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February 18, 2009

Back to the good old days

Editor's Note: For those of you who have been checking here and not finding anything new for a few days, my apologies. I have to be in a "mood" to write this column...and wait for the inspiration to present itself. Hopefully, it will happen a little more frequently in the weeks ahead!


I was just watching one of those Coronet Instructional videos from the 1950s. I’m not entirely sure what the purpose of these videos was – and I’m hoping one of my readers will enlighten me. Were they shown at school as a primer for how teens should behave?

Everyone was so polite, careful with their language and, well, perfect. I don’t imagine it was really like that, but I like to think it was. In fact, I like to imagine that that era was a wonderful, Mayberry-like time when everyone was kind and considerate, children minded their parents, no one argued, there wasn’t crime and Moms had dinner on the table at 5 p.m. when Dad came home in the big sedan, carrying his briefcase and wearing a fedora. I know this is probably so far from the truth – but I love it.

After seeing the first Coronet video on television, I did a little search and found there were actually lots of these instructional videos on youtube with interesting topics – including sex education, what to do on a date, how to know if your kids are on drugs, how to be popular, etc. Each one was more precious than the next.

The sex education video was particularly interesting as it discouraged young ladies from riding horseback, square dancing, swimming or any other activities that involved quick movement during their menstrual cycle. It also said you should only bathe in warm water and dry your hair quickly so you wouldn’t catch a cold!

The video on how to plan a party was adorable as well, suggesting that the host or hostess plan engaging party games and change the games when guests grew bored with them. One especially fun game involved making hats and everyone modeling them. Having been a teenager myself at one time, I can only imagine such a party game would have gone over like a lead balloon. But…maybe this would have been a big hit then…someone tell me.

Aside from living in the late 1800s or early 1900s, my other choice of when to have been alive (if we had such an option) would have been in the 1940s-1950s. The perfection of the world then, if only that which is captured on film, seems idyllic, serene, uncomplicated and exceptional.

I can only imagine what Columbia City was like back then. I’ve seen it in pictures. A vibrant downtown full of businesses, well-dressed ladies shopping, incredible cars lined up in the parking spaces and blue skies. In fact, one of those early pictures is on the front page of Talk of the Town circa 1956. Back then you could take care of all of your errands in the course of a few blocks.

I’m sure there are a million wonderful stories of what it was like here back then and I would love someone to share some with me. When we think of history, most people think of history many years prior to that, but I think we ought to start keeping track of the more recent history and memories as well. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know what businesses occupied various spots up and down Van Buren Street or Main Street? I’d like to know.


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