Committed for Better Business

Do you long for the “good old days” when you didn’t have to spend half your life parked on the freeway and the other half deleting mountains of spam to get your email? Does your blood pressure spike at the end of the day when you’re trying to have a quiet dinner at a restaurant and the inconsiderate jerk at the next table is yelling into his cell phone? Take a breather from this hectic madness and enjoy MEMORIES OF TIMES BYGONE by Marta Hiatt, a nostalgic collection of stories and photos reminiscent of what life was like in the early 20th century, when life was much less complicated.

Take a sentimental journey back to the days of Model T Fords, housewives, long-playing vinyl records, telegrams, radio days, strict etiquette and manual typewriters. Hiatt has collected hundreds of personal stories from “the good old days” in her enchanting book, illustrated with 250 vintage black-and-white photographs that bring the stories to life.

“My sister and I were reminiscing one day how we used to spend most of Saturday helping Mom run clothes through a wringer a few times to get the water out,” says Hiatt. “What a homework! We also discussed how we had to foam up dish soap before detergent was invented. We put the hard bar of soap on a small wire rack and shook it for about 10 minutes to get enough suds. After our talk, I thought it would be interesting to put together a whole book about the so-called “old days” by asking friends and family to contribute their stories.”

Dr. Hiatt compared her childhood in the 1940s to life today:

o You have a cell phone, we had a shared line, and everyone on our line could hear, usually surreptitiously.

o You send email, we send telegrams.

o You play your music on a pocket iPod, ours came on 12-inch vinyl records.

o If you want information, just google it, but we had to look in the local library listings.

Friends and family contributed interesting personal stories like this one:

“In our family we always ate together; mom, my sisters and I would prepare them, and then we would also clean up, while the children played and dad read the newspaper. Sometimes my mom would play the piano after dinner and we would all stand up .and we sang. We were creative, we played board games together as a family and made up games. On Sunday nights we would all sit around the kitchen table and listen to the radio, shows like “The Lone Ranger,” “Jack Benny, “” Fred Allen ” and ” The Shadow Knows “. Of course there was no TV, so we talked to each other.

Hiatt believes that the biggest cultural changes were the hippie revolution of the 1960s and the feminist revolution of the 1970s, sparked by Betty Freidan’s book “The Feminine Mystique.” “After this,” Hiatt says, “women gained a lot of freedom. Before this time, job listings in the newspaper were divided by gender, and women could only apply for ‘women-only’ jobs.” a long way to go, today we are even talking about the possibility of a woman president, so there have been enormous changes.

“The ’60s generation transformed our entire culture. We went from being a very rigid society, governed by religion and strict rules of etiquette, to anything goes, and ‘do your thing.’ –From bathing suits that covered the entire torso of a woman, to bikinis and thongs, and from ties and white button-down shirts at work to ‘Casual Fridays’ People were no longer afraid of ‘what would the neighbors think?’ or mortified if they made a social faux pas.”

Speaking of “Sex and Social Mores,” Hiatt explores the shifts from Victorian prudishness to personal vibrators, and from corsets to Wonder Bras. She recalls: “It’s amazing to realize that, until the feminist movement, it was legal for a man to rape his wife. It was considered her duty as a wife to submit to his sexual demands when and how he wanted, whether she wanted it or not. And a spouse could not divorce unless he or she could prove adultery or mental cruelty Wife-battering or chronic alcoholism were not grounds for divorce If a woman was not married by age 25, she was called a “spinster” , and was often denied admission to university or promotion to management, which was reserved for men.

Says Hiatt, “Life was tougher in the 20th century, but it was also a lot simpler.”

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