Ahhh, the good old days.

Dachau Germany ~ Click on the photo for larger detail

I received an email from my sister today and then Cindy wrote something similar in a comment that gave me inspiration for today’s blog post. It is more about simplicity than decluttering but there is a strong link between the two topics and I felt like having a little fun. I hope you enjoy this little diversion from the norm.

Remember the good old day when…

  • Milk used to come in glass bottles with foil caps. The caps were decorated during the holiday season. And the milk was delivered right to your door step. I even remember my Grandmother leaving out enamelled cans and the milkman would fill them with milk.
  • Nearly everyone’s mother was home when they got home from school. (Sorry to the feminists out there but I loved this about my childhood.)
  • The green grocer had a truck and would do the rounds of your neighbourhood. The fish monger did the same. Oh! and don’t forget the ice-cream van.
  • You got your windscreen cleaned, oil checked and petrol served, without asking, all for free, every time you put gas in your tank.
  • Candy (lollies) were in open containers in a glass cabinet in the store and you would tell the salesperson how much you wanted of each one and they would put them in a little paper bag. I remember some lollies being 4 for 1c when I was young. Ahhh, those were the good old days.
  • You could return glass soda (softdrink) bottles to the store and get a refund. Usually that money went to buy the candy mentioned above. I believe this does still happen in some places but certainly not where I live.
  • Fish and chips came wrapped in newspaper with just one layer of butcher paper against the food. I don’t think that actually ever killed anyone. Meat at the butchers used to come the same way. Where I lived we could even sell our old newspapers to the fish shop and butchers for a little pocket money which we often used to buy that candy mentioned above.
  • A family of seven had one small tin trash bin collected each week. Granted ours was usually full to overflowing but most of it was organic so no harm done.
  • There was no such thing as hand sanitizer. I managed to survive that as well.
  • Actually, remember when we weren’t constantly bombarded with commercial from chemical companies trying to sell us all sorts of products to kill germs. They aren’t trying to save our lives they are just trying to sell more product.
  • Children used to ride their bikes to school and just about everywhere else as well. When I was in school there were about 500 kids at my school and about 400 of them rode bikes everyday. In places like Germany and the Netherlands I believe they still do this and adults too. The photo at the top of this post is of a bike shelter by a railway station in Dachau which had hundreds of bikes parked under it. It brought back fond memories.
  • No one ever asked where the car keys were because they were always in the car, in the ignition and the doors were never locked. Back then having a car was a luxury now it is a necessity and most families have more than one.
  • Children weren’t expected to go to school from the age of three to the age of 23 in order to be considered educated.
  • Kids used to play together outside from the minute they got home form school until they had to come in for dinner.
  • Bottles came form the corner shop without safety caps and hermetic seals because no one had yet tried to poison perfect strangers.
  • You could take a picnic lunch to the ballpark including a knife to cut up food. Now we are limited to the size bag we can take and that has to be searched on the way in and we could be arrested for having that knife. Now once you get in there is costs $8 for a plastic cup of soda.
  • We wore our clothes until they were shabby or we had grown out of them.
  • Eating out was a luxury and frozen dinners didn’t exist.
  • Christmas consisted of a decorated tree, a wreath on the door, a home cooked meal, a small stocking from Santa and a couple of gifts from parents and grandparents.
  • Parents weren’t required to sign a contract at the start of their 10 year old’s little league season promising not to be abusive to the opposition (players, coaches and parents), umpires or their own children.
  • Things we bought didn’t come in blister packs.
  • The Joneses only owned a three bedroom house and one car. They were a lot easier to keep up with then.
  • Recycling bins weren’t necessary.
  • Children only received toys for birthdays, Christmas or other special celebrations.
  • When even the stores weren’t air-conditioned. Do you remember that even being a problem, I don’t.

I remember those times with fondness not with horror. And yes I know there are a lot of not so good things we could remember from those days too but that isn’t the point here. The point is life was way simpler back then and there is no reason why we can’t have some of those good things back. A little less greed, a little less elitism, a little less competition, a little less pampering and a lot less supply and demand would make the world a better place in my opinion. What do you think?

What are some of the things you miss from the good old days? Please send me a comment so we can all have fun reminiscing.

