ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

21 Things That "Used" To Be a Big Deal

Updated on May 29, 2012

Something happened in my younger years from the 1950's through the 1970's, called "progress." To this present time, I have never fully-grasped, or rationalized whether our progress was a blessing or curse. Some, namely the revolutionary-thinkers, inventors with vision, the "sons of success," had rather rest in the belief that progress is a gloried blessing.

And I would love to join this group of people in their strong belief, but somehow, in silent times of thought, I look back at the "simplicity" of my personal life and suddenly become overwhelmed at how down-right easy it was to do things, go places, talk to people and live our lives in the years prior to 2012. Simply put from a simple mind, in today's life, all we really have to do is crawl out of bed each day and call on our "progressive" inventions and innovations to do the rest.

This piece never really called for an intro. I just thought that I would let the photos I have chosen, tell my story: "Things That Used To Be a Big Deal."

There are 21 things on this list. That's a meager amount of things we used to consider "treats" And believe me, there are a lot more things. A lot more.


Was one of the biggest deals around when I was a boy in rural Alabama. My mom would rarely get to purchase herself a “store-bought” dress. And when she did, she treasured the dress as if it were made of fine silk. I suppose that when I was growing up, people didn’t really have that much. Or depend on the conveniences we have today in 2012. We just learned the value of contentment and when we were blessed with something new and it was needed, we learned another thing: Being grateful.


can you imagine for a moment, having to mow your lawn today with this "fossil" of a lawnmower? Or carry lumber, blocks, or anything you needed, in this 1949 REO pickup truck? Both were before my time, but still, when people were financially-able to buy such a truck or mower, they were so happy and couldn't wait to try their "new toys" out in their daily tasks.


was, by all standards, a "big deal," for hardly anyone owned their own home during the time I was a young boy in rural Alabama. Most families were share croppers and paid monthly rent to a landowner out of his share of that fall's harvest of corn, cotton, or other crops. Only the higher-levels of society were able to buy their own homes. Those who went "up north," to cities such as Adrian and Detroit, Michigan to find public work that did pay more and enable these southern "transplants" to buy their home in the north. Or retire and build in the south.


was not considered a "need," but a luxury in my younger days. Most people who desired Saturday night entertainment, would gather in someone's front yard or living room, and play guitars, fiddles, banjo's and other instruments that not only brought joy to these working families, but eased the burden (only for a while) of not being able to attend a square dance or social event that was going on in a nearby town.


for some rural families, or even townspeople, in my earlier years was considered a "blessing," not a "treat." The Lord's House was revered and respected by those who could find a way to get to the house of worship each Sunday. Most families didn't make enough money to buy a car or truck, they simply rode in a wagon pulled by a horse or mule. But even in these hard times, going to church was not taken for granted as it is by us today in 2012, but a great day for the family to be together and really know just how much they were blessed.


at first, were condemned by the older people in the 50's, but with the persistent begging by the teenagers who "had to do something," besides work, would secure the family car, if one were available, or ride with friends to the "new thing" in town: The drive-in movie theater where they viewed western, drama and comedy movies that were suitable for all ages.


were in fact, a "treat," to the men who made enough money from their public or private jobs to afford them. And most men only wore their "good shoes," to church or some high-level social event such as a "mixer," to meet other people. During the week, men wore one style of shoe: Work boots that could take the torture of field work or logging.


was "the" ultimate treat for any family in this time frame of my younger years. If a family owned a vehicle, it was a used car or truck bought from a neighbor or friend they knew would give them a great deal. But when a family rolled-up in a "showroom new" car, they were considered "it," by way of having money and influence. In all honesty, this was a very rare event, owing a new car by anyone in my childhood years.


are you kidding me? No one just went to town and bought a cheeseburger in my early years. And my mom never cooked a ground beef patty until 1965. This is the Gospel Truth. Beef was so high in my boyhood that my mom and dad chose to eat fresh vegetables from our garden and maybe on a certain Fourth of July, we could go to our hometown and actually "buy" a cheeseburger. What a treat this was.


