Do you remember when?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How many of you have ever made the statement “I remember when?” Well, let me tell you about when I remember when.

I remember when it cost children 6 cents to get into the flicks, or movies, and 12 cents for adults. On Saturdays, you saw two movies, a continued picture and a comic. Popcorn was 10 cents and candy was a penny and a nickel.

My family was very poor, and at first we lived in the country. We had a wood stove to cook on, and no electricity or running water. I remember carrying water in a bucket and sitting it in the kitchen. If you wanted a drink of water you would use a dipper that hung over the bucket, and everyone drank from the same dipper.

At night we had an oil lamp burning in two rooms. If you went into another room, you had to carry the oil lamp with you for light. I remember going to the toilet — called an outdoor toilet — which was about 200 feet from the house. Our toilet paper was usually the Sears and Roebuck Catalogue. And after dark you had a chamber pot sitting beside the bed that you would use at night. This kept you from having to go outdoors.

Living in the country, you didn’t have ice, so to keep things cool you had a flow well box. This is a wooden box that sits under the well. Cool water flowed from the well into the box and you put milk, eggs, butter and anything else that had to be kept cool in jars, and they would float around in the cool water.

I remember not having electricity so we had to listen to a battery-operated radio. We would listen to “Amos and Andy,” “Mr. and Mrs. North,” “The Inner Sanctum,” “The Squeaking Door” and others that you might also remember. The radio battery was about one foot long and 6 inches tall. When the battery would get weak, we would put it in the wood stove and let it cook for about an hour. This would give us about three more days of use.

Not having screens for our windows, we slept under a mosquito net or what some called a mosquito bar. This was a large net that fit over the bed. I really don’t think mosquitos were as big back then as they are today.

I remember when you built something you didn’t go buy nails. You would pick up rusty nails and bent nails and would have to straighten them before you could use them. On many doors or gates we didn’t have metal hinges, so we cut the tongue out of our old shoes and used them for hinges. If you got cut or happened to step on one of these rusty nails, you just poured kerosene on the cut. I remember stepping on a rusty nail once and having to put a piece of salt meat over the spot for a couple of days.

You never locked your doors when you went to bed or to town, and many of the doors didn’t even have locks on them. If you were gone for a couple of days, no problem, no locks were needed.

I’m sure that I have jogged the memory of a lot of you recalling these things plus the fact that gasoline was 15 cents a gallon. Our younger generation of today don’t realize how well off they are. I am scared to think about what would happen if things were to return to this way of living. I don’t think that the younger generation could cope with this lifestyle.

The Louisiana Treasures Museum had hundreds of items on display that you had to have while living back in this time. Want to take a step back in time and remember when, just stop by for a visit or to schedule a tour call me at 225-294-8352. The museum is located on Highway 22 west of Ponchatoula.

Wayne Norwood is a lieutenant with the St. John the Baptist Sheriff’s Department and owner and operator of the Louisiana Treasures Museum.