When We Were Kids

When we were kids:



          You could walk to school, even if it was uphill in both directions.


          You could get Tastykake Creamies for a dime, if you had a dime.


          You could get a Tab to wash down the Creamies.


          The bottle cap from that bottle of Tab was lined with cork, but to improve it's play, you could melt wax in it.


          You could get a Tab with cyclamates in it. Saccharin and red dye #2 were still edible. You could still paint your walls with leaded paint.



      Cigarette ads still played on TV. You could buy Viceroy, Chesterfield Kings, Kent, Pall Mall and Cobalt cigarettes. 101's were a silly millimeter longer.             


 LSMFT. Winston tastes good like a cigarette should. Tareyton smokers would rather fight than quit.


          Mail boxes were the size of bread boxes, mounted on a post for easy drop off. It cost six cents to mail a letter, three cents for a postcard.


          Where's the fire? Pull the red fire call box mounted on the telephone pole.


          I can't believe I ate the whole thing. Momma mia, that's-a spicy meataballa. 


      How about a nice Hawaiian Punch? Give it to Mikey, he hates everything. He likes it! Hey, Mikey!


       You could choose from channels 3 (KYW/NBC), 6 (WFIL/ABC), 10 (WCAU/ CBS) and 12 on VHF and 17 (WPHL), 29 (WTAF Taft Broadcasting) and 48 (WKBS Kaiser Broadcasting) on UHF. Mike Douglas and  Merv Griffin were staples of afternoon TV. Variety shows were hosted by Ted Mack, Arthur Godfrey, and Art Linkletter. But you had to watch Ed Sullivan to see plate spinners and Tobo Gigio.


         Jessica Savitch was the best news anchor in town.


         Scared stiff? You must have seen the Outer Limits or the Twilight Zone. No? 

              How about Dark Shadows or Dr. Shock?


         Soupy Sales had to interpret what White Fang said. You didn't worry about writing on the Winky Dink Magic Screen to get him out of a jam; writing on the television screen was OK.


         Some people are impressed that one show can claim so many stars' roots at one time. Look at Chevy Chase, Dan Akroyd, Bill Murray, Laraine Newman, Gilda Radner, Garrett Morris, and Jane Curtin. How quickly people forget about Goldie Hawn, Lily Tomlin, Artie Johnson, Ruth Buzzie, Henry Gibson, Johnny Brown, Judy Carne, and Alan Suess. Here come da judge and sock it to me.


          For those of us who shaved, we had Burma Shave for the razor, Lectric Shave for the electric, and  Hai Karate for after both. There's something about an Aqua  Velva man.


          Dinner with the TV on? Sure, with Swanson TV dinners on the flimsy TV table.


          The Sony Betamax was amazing. How did they do that?


          How did we ever survive without microwave ovens or cable TV or MAC Machines or telephone answer machines or beepers or computers?


          You could see a double feature on one of two screens at the GCC Northeast or on the one of one screens at the Orleans or the Merben or the Tyson or the Benner or the Mayfair or the Leo. Everyone cried at "Ole Yeller", laughed at "Son of Flubber", gawked at Hailey Mills in "The Trouble With Angels". All in Technicolor.


          Twiggy was a sex symbol. Was Josephine the Plumber or Madge? I can't remember.


          The double feature would cost a quarter, the popcorn a dime.


          The popcorn had real butter on it.


          You could catch a drive-in double feature in your pajamas. If you were lucky and your parents didn't notice, you could catch a glimpse of the adult movie at the Lincoln Drive-in on Roosevelt Boulevard as you drove by.


          In the summertime, you'd go to the empty lot and play baseball or freedom or capture the flag for 12 hours a day.


          You could buy a pimple ball or a pinkie ball. To make it last longer, you could cut it in half and play halfball. You used the ball to play stickball, wall ball, wire ball and step ball.


          If someone roofed your ball, you could get reimbursed as long as you had dibs.

              If you roofed all the balls, you could still play kick the can and buck-buck.


Throw your keds or your Chuck Taylors up on the wires

          A typical football play went like this: "You are the bottle cap. Go down to the blue Chevy, fake left. I'll pump it to you. You are the stick. I want you to go to the telephone pole, count to 5 Mississippi and turn, I'll drill it right to you."


          You had to stop your game for a minute when a car had the nerve to come down your street.


          The game had to stop when Mister Softee, Bob's Truck or the Good Humor Man came by.


          You could get home at 10:00 and walk into the front door of your house without needing a key.