the same thinking about cheeseburgers applied to hot dogs. No one could afford them. Most of our monthly-budget went for the power bill, rent, farming supplies, and what groceries we could afford and none of the grocery lists ever had "frankfurters" on them. Now if you had a dime and a ride to the local drive-in theater, you could enjoy a movie and a hot dog for that one dime. Can you do that today? No. I was just being ridiculous.


was not for everyone in the early 50's, and not for my family. Hamilton, Alabama did not have a railroad. The nearest railroad, and trains, were in Birmingham, Alabama, then an impossible-three-hour journey by car. If you had one. Or could pay an uncle to drive you there. But the people who traveled a lot in my childhood, used a passenger train. The cost was (to them) nominal. And the feeling of "being someone" on a train was priceless.


were seen almost everywhere in town's when I was a boy. No respectable man would dare go in public without a hat. No caps for men back in my early days. Hats were the fashion staple for men. And those men with money and means, wore a nice suit and tie to complement his hat.


made the man. If he wore a suit such as this gent is wearing, he was one of the following: a minister, judge, lawyer, banker or insurance agent. Either way, he looked his best in a nice three-piece suit. He was able to conduct his business with other men in nice suits. And by wearing a nice suit, he was saying to the available single girls, "I am a catch. Hurry and get me before your girlfriends do." And wearing a suit was a nice gesture of respect to the man he was doing business with.


was a sign that a town was on its way for progress. Would you believe that even in most early towns in the rural south that people had to "draw water" from a well on their property or from the public water well that was in a central location for the convenience of its citizens? This is a fact. And when towns began to grow with more people, businesses, and jobs, the need for huge water tanks emerged. These are still in use in some small towns in Alabama.


yes, drinking was not a public "treat" for those who loved beer in my day. Fact is, my town was only "wet" one time, but today, it is illegal to sell alcohol in the city or county. But as some old-time philosophers have said, "those who do, will find a way to do it," and they did. Budweiser, one of the first beers to be sold in the United States was shipped in bottles like this one which would fetch a pretty penny today for collectors. It was not until the late 1950's that beer companies gave the drinking public a choice of a glass bottle or a can that was opened with a can opener. Nowadays, buying beer with easy-open tops is commonplace.


and see the ocean. Yeah, but where is your money? Scenes like this were so far away for rural families in the south that it was comical. There was no such thing as a vacation for my family. Or the families who lived near us. Share cropping is a full-time job and when the harvest is over, there are other maintenance jobs that always need doing around the farm. Seeing a sight like this would require a visit to Michigan and one of the Great Lakes. Our family might as well be planning a trip to heaven.


and going to dances were strictly-forbidden by parents in the "olden days," when I was only a toddler. Not to be harsh, but the local church was to be credited for teaching for young people to attend prom's or teenage dances, were "of the world and satan," as the preachers would say. Most parents heeded their advice and kept their teen's at home as they wanted their young boys and girls to be raised right. But in the late 50's, things began to change and social ideas changed also as teen's were allowed to have prom's and dances. With chaperones of course.


like this one, were "the" semi's of the early days in our country. There was no such of a thing as a diesel "big rig" rolling down the interstate with goods and supplies for the American family to use in their homes or businesses. Today in 2012, it is an everyday thing to see as many as ten or fifteen "big rigs" hauling down our highways making their deliveries to plants, stores and restaurants. How things have changed, right?


was always around in the early 50's and in years prior to our nation's progressive moves. I always wanted an ice-cold Coke when my dad and mom, and yes, me too, would make our monthly-trek to Hamilton, Alabama, our hometown for groceries and things we needed. Coke was not a needed thing according to my dad who was a wonderful man and financial manager. It was my mom whose heart gave way to my constant begging for a "nickel Coke." Yes, they only cost a nickel. In 2012, they cost $1.75. or $2.00 in places. But I still love them. Then and now.


so long, faithful mule. This was probably the turning point of rural America, farmers who could afford a John Deere, Ford or Massey-Ferguson tractor to tend their fields in a more-efficient and economical fashion. By the late 1950's, American business had installed the "pay over time" system which meant a man with good credit and character, could, with a good down payment, own a tractor to do his work and let "Mr. Mule," go on a long vacation.


tonight and forget that old-fashioned radio. You knew when you heard that statement, that things were definitely changing. And are still changing. This was "the" thing to have in your home if you wanted "real" entertainment. You could actually "see" the movie stars and celebrities such as, Steve Allen, Cid Caesar, Jack Benny, Jackie Gleason and early super-stars doing their own shows that at first lasted only one-half hour. And did you also know that in television's infancy, the early television broadcasting networks only provided a few hours of television a day? A day. You read that right. Today, forget about it. Televisions are on 24/7 from cable to satellites in orbit. Imagine you being the first family in the 1950's to own one of these "luxuries."


