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The little things of my youth make me smile

I was watching an interview of country singer Travis Tritt Tuesday night and had a chuckle over his comments about changing a line in one of his more popular songs, “Here’s a Quarter.”

The song involves a conversation with a former lover who wants to come back. The key line in each stanza of the song is, “Here’s a quarter, call someone who cares,” a reference to using a pay telephone. Tritt said the line is not understood by many of his younger fans who don’t know what a payphone is, so he changed the line to “here’s an iPhone, call someone who cares.”

The anecdote made me think about so many things that I and others grew up with that are no longer around.

Things like the venerable payphone have become images of the past; times people my age and older — and a few, younger — recall when we start getting lost in the forest of modern technology and a changing world. Call it nostalgia or wishful thinking, but these are things that tend to stick in the minds of baby boomers when we find ourselves in a flux from modern times.

When I and others of my generation were growing up and eventually reached the age where we were deemed old enough to go to places like the movies with friends or even to school, our parents always made sure we had a quarter (in Louisiana it was a nickel) to use the payphone and call home to be picked up. Shopping centers and malls used to have banks of payphones in strategic locations —usually all in use.

The TV antennas and rabbit ears, which met their demise with the introduction of cable and satellite services, were in vogue back in those dinosaur days when there were only three networks — later four with PBS — on the air. It was not unusual to look at the sky and see a forest of steel towers with small metal branches attached to a house in some fashion.

If you didn’t have an antenna, chances were your home had rabbit ears inside sitting atop the TV with two extended aerials sticking out, usually with aluminum foil on the ends. When the foil wasn’t enough, someone stood by the rabbit ears, constantly shifting it while someone else said, “left; no right; back to the left, a little right … there!”

Does the ice cream man still exist? That guy in the truck with the jingling music announcing cold, sweet treats that enabled us to cool off on hot summer days with an assortment of ice cream and various forms of iced treats and goodies on a stick sold to a very steady and anxious clientele of children and adults.

Whenever I think about those things of my youth, I smile a little. It was a simpler, more interesting time. Funny how the line of a song can take you somewhere you want to go.

John Surratt is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at john.surratt@vicksburgpost.com.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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