GUEST COLUMN | Old news

When I was a kid in Ashdown, Arkansas, I was surrounded by old people. It wasn't so much that all of the other folks were actually old it's just that when you're a kid, everyone besides you seems old.

Not only did they seem old, they acted old. They ate old. They watched old. They drove old. They wore their hair old. They smelled old.

I'll clarify that last one momentarily.

When you're young, you have unlimited energy. I'm reminded of this every time the grandkids come to visit. My wife and I are thrilled to have them, but after they leave we need one of those recliners that stands you up all by itself.

After their departure, we discuss how God knew what He was doing when He chose to give newborns to young people.

At least now there are things for kids to do that we didn't have years ago. Our grandkids play a lot of sports; so keeping up with their favorite teams online is something we could have only dreamed of.

As a kid, we went outside to throw the ball or run the bases. The older folks of the family didn't want to participate. My grandfather wanted to, "Rest his eyes," while my grandmother needed to, "Watch her stories." We learned early on that we might as well just go on outside.

Mealtime also proved someone's age. There were no fish sticks or TV dinners at the old folk's place. You ate biscuits, gravy, fried potatoes, and whatever meat was left over. Usually that was sausage, bacon, or ham.

As for watching old, back then we got three channels. During the day in the summertime the local stations aired reruns. So, we never missed The Andy Griffith Show, Gunsmoke, Hazel, The Rat Patrol (in color), The Rifleman, Perry Mason or on Saturday, The Lawrence Welk Show.

Just like old TV shows, the vehicles were also old. When the older members of your family endured the Great Depression, you learned to live with being seen in a less-than-cool car. The logic of the older folks was to never get rid of a perfectly good vehicle, even if it was made during the Truman Administration.

These old cars did have advantages. If one of your grandparents accidentally hit another vehicle with theirs, there might have been a small mark on the paint of one of the fenders, while the other vehicle involved was a total loss.

It wouldn't surprise me if my grandfather had to pick a couple of Ford Pintos and a Chevy Vega out of the grille of his truck after returning from dropping me off at the school.

Same was true of my grandmother's Buick, which weighed more than the Empire State Building and had to be driven to the airport to be turned around.

The hairstyles of the seniors were also old. You could look at a photo of them as young people and their hairstyles were exactly the same.

The men typically used 30-weight on their hair, while the children in the back seat of the vehicle couldn't see anything up front because the ladies' beehives obstructed the view.

As for smelling old, the senior members of society had about three different perfumes and colognes that they wore.

The women preferred a scent that tried to mimic some fruity flower, while the men liked a cologne that had a smell very close to hydraulic fluid.

Perfumes and colognes were all bought at the Rexall Drug Store and usually came in an industrial-size bundle pack for holiday gift giving.

I never knew the names of the lady's perfumes, just the smells. But the guys liked English Leather, Aqua Velva, and Old Spice.

When I first started shaving, I learned quickly that Aqua Velva not only could be used to set your neck on fire, it could also be applied to start the charcoal grill, remove paint, or be substituted as fuel for the tiller.

All of these things came to mind recently when I asked for my wife to order me some more cologne. For some reason, I couldn't find Stetson anywhere. The lady at the dollar store said they quit carrying it a long time ago.

I drove my '92 Toyota pickup there to get some, then to several other places but no luck. The lady I accidentally bumped into in the parking lot didn't know where to find it either, so I asked my wife to find it, which she did online. Someone had listed a bottle of it in their estate sale.

After I left there, I stopped in for a haircut. There's just one lady left who knows how to cut it like I like it. I wanted to look nice before the kids and grandkids stopped by for a visit.

I got some leftovers out for them to eat. And now that we have a way to record all of the good shows, I have a lot of episodes of The Andy Griffith Show and Bonanza ready to go.

I'm still waiting for the mail lady to deliver my Stetson. I hope it gets here on time. I want to smell fresh and young when the kids arrive.

John's latest book, "Puns for Groan People," and volumes 1 and 2 of his series "Write of Passage: A Southerner's View of Then and Now" are available on his website, TheCountryWriter.com, where you can also send him a message and hear his weekly podcast.

©2023 John Moore

photo Columnist John Moore is having trouble finding his favorite cologne, as well as some other things. (Photo by John Moore)

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