I couldn't resist publishing this photo bigger than those above it. I loved this photo the first time I came across it. For discerning ladies of the late 1950's, she was not fully-dressed to be seen in public without her pearls, hat, and gloves. In days prior to the hat, some women wore veils as a gesture of modesty. I have nothing at all against today's fashions for the ladies, but a part of me wishes, if only for a day or two, fashions for men and women would go back to "this" day and time.

"I sincerely thank everyone for going with me back in time when the things in this piece were considered a real "treat," and not an everyday purchase." "I also apologize to one and all if I, in any way, bored you while we were on our magical journey."

"And my sincere thanks for your patience and for reading this hub."

Your Friend,



    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear Carolyn,

      Thank you, from the heart, for your kind and thoughtful words. No, the era and "those" segregated times WERE NOT GOOD. At all. Even as a teen, I never wanted to treat anyone differently and that was instilled in my only daugher and her children . . .praise God! But as for the times you speak of, I agree. I wish I could go back to THAT good stretch of years and slow down long enough to enjoy it. God bless you, my Dear Friend, and visit with me again.

    • Carolyn2008 profile image

      Carolyn Gibson 

      6 years ago from Boston

      This is a great hub. It brought back many wonderful memories about the way we lived our culture. Growing up in those days of the Civil Rights Era however, wasn't always so nice. Especially when my family went on vacation to see relatives down south. I often tell my nieces and nephews about times when we had to use a different bathroom, drink from a different fountain, and step into the street if a white person was walking on the sidewalk toward us. They always look at me like I'am from another planet.

      I'm not trying to be a Debbie Downer. This brought back very fond memories of my childhood. But at times, for people of color, there were other things that were a big deal, too. Thank you so much for helping me to remember what was so great Back in the Days!

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, craftybird,

      and thank you kindly for your sweet comment. Drive-in's, we had one. I loved it. And the movies weren't bad either. I invite you to be one of my followers where I can keep up with that you are doing. Id love that.

      Have a great Monday!


    • craftybird profile image


      6 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      We just went to the drive-in this weekend. I was amazed at how many people still go. Nostalgia! Great hub!

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear Lasir,

      THANK YOU KINDLY for your warm comment. I loved it. And pray God blesses you richly. And that is a great question as to what will OUR grandchildren have as memories of a "good old day"?

      Maybe memories of what WE can be to them. As far as material things . . .those are fading fast.

      Thanks again!!!


    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Sir, this brings back so many wonderful memories of an era I personally wish we could return to. And it makes me very sad to wonder - what will be "nostalgia" to our grandchildren? What will they call the "good old days" if in fact they have anything at all? Thank you so much for your wonderful hub.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dearest catgysy,

      When you leave for "that time" in our lives, call me first, so I can coordinate a meeting place with you for I WANT TO GO BACK ALSO to a simplier time and place.

      Thanks ever to much for your sweet words and thoughts.

      Kenneth "Marty McFly" Avery

      who was never in "Back to The Future."

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, Angela,

      LOL, hey, I forgot to mention girdles. What a doofus I can be. That would have been a great addition and with acceptable art, this would have been 22 Things That "Used" To Be a Big Deal" and Im sorry you had to endure those. I doubt that you really needed one.


    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, Suziecat,

      long time, no see! Nice as lemonade to see you again! And a HUGE thanks for your reading and sharing this hub. I loved what you said. And you take care and keep up YOUR good work too.


      PS: dont stay away so long next time.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hello, collegatariat,

      you are so right. I am so afraid to face reality in the fact that "we cannot go back," to how it once was. But maybe a super-wealthy group of Saudi shieks will pay a laboratory somewhere enough money to build a time machine so we can all go back to "paradise."