          Every kid had a transistor radio. We had two choices of radio stations -  


    WFIL and WIBG. Wibbage to the Boss Jocks, like Long John Wade,

  Don Cannon, George Michael, Gerry Blavat, Jim O'Brien, Hy Lit, Leigh 

              Hamilton and Doctor Don Rose. The evolution to FM brought WIFI-92.


          You could see a sporting event at Connie Mack Stadium and Franklin Field and JFK.


          We had a professional tennis team. Elton John wrote a song about its captain.


          We had two professional football teams, and one wasn't in the USFL. The Bell had a quarterback named King Corcoran.


          We had a professional roller derby team, that featured Big Jim Trotter and Pretty Judy Arnold.


          Charlie Swift broadcast the Eagles games. Bill Campbell broadcast the Phillies games. By Saam, Stu Nahan (Captain Philadelphia) broadcast the Flyers games.


          Lew Alcindor played basketball for UCLA. Cassius Clay was the heavyweight champion of the world.


          We were a two racetrack town - Liberty Bell Race Track and Keystone Race Track.


          There used to be a Big 5 and a Big 8. The Big 10 used to have 10 teams.


          Ballantine Beer's three rings topped the scoreboard at Connie Mack Stadium. If you didn't like that, you could choose from Schlitz, Ortlieb's, Schmidt's and

              Schaffer (the one beer to have if your'e having more than one), and Schmidt's.


         The outfield fences in Connie Mack were littered with advertisements. The boards at the Flyers games were not. The goalposts on the football field were located on the goal line.


          Aquarama was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.


          Once a year, you got to take a school trip on the Good Ship Lollipop.


          The best sticky buns in the world were found at the Normandy Square Mart.


          The Latin Casino and Pub Tiki was a great place to spend a Saturday night.


    We couldn't get into Grendel's Lair.


          You could see top-line entertainment at the Valley Forge Music Fair, right off the Devo exit of Route 202, or the Robin Hood Dell or the Robin Hood Dell East, or the Temple Ambler Music Fair or the Bijou Cafe. Once a year, your Cub Scout or Brownie Troop would go to see Up With People.


          First date? Make an impression at the Open Hearth or H.A. Winston's. If you got to the second date, hope for a three hour wait at the Rusty Scupper so you could walk around Head House Square and Newmarket. Forth date, Latin Casino with desert at Ponzios


         Preserve those childhood memories with a Kodak Instamatic or Brownie, or a Polaroid Swinger or One-Step. Slides were shown with a pull-up screen if you had one, or a sheet draped over the wallpaper. If all else failed, show them on a white-painted wall.


         The newest invention in moving pictures was the Super-8, replacing 8mm.


         You could get change of a dollar with three one-dollar silver certificates, one real silver dollar, three silver quarters, two silver dollars and five wheat pennies. We couldn't get our hands on a two-dollar bill or a Susan B. Anthony silver dollar.


         Where were you when Kennedy got shot? How about his brother? Martin Luther King? John Lennon? How about when Nixon resigned? Remember Apollo 13?


How about Abscam? Sputnick? Vietnamization? Spiro Agnew? Bebe Rebozo?


          You could learn of the traffic conditions on the Roosevelt Extension and Schuylkill Expressway by the overhead signs at each on-ramp. Problem was, the traffic conditions were always listed as "normal".


          You could ride from Maine to Florida on one road - I-95. Oops, you need to get off and back on in Philadelphia.


          Bombs away with Curtis LeMay.


          Out-of-towners could arrive via Pan Am or Northwest Orient or Eastern Airlines.

              They could stay at the Waldorf Astoria. We didn't worry about Legionnaires'Disease.


          No building in the city could be higher than Billy Penn's hat.


          There was no Chestnut Street pedestrian mall, no Penn's Landing, No Gallery.


          Centralia was still populated.


          Sneakers were made by Keds and P.F. Flyers. If your parents had extra money when you needed new sneaks, you could get high-top Chucks from Converse. Mom, don't get me those bobos. "Bobos, they make your feet feel fine. Bobos, they cost a dollar ninety-nine."


          When your sneaks wore out after a game you tied the laces together and threw them over the high tension wires.


          A penny could buy you a punk or two pieces of Bazooka or Fleer bubble gum. Two cents would buy wax lips or Nikl-nips. If you had a nickel, you could buy

              a Bonomo Turkish Taffy or a Sugar Momma or Fizzies or a pack of Wacky Packages. Judy and Herb's, Scher's and Josies were required daily stops.