Today’s Declutter Item

Today’s we have an item that could very easily have become sentimental clutter. My son Liam was carrying this bag over his shoulder the night he was involved in a very serious cycling accident last year. Luckily we still have our son so we don’t need this bag to remind us how lucky we are.

Things that made me happy, made me laugh, made me feel grateful, fascinated me or I thought were just plain awesome.

  • Reminiscing while writing the list above.
  • Going to the shopping centre with a friend and coming home with nothing.
  • Creating an oil burner from a metal frame a tea light and an small saucer.
  • Liam is back at work, he has gone to his first work shift at his new job today. One more milestone reached.
  • Laughing with my husband when he wished me a happy false anniversary today. For some reason we both get confused as to whether our anniversary is on the 21st or the 23rd. We don’t know why we have just had this issue right from the start. So we forgot to wish each other a happy anniversary on Monday the 21st but today Steve remembered. He is too funny sometimes.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow.



Continue reading with these posts:

  • Owning your life skill ~ By Doodle One of our long time regular readers Doodle has kindly agreed to help out here at 365 by writing a blog post for me every other Wednesday. Today is her first regular post although not the […]
  • Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom ~ Condiment Cleanout My family was on vacation for two weeks. Of course, that means we returned home to an empty refrigerator, or did it? Well, there was no fruit, vegetables, milk, dairy  or meat, but […]
  • Mini Mission Monday ~ Pre Christmas Mini Mission Monday is about finding ten minutes a day to declutter. To make it easy for you, each Monday I set seven declutter missions, one for each day of the week for you to follow. It […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.

Comments

  1. Our lives have become way too complicated. Loved this post. And we didn’t have so many health problems either…hmmm. Makes one wonder about all the “modern advancements” that we enjoy.

    • Hi Jana,
      I agree, far to complicated. One modern advancement I am glad to have is modern medicine. That one I wouldn’t want to live without.

  2. Yes, they still do this here. I remember when I used to bike to high school, one hour to go to school, and one hour back. I hated it, but now I see that it is more healthy then cars and busses. I do think this might going to change, because more and more children are too lazy to get off their ass and take the bus instead.

    • Hi Nurchamiel,
      what a shame if the children stop riding there too. I so loved all the bikes everywhere when we visited Harlem and Amsterdam. I say this and yet I decluttered my bike some time back. Seems I am adding to the decline, shame on me! I do walk a lot though.

  3. A very touching post. Thanks for your website. I’m glad your son is ok, good declutter item!. Congratulations for the new job. Regards!.

    • Hi Victoria,
      Are you new here? If so, I would like to welcome you to 365lessthings and thank you for leaving a comment. I am glad you enjoyed today’s post as I had fun putting it together. Have your ever had the joy of coming upon a place where some of these things that are now only memories to us still exist. I love it when that happens.
      And thank you, my son is doing very well and not a day goes by where I don’t think how lucky we are.

  4. I remember those days! When I was a kid you could go out and play and play, but now I worry whenever my kid is out of site because of predators!

    I remember when phones were a luxury that not everyone had. When there was an emergency, the neighbor would come to our house and give us the message.

    I remember when stamps cost 3 cents and gas was about a quarter a gallon–we could drive and drive on ten dollars!

    Great post!

    • You’ll be happy to know, Annie, that in my urban neighborhood, we let our kids run pretty much free. There are 5 girls in 3 houses on the corner, and they run around like crazy girls all afternoon. The youngest is only 2 1/2, so there is some adult supervision, but it’s pretty much what I remember from when I was a girl.

      • Hi Cindy,
        and that just proves how easy it can be to change our ways. I bet the imaginary leash is certainly a lot shorted than it was for our generation but at least yours are not in the house playing video games or watching TV.

    • Sad fact, predators have been around since the beginning of time. In my experience with friends and family of the 70’s generation, the kids had to protect each other. The victims were too ashamed to say anything bad about a grown up… and maybe even afraid to have their free time taken away, so they just warned the other kids if they could. Sad but true.

      • *pol I think the only difference to how safe it was then to now is that we know they are out there because we are constantly bombarded with
        all the scary coverage in TV news.

