Six Hundred Square Yards of Happiness

Being Nostalgic for the past often proves that bad memories are easily forgotten, painting a rosier picture of the realities.

bakker's fietsThings have changed since we were young someone remarked recently. It came kind of as the conclusion to a conversation about food home deliveries. Working on our website I had noticed how many restaurants these days offer take out delivery so when someone asked me, “What was your favorite fast food when you were growing up?”, I must have looked a bit dumbfounded. After a couple of seconds I said: “We didn’t have fast food when I was growing up,” I informed him. “All the food was slow.”

“C’mon, seriously. Where did you eat?”
“It was a place called home,” I explained. “Mom cooked every day and when Dad got home from work, we sat down together at the dining room table, and if I didn’t like what was put on my plate, I was allowed to sit there until I did like it. And that could be the next morning or lunch.”

By this time, the kid was laughing so hard I was afraid he was going to suffer serious internal damage, so I didn’t tell him the part about how I had to have permission to leave the table. And no there was no TV blaring

Here are some other things I would have told him about my childhood if I hadn’t been afraid that his system could not handle it:
• My parents never drove me to school (or even Kindergarten!). The walk to school was through the neighborhoods, what must have been a little less than 2 miles. I walked there after breakfast, walked back home at lunch time, back to school for 2pm classes and played my way back home after classes were over at 4pm. Sometime in 3rd Grade I got a bicycle that had one speed: slow. If it was too cold or snowy, I walked.• We didn’t have a television in our house until I was 9. It was black and white, reception was done with rabbit ears and the station went off the air at 11pm, after playing the national anthem and a religious message. It came back on the air at about 9 a.m. and there was usually news to begin the day followed by women’s exercise and domestic care programs.
• I remember listening to the World Cup soccer on the radio and the highlights of the year in broadcasting were the rivalry soccer game between Holland and Belgium and the daily results of the Tour de France.
• I never had a telephone in my room. The only phone in the house was on a party line. Before you could dial, you had to listen to make sure people weren’t already using the line. But I still remember our phone number 5805!
• Pizzas were not known to us as fast food, unless on our summer vacation trips to Italy, and certainly not delivered to our home… but milk and eggs were and our baker bicycle delivered personally our favorite breads and cookies on Tuesday and Saturday afternoon. His customer route into our neck of the woods encompassed about 30 miles of cycling. His name was Bakker Mueller. Harrie Pasmans was our milkman who brought fresh milk and eggs every morning before 7am, horse and wagon and all. He lived about 300 yards to the right of us. About three hundred yards to the left was Farmer Roumans, whose horse and wagon delivered fresh fruits and vegetables before noon every day. I dream off the days that white asparagus freshly out of the ground, an inch or more in diameter, were the culinary highlight on the dinner plate at home.  Topped with a special softly spiced real butter sauce and slices of hard boiled eggs I felt closer to Heaven in those days then ever since.• The butcher shop was 300 yards to the west and displayed an enormous delight of meats. Chickens were not sold in stores. If you wanted fresh chicken for dinner, you went into the coop and selected one for consumption. I personally can attest to the truth behind the expression “running around like a chicken without a head.”
• 300 Yards to the East, almost on the German border, was my grandparent’s home, just a short walk through the fields. If she had wanted to, mom could have watched us walk to our grandparents from the upstairs bedroom. She never did, she never had to. Safety was not an issue we had to concern ourselves with on a daily basis. Everyone in the neighborhood knew each other well and looked after us. It was 600 Square yards of pure, fresh, tasty, safe heaven on earth.
Yes things have changed since we were young!

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