Blast from the Past



First, something written by an author unknown to me. Even this is outdated, because I found it several years ago…



Sometimes words get me to thinking, like …..

“Fender skirts!” What a great blast from the past! I hadn’t thought about fender skirts in years. When I was a kid, I considered it such a funny term. Made me think of a car in a dress.

Thinking about fender skirts started me thinking about other words that quietly disappear from our language with hardly a notice.

Like “curb feelers” and “steering knobs.” Since I’d been thinking of cars, my mind naturally went that direction first. You kids will probably have to find some elderly person over 50 to explain some of these terms to you.

Remember “Continental kits?” They were rear bumper extenders and spare tire covers that were supposed to make any car as cool as a Lincoln Continental. But never worked, in my estimation.

When did we quit calling them “emergency brakes?” At some point “parking brake” became the proper term. But I miss the hint of drama that went with “emergency brake.”

I’m sad, too, that almost all the old folks are gone who would call the accelerator the “foot feed.”

Here’s a phrase I heard all the time in my youth but never anymore – “store-bought.” Of course, just about everything is store-bought these days. But once it was bragging material to have a store-bought dress or a store-bought bag of candy.

“Coast to coast” is a phrase that once held all sorts of excitement and now means almost nothing. Now we take the term “worldwide” for granted.

This floors me On a smaller scale, “wall-to-wall” was once a magical term in our homes. In the ’50s, everyone covered their hardwood floors with, wow, wall-to-wall carpeting! Today, everyone replaces their wall-to-wall carpeting with hardwood floors. Go figure.

When’s the last time you heard the quaint phrase “in a family way?” It’s hard to imagine that the word “pregnant” was once considered a little too graphic, a little too clinical for use in polite company. So we had all that talk about stork visits and “being in a family way” or simply “expecting.”

Apparently “brassiere” is a word no longer in usage. I said it the other day and my daughter cackled. I guess it’s just “bra” now. “Unmentionables” probably wouldn’t be understood at all.

It’s hard to recall that this word was once said in a whisper – “divorce.” And no one is called a “divorcee” anymore. Certainly not a “gay divorcee.” Come to think of it, “confirmed bachelors” and “career girls” are long gone, too.

Most of these words go back to the ’50s, but here’s a pure-’60s word I came across the other day – “rat fink.” Ooh, what a nasty put-down!

Here’s a word I miss – “percolator.” That was just a fun word to say. And what was it replaced with? “Coffeemaker.” How dull. Mr. Coffee, I blame you for this.

I miss those made-up marketing words that were meant to sound so modern and now sound so retro. Words like “DynaFlow” and “ElectraLuxe.” Introducing the 1963 Admiral TV, now with SpectraVision!

Food for thought: Was there a telethon that wiped out lumbago? Nobody complains of that anymore. Maybe that’s what castor oil cured, because I never hear mothers threatening their kids with castor oil anymore, either.

Some words aren’t gone, but are definitely on the endangered list. The one that grieves me most – “supper.”

Save a great word. Invite someone to supper. Discuss fender skirts.

~ Author unknown to me

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I am ‘way past 50, but I don’t remember everything on the list. 😉 Of course, the ones I don’t remember are all near the beginning where it’s talking car stuff. I never was big on cars except when I had a crush on someone… hence in 1969 I could recognize any make of Pontiac of any age.

I would like to add a few of my own to the list. 

“Hardly neat!!” said with great enthusiasm, meant extremely good… much as “Wicked!!” meant very good, not so long ago.

“Barf!!” Everything was “Barf!!” until my mother put a stop to it. I wanted to know why, so she told me what it meant. Sheesh!! I just liked the sound of the word. Suddenly I had no further inclination to use the word. 

There were a few other choice terms I used briefly till I learned what they meant… Naive. That was me.

Retro televisionHowdy Doody… I saw him for the first time on my Granny’s TV when I was four or five years old. Suddenly my visits to Granny’s house, just across the road from us, took on new meaning. I always love visiting her, but once I discovered the wonders of the TV set, I was hooked.

And speaking of TV… I remember when the only person I knew who had a colour TV was my Aunt Mary, who hosted a family reunion every year as long as Granny Cummins was alive.

We didn’t acquire our own TV set till I was eleven or twelve, when Batman and Robin were all the rage… and my brothers had theme toys to go along with it. Oh yeah… and Bewitched. We never missed a program.

45’s, 33’s and 78’s… Bobby Vinton once sang a song entitled, “What Did You Do With Your Old 45’s?.” I didn’t realize 45’s were quite so far in the past till Ian told me he heard a local DJ take pains to explain what they were and why they were so called, to the predominantly young listening audience. Ian and I had already wondered aloud one day if even our own children would know what it is if they were to come across one of those little centrepieces used to fill the hole in a 45 so it would fit on the record player. Then we saw one in a movie. I asked the kids if they knew what they were. Nope!

I wonder… how many today know what 78’s were, much less used them. We got our first record player when I was 13. It was an old clunker… but at least it was electric, and not one you had to crank up. 😉 Whoever gave it to us, included with it a stack of old 78’s. Most of them were hymns… “He’ll Understand and Say Well Done,” and “When I’ve Walked the Last Mile of the Way.” One of them was my introduction to Connie Francis, and my favourite, My Wild Irish Rose.Vector illustration of an old portable radio

(I was going to put a video here, but either YouTube or the user removed it.)

Oh yeah… and how about hand-held transistor radios? I will never forget the year Mom got one each for Jim, Patrick and me. Oh, the wonder of it all!!! To be able to listen to a friendly DJ play my favourite songs, whenever I wanted to… even at night when I was going to sleep, with my tiny radio tucked under my pillow!

Ah yes… the good old days… I wonder sometimes, what my own children will remember when they are my age… or their grandparents’ ages.

Maybe you can remember the 50’s or 60’s. Or maybe you are younger than that. What are some of your favourite memories of your younger days? 


© Willena Flewelling


  1. Looks great All the Best !

  2. The crank to start my Dads car, the rumble seat pump house the bug some things I can recall

  3. It’s funny how words’ meanings change over time. And how one fad passes to another and then back again – like hardwood floors to carpet and back to wood again.
    Bill Davis recently posted…Facebook Ads Can Drive Heavy Targeted Traffic – Internet Marketing MuscleMy Profile

    • My son and I have been listening to audiobooks from The books are all in the public domain, and most were written before 1925. It is indeed funny sometimes to hear words which were innocent enough for centuries, but which in recent times have been changed by our society.
      Willena Flewelling recently posted…A Big DayMy Profile

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