Jim Ingebrigtsen


Now, in my fifth year at Lifestyles 55, I decided to look back at the stories I’ve contributed so far. I was reminded of a series I started when I worked at CJOB about twenty-three years ago. It was called ‘Remember when’. They were compilations of things we grew up with and, simply, things that brought back fond memories for a lot of people. One of those folks was Guy Whitehill. He was one of many who sent in their own lists of memories. Here are some of his and others I’ve come across.

Remember the excitement of finally being able to wear rubber boots in the spring, usually with a felt liner? And getting old enough where you could roll the tops down to be “cool”? Hanging your toque, mitts, and socks on the radiator to dry out? Flannel-lined blue jeans, lace-up leather moccasins you wore in winter? How about those fake fur earmuffs with the metal expandable headbands that your hair would get caught in? How many of you dared to go bumper shining? That’s where you would quickly grab onto the back bumper of a vehicle, occasionally a city bus, and go for a fast ride down the street. A winter activity only.

Generic image of a rotary phone.

Speaking of hair, remember brush cuts and its close cousin the crew cut? Even then you might have slapped a little Brylcreem on it. “A little dab’ll do ya.” Believe it or not, it’s back. How about the Saturday night bath in an old washtub? Often, you’d have to share it with a brother or sister. Did you ever get Lifebuoy soap in your eyes? You’ll never forget it if you did. These days most young people are mystified by the rotary phone. In the beginning they only came in black and being hard-wired to the wall, there was no walking around the house while having a conversation. Party lines and “busy” signals were common. 

Long before FedEx, UPS and Amazon Prime there were others who delivered to your home. Milkmen delivered dairy products to your door. You might remember coal being delivered to your house, shoveled down the coal chute into the coal bin. And of course, the ice man cometh to put ice in your ice box before refrigerators came along. If you needed health and beauty care products, in short order you could have the Watkins man or the man from Rawleigh’s paying you a visit with a wide array of personal products. And many decades before the concept of recycling you would often hear a man going up and down the back lanes on a horse-drawn wagon calling out for bottles and rags.

Depending on what area of the city you lived in and which way the wind was blowing, you might recall the sweet scent of the sugar beet factory in the fall. Some didn’t find it so sweet. Continuing with the sweet theme, how about sponge toffee, candy bracelets and necklaces? Remember those wax lips? Or how about the wax tubes filled with different coloured sugar water. I remember hearing chewing the wax was good for your teeth. Was that true? And who could forget candy cigarettes, licorice cigars and pipes with the red sprinkles on the ends? What were those long flat Neapolitan chewy things called?

What the heck, we might as well try to remember some of these things while we still can. Thanks again to Guy for providing so many memories. Until next time … I’ll see you in the funny pages.

Jim was a writer-broadcaster and producer on television and radio for 40 years. He is also a podcast host on Lifestyles 55 Digital Radio. Find Radio Redux, Mid-Century Memories and many others at www.whatsupwinnipeg.ca