Who of us ever
thought we'd live to see common phrases and words from our
childhood just disappear....... and we didn't even notice until
our kids or grandkids say "what does that mean?"
My grandfather always called his car his auto-mobile. But then,
he was around before there were cars. A term I haven't heard in
a long time was "fender skirts" which started me thinking about
other words that quietly disappear from our language with hardly
a notice. Like "curb feelers" and "steering knobs." Since I'd
been thinking of cars, my mind naturally went that direction
first. Any kids will probably have to find some elderly person
over 50 to explain some of these terms to you. (Did you know
you're not "middle aged" after 50 unless you actually personally
know someone who is over 100?) Remember "Continental kits?"
They were rear bumper extenders and spare tire covers that were
supposed to make any car as cool as a Lincoln Continental. When
did we quit calling them "emergency brakes?" At some point
"parking brake" became the proper term. But I miss the hint of
drama that went with "emergency brake." I'm sad, too, that
almost all the old folks are now gone who would call the
accelerator the "foot feed." Didn't you ever wait at the street
for your daddy to come home, so you could ride the "running
board" up to the house?
Here's another phrase I
heard all the time in my youth but never anymore -
"store-bought." Of course, just about everything is store-bought
these days. But once it was bragging material to have a
store-bought dress or store-bought candy.
"Coast to coast" is a phrase
that once held all sorts of excitement and now means almost
nothing. Now we even take the term "world wide" for granted.
This floors me.
Speaking of floors,
"wall-to-wall" was once a magical term in our homes. In the
'50s, everyone covered his or her hardwood floors with, wow,
wall-to-wall carpeting! Today, everyone replaces their
wall-to-wall carpeting with hard
wood floors. Go figure.
When's the last time you
heard the quaint phrase "in a family way?" It's hard to imagine
that the word "pregnant" was once considered a little too
graphic, a little too clinical for use in polite company. So we
had all that talk
about stork visits and "being in a family way" or simply
Apparently "brassiere" is a
word no longer in usage either. I said it the other day and my
daughter cracked up. I guess it's just "bra" now. And
"unmentionables" probably wouldn't be understood at all. Wonder
how long any of today's young ladies would put up with the itchy
net of petticoats, or stockings held up by panty girdles or
I always loved going to the
"picture show," but I considered "movie" an affectation. But
I'm surprised cinemas have survived. When "Monday Night at the
Movies" brought us our one movie on t.v. each week, we thought
sure we had died and gone to movie heaven and would never leave
the comfort of our homes again. Don't see any "drive-ins" any
more, although I heard a few exists, so guess they did suffer
some. Wonder if the sell of "mosquito coils" fell to an
all-time low when the drive-in movies starting disappearing?
Though my kids are approaching "middle age" themselves now, they
hardly remember life before color t.v. and remote controls.
Getting up to change channels, play with those buttons on the
back to adjust things and decorating the "rabbit ears" with
aluminum foil or running outside to "turn the antenna" was part
of the entertainment, wasn't it?
Most of these words go back
to the '50s, but here's a pure-'60s word I came across the other
day - "rat fink." Ooh, what a nasty put-down!
Here's a word I miss -
"percolator." That was just a fun word to say and watching the
coffee bubble in the glass lid knob was pretty neat, too. And
what was it replaced with? "Coffee maker." How dull. Mr. Coffee,
I blame you for this.
I miss those made-up
marketing words that were meant to sound so modern now sound so
retro. Words like "DynaFlow" and "Electrolux." Introducing the
1963 Admiral TV, now with "SpectraVision!"
Food for thought - was there a telethon that wiped out lumbago?
Nobody complains of that anymore. Maybe that's what castor oil
cured, because I never hear mothers threatening kids with castor
oil anymore either.
Some words aren't gone, but
are definitely on the endangered list. The one that grieves me
most "supper." Now everybody says "dinner." Save a great word:
Invite someone to supper
(without a cell phone)-- try making it on the "range" (without
the microwave), store the left-overs in wax paper in the "ice
box", stack the dishes on the "drain board" and "hang out" the
"dish rags" to dry. Serve a store-bought pie for dessert and
discuss fender skirts.