Greek-American Stories: Born Before 1949?

As if the pandemic, the unyielding natural disasters, and political chaos weren’t enough, we are also being tasked with a massive evolution of consciousness. Maybe, instead of agonizing, we should take an extra moment and go back a bit to when we lived in a less vulnerable place, when as kids we looked forward to life with some degree of optimism.

All the catastrophes that have knocked us off our feet should have taught us to move at a slower pace, wherein good food, good company, some fun, and living for the sake of living – like we did as children – is  truly living life. We are the survivors! When you consider the changes we, the 49ers, (not the gold miners of 1849) have witnessed, you’ll understand better.

We were born before color TV. Before polio and flu shots, frozen foods, Xerox, plastic bags, contact lenses, Frisbees and MSG. We didn’t know radar, credit cards, laser beams, ball point pens, dish washers, clothes dryers, electric blankets, or air conditioning. We got married and then lived together. We were kinda’ dumb to think you had to have a husband to have a baby.

Closets were for clothes, not for ‘coming out of’. Bunnies were small rabbits, not Volkswagens. We didn’t know computer dating, dual careers, house husbands, day care centers, group therapy, or nursing homes. Never heard of tape decks, artificial hearts, word processors – and guys wearing earrings.

Tattoos were seen, mostly, on longshoremen, criminals, and wrestlers. Nose rings were found on oxen, cows, or bulls. Time sharing meant togetherness – not condominiums. A ‘chip’ meant a piece of wood; hardware meant stuff from a hardware store, like nails and chisels, and software wasn’t even a word. A ‘mouse’ was what a cat caught. A ‘web’ was a spider’s home. Paste was glue’s relative. A virus was the flu. Hard drives were long trips home from somewhere. If you had a floppy disc you hoped nobody notices it. A CD was a bank account. A cursor is someone who used profanity. A keyboard is a piano. A ‘backup’ was something you hoped didn’t happen in the bathroom. Having a meaningful relationship meant getting along with your neighbors and relatives.

Then there were the stores that are now gone. The Horn & Hardart had containers of food you chose at an instant for a few coins with great coffee to go with it. I, sure, miss Chock Full o’ Nuts and those delicious date n’ nut cream cheese sandwiches.

The term, ‘making out’ referred to how you did on your exam. MacDonald’s and Burger King were unheard of. In the 5 &10 cents store you could actually buy something for five and ten cents. A subway or bus ride cost a nickel and for a dime you could make a phone call, buy a Pepsi, and buy enough stamps to mail bills and post cards. Postcards? Where did they go? Gas was fifty cents a gallon for a car that cost $900. It was a joy receiving a handwritten letter from a friend. Compress is something you did to the garbage not something you did with a computer file.

Grass was mowed, pot was what you cooked food in, Rock was what Yiayia did to a cradle for a grandkid. Aids were school helpers or hospital workers. What does LSD stand for?

We made do with what we had and repaired shoes at a place that actually replaced soles, heels, and surface leather with a shine to boot. Paying rent in an apartment was a reasonable negotiation, not ransom. We’d threaten the landlord with nonpayment if he didn’t paint or repair the leaky pipe.

I still send letters and love receiving them, too. I send real paper birthday cards and use the telephone to talk to relatives and friends. I hang wash out in the backyard under a sunny sky and love the scent. I warm food in a pot or the oven since I don’t own a microwave. From how it appears, I’ll never change because I like doing things my way. It’s hard to believe that you really own the technology out there, like cell phones, smart phones, twitter, internet, tweeting, face book, instagram, when it’s more like they own YOU!

Very little about the way we have going about life for the last 100 years includes really living. So, as the famous cartoon character, Porky Pig, once said, “Tha… tha… that’s all, folks!”





Finishing off a spectacular lunch at Hellas restaurant in Tarpon Springs, I strolled deep into the surrounding neighborhood to get an updated flavor for the renowned city of 25,000 inhabitants along Florida's Gulf Coast.

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