          Every kid had $25,000 (in 1997 dollars) worth of baseball cards clothespinned to the spokes of his bike. Baseball cards had gum in the pack, and we flipped them against the garage door. Our mothers threw them away when we moved.


          For a dime the amusement park came to your neighborhood. The ferris wheel or the whip arrived on the back of a truck. The price of admission included a stick of  Swell cigarette gum.


         Toys R Us used to be Kiddie City. Playtown used to be Babytown. Basco used to be Best. The Dollar Store used to be the Five and Dime.


         They made Whitman Chocolates in the factory on the Boulevard.


          SEPTA was called PTC.


          Frank Rizzo was our police chief or mayor or both.


          Police cars used to be red.


          Hickeys were still cool, and turtle necks a necessity.


          We played arcade games that had flippers and ball bearings. We ran to the mall when pong came out. Atari 2600 Systems arrived years later.


          Nobody laughed when you wore an orange Nehru jacket with unmatching medallion or pooka beads and platform shoes and granny glasses.


          Acid rock required appropriate attire and surroundings: tie die t-shirt, hip huggers, searsuckers, strobe lights, black lights, lava lamps, and a whipmaster. Peter Max posters were OK even if he was the official White House artist. You were square if you wore body shirts and liesure suits and apache scarves.


          Back to school clothes? Robert Hall was the order of the day. We got our shoes at the Stride Rite. When it got cold, you put on your pea coat.


          Does your shoe have a boy inside? What a funny place for a boy to hide. Does your shoe have a dog in there, too? A boy and a dog and a foot in a shoe. Well the boy is Buster Brown, and the dog is Tige, his friend. And they're really just a picture, but it's fun to make pretend. So look, look, look in your

              telephone book for the store that sells the shoe with the picture of the boy and the dog inside so you can put your foot into Buster Brown Shoes. Woof.


          If you needed a suit, you could go to Marvin Sidney, Fleets or Lee Newman.


         We had real snow when we were kids. We used to sled on American Flyer or Flexible Flyer sleds.


         Every member of our family had a little wooden dog with each of our names written on it. When we were bad, we went into the family doghouse.


          The color of your P.O.W. bracelet determined whether the name on it was a captain. The hole on the end determined whether the person was a P.O.W. or an M.I.A.


          We made keychains and bracelets and necklaces and laniards out of gimp.


          Skip rope, do double dutch. But for a real workout, there was the jingle jump.


          Pot was something your mom cooked in. Buzz was used to describe the sound of a wrong answer on "To Tell The Truth" or "What's My Line?".

              Lemmons were citrus fruits.


          The first game show for kids was called "Shananagans" and starred Stubby Kay.


          We danced to "Hulabaloo" and "Shindig".


          Peace, man. Tune in, turn on, drop out. Have a nice day. Make love, not war. War is unhealthy for children and other living things. Keep on truckin'. Mod. 

            Groovy. Jive.


          Hippies used to be beatniks.



          Smiley faces, pet rocks, mood rings, puzzle rings were all must-haves.


          Telephones had rotary dials.


          Some phones had party lines. Sometimes we partied with the phones by making phony phone calls.


          Telephone numbers had letters and numbers. The letters stood for common household words such as "HObart", "ORchard", "OLga", "PIlgrim", "FIdelity",   

              "GLadstone", and "LOcust" and "MUnicipal". All of our telephone numbers had a 215 area code. If it was a "long distance" call in the 215 area code, you had

              to dial a 1 first.


          What's the weather? Call WE7-1212. What time is it? Call TI6-1212. Need City Hall? Call MU6-7676. Poice emergency? Call 231-3131. Free information? Call 411. Long distance information? Call 1-555-1212. Dial O for the operator. Call POplar 5-0303 for a Muntz TV.


          Daddy, I want a dog! Doktor's Pet Shop, complete with the Gorilla on the sign, was the answer. I never saw a gorilla in the store, though. Was that false advertising?


          We hung out at the crick near the Ack a Me.


          On a good day, we'd go with our dads to Camac (a.k.a., the "Schvitz").


          We rode our bikes to the Roosevelt Amusement Park and slid down the wiggley- waggley sliding board. We swam at the Boulevard Pools. They leveled both and built D'Scene. That's gone now, too.


          Willow Grove Mall was an amusement park.


          You could buy only groceries at the market. Markets of choice included The Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (A&P), Food Fair, Penn Fruit, and Pantry Pride.


