ladies gossiping on the line. One had to actually ask the talkers to hang up and let the phone be used by someone else. It was not always pleasant as the gossipers did not want to give up the phone.
 
Secondly, when I did get to use the phone, as I was talking to someone, I could hear the receiver in another house being removed from the cradle. The maddening part was I could not hear the receiver being replaced. One or more of my neighbors was listening to my conversation.
 
Each phone on a party line had a distinct ring. I believe, if I remember correctly, ours was one long ring and two shorter rings. But of course, everyone knew everyone else’s ring, so one could listen to a particular person’s phone conversation.
 
Most of today’s youth cannot imagine watching black and white television, but that was the only choice back in the day. A form of television was invented in the mid 1920’s, and by 1939 black and white televisions were sold at the World’s Fair.
 
Let’s face it. Drop a youngster of today in the middle of 1950 and he probably could not survive without a computer, with three on the tree automobiles, provided he is of driving age. And calculators to figure out math were not in existence. I doubt a child today would be able to figure out a slide rule, our calculators of the 50’s.
 
I think I long for the good ole days.
 
Louis Breakfield of Petal is a former editor of The Columbian-Progress and The Magee Courier. Breakfield also taught high school for 25 years.

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