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Days gone by not so good

It never bothers me to share my age. Generally, I don’t think about turning 65, but there are times when it becomes quite apparent that I’m older than many folks I interact with on a daily basis.

The other day I was at the grocery store and asked the cashier if she knew what S&H Green Stamps were. She didn’t have a clue. I explained that in the “old days,” when you shopped at various retail stores, you received S&H Green Stamps as a bonus, based on the amount of money you spent.

For those who don’t know what S&H Green Stamps were, they were actually little green stamps sold to retailers by the Sperry &Hutchinson Co. beginning in 1896, according to a website called “The Straight Dope.” Stores displayed the S&H logo on their windows so you knew you would get something extra when you bought merchandise or food from this particular business.

The more money you spent, the more stamps you received to take home and put into the S&H Green Stamp book. Once you filled many, many stamp books, you carefully reviewed the S&H merchandise catalogue, which was almost as good as a Sears catalog. Then came the trip to the redemption center to trade stamp books for toaster ovens or card tables or one of the hundreds of items available for a certain amount of stamp books.

While the stamp program no longer exists and the Sperry &Hutchinson Co. has changed hands a few times, the Internet tells me that the company has “rebounded” and offers “greenpoints” for online purchases. You can see its offerings at www.greenpoints.com.

Anyway, after the green stamp episode in the grocery store, I began thinking about change in general, and not only the fact that most of us don’t use typewriters or record players any more. The longer I thought about change, the more I felt good about changes and the less I wanted to return to what have been called “the good old days.”

“The good old days” weren’t so much good as they were different. When I think about major projects I undertook during the 1960s and 1970s, without the help of computers, email, the Internet and cellphones, I realize the amount of time spent working at what can now be done in less than half the time with much less effort.

I know human nature has not changed in the past 50 years, which means people were doing the same things like eating, sleeping, working and relaxing but just doing these things in different ways.

In “the good old days,” women spent hours washing clothes, which I’m sure they absolutely loved, especially when it came to washing diapers and hanging clothes on the clothes line outside or in the attic like I did.

Women spent hours cooking, which can be a very enjoyable experience, but every day, 365 days a year would even be tough for Bobby Flay or Emeril Lagasse. Then they washed the dishes without the help of a dishwasher.

In between the washing and the cooking, there was going to the store, making beds, ironing, scrubbing floors, washing windows, mending, taking care of a sick child or relative and dozens of other chores that needed to be done in order for a family to function.

We still do all the things that were done 50 years ago, but it takes much less of our time. We don’t toil from dawn until dusk and people take vacations!

Yet, we complain we have no time, people are horrible, the world has never been in worse shape and we should return to “the good old days.”

The next time you use the remote to change the channel on your big-screen TV, pretend it’s 1950 and people died from polio and your mother didn’t know what it was like to have a day off. Ah, the good old days.

Rose Ann Miele is a journalist and was public information officer for Boulder City for nine years. She can be reached at roseannrab@hotmail.com or at 347-9924.

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