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Tuesday, October 11, 2011



Sometimes technology makes things obsolete overnight.  Vinyl replaced the old breakable records overnight; CD’s replaced records, and iPods are replacing CD’s.  Other changes are more phased out, and that is when you sometimes ask, “Whatever happened to…”
Gas station attendants used to wash your windows, check your oil, check your tires and check your batteries while they filled your tank.  Heck, they even gave you NFL tumblers and green stamps.  Today, except for New Jersey and Oregon they don’t even fill your tank.  Everything is self service.  Whatever happened to full service gas stations?  Why?  Would you pay an extra couple of pennies per gallon for old time service?

Whatever happened to checking the battery?  They used to need distilled water periodically to each cell.  Now they are sealed up.  What happened? 

Whatever happened to green stamps?  They used to give stamps away at gas stations and grocery stores.  You saved the stamps, put them in books, and turned the books in at redemption centers for stuff.  Two books for a yoyo, twenty thousand books for a dish washer.  My folks wouldn’t shop at a store unless they had the “We have green stamps” sign out.  Why was that a good idea in the forties, fifties and sixties and suddenly was a horrible idea?  What do I do with my five hundred books of stamps?  I want a new baseball mitt!

Whatever happened to the “Bug Whacker?”  This lovely appliance attracted insects to its light, and then zapped them to dust.  They supposedly killed mosquitoes but everyone knew they didn’t.  They mostly attracted moths which otherwise would not even bother you.  Still the bug whacker was a patio tradition in the eighties and nineties.  They are now nowhere.  I miss them, outdoor barbeques just do not seem the same without the periodic zap of small insects, and the occasional house-dimming electronic burst when a large insect or small flying mammal was caught in the bug whacking glow.

Varsity athletes in high school and college used to earn a felt “Letter” which was proudly worn almost daily on their “Letter Sweater.”  My dad had a letter sweater, I had a letter sweater, my kids earned letters, but they did not display them.  Whatever happened to the letter sweater?  Did all athletes at all the schools get together and decide they just weren’t cool?

Cars used to have small triangular windows on both front seat side windows.  They were called “cheaters” and they were perfect for letting out cigarette smoke, ashes, or diluting an accidental rectal methane release.  Whatever happened to the “cheater?”

Remember manners?  This was a form of behavior where complete strangers would act pleasantly towards each other.  If someone had his/her hands full, complete strangers would hold open doors to help them.  Driving a car, complete strangers would wave another car to cross over or get in their lane.  The other driver would then give a friendly “thank you” wave back.  When people received change back from a purchase they would say “thank you” to the cashier, and get this, the cashier would respond back, “you’re welcome.”  I kid you not. These acts and more used to occur on a regular basis.  Whatever happened to manners?

Some “whatever happened to” things I miss.  Some I just wonder about.  Some “whatever happened to’s”are the result of major life style improvements; some are things which just faded away to the detriment of our daily lives. 

I hope the latter is the sentiment when people ask, “Whatever happened to The Cranky Old Man?”     


  1. Letter Sweaters: last time I saw these were on an episode of Happy Days.

    Bug Whacker: I remember these well. But they would somehow turn our BBQ into a guilt-trip for me, as I would feel a bit strange knowing I was enjoying my meal when suddenly --ZZZZAP!-- another living creature got electrocuted right above me. No more meals for him. To an 8 year old, that was kind of horrific. Well, at least to one who used to collect bugs and name them.

    Green Stamps: Nope, not so much in my days...but I do fondly remember an episode of Brady Bunch where the kids were competing to see who would get all the green stamps that the family had collected. See, the green stamp-thing was coming to an end...and they had a whole bunch of stamps but the boys wanted a row boat and the girls wanted a "dumb old" sewing machine...and so they started building a house of cards but Tiger came along and well, everything counts when you're building a house of cards. So the girls won, the boys were very sad... until the girls came home with.... well, I don't want to ruin the ending for you.

    Gas Station Attendants: I remember them well! I was only a small kid, but my mom used them all the time. She would pull up to the gas station, roll down her window, and the guy would come up and say, "Fill her up, mam?" and she'd say, "Yes, please. Unleaded." and he would put the gas nozzle on the car, then as it was filling up he would lift our hood, fiddle around with things, come back to the window to tell us our oil was good and our water was fine, then he'd drop the hood down and begin wiping our windshield. I remember holding my breath and shutting my eyes tight when my mom went to start up the engine...because my overactive imagination used to think that one day - ONE DAY- we would get an evil attendant who would put either the wrong kind of gas in our tank so that we would explode when we started up the engine, OR he would fiddle around with the wires under the hood to cause our car to catch fire and/or explode. Going the the gas station was always such a stress for me. I was a nervous wreck. Truth be told, I was glad when they did away with the attendants. When my mom began pumping her own gas, I started sleeping better at night, my grades improved, and I got the lead in the school Christmas play that year.

    We had "cheaters" in my dad's VW bug. I didn't know they were called "cheaters" but I did see my dad occasionally toss out a Wriggly's Spearmint Chewing Gum wrapper out of it. So I think I thought of that window more as a "Litterbug" window than a "cheater" window. Cheater, litterbug...they fit into the same category, right?

  2. Now THAT Ladies and Gentlemen, is a COMMENT!!

    Thx Katrina!


  3. Remember those oval-shaped, red and blue STP stickers that the gas stations used to give out? My brother still has them stuck all over his guitar case from the 70's.

    Fun post!

    Katrina needs her own blog :-)Oh, she has one!

  4. Katrina I hope you came up for air a few times in there... lol

    The 'cheater' windows were known as wind wings in my world. You could open them depending on how much air you wanted blowing in as you raced down the road...

    Not around for the green stamps but there were stores I know of that had gold colored stamps. Bayless I think it was. Certain stamps for every $10, another color for each $1 spent, and you could combine them for free items thoughout the year. We fought over who got to lick them to put them in the book.

    If we could go back to the gas prices from 'those days' I would gladly pay the extra couple of $$ to have everything checked. Why not?

    We had letterman jackets- not sweaters and the bug zappers? We have one on our front porch. They still rock and when the flying monkeys come to visit with my sister in law- one or two at least dive bomb but forget to pull up soon enough. Maybe one day a house will fall on top of her.

  5. Hello and thank you for joining the Planet Weidknecht Weekend Hop. I'm following you and hope to see you again this weekend.