Some of your favorite columns are when get in the time machine and head backwards to a more peaceful and serene place. A place perhaps, not as eerie as the Twilight Zone but perhaps a little more peppier than Father Knows Best. For me it was late fifties, early sixties and the town was Chelsea. Mom and Dad were the proprietors of Sheda's Grocery Store until about 1961 or so. My two brothers and sister pretty much grew up in the grocery business. Me? I was ten when we closed up, so I mostly just enjoyed the fruits of a grocery store--candy, baseball cards, ice cream, potato chips and so on. Too young to do much actual work, but old enough to sneak some penny Peanut Butter Cups in my pocket, hoping they wouldn't melt too fast.
Chelsea was a great little town to grow up in. We had our own restaurant, a couple of taverns, barber shop, hardware store, two grain elevators, insurance agency, beauty shop, couple of service stations, a soft ice cream store and burger shop and lots of other things. Heck, there was even an "egg-buying" business right on main street. Wednesday nights, the town was a-hoppin' in the summer time with the band concerts. Everyone came into town, backed their cars into the parking spots so they could listen to the music and watch what was going on. Pop-Corn Annie was on one side of the street selling popcorn and the Sheda boys & girl were selling popcorn on the other side. We all took our turns over the years selling that #$@#$% popcorn!!! Ten cents a bag.
Chelsea had everything any small town could want or ask for. Little League teams, a school bus transporting us kids to the swimming pool every day, two schools; one for "Catholic-ers" as Dad called us and one for "Public-ers" as I thought their religion was. Deb Veit was one of those "public-ers." Little did she know that one day she would become a "Sheda," and almost a "Catholic-ER." Chelsea also had a town fast-pitch softball team and they played teams in Elberon, Parnel, Luzerne, Vining, Belle Plaine, Tama, Toledo and maybe even Montour. I don't remember a lot of the guys that played on the team, but I think Jim Fergueson was the pitcher. My brother, Larry, played third base and some other players were Bob & Joe Kaufman, Joe & Bill Waterbury, Billy Walton, Jim Hanzelka, maybe Warren and Cecil Brush. If anyone remembers any others, please let me know. Remember, I was only about ten or eleven years old.
Ah, growing up in this era was something to behold. People could leave their doors unlocked and the keys to their cars left in the ignitions. Weddings were usually a "everyone in town" invited affair, as were funerals. We celebrated together; we mourned together. There was no rich side of town or wrong side of the tracks. We truly were all in it together. And it was a wonderful way of life. The only problems was that WE DIDN'T REALIZE IT AT THE TIME!
Do you remember those roller skates you put on under your tennis shoe and the key you needed to tighten them up? And ten feet after you took off skating, one of the fell off your shoe!! Grrrrrr. How about those Lucky Strikes or Camel "candy cigarettes?" We thought we were big stuff. They even had the little red coloring at the end to look like they were lit. We loved going to the ball diamond or school yard to fly kites. Is that a lost art nowadays? And what about those balsa wood airplanes we put together and toss them in the air. Until they ended up on someone's roof or in a tree--along side the $%#$%# kite.
In Chelsea, the girls had slumber parties but us guys didn't believe in such "girly" stuff. Nope! No slumber parties for us. We called 'em "Camp-Ins." Now as I grew a little older, I discovered GIRLS. Va Va Voom! And when one discovers GIRLS, one also discovers, "after-shave" lotion, (even though I was light-years away from shaving). The top best-smelling after shaves or colognes were Jade East, Hai Karate, British Sterling and English Leather. If I couldn't get any of these, I could always use my dads or brother's Old Spice.
Next week, I'll try to stump you with some 60's TV commercial slogans and perhaps a few other surprises. What was your favorite song, TV show and movie growing up? Let me know at email@example.com or call me at 319-327.4640. I'll share mine next week. Have a blessed week, my friends.