    • Hi Annie,
      Oh yes! I remember all those things you mentioned.
      Your phone one is very poignant. Remember when you did have a phone of your own that stayed at home and didn’t leave with you when you went out. How you could enjoy your time out without anyone bothering you. Now we almost panic if we are out the the cell phone battery runs out of charge.

      Where I live gas is $1.39 a litre at the moment, 20 years ago I was paying 34c a litre. Mind you in that time the basic wage here has barely doubled. Do the math on that.

  5. What a great trip down memory lane! You came up with things I had not thought about in a long time.

    I remember not having a television until the late 60’s. And no car until around the same time. Our pool was the river that ran through our community. When summer visitors came to our house, we didn’t have a 12 person table – we pulled up the piano bench and the kitchen stool to make more seats at the kitchen table. Extracurricular activities at school were baseball using ALL the kids, tag, and swings. We took a lunchbox and thermos – and that lunch was a healthy sandwich and fruit, not fries and coke. Supper was meat and 2 veg, and I don’t believe the boxed macaroni and cheese had yet been invented. Ahhh, but I’m glad for new things like the microwave and automatic washers and dryers. Our mothers worked harder than we do in many ways, with fewer convenience items. Our fathers, too – remember when the workweek was 5-1/2 or even 6 days and vacations were 1 or 2 weeks at most?

    • Hi Jo,
      It is fun to think back if not a little sad at the same time.
      I love the way that the government are trying implement healthier lunch at school ~ It would have made a lot more sense if they had made it that way int he first place especially once mothers started having/wanting to work and didn’t have time to cut lunches anymore.
      I remember school sport ~ We used to play what they called ball games like leader ball, tunnel ball and zig zag. I don’t know if you have ever even heard on them but I was a champion and loved them.
      As for being glad for automatic washing machines ~ My sister and I used to wash for out mother all the time. We started with one of those old wringer machines and them moved onto a twin tub. Having to rinse everything by hand was a pain. My crazy mother still uses a twin tub, I think she is mad.
      Luckily my dad only ever worked a 8-5 job 5 days a week and we have had a four week vacation system here in Australia for a very long time. My dad always had plenty of time to take us fishing on the weekends.
      I am glad to say that I had a great childhood. Like you our swimming pool was the river as well. A very muddy sometimes fast running river which in hindsight was probably very dangerous. Oh well!

      • Hmmm . . . seems some of “the colonies” were more advanced than others regarding the work week and vacation time! (from Canada here)

        • Yes Jo, we have four weeks vacation leave each year this does accrue if you don’t use it and is paid out to you on termination if you leave that employer before using it. If we work for a company for 10 years we get a bonus 3 months long service leave. That repeats after another 10 years. I you work for a company for 4 years leave, come back and work for them for another 6 years your are entitled to that long service bonus I believe. We also get two weeks sick leave each year, this doesn’t accrue though. Fulltime workers work a 37.5 hour work week any time over that is paid as overtime which depending on when you worked them gets paid anywhere from 1.25 – 3 times the usually hourly rate. Oh, and we get paid 17% (I think) extra for the four weeks that we are on vacation. Go figure that one out we get paid more for going on vacation than we do for working. I think the idea is to compensate for any overtime you may miss out on while you are away. It’s an even better deal when you never do overtime.
          The basic wage for an Adult is about $16 an hour I think if you work permanent part time or full time. The drawback to all of this is that the cost of living is higher so when it all boils down to it we probably aren’t any better off.

          • Ah, Australia. 🙂

            I think the 17% is usually in jobs that don’t pay overtime. My other half is a teacher and gets the 17%, but no overtime.

            And of course there is superannuation…. 🙂

  6. I certainly remember those days. I miss them in many ways. Back then we didn’t have to pay for entertainmant because we all got together and did things together in our neighborhoods or churches. Some of the new inventions are great but I think many have just turned us into drudges to electronics. I miss picnics with family or friends and the much slower pace.

    • Hi Deb J,
      yes, often the things that were meant to be convenient and save as time have had the very opposite affect. Computers are my greatest example.

