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Monday, November 2, 2015

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO…- a cranky re-run

This Monday's cranky re-run is a bit of nostalgia from October 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. We still have manners here, people regularly say thank you to bus drivers as they get off at their stop, and I've seen people helping others when they have their hands full, helping carry, opening doors etc.
    We have bug whackers too, but we call them bug zappers.

  2. Manners have made a comeback here, especially with drivers. Amazing. Yes I remember green stamps and the thrill of getting something (so we thought) for nothing. I like this post, it gave me time to reflect. Thanks.

  3. Kids here wear their letters on their jackets.

    I've never heard those windows called Cheaters. Interesting!

  4. I think bug whackers are still available at some outdoor stores (Cabela's, Bass Pro) because they are a great source of evening entertainment on camping trips.
    Yes, if you didn't have a letterman sweater, you owned a letterman jacket. Times do change and not always for the better.

  5. I've also wondered about these "disappearances." Like whatever happened to "dolphin-safe" tuna? Have the dolphins been saved or are we just not worrying about them anymore?

  6. The world would be a sadder place without you. At my Little Girl's high school, the letters are worn on jackets, not sweaters, but they are worn still.

  7. Many good things have fallen to the wayside, and many bad things have too. I'm so glad I have you to bring these things to mind.

    Have a fabulous day Cranky. ☺

  8. I collected a whole set of Blue Willow dishes at the gas station back in the 60's. One dish with every fill-up. Still have a few of them.

  9. Ahh the cheaters. I had no idea that was what they were called but I remember them well. Odd little lock/clip/handle with which to open them. The zappers.. barbaric things. Nostalgia... thankfully that never dies.

  10. Yeah, I had a letter jacket (not a sweater) back in my day - felt body, leather sleeves. In my day, you sewed your letter to it, and maybe little numbers for your year of graduation. Now my kids have a bunch of embroidery with their name, and their sport, etc, etc, etc, that costs almost as much as the coat (which, you can believe, ain't cheap).

    A sign of things to come, no doubt - the main video rental store in OurTown closed last week; Netflix and online streaming drove 'em out. . .

    And now that you mention it, it has been quite a while since I saw a Bug Zapper. . .

  11. When my sisters and I needed to be punished, we were handed a shoe box of green stamps and told to get busy. I still remember that nasty taste. Later on, it was easier because they came in denominations like "10" and "50" - that was easier! Only a few per page instead of one on every frikkin' tiny square!

  12. I remember "cheaters"--we called them "wind wings"!!

  13. What you called a "cheater", we called "the fly window" (I guess because you opened it to let flies out without having to open the big window and let them in; who knows?) Anyway, it was perfect if you were a smoker who drove and you didn't want to bother your passengers with your smoke. Open the fly window, hold your cigarette near it, and it sucked out the second-hand smoke. When you exhaled smoke, you directed toward that vent and there was almost no smoke in the car to bother anyone else. I've long wished that newer cars had those.

  14. Most likely men never knew about this one, but women's purses used to have little individual mirrors in the inside pocket. It was for applying lip stick. I can't recall when they stopped putting them in purses but one day I just noticed, "no more mirrors.."

  15. We still give out varsity letters, but nobody wears them! We have the jacket salesman show up before Christmas break, just so kids (or parents) can put in an order. But even though I know some kids order them, they don't wear them! One said, "My dad had a letter jacket, and he wants me to have one, but I'll never wear it."

    I don't know what the problem is. They're not giving out varsity letters like everyone gets a trophy!

  16. You brought back some old memories!

    You know what I miss? Chocolate cool whip!