The Good Old Days


My story begins in Massachusetts where I was born. From age 5, I recall a smoke bush outside the window and playing all day long outdoors with my sisters and neighborhood friends. There was a grand piano in the living room. The house was purchased complete with furniture from two maiden aunts who died. It was a great place without electricity and plumbing. The house was probably built in the 1880s and indoor plumbing and electricity were not common. Lest you think we used an outhouse, I’ll ease your mind by telling you that my father installed electricity and plumbing before we moved into the house on the top of a hill in Monson, Massachusetts. It was a magical place for us.

Things I remember when I was a young girl included the following:

-we listened to the radio
-we had no television
-we had no car
-we had no computer, internet, wifi, etc.
-we played long hours outdoors in the neighborhood and only came in for a quick lunch
-on rainy days, we played imaginary games indoors, cards and created paper projects
-we picked blueberries
-we walked one mile down the road to catch the school bus

When we were sick and stayed home from school, we listened to radio plays such as The Lone Ranger on the radio complete with sound effects. The first time I viewed this program on black and white television, I sat holding on to the chair and frightened at some of the scenes. At the time I was probably 7. The phones were the big black rotary kind attached to the wall and had party lines or shared phones with neighbors. It amazes me that my parents walked everywhere (grocery shopping, doctors, church) and only got a car with our move to Sturbridge. My mother did not get a driver’s license until she was 35. I waited until I was 19 because I saw no need since I could not drive at college.

Still and all, we were not deprived. Our lives were rich and filled with adventures. We were happy and healthy and knew how important friends and family were. We had a big garden with a variety of fruits and vegetables which later in Sturbridge, my mother canned for use during the winter months. I watched my father chop and store wood for our fireplaces. Sometimes, as a treat, we roasted marshmallows and baked potatoes in the fireplace. We played board games and cards and later practiced piano. Life was great.  We were happy.

We collected little frogs which jumped in the grass as my father mowed it with a manual mower. We saw our share of harmless snakes which to little girls seemed dangerous creatures. Many hours were spent in the woods behind the house collecting Fall leaves which we pressed between sheets of wax paper and hung in the windows. We also nibbled on wild blueberries and checkerberries.


Sometimes today, I wish for unfettered play for children. I wish the electronic gadgets were turned off , and kids explored nature. When blueberries were ripe, we took little pails and went blueberry picking or better known as carrying pails mostly empty. Instead we had blue mouths and fingers. We were happy in winter too building snowmen and getting bundled up in snowsuits to sled down the hills in our backyard. I miss my mother’s blueberry and apple pies. The big thing I wish for today’s children is less micromanaging by adults in their lives. This includes less organized sports for very young children. The old adage comes to mind: Let children be children.

Little Blue Mouths

Each had a tiny
metal pail for
the blueberries.
We picked.

Our parents
kept a watchful
glance as
they filled

large pails
of juicy blueberries
for pies.
Pails mainly

empty, we
smiled at them
with little blue mouths
and fingers.



This entry was posted in childhood play, Massachusetts, nature and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to The Good Old Days

  1. bahelberg1 says:

    Thanks for sharing your family photos of the “good old days” that mean so much too so many of us in the “Boomer” generation. I just wrote an article for Hubpages I called “How I Met My Dad After World War II Ended”, and the picture of my dad and my two brothers — at the time! — brought tears to my eyes. I’m sure you experienced the same as you wrote this blog! The pictures and memories are of a special time in America.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your kind words gladdened my heart. Thank for expressing what many of us feel. Yes, I do choke up when I see the old photos knowing that most of my male relatives served in WWI. Gone are those special days of unfettered childhood play. The world has changed. Bring back rural America and neighborhood schools. How often do we even see children playing outdoors these days. Your comment is greatly appreciated and thanks for following my blog. ^__^

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So Beautiful a post , the reading ride took me straight to my childhood days …those memory lanes ! I wish the children be the children as we were then! Thanks for sharing n rejuvenating !

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Arno Bode,cologne ,Germany says:

    Liebe Mary Ann,
    eine bezaubernd geschriebene Geschichte über Deine glückliche unbeschwerte Kindheit.Man spürt heute noch wie das Glücklichsein aus Deinen Worten spricht ,auch wenn nicht alle Errungenschaften der modernen Technik Dir zur Verfügung standen.Deine Darstellung weckt sehr schnell die Gedanken an die eigene Kindheit und Entwicklung.Dein Aufwachsen und Deine
    Erfahrungen haben Dich in Deinem Leben zu einer wunderbaren selbstbewußten Frau heranreifen lassen.Dein Elternhaus hat Dich entsprechend geprägt und gefördert und Deine Talente unterstützt.Du kannst mit Recht Deinen Eltern dankbar sein.
    Liebe Grüße aus Cologne von Deinem Arno

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lieber Arno, ich danke Dir für Deine wunderbaren Worte. Ja, ich liebe meine Eltern sehr. Ich glaube, alle vier Kinder in der Familie heute selbstbewußte Frauen sind. Herzlichen Dank, daß du es gemerkt hast und so geschrieben hast. Sehr nett von Dir. Deine Mary Ann


