Bathroom Confusion in 1968

1968 bathroom door switzerland In Switzerland and enroute to military duty in Africa I encountered some serious bathroom confusion in 1968.

Being from a very small town Growin’ Up in Maine in the 1960’s I wasn’t prepared for European culture shock.

Needing a break I found this sign on the bathroom door and was thinking ‘That’s a little too liberal for me’.

Recently the reason for co-ed bathrooms became very different. Gender identity is optional nowadays? Not then.

I squirmed. Crossed my legs. Not ready for this, I finally had to give in. Note: Depends weren’t invented yet.

Imagine opening that door and entering a room with couches, chairs, and mirrors. No urinals and no stalls.

Ladies were putting on makeup, and groups of people were socializing. Two more doors had separate silhouettes!

What a relief. Separate for boys and girls! I hurried to the mens room door, and saw nothing but men inside.

Was this a Candid Camera stunt? No. Just the Euro way of handling co-ed bathrooms in a decent civilized way.

Seems like a good idea for 50 years later to solve the current transgender identity hogwash seen in the news.

Old timers may recall two-seater outhouses. I do, yet it was never a co-ed experience. Oh, the good old days!

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Never Used a Snowblower

snow blower in maine Many an oldtimer became an oldtimer because they never used a snowblower as a youngster Growin’ Up in Maine. I’m one.

Up to my late teens the only solution for most folks was a shovel long before personal snowblowers became common.

From my youth, and without regret, all I recall is the hours of hard work after a storm shoveling paths and the driveway.

Unlike today, kids in the 1950’s enjoyed the outdoors and physical activities like shoveling snow as a part of life.

Later, with 4 of 5 boys emancipated, Dad bought a snowblower and added a sliding door to the side of the back shed.

After a storm he would slide open the door, fire up the snowblower, and drive into the snowbank making a path to the car.

In my mind that was useful technology compared to today’s array of electronics that result in youthful couch potatoes.

By comparison, my doctors have stated at 60+ I’m healthier than most people half my age and could easily live to 100.

Give credit to outdoor activities like ice skating, fishing, hiking, sports, building rafts, and even shoveling snow.

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Posted in maine, stories, winter

Riding the Bangor Fair Bullet

rideing the bullet at bangor fair A memorable and thrilling 1960’s moment Growin’ up in Maine was riding the Bangor Fair bullet carnival ride with my brother.

The ride had two bullet shaped compartments at opposite ends attached to a shaft that rotated on one axis like a ferris wheel.

Capacity was two riders in each “bullet” as shown in the illustration here, so four total. The second bullet is not shown.

Each compartment had a steering wheel that controlled the ability to do a barrel roll to the left or the right at any time.

The ride moved super fast yet done properly, you could ascend towards the top of the arc and across the top right side up.

Rotate 180° on the way down and you passed the bottom vertical supports seated right side up, much like a Sunday car ride.

One person had control of the barrel roll. I was the driver and my brother the passenger, a decision he would later regret.

Sunday car ride? No thanks. I went opposite of normal. We crossed the top upside down and upside down again at the bottom.

The descent was the best. At 40 mph the ground doesn’t disappear as you watch it speeding at you a foot away and upside down!

Round and round we went. Brother screaming. Stop! Cut it out! No more! He lost a fair amount of spare change on that thriller.

Footnote: I am one of 5 brothers, 3 older – 1 younger. The victim was an older brother, a decision that I would later regret.

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Posted in family, maine, stories

Baking Soda Diving Submarine

baking soda submarine toy Long before electronic game consoles, kids in the 1950’s had amazing toys like the baking soda diving submarine shown here.

The plastic toy submarine had a small cavity in the bottom and a removable metal cap that plugged the cavity hole.

Seeing how it worked was both entertaining and educational. Okay, perhaps entertaining for about 10 minutes, yet educational.

The first step is filling a bucket or the kitchen sink with 8-10 inches of water. Any container or the family pool will do.

Next, fill the submarine’s empty cavity with a pinch of baking soda, secure the metal cap, then drop the sub into the water.

The submarine toy sinks to the bottom. Science takes over. As water seeps in and reacts with the baking soda, bubbles appear.

Eventually, and this could take 10 minutes or more staring at the sunken sub, the submarine magically rises to the surface.

Lesson over. Once was enough. Seems the educational part is subtle. Someone somewhere invented this sucker and made a fortune.

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Posted in maine, stories, toys

1957 Smart Phone Technology

1957 smart phone technology Most kids with 1957 smart phone technology owned the Campbells brand made from empty tin cans connected with string.

We punched a hole in the bottom of two cans, pushed the string through, and tied a big knot on the inside. Walk away then stretch the string tight to talk or listen.

It worked up to 50 feet and no wifi required.

Substitute a thin wire instead of the string and that engineering marvel was good for 100 feet, or more! We had fun. We laughed. Thinking back, we never imagined tap tap tapping Mom or Dad over dinner in morse code.

Nowadays the majority of six year olds have a smart phone. I’ve seen 2 year olds navigating like a pro!

Sad to say, but a new study confirms people suffer from separation anxiety if their phone is not within reach.

High tech devices get smaller, faster, and smarter every year, yet some of us still long for the good old days!

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Posted in maine, stories

Flashback to the 1950’s

derby pond aka lake edith In 2012 I wrote about the coal tower at the B&A; Railroad Shops in Derby, Maine, as viewed from the Iron Bridge.

Flashback to the 1950’s. That coal tower was surrounded by a wonderland within a quarter square mile.

Viewed from the bridge and to the right of that tower through a small stretch of woods was the baseball field.

Again, to the right further along and next to the tracks was the playground and tennis courts, plus the old hotel on the hill.

Past that, and still on the right was the Derby Pond aka Lake Edith shown here except 50 years later, plus drained and overgrown.

Unless told, my friends from that era could not recognize or identify that as Derby Pond from this photo.

A tad further was the Derby train station. Past that on the right a gorgeous park with large rocks painted white went the length of the village.

Not much for a simple small town. Fact is, that little piece of real estate was a childhood wonderland that provided 100’s of kids 1000’s of memories that last to this day.

Except for the coal tower, everything described “on the right” from the 1950’s is gone, drained, overgrown, or demolished.

I wouldn’t trade that childhood for all the gold in the world.

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Posted in maine, stories
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