          In the best interests of national security, we practiced air raid drills by pulling down the black out shades and sitting under our desks. Be quiet!


         We took a polio vaccine on a sugar cube.


         School paste still tasted good.


         Oil cloths still smelled good. Mimeograph paper smelled better, but it only came in two colors - blue and white.


          You could write your memoirs with a Bic Banana.


          45's were still a cost-saving alternative to 33's. You could pick up the latest hits at Peaches, Record Museum, Wall to Wall Sound, and Listening Booth.


          For the car stereo, 8-Tracks ruled. If you weren't so inclined, have the car stereo installed by Sassafrass or Wellington Car Stereo, Sam Goody.


          We didn't have turntables. Our parents had phonographs or Victrolas. Some of our parents had Admiral combination radio-record player-TV units. We had Webcor record players with needles, not styluses.


          The man of the house didn't hog the remote control.


          We didn't have carpools. We didn't need them, our moms didn't work. Not that it mattered, we only had one car.


          Minimum wage when we entered the workforce was $1.65 an hour.


          A nickel would get you a one-way passage over the Tacony Palmyra or Burlington Bristol Bridge. The Walt Whitman, Ben Franklin and Commodore Barry Bridges were a little more pricey at a dime. You had to pay both ways.


          Boys wore their hair with pompodours. A gel stick ensured the permanent front lift. Brylcream, a little dab'll do ya'.


          Boys got their hair cut at a barber shop by a barber, not at a salon by a stylist.


          You bought leaded gasoline at the Atlantic station for 39 cents a gallon. They specialized in Red Ball Service. You couldn't serve yourself.


          They had competition from ESSO, where you could put a tiger in your tank, and  a tiger tail on your antenna. There wasn't much fear of someone stealing your 



         If you filled up your car at Phillips 66 or the Sinclair station, you would get S&H

             Green Stamps. Fill up some books and take them to the redemption center on Cottman Street at the Roosevelt Mall.


          Concurrent with our being granted the privilege to drive was the privilege to wait in line for gas. This privilege was granted every other day, depending on whether your license plate was even or odd. Nobody would tolerate paying a dollar for a gallon of gas; we'd rather walk than pay the Cartel all that money for

             gas. Yeah, right.


          The Dow Jones Industrial Average was a tenth of its current level.


          A Hershey Bar was a Hershey Bar. For a nickel, you could get a five pound bar. Ring Dings came one to a pack, wrapped in foil and as bis as a softball.

  We didn't have blue M&M's.


          A scoop of ice cream was a scoop of ice cream. For 50 cents, you could get 6 pounds of chocolate marshmallow from Greenwood Dairies, a "pig's dinner" for $2.99. If traveling wasn't on the agenda, there was always the Garden of Earthly Delights.


          Rock candy wasn't yet outlawed for containing 100% sugar.


          Cereal names were more descriptive. Sugar Pops and Sugar Smacks and Sugar Frosted Flakes knew how to call a spade a spade.


          A ten-dollar bill would buy a complete breakfast spread, including a dozen bagels, 1/2 pound lox, cream cheese, a pound of chopped herring, whitefish salad and danish. We didn't do brunch when we were kids.


          You could always count on Gene London getting a box dropped on his head in Cartoon Corners General Store. You could also count on him losing his weekly wage of 3-1/2 cents to the "Thing" bank and telling us about the Golden Fleece. "Come right on down to the general store. We have licorice,  gumdrops, sour balls. Anything I've forgotten?Let's see. Of course! Gene London, that's me!"


          You could pop the balloon at Kressge's to see how much your sundae would cost, anywhere between 1 cent and 99 cents.


          A burger was delicious at Burger Chef, Gino's (home of the Gino Giant), Jack in the Box, Fun Bun, Bob's Bog Boy, and Hot Shoppes with the trays that attached to your car's window. McDonald's promised two burgers, fries, a drink, and change from your dollar.


          If you weren't in the mood for a burger, you could get chicken at Gino's (Colonel Sander's Kentucky Fried Chicken) or Roy Rogers (Pappy Parker's Fried  Chicken). Roy's also served roast beef sandwiches, as did Arby's. You could  also get six tacos for a buck at Jack in the Box.


          You could visit The Golden Wheel Inn (a.k.a.,  Jesse's) and The Tyson Grill and The Gingham House and the Cottman  House and The Essen House and Barson's Overbrook and Lenny's and The Savarin and Levis' Hot Dogs. Maybe you can meet at the Cavalier for a corned beef on rye with one of those colorful toothpicks or little plastic swords!