  7. One TV,
    Maximum 12 channels (cartoons only on Saturday mornings)
    No remote control
    One Radio
    One phone attached to the wall (and often a shared line with the neighbours (remember party lines?)
    ZERO Computers
    Shared room with sibling(s)
    ALL the toys fit in the closet or a toybox
    Vegetables only came into season for a saeaon (instead of all 4)
    Appliances were built for a lifetime
    Everyone dried clothes on the line

    • The clothesline. That’s a good one. I dry some of my items on a line, and my cousin said, with complete sincerity, “I thought clotheslines were just for peope who couldn’t afford dryers.”

    • Hi *pol,
      yes yes and more yes! Although we actually do still hang clothes to dry on the line here in sunny Aus. I actually hang most of mine on the airer in the spare bedroom but I do have a clothes line where I hang the sheets.
      Appliances were built for a lifetime and you could have them repaired if needed. Not any more, it is less expensive to replace than to repair if that can even be done. I had a problem with my refrigerator recently and the first repair shop I phone said it wasn’t worth looking at. I tried someone else and they said the exact opposite and that they don’t built them like they used to . $120 later my fridge was as good as a new one which would have cost me $1500.
      I shared a room with my sister for 18 years until she got married. We got in trouble sometimes for having too much fun when we were supposed to be going asleep but we didn’t mind. 😆

    • Appliances that were built for a lifetime for sure! My MIL still uses a stove that has to be from the early 1960s. It looks very space age and has pull out burners and a dual oven. I am sure when it came out it was top of the line. One burner is out but it still cooks great! We on the other hand have a five year old oven that we have had to have the repair guy here for twice!

      • Hi Jen,
        I can’t find evidence that you have commented before so if not I would like to say welcome to 365lessthings.com. Thank you for leaving a comment. I had fun writing this post and reading all the responses to it. I like the sound of your MILs stove 40year plus and still going strong. My fridge is 24 years old and I just had to have a repair done last month for the first time ever. The first repair man said it was too old to bother so I call another repair man and he said it was well worth repairing because they don’t make them like they used to.

  8. I have to comment on the anniversary wish from your husband. I remember asking my husband on our anniversary which one we were celebrating. He thought, looked into the sky like the answer would fall out of it onto his head and then sheepishly said.. “I’m not sure”.
    It was 1. Our first anniversary! We had spent so much time getting to know each other as friends that it had seemed like we’d always been together. I laughed, he was relieved that it didn’t upset me.. and it makes for a great story to tell our friends when he feels compelled to tell them one of the stupid things that I’ve done! (Oh, then there’s the story about a light switch he bought parts to replace when I asked him if he’d checked the light bulb… (he was so used to me changing it right away that he just figured it must be broken. yes, sometimes it’s the simple things that makes life fun. 🙂

    • I remember phone booths and mail collection boxes on the corner. And, having a “party line”.. pick up the phone and hear someone talking, hang it back up and waiting a few minutes until your neighbor hung up so you could use your house phone. 🙂

      • Pat,
        in Australia we still have mail collection boxes. Australia Post could learn a few thing from the USPS. I so enjoyed that little flag on the mailbox in American and all it implied, fancy being able to put your mail in your mailbox and have the mail carrier take it away for you. Here it takes four working days to get a letter to my mother in the next state. Pathetic! There is the day you mail it another day to get to the nearest capital city (150km away) another day to get to the next state capital and then another day to get to her city. Now there is one of the bad thing from the past that doesn’t seem to have improved here. Snail mail really is snail mail here.

    • Oh Pat that is too funny and sooooo typical. My husband was going away for a month for work years ago and one of the guys at his work asked who was taking care of the lawns for me while he was away. My husband graciously said ” The same person who takes care of them while I am here, her:” Like I always say to him “It is just as well you make good money.” I do love him but I have spoiled him somewhat. 😆

      • Love that 🙂 I always think it’s backwards when people think it’s SO great when a dad wants to SAH and the mom goes to work. Like, super dad wow. If a mom wants to be a SAHM, then it’s anti feminist and you get all kinds of crap from society.

        • You are so right Cat’sMeow and I couldn’t have worded that statement better myself. Sometimes society has a lot to answer for.

  9. Hand written letters. That was something I could look forward to in the middle of all the junk mail. A thing of the past, I’m afraid.

    • Hi SuddenlySusan,
      my Godmother complains about that all the time. I have gotten a bit slack with the letter writing over the years and she is not happy with me.