      No, that wont work. The rates would be so huge, we could only dream.

      Nice thought. Not feasible.


    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hello, Jaye,

      thanks so much for your comment on this hub about women's hats, pearls and fashions. I love the Kentucky Derby just for that reason. Not the horses, but the ladies with those fine hats.

      Thanks for your sweet words.


    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, lovedoctor,

      I hear you. Drive-in's were, for the most part, great "teachers of life," and the facts that went with it. Now I wish I had added to the drive-in segment: "car glasses fogged-over by young love in the making," and I have seen my share. And made a few windows fog-over too. Ahhh, yes. Sweet days.

      Thank you again!


      PS: never met a hot dog I didnt like.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Greetings, moonlake,

      Wow, you remember Queen For a Day? I do too. I believe the host was Jack Bailey and he was a prototype of Mr. Drysdale, of the Beverly Hillbillies, in looks and the way he always agreed with the audience. I miss him. Thaks for the nice comment.


    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, writer20,

      a personal note of Thanks to you for this and all of your lovely comments. I appreciate the time you spent reading this true story. I do miss life the way it was in my youth.

      Wish I had studied harder.


    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear Connie,

      you read my mind. Pearls, hats, gloves, drive-in or walk-in theaters, and remember when it was THE thing for walk-in theaters and regular stores to actually HAVE air conditioning?

      And the nightclubs, wow. I think I was born too late, but I didnt make that call.

      Thanks, dear Connie. I always look forward to your comments.


    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama


      Thank you kindly for readin this hub that was more work that I can counted on, but so glad that YOU all liked this. Oh how I wish I could live over (just) a short segment, from 1956-1966 . . .grocery stores were a trip to paradise; nickel ice cream cones; Kool-Aid was the latest fad; Fizzies; and banana moon pies with Coke. Actually doing hubs such as this, depresses me when I compare society today and the way it was then.

      Many sincere thanks again!


    • catgypsy profile image


      6 years ago from the South

      Great hub! We all take so much for granted these days and this is a great reminder to be grateful for what we have. I would love to go back to simpler times too.

    • Angela Blair profile image

      Angela Blair 

      6 years ago from Central Texas

      Kenneth -- this is a superb Hub and brings back so many wonderful memories of my younger years. I may have missed it but would suggest your lady in the pearls, hat and gloves also had on one of those girdles from hell we all wore back then even if one was skinny as a soda straw! Definitely enjoyed and voted up. Best/Sis

    • suziecat7 profile image


      6 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Loved this Hub. So many things have changed with both good and bad results. Voted up and shared.

    • collegatariat profile image


      6 years ago

      I have to agree with your wish that things could go back to those days, even if only for a little while. The days of pearls, hats, and nickel cokes have an inexpressible charm that all of the comfortable casualness of today can't achieve. Thanks for sharing this list!

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 

      6 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Hi, Ken....I enjoyed the trip down memory lane. I love vintage women's hats and remember when my Mom and Grandma wore them as a matter of course. These days, ladies' hats are only worn for major championship horse races!


    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Oscar Myers.. typo.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Vote up awesome! I enjoyed this hub. Drive in movie-theaters seem so cool. There's only one in Florida in the swap shop flea market, not even sure if that's still around, but it's kind of cool though. Frankfurters are delicious, but only if they are scar Myers. lol

    • moonlake profile image


      6 years ago from America

      Enjoyed your hub. That little TV set I can remember when we got our first one. I remember Queen For A Day was my favorite show. Voted Up.

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 

      6 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Very good write about your youth.

      Not coming from this country my memories are quite different.

    • Connie Smith profile image

      Connie Smith 

      6 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida

      My grandmother never went to town without her hat, gloves and pearls, either. I think I would have loved to have lived in the 40's or early 50's. I love the fashions then and, from seeing old movies, I know I would love the shows, nightclubs and that sort of thing too.

    • picklesandrufus profile image


      6 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      Well, I just took a journey back to my youth.When I see these things, it occurs to me how much times have changed. Sometimes I wouldn't mind some of the simplicity again. Good hub Kenneth!! Vote up


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)