Monday, August 22, 2011

"Passe" Terms ~ Cars, Stores, Fashions, Etc.

For Old-Timers

Recalling my father's old 1949 Buick, some of you readers
may not understand the descriptive words of autos of that era...
”Fender Skirts”...”Curb Feelers”...”Steering Knobs.”.
Do you remember “Continental Kits”?
When did we stop calling them “Emergency Brakes”?
At some point, 'parking brake' became the proper term.

I'm sad, too, that almost all the old folks are gone
who would call the accelerator the “Foot Feed”.
Many today to not even know what a “Clutch” is
or that the “Dimmer Switch” used to be on the floor.
Did you ever wait at the street for your daddy to come home,
so you could ride the “Running Board” up to the house?

In those days, “Turn Signals” were non-existent!
So easy, to wind down the window, extending your left arm
outside to indicate your intended done with bicyclists today.

Here's a phrase I heard all the time in my youth, but never anymore...
Store-Bought”. Of course, just about everything is store-bought today.
It was bragging material to have a “store-bought” dress or bag of candy.

Coast to Coast” is a phrase that once held all sorts of excitement and now
 means almost nothing. Now we take the term “World-Wide” for granted.

On a smaller scale, “Wall-to-Wall” was once a magical term in our homes.
In the 50's, everyone covered their hardwood floors
wall-to-wall carpeting! Today, everyone replaces this
with hardwood floors. Times have changed!

When was the last time you heard the quaint phrase, “In a Family Way”?
It's hard to imagine that the word 'pregnant' was once considered
a little too graphic, a little too clinical for us in polite company,
so we all had to talk about
'stork visits' and being in 'a family way' or simply 'expecting'.

Apparently “Brassiere” is a word no longer in usage.
I said it the other day and the clerk cracked up! I guess it's just 'bra' now.
'Unmentionables' probably wouldn't be understood at all.

Most of those words go back to the 50's, but here's a pure 60's word
I came across the other day, “Rat Fink”. Ooh, what a nasty put-down!

Here's a word I miss ~ “Percolator”. That was a fun word to say.
And, what was it replaced with? 'Coffee-maker'. How Dull!

Food for Thought: Was there a telethon that wiped out “Lumbago”?
Nobody complains of that anymore. Maybe that's what 'castor oil' cured,
because I never hear mothers threatening kids with...castor oil...anymore.

Lastly consider Fashions that are now 'passe'.
Flapper Dresses” were so popular in “The Roaring Twenties”.
I recall the silk and lisle stockings with “Center Back Seams”
when they were available to purchase.
Fortunately, restrictive “Corsets” were before my day.
For men, there were “Zoot Suits”...
(high-waisted, wide-legged and tight cuffed).
Unknown to me until recently were “Wing Tips”...
men's shoes fashioned with toe caps (often of a different colour)
that come to a point in the center and spread outward to the sides
of the shoe (somewhat resembling wings).
Sometimes these wings were hole-perforated around the wing edges.

Mini Stories from Personal Experience

Every month or two, from spring to late autumn, “The Raleigh Man” (as my mother called him) came to rural communities, especially farms, to sell products from his vehicle that was well stocked. She was always most thrilled to see this salesman as he displayed spices, brushes, soaps, cleaning supplies, simple gastrointestinal problems, skin infections and arthritis), orange juice (similar to Honey Dew), chewing gum, candy and pipe tobacco. To my sister and me, he gave each a bag of candy. However, we detested the cod liver oil, mother insistently gave us daily! Disgusting!

In the late 1980's, and Andrew home from University, my mother's youngest sister passed away. We drove to the the rural community of Norwich, where my Aunt Luella and Uncle Bill lived, to attend the funeral service.
Going to cemeteries has never appealed to me; I chose to show my son the farm where my mother's parents (and her siblings were born and raised)...shot a few pictures of the location and farm structures. Following the “reception” at the church in Norwich, we drove home through Vanessa where my sister and I were born...the first farm my Dad had. We noted the farm across the gravelly/dirt road where my father's oldest brother, Jim, lived and whose daughters and son, my sister and I frequently played. Again, took a few photos of the red brick farm home. En route to Burford, the location of our second farm (and where I was raised until age 18), we discussed the method of “moving” from one farm to another. Dad had a car, but would carry little content. He loaded the haywagon with furniture, tools, etc. making three trips...pulled by a pair of hefty horses. The distance was about 15 miles. My son thought this unbelievable!!! 
                                        His comments...remarkable!
Today we have moving vans or truck rentals for do-it-yourselvers...
for the country's many people 'on the move'. Just imagine, Mom,
50 or 60 years from now, how families will transport their furnishings!”

In those days, due to the inconvenience (and sometimes impossibility) of moving, families often lived their entire lives in one location, as did their following generation. How Dad moved definitely “passe” today!

Of Interest: In Burford, we viewed the Public and High Schools which I attended...also the General Store where I worked on Saturdays for $2.00 a day during my teen ages. At the eastern edge of the village we observed that our 75 acre farm was now a residential development with paved streets. The yellow brick two-storey home now had a handsome addition with an attached garage.

My son was so delighted to see these “sort-of-ancestral-properties”. Upon arrival home, I assembled a small photo album into which I mounted the pictures and gave directions plus hand-drawn-maps to easily locate these rural areas. He now has this album to share with his sister, Marcia. Maybe one day he will take his family on this 'historic drive'. To revisit his great-grandparents' home (George and Lily Stone) ...would be phenomenal! Since then, he has, through research, developed a detailed “Family Tree” which has intrigued him greatly! That he accomplished this, gives me a a great sense of pride!

Just for fun...pass this article along to “others of a certain age”!

Consider this Prediction: 20, 30, 40 years from now...
what we today deem modern technology, fulfilled dreams and lifestyles
(as such that we believe)...will likely then be termed

You can then relate to your grandchildren...about Life in 2001.

Merle Baird-Kerr
written August 16, 2011


  1. Merle,

    How clever of you to come up with this great topic of Passe terms. "you have Knocked my Socks Off " Great Entertainment...


  2. I recently saw a "write-up" in an auto magazine that talked about "old fashioned items on cars...this is what triggered my imagination. Knew that what I wrote may be of interest to readers. So happy it "knocked your socks off! " Thank you Sherrie, my ever-supportive Friend.