          Maybe you could stroll down Cottman ave to bowl at Cottman Lanes.   


          My father had a Rambler. Jim drove a Datsun B-210, that rebel. Gremlins, Pacers, Vegas, Dodge Super Bees, Chevy Bel-Airs and Corvairs and Chevettes and Renault LeCars were affordable, Oldsmobile Delta 88s and 98s, Buick Deuce and a Quarters, and Ford Mavericks and Fairlanes were roomy. Fun and games were the motivation behind the Pontiac GTO, Buick Wildcat, Fiat Spyder. White wall tires were cool. Ron Levitt sold creampuffs.


          When the new license plates came in the mail, they were accompanied by a miniature license plate for your key ring.


          Mazda was powered by a rotary wankle engine. Ford Pinto gas tanks exploded on contact.


          There was no place to put the gasoline into the lawn mower.


          Archie and Jughead and Fantstic Four and Boy's Life were required reading.



          The Partridge Family sang our feelings. The Archies actually had the number one record of 1969 with "Sugar Sugar".


          You could open a passbook savings account at Western Savings Bank, PSFS, Girard Bank, Beneficial Savings Bank, Industrial Valley Bank, or Main Line Savings Bank. You could earn 3% on your money and beat inflation.


          Howard Cosell and John Facenda and Walter Cronkite looked young. Dick Clark looked his age.


          You could buy a Philadelphia Bulletin for a dime, the Journal for a quarter.

               Nearly everybody reads the Bulletin.


          Look Magazine rivaled Life Magazine.


          Take some magazine cut-outs reflecting your personality and glue them onto a metal lunch box. Varnish once over and carry as a pocket book.


          The paper boy brought the newspaper. The milkman brought the milk in real glass bottles with foil caps, fresh from Abbott's Dairies. The breadman brought the bread and donuts. The soda man brought the seltzer in real siphon bottles. Two cents plain right to your door.


          Doctors made house calls.


          Catsup was a condiment on a school menu, not a vegetable. A school lunch cost 35 cents.


          The rice pudding was an institution at Horn & Hardart's. So were the baked beans, but for different reasons. Lintons


          You could shoplift at E.J. Korvettes, S. Klein's on the Corner, Gimbels, Grant's, Lit Brothers, Two Guys,  F.W. Woolworth's, Cantor's Drugs, People's Drugs, Sun Ray Drugs.


          You got your sporting goods at Gold Medal or Polly Brothers.


          The "Bargain Basement" was located downstairs.


          If you had a passion for fashion and a craving for saving, you could take the wheel of your automobile and swing on down to Ideal.


          Atlantic City wasn't the best choice of vacation, it was the only choice. The required beach spot was called Chelsea, the name of the future President's daughter. There would never be casinos in Atlantic City, just salt water taffy and Mr. Peanut and the Diving Horse and Steel Pier and Central Pier and Million Dollar Pier. The "Jail on Wheels" attraction was a must-see. Zaberer. The Knife and Fork inn.


          The 7-11 opened at 7 and closed at 11.


          Barry Reisman's Bagels and Lox show on Sunday mornings ruled the airways.


          A property at 2nd and South went for $10,000. A rowhouse in the Northeast cost $11,500. Interest rate on the mortgage was 4%, property taxes were $22 a month. The average monthly mortgage payment was $119.


          Every room had a different name than it has today. The living room was called the parlor. The front patio was called the porch. The basement was called the cellar.


          Your living room had at least one wall covered in mirrors from Jerry Green's Mirror World. Your velour sofa was mint green and matched your shag rug.   

              The sofa was adorned with plastic slipcovers, requiring a perfection of the "one cheek sneak".


          The basement was done with dark brown paneling, and needed a gas space heater in the wintertime.


           A kid's greatest pleasure was celebrating Halloween in a row house neighborhood. Make sure you take a pillow case and empty it at least once during the night. All that candy would last until Thanksgiving, and unwrapped candy and home made cookies were never questioned. If you were sly, you could buy more candy with the Unicef money you collected in that orange box.


          Around Halloween, we would receive our catalog from Sears and Roebuck. We would dog ear the pages of toys we wanted that our parents wouldn't buy for us. If we found the picture of Dennis the Menace in the catalog, our parents would receive a discount on the toys they didn't buy for us. What ever happened to Roebuck, anyway?


          Bensalem and Southampton was farmland as far as the eye could see.


          When we were kids, life was simpler.


Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones