The good old days pop quiz final exam

“Enjoy your life. These are the good old days you’ll miss in the days ahead.”

— Author unknown.

– – – – – – – –

The good old days.

You remember them, don’t you? I do. I was thinking about the good old days just last week, remembering how simple life was before the internet. Never had to wonder why my AT&T internet stopped working every day like it has the last couple of weeks.

That started right after they sent that nice message apologizing for no service for a couple of days and reassuring me the issue was resolved.

Maybe no internet every day for a few hours is an upgrade from no internet at all for 24-48 hours. I don’t know any more.

I do know we’ve become a society that panics without internet service. Telephone, security and surveillance, climate control, television, and entertainment are all internet based at my house. Drop my internet signal, and I’m reduced to a cell phone (when it works) and my record player.

Which, when I think about it, is twice as much convenience as I had growing up in the good old days. All I had then was a record player.

The good old days.

A time when road trip comfort relied on the only climate control available for cars; the time-honored “4-60” system. Four windows rolled up and down with a crank instead of an electric button and 60 mile-per-hour cruising speed. Which was the maximum speed limit until sundown when it was reduced to 55.

A time when we kept our cool at home with water fan “swamp coolers” by day and attic fans by night. And it had to be in that order because water fans mildewed leather shoes and belts in the closet at night, and attic fans in the daytime just pulled in sweltering outside air.

A time when my class of 1966 was the last “unairconditioned class” graduated from Mount Pleasant High School. I’ve always said I signed up for the band program to learn something about music. Don’t tell anyone, but I learned to play a musical instrument because the band hall was one of the few buildings with a window unit air conditioner at a school without air-conditioned classrooms.

I get it, though. Times change, and good old days become memories.

In those good old high school days, friend and classmate Danny Lewis and I left Titus County in my 1958 Chevy one Saturday bound for a Dallas KLIF radio station-sponsored concert that included the Mamas and the Papas, the Animals, and Herman’s Hermits. Concert over and done later, we began the return trip home sometime after midnight.

At an isolated 24-hour service station somewhere way out in the country near the Gross Road exit on I-30, I related a minor motor noise to the attendant pumping gas. I concluded by asking if he might take a look at it.

He confessed he was not a mechanic, just the night attendant for pumping gas. But he was quick to offer the station’s service bay and tools if I wanted to investigate it myself.

Already seasoned at tinkering with hot rods and drag racing at a young age, chasing motor gremlins was a “no problem” proposition. The comfort and convenience of a service station bay, though? Now that was a bonus. I was used to doing my mechanic work under shade trees in my parent’s front yard.

Identifying a worn-out rocker arm as the culprit, the best (a.k.a. cheapest) alternative for the 1 a.m. trip home was deemed to be nursing the old Chevy back on seven cylinders. Removal of one rocker arm, pushrod, and spark plug wire put us on the road again. 

The car got us back to Mount Pleasant with only a minor miss to ignore. And Redfearn’s Automotive next door to the Martin Theater downtown supplied needed parts Monday to get the car firing on all eight cylinders again.

So, if you are still reading, here’s the good old days pop quiz final exam. If you understood what you just read and identified with any of it, you probably have a good idea what the “good old days thing” is all about.

But if you didn’t have a clue what I was talking about and NSYNC is your idea of “Golden Oldies,” just enjoy life for now. Your good old days will get here soon enough.

I can’t help you with panic attacks when the internet goes down, however.

For me, that part is much more manageable. I just turn on my record player and try to remember the last place I saw my cell phone.

—Leon Aldridge

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Aldridge columns are published in these Texas newspapers: The Center Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant Tribune,  the Rosenberg Fort Bend Herald, the Taylor Press, and the Alpine Avalanche.

© Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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