We’ve come a long way, or have we?

Is anyone else old enough to remember when the worst epithet you could scream to someone on the playground who was bullying you was, “You think you’re smart!” and that would send the chastened bully slinking to the other side of the playground?

Today there is just as apt to be a shooting or a beating instead of a screaming match. Haven’t we come a long way? Or have we?

Cold frames

And is anyone else old enough to remember cold frames? No, we’re not talking about eyeglasses or picture frames. Every early spring, right about now, a cold frame — maybe an old drawer filled with layers of soil and rotted manure and any other compost — would be set close to the house. Vegetable seeds would be planted, and a window sash was placed atop.

On cold days the window would be kept down, but when the sun came out it was propped open and those seeds germinated like crazy. You had lettuce and radishes and early peas long before your neighbor, and it was a matter of pride.

Today, we have grow lights or we wait until the various nurseries are open and you can buy whatever plants you want already started. Manure? Forget it. The EPA rules it must be buried so as not to contaminate the air. Isn’t that a joke? Haven’t we come a long way? Or have we?

Iceman

Is anyone else old enough to remember when the iceman came with a huge block of ice held between tongs and dripping down his back as he placed it in the icebox? I have a wonderful old ice card that was placed in the window to let the iceman know how many pounds you wanted: 25, 50, 75 or 100.

On the back of the card, the Ice Delivery Co., telephone 23270, advertised ice cubes, coal and coke, and the message, “You can Buy (cq) cheaper Quality But we Save you Money in the End See our Refrigerator Display Before You Purchase.”

Those old oak iceboxes are today cherished by folks who like antiques, but in the old days they would have had to remember to empty the drip pan beneath the box every day or be prepared for a flood.

I will concede that today’s refrigerators are great, if expensive, and not too many years ago it was still necessary to “defrost” the box maybe once a week or so.

Reading Sam Moore’s Rusty Iron column about meat and potatoes nudged a lot of memories: The gallons of vegetable soup made in the fall, canned and stored and served all winter; Sunday dinners — every Sunday, after church — when the Man of the house sat at the head of the table, a stack of dinner plates, platter with the roast and side dishes in serving bowls set before him.

He would then ask each member of the family their choice of whatever they would like from the selection, and then pass the laden plate.

Today, we open a frozen dish in a box, nuke it and eat it on the run. I do see some commercials extolling the benefits of a “family meal” but again the meal is a frozen dish in a box. Haven’t we come a long way? Or have we?

I like this quote: “I love everything that’s old — old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wines …” Must be because I too am old!

* * *

Back to 2010: Male cardinals are tenderly feeding their sweethearts so spring can’t be too far away (but it is still too far away!) and the several layers of snow that were beginning to recede are once again being covered with fresh layers.

For a few hours, one could see an edge of grass along the driveway, but that is long gone, and we must remember when we are complaining about having to mow, mow, mow, that we were so grateful to see a green blade of grass!

Yes, Winnie, Bingo, Apache and Toby are all starting to shed — Hurrah!

About the Author

A lifelong resident of the Mahoning Valley, Janie Jenkins retired in 1987 as a feature writer and columnist at the Youngstown Vindicator. In June of that same year, she started writing her column, "On My Mind" for Farm and Dairy. She loves all animals and is an accomplished equestrienne. Local history is also one of her loves, and her home, the former Southern Park Stables, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. More Stories by Janie Jenkins

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