  10. Calico ginger :

    What about sitting in the dark in the hallway, talking endlessly to your boyfriend on the one and only phone in the house, with your parents in the next room watching TV (only 2 chanels for us in NZ) oblivious to young love. What this poor facebook generation are missing!

    • Hi Calico ginger,
      I don’t think I ever called my boyfriends on the phone. We must have just made plans to meet ahead of time and that was that. I do however remember only having two channels on the TV. ABC and the local channel. We used to go up to the local TV station some Fridays to be included in the audience for the daily kids show. They gave us a packet of chips and a softdrink (soda) after the filming. I even got to sit at the desk with the star of the show and the dog puppet and be a part of the show one day. Of course there is no such thing as local TV stations any more either not in small towns like that anyway.

  11. I’m pretty young but even in my childhood, some of this was true. I definitely see a marked difference from when I was a kid to now.

    • Hi Lynn,
      I noticed a huge change in Australia with a lot of things in the seven years we were gone. Not good things either unfortunately.

  12. I remember all of that, plus phone booths, party lines, tiny A&P grocery stores redolent of fresh-ground Eight-O-Clock coffee, riding bikes and roller skating without helmets, just all kinds of stuff.

    Our wedding anniversary is the 21st! We’ve just celebrated our 9th 🙂

    • Hi meg,
      those little weeny excuses they have for phone booths these days wouldn’t block out much noise. I saw a man standing in one using his cell phone the other day. I used to think that when they bought in helmet rules for bikes that it was the demise of children riding to school. Not because they didn’t want to wear them but because it gave riding the stigma of being dangerous. Now that a helmet saved my son’s life I am glad of those laws.

      Happy 9th anniversary, I hope it was a lovely day for you.

  13. When I was in college, there was a song about ‘calling a girl, investing a dime’ because phone calls cost 10 cents (now I’ve dated myself). I remember gas costing 19 cents/gallon. But my parents made less than halfway what we make in yearly salary. And yes, there were predators back then. I remember. And grisly murderers, too. And no penicillin or polio vaccines. My father’s lifelong illness and disability would have been cured by penicillin and my step cousin wouldn’t have died of post polio syndrome if those two drugs had been discovered a few years earlier. Much of modern medicine is positive in terms of health and longevity. But I think we all miss the simplicity of our expectations–we didn’t think we needed two or three cars, a huge house or a fancy vacation 40, 50, 60 years ago.

    • Hi Willow,
      this is all so true. And as you say modern medicine is something to be truly grateful for. It certainly one of the backward steps I wouldn’t want to make. I do also like my fancy vacations, I love to see the world and marvel at the differences and at the same time the similarities between us all. I know I could do that from my living room but it just wouldn’t be the same.

  14. The Turtles! Happy Together!
    ” If I should call you up, invest a dime;
    And you say you belong to me…!

    Anyway, television: 2 black and white channels – BBC and ITV – that closed down at 2 in the afternoon and came back at 5. TV finished at about 10.30 in the evening with “God Save the Queen”.
    In the words of Monty Python (which also dates me):
    “And you try and tell the young people of today that ….. they won’t believe you.”

  15. Ahhhhhhhhh the good old days…. I’m 34 but I already can say that, isn’t it funny?? Things have changed so much so quickly that I remember (with fondness) a lot of things that don’t exist anymore…
    I specially miss the summer holidays of my childhood spent in the countryside, biking and exploring, having fun playing real games all day til sunset…. I miss preparing the tomato sauce with the neighbours in the courtyard, peeling and slicing tomatoes all day. I miss walking with my friends for about 2 km to go to the municipal swimming pool, without fears, no other dangers to worry about than the heat of the sun. I miss leaving the door open, keys on it, not worrying for thieves and murderers….
    I definitely miss simplicity and the sensation that life used to be in colors, whereas now sometimes it seems a little bit dull. I can still feel that way when I’m in the nature though 🙂
    Thank you for this post Colleen!!

    • Hi Paola,
      sometimes I think that some of the things we have all mention are still out there and that it is us personally that have changed. Mind you that isn’t always a bad thing. I am glad I have made the changes to myself that I have over the last 15 months. Actually wouldn’t life be dull if we didn’t change just as it would be if we were all alike. It is up to us to simplify life again I think and it is amazing what we can achieve if we put our minds to it.

