First off the hop, Mike O’Hearn quickly pointed out how young people aren’t afraid to go into a lot of debt these days. When we grew up, if we didn’t have the money we simply didn’t get things nor did we go anywhere. Money was scarce when we grew up, so we found homemade fun to entertain ourselves and we just did without new toys, bikes or the like and walked everywhere we wanted to go. We can remember doing a LOT of walking!
When we were kids we only had one phone in the house which was attached to the wall with a cord to the receiver. There was no such thing as a cordless phone to carry around. The O’Hearn household was told that “the phone was not to call friends and neighbours, it was for emergency use only!” Everyone had to share a “party-line” with 4-6 other neighbours who would periodically eves-drop by picking up the phone and listening in on your calls. Nowadays, kids each have their own cell phones to carry in their pockets or purses. They can call or “text” friends whenever they want, even during class time at school. From the grocery store they can text or call to find out exactly what Mom wants them to pick up! We just had to go by the list Mom wrote out for us and figure it out on our own from there. On the flip side, when we were out we couldn’t be reached or bothered but nowadays parents can call or text the kids on their phones and tell them to get home. We could always tell the time or set our watches to the time of the train whistles at 12 noon and again at 6pm.
Television didn’t come into many homes until the late 40’s or early 50’s. It was black & white pictures, no cable, just two stations using an aerial and ‘rabbit ears’. Now TV’s are in colour, with numerous satellite stations and a set in every room of the house including the bedrooms! You can even watch shows on something as little as an IPad in the car! Technology sure has come a long way since we were young.
Then there was the great fun of going to the “Drive-In Theatres”! We’d take a whole car load of friends and sneak a few in the trunk besides. We’d hook the speaker on a partly rolled down window (later on they tuned into the show on a set radio station), lay on the car hood and lean against the windshield to watch the show. We didn’t need to dress up to go you could even go in your barn or work clothes if you wanted to (in the car nobody could see us anyway). Now kids watch movies at indoor theatres, at home on Netflix or on the little screen of a smartphone. Kids just don’t know what fun they’re missing.
Speaking of Drive-In’s…..there were the Drive-In Restaurants like A & W or the Jolly Buccaneer in Stratford. You stayed in your cars and turned on your lights when you wanted the waitress to come out on roller-skates to take your orders. The food was brought out on trays that hooked onto your rolled down window. The Root Beer was brought out in thick glasses with handles. When you were done, you put on your lights and the waitress would skate out and take your finished tray away for you. Now kids can only go through the Drive-Thru for Fast Food like McDonalds or Tim Hortons and have nowhere to park and enjoy it.
In school, for mathematics, we had to know our additions and times tables like the back of our hand. It was much easier when going to the store and knowing what change to expect to get back from the cashier or how to make change. I think we’re better at games like crib where you need to be good at your adding skills. Nowadays they give the kids calculators or iPads to figure it out for them.
Spending money, kids have it so freely today and for some their parents just give it to them. We used to go around collecting empty bottles with 2₡ return. We started working for the neighbours as early as age 12 or 13 doing farm work. When we were in school we worked every Saturday from 8am – 6pm for $2.00/day. In the summertime, we’d work those same hours 6 days a week and a couple hours on Sunday for just $10/week. The farmhand man in his 50’s worked 5 days/week for $27/month. With our pop bottle money we’d buy loose candies 3 for a penny! Nowadays, you can’t even buy a gum or make a phone call for a quarter.
After school most children play on their computers or hang out and text one another. We used to get home, throw in our school bags, grab a bite to eat and go out to play until suppertime. Some of our good homemade fun Mike said, was to each grab an old tire and see who could roll it the fastest and farthest. We’d get good exercise and spend a lot of time doing just that. Brother Jim O’Hearn recalls going down to the river with friends and find something that floats. We’d each throw it in the river at the same time and see who’s item floated downstream to a designated spot the fastest. Jim Hunter remembers spending many nights after school just throwing a rubber ball up against the side of the barn…and get the dickens for it later. Another game was to have friends on either side of a shed and throw a ball over the roof to each other. It was a game we called Anti Anti Over!
O those were the carefree days. Not just sure how the years have passed by so quickly but these are some of the memories we treasure. CHILDHOOD – A part of life that creates beautiful memories!
Submitted by: Jim O’Hearn, Mike O’Hearn, Carolynne O’Hearn and Jim Hunter