What was it like when you were growing up?
I get this question from my children. "Mum, what was it like when you were a kid?"
I grew up in Toronto in the 60s and 70s. TVs were black & white with rabbit ears (or, if you were lucky, a big antenna tower attached to the side of your house so you could get the Buffalo stations), telephones were firmly attached to a wall, had dials instead of keypads, and were so heavy that if you dropped the receiver on your foot you'd be seeing an orthopedic surgeon in short order. We had yet to hear of FM radio.
Our neighbourhood, by the standard of the day, was culturally and ethnically diverse. Our street boasted one Black family, refugees from Hungary, a couple of Italian immigrant families and a family, recently from Romania, whose youngest daughter was my friend. One day I was having lunch at their house, and had what I thought were roast beef sandwiches. It was horsemeat, I was casually informed. Oddly enough I wasn't grossed out, just kind of surprised and confused. Still, I think I preferred the goulash from the Hungarian refugee kitchen - no surprises there.
You'd hear a lot of different accents on our street. Our next door neighbours were from what was then referred to as British Guyana. They spoke in a way I imagined people from England did, but now that I think back on it, their accent had more of a Caribbean sound.
Almost every summer their aunts, uncles and cousins from Guyana would visit. There would be backyard parties filled with exotic food and musical laughter from people who descended from African slaves, British colonialists and indigenous people. They owned a sugar cane plantation, which I thought was the coolest thing ever. The cousins would organize backyard games like Capture the Flag and British Bulldog, and all of us neighbourhood kids would join them in games of hide-and-seek that spanned several backyards. It was heaven. It was also where I learned that not all families were normal on the outside and hideously dysfunctional on the inside.
There was some economic diversity as well. Being renters who drove an old beater, we were pretty much at the bottom of the scale, along with a handful of other families. At the other end, there was the family across the street who owned several properties and were landlords to many of our friends. The dad was a nice guy, friendly and chatty. The mother was an unapologetic snob, inordinately proud of their Scottish heritage.
That was the 60s and early 70s for me. Well, a lot of the good stuff at least. So. What was it like when you were growing up?
Just asked my London-born husband. He remembers eating there with his family as a child. Out on Wharncliffe on the way to Lambeth.
I've only been in London 10 years now, so never had the experience ...
I remember the Seven Dwarves, although I never ate there. I remember:
Hot wheels, Star Wars figurines, He-Man, Pacman, The Voyage of the Dawntreader, Michael Jackson and Raffi on my Fisher Price record player, Frank Vetere's, Wacky Wednesday, shag carpets, central vaccuum, fake wood panelling, K-cars, Dodge campervan with a raised roof, Western Fair
Nobody does He-Man like Robot Chicken.
My parents had a particularly hideous burnt orange striped couch in the 70s. Tommy Paine and I have something similar - a hand me down from his parents. It's so painfully ugly I keep it covered at all times with various and sundry throw blankets, but it's the most comfortable spot in our living room.