      • I agree. I think when I was a child I could walk about all day and not worry about murderers and now I do. But, my son who is seven now walks about all afternoon with his neighborhood friends and I don’t think he is too concerned about murderers either. I am sure when he is an adult he will look back on 2011 as the good old days.

        • Hi Jen,
          I think sometimes we get a little overprotective once we become parents. Life was far more carefree when we are kids no matter what era we came from. Kids just don’t worry so much for the most part.

  16. Yep. Television test patterns. And Monty Python. Lynda, this morning in my writing class, I pulled out phonograph as a vocabulary word since we are writing about American inventors and this week’s paragraph is about Thomas Edison. Only one of my fourth graders was sure what a phonograph is. Totally dates me.

    Colleen, I love my fancy vacations too–but I travel minimalistically–with no checked baggage 🙂

    • Hi Linda,
      you and I travel alike. My bag weighed 12 pound when I returned from Italy last year. Steve and I have this down to a fine art now but we are still finding ways to travel lighter. Last time we took a small device to download our photos to but found that even with the hundreds of photos we take there was enough space on the huge memory Compact Disc cards we had. Next time we will take one more Compact Disc just in case and just take the iPod touch for its internet connection and data storage functions. We carry no travel docs anymore only our passports.

  17. The return-bottles and biking are done here still.. I also don’t believe in all that germ killing and sanitizing (except in the hospitals of course). Here some experts are advising against it. Germs become tolerant and more difficult, instead of us becoming naturally resistant to germs.
    We never locked the door of our house when I was a kid. It was unlocked at night and often if we were gone just for a short while 😀 And I also loved that mom was there when we came home from school…

    • Hi Cat’sMeow,
      when I was in Europe once but I am not sure where, we went to a grocery store for some drinks and they had there a machine that you fed plastic drink bottles into and in return it gave out cash vouchers for the grocery store. Do they do that where you are. I thought it was such a clever idea.

      • Yes, we have those machines, they also take soda cans. Some machines used to give out coins, now I’ve only seen the ones that give out the cash voucher.

        • The Cat’sMeow,
          thank you for letting me know that. I still can’t remember where I saw it but I thought is was a great idea.

  18. Two things:
    1. My mom did (and still does) fill the already cluttered house with decorations at Christmas time. Yes, we both love Christmas, but it always bothered me of the over-the-top excess of items. The past couple of years, hubby and I have gotten rid of a lot of our decorations (yep, tried to re-create mom’s & got sick of it finally), so we’re actually the opposite. hehe
    2. You mentioned the fish and chips. When we lived in England, there was a shop in our village (most of them actually) that wrapped your order in butcher paper. You opened it when you got home & your whole meal was laid out for you. Granted, I got the chicken since I don’t eat fish, but hubby & I loved the idea….less mess 🙂

    • Hi Gen, I had my most decluttered Christmas at home ever this year and loved it.

      As for the fish and chips ~ They still do the butcher paper things here which is better than styrofoam boxes. I don’t know if I mentioned in this post but when we were kids we used to buy a serve of chips and just rip open one end of the paper layers and eat them straight out of the paper like it was a bucket of popcorn. That serve cost us 10c and fed four of us ~ Ahhh the good old days. Then again 10c was a lot of money to us then too.

  19. Well the good old days were the Best since most women were a lot Nicer to meet compare to today which they’re Not so nice to meet, and Both men and women had to Really Struggle to make ends meat which they Accepted one another for who they were when Money was no issue back then. Today many women are very High Maintenance, and very Spoiled as well as Selfish. Women today are very Independent, and want a man with Money since they Can’t Accept a man for who he is anymore. A very good reason why our Parents, Grandparents, Aunts And Uncles had very long lasting marriages back then since the Divorce Rate today is so out of Control now which is usually caused by the women for Cheating so much these days. Very Obvious why there are so many of us men that are Single today.

    • Hi Best answer, there isn’t much about your comment that I agree with but I do respect your rights to say what you think. I will admit there are a lot of things about this day and age that I am not real happy with either but it has nothing to do with females expecting to be treated as equals. My beef is with consumption, waste and the degradation of the planet we inhabit of which we are all guilty to one degree or another.