Half a century

8 06 2010

I turned 50 today, and am still getting used to it. Whoa. People tell me I look much younger than my age – I don’t always agree with them, as I know what I looked like when I was younger. But it’s better than looking older than I am!

Rather than attempting to wax philosophical – I can’t think of anything profound to say on the subject, except maybe for Bob Dylan’s “Any day above the ground is a good day” – I thought I’d just mention stuff that I remember from when I was young:

  • I was in kindergarten in 1965, which was the first year of the Canadian flag. I didn’t realize at the time that it was year 1 of our flag, but I remember being asked to draw it a lot.
  • I remember watching TV when a bulletin interrupted what was on to announce that Robert Kennedy had been shot. I had no idea who he was, or why this was important. (Now that there are zillions of channels, do they even have bulletins any more? Does anything interrupt regularly scheduled programming anymore? I guess September 11th did.)
  • I remember being on a family camping trip during the time of the Watergate hearings. They were being broadcast live on the radio, and my parents thought it was momentous enough to listen to while we were in the campground. Again, I was too young to grasp the significance.
  • I remember Space Food Sticks. They were about the size of a large finger, and were some sort of high-carb food covered in chocolate and wrapped in individual tinfoil wrappers. Supposedly, the astronauts ate these while in space. And apparently, they drank Tang. Lord knows why.
  • I remember Lolas. They were giant pyramid-shaped flavoured frozen slush things. It was impossible to eat one without winding up with your face all covered in Lola. The only time I ever shoplifted in my life was when I was about 10 or so – I stole a Lola. I didn’t get caught, but I never did it again.
  • Then there was Ton-O-Gum. It was a giant slab of gum – larger than a deck of playing cards – divided into four quadrants. It was impossible to put an entire Ton-O-Gum in one’s mouth, no matter how hard you tried. I managed three-fourths once.
  • I forget when they stopped selling firecrackers, but I remember them from when I was a kid. It’s amazing now to think that they allowed stores to sell tiny explosives to children. A bunch of us once wrapped some firecrackers in tinfoil and lit them, thus producing one giant BOOM.
  • It was about that time that they stopped selling candy cigarettes, which were packaged to look just like the cigarettes that adults smoked. It was probably about the time they stopped allowing cigarette advertising on television.
  • Do television stations still have test patterns before the start of their daily programming? I’d guess not: virtually everybody broadcasts 24 hours a day now, as you can just run repeats in the middle of the night. When I was little, on Saturday morning my day would start by watching the test pattern, which always featured a picture of an Indian, surrounded by circles with numbers in them. I had no idea what the numbers meant, but they looked interesting and important. After that, Dick Tracy came on.

And, finally: the first television commercial that I remember from my childhood was for Good & Plenty candy (which I think was miniature licorice pieces). It featured a cartoon of a man running a train. I still remember the chorus:

Charlie says, Love that Good & Plenty
Charlie says, Really rings the bell
Charlie says, Love that Good & Plenty
Don’t know any other candy that I love so well

(I did a search on YouTube and couldn’t find it, though I did find a 1950s version of the commercial that used the same tune.)

And about that time there was a Carling Red Cap commercial. I don’t remember it, but I remember that kids used to form in lines and march through the school yard singing it.

Anyway, that’s enough of the past. Onward!

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