  4. Tom says:

    I enjoy reading your weekly blog posts. There is always a surprise as you pick new topics each week. I remember picking raspberries outside in the yard. Delicious 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. myraho78 says:

    Mary Ann, I love your blog.
    I miss those good old days too!
    probably we were born around the same age, I may even be a little older!
    _*_-we listened to the radio
    _*_-we had no television
    _*_ no refrigerator
    _*_-we had no car
    _*_-we had no computer, internet, wifi, etc.
    __ we have no ball pen, brush pen and pencil, we ground the ink in a stone tray and sharp our pencils with scissors.
    _*_we played long hours outdoors in the neighborhood and only came in for a quick lunch
    _*_-on rainy days, we played imaginary games indoors, cards and created paper projects
    _?_-we picked blueberries( we had never seen blueberries!)
    ___we pick up wild vegetable in the field
    ___-we walked one mile down the road to catch the school bus
    ___we walk one mile or more to school
    ___if it was raining , our mothers will walk us back and forth to school with an umbrella.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What wonderful information you have provided me of life in another country. I believe you live in China. You ground your ink? Oh, my! We had inkwells in our desks in Massachusetts and dipped out pens in the ink to practice penmanship. We had pencil sharpeners in the classrooms but some people still sharpened pencils at home using a knife. Blueberries are delicious. Wild vegetables in the forest: we had wild carrots and checkerberries (red outside with a minty flavor). We had raincoats, rainboots and in the winter, we had snow suits and winter boots. Our mother did not walk us back and forth, but if the snow was deep and the weather very cold and snowy, the bus drove up the hill one mile and brought us to our driveway. Here is some information about blueberries
      We are probably about the same age. Very interesting. Thanks for the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

      • myraho78 says:

        Now I’m in Oakland, Ca. As you know there are all kinds of berries here, but I never had a chance to pick any!
        Do you know something? Back in the early 30s, Japanese invading China, The whole country was in poverty. The life was tough. People male their own clothing even shoes. The most amazing thing was they even make their own cloth leather to make shoes. There one chapter in “Everlasting blossoms”
        C-10 Heroes at the war of Japanese invasion–part 0ne–
        C-10 Heroes at the war of Japanese invasion–Amateur Radio Stations
        C-10 Heroes at the war of Japanese invasion -part three (Heartbroken new from Pei-Jing )-
        C-10 Heroes at the war of Japanese invasion -part four- Reunion on Radio –
        If you are interested.

        Liked by 2 people

      • You have told me a part of history I never knew. Our parents traveled to Japan and China a couple times. Our mother made our clothes in Massachusetts and in Colorado, she made our prom dresses. I learned that skill and love playing with fabric and creating clothing to wear. I have heard of much poverty in China as well as places in Poland. I will have to read the chapters you mentioned. We have many places locally in Upstate New York where people can go pick their own berries like strawberries and blueberries. It is very satisfying to do so. After WWII in Europe, things were tough as well. I remember seeing East Berlin and the Wall for the first time in 1964. There were still buildings which had not been rebuilt. As a Fulbright teacher there in 1994-95, there were building cranes everywhere. It is interesting to be a part of history and to witness past history. Now I will have to look into making my own shoes. It sounds interesting. ^__^

        Liked by 1 person

      • myraho78 says:

        Back in 1930-40s, in China people’s life were really very difficult,because of the war with the Japanese. But it did not bring Chinese spirit down.Yet, we enjoy lives, we conquer the difficulties. There was one mind of all the people,young and old, men and women: [to Japanese out of out land.] There were so many touching stories happened those days.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I admire the strength and tenacity of the human spirit. After WWII in Germany, there was a Blockade in Berlin for about 13 months. Around the clock US planes flew transport planes bringing food, fuel and supplies to the people of West Berlin. There were signs in storefronts which said(I translate from the German.) “We take care of the impossible right away; miracles take a little longer.” That showed the spirit of those people as well. Wars are so sad.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Annika Perry says:

    Thank you Mary Ann for sharing your beautiful moments from childhood – such warmth and love in the everyday. I was smiling at your blue fingers and mouth – much like my blueberry picking these days! Life was simpler but there was a shared awareness and time with each other that modern devices steer us away from. Phew, glad you got the electricity and plumbing early on!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I appreciate your kind words. I often reflect on the simpler way of life of my childhood which is probably the reason I do not have my cell phone turned on most of the time. The only device I take with me is the iPad to do photos. I do not like to have anything in my ears as I walk. I see people with ear buds looking very vacant when I try to say hello to deaf ears. There are too many sounds in nature I appreciate. I commented on the ducks conversing with one another, and a man smiled and said it was mating season. The human interaction and the observation of nature are important to me. I gather important to you as well. Shared awareness and interaction with others make for a more complete human. It must be the creative writing instinct we possess, Annika. Have a great weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

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