Growing Up In Waterford, PA


Do You Remember?
by the late Herb Walden

Fort LeBoeuf Class of 1956

It seems that whenever I get together with old friends, a lot of our sentences begin with, "Do you remember?" Considering that you are at least a potential friend, I wonder . . . . . . . . . . . .

Do you remember when guys who were really hep, (and the word was "hep" back then), wore zoot suits? The coats were very long and had broad, heavily-padded shoulders, and the trousers were full at the hips and tapered to narrow cuffs. I wasn't old enough to have a zoot suit when they were the fad. I probably wouldn't have anyway, because my favorite things to wear were dungarees.

Do you remember dungarees? They're still around, but they've gone with a lot of name changes, like denims, blue jeans, and Levi's, but they're still dungarees to me!

Do you remember when we wore 4-buckle arctics in winter and canvas sneakers in summer? The arctics were a pain to get on and off, and usually the heels of our shoes would rip through the rubber before winter was over. No problem. We'd just take them to the gas station and have them vulcanized. Do you remember "vulcanized"?

Almost every summer spawned a new pair of sneakers. You felt like you could fly when you ran wearing a new pair of sneakers. It was almost as good as going barefoot. Almost.

B. F. Flyers and Keds were popular brands around my neck of the woods. Do you remember how quickly they became odoriferous? It seems they started getting pungent about an hour out of the box.

Do you remember the old Walt Disney comic books of the 1940s? They were among my favorites. Mickey Mouse had two nephews back then. One of them disappeared. Mysteriously. A couple other Disney characters have disappeared since then, too. Do you remember Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow? I wonder whatever happened to them.

My favorite comic book superhero was Captain Marvel. Do you remember how Billy Batson, (boy reported), would utter the word "SHAZAM", and a big bolt of lightening would appear, and he would be magically transformed into Captain Marvel, ready to do battle with some diabolical enemy? Like Mr. Mind, who was a very smart worm.

I used to get caught up in the stories and would sometimes sneak out back where no one was around and quietly say, "SHAZAM". I didn't want to say it in front of anyone because if it didn't work, I'd be embarrassed. And if it did work, I didn't want to scare my mother, what with the lightning bold and all. Maybe I didn't say "SHAZAM" loud enough, because nothing ever happened.

Speaking of comics, I made a list a while back of all the newspaper comics that have disappeared since I was a kid. There are at least fifty.

Do you remember some of the adventure strips like "Buz Sawyer" and "Smiling Jack"? And detective strips like "Kerry Drake" and "Mickey Finn"? The strips I liked best were the funny ones. Do you remember "Smoky Stover" and "Snuffy Smith" and "Gordo"? There was "Our Boarding House" with Major Hoople and "Bringing Up Father" with Maggie and Jiggs. One of the funniest single panels was "Out Our Way".

Do you remember "flip pictures"? They were a series of pictures of maybe nothing more than a guy walking. But when you flipped through them, the character was set in motion. I remember some Big Little Books having these moving pictures in the corners of the pages. In grade school, some of us used to try to draw our own in our school tablets. The effect was close to magic.

I doubt that there are any of these moving cartoons around anymore, but recently I discovered something close. I found that if I stacked all my old photo drivers licenses in order and "flipped" them, I could actually watch my hairline recede.

Do you remember when Nabisco Shredded Wheat was packed with gray cardboard separators between layers? The separators were printed with pictures of various things. During World War II, there were lots of pictures of airplanes and ships and other military hardware. I seem to have lost my collection. Too bad. I really need some more clutter.

Do you remember LS/MFT? We used to hear it during every commercial on radio's "Hit Parade" each Saturday night. About the same time, "Johnny" used to "call for Philip Morris" while strains of "On the Trail" played in the background. I don't think Philip Morris ever answered. Until recently. Now he's answering for quite a lot!

Do you remember running boards on cars? Oh, I know. We have those pretty little add-ons for trucks and vans, but I'm talking about REAL running boards --- the kind wide enough for two or three people to stand on and go for a ride. That was fun, but then I'm pretty easily amused anyway.

Do you remember when you could actually understand song lyrics? Back in the 40s, there was a novelty song called "Rose O'Day". and the chorus was:

Rose O'Day, Rose O'Day
You're my filigadusha
Balda ralda
Boon toodie ay

No, I don't know what it means either. But the point is I could make out every syllable. As for today's pop singers, well, I haven't understood a word since Bing Crosby died.

You know, I just got to thinking a little more about some of the things I've written. So a few minutes ago, I went out in the backyard and looked around to make sure I was alone. Then in a loud, strong voice, I said, "SHAZAM!"

And what do you know? It still didn't work!

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