Living Local – Neighborhoods Then And Now

Reminiscing is something that just comes naturally to geezers, so bear with me as I proceed to indulge in it. And I hope you’ll all join in — after all, isn’t that one of the reasons we’re here? (That, and – you know – my witty writing.)

Anyhow, I ran across an old picture recently and it got me thinking about my childhood and the differences in neighborhood living then and now. The picture is of me sitting proudly on the back of a pony, and said pony is standing on the sidewalk in front of our house.

Nope, we didn’t live out in the country, and nope, we didn’t have a stable in our tiny back yard. This pony belonged to a guy who made a living walking from neighborhood to neighborhood, offering to take a picture of your kid on the back of the pony that accompanied him. In other words, he took his business to where the people were.

A lot of people had cars in those days but a large segment of average Americans didn’t, and the result was that people stayed close to home and let things come to them. Although Dad might ride the bus to work, the rest of the family seldom ventured out of their neighborhoods. This meant that they needed to be served and they were. It might be by a traveling photographer (with or without pony), or various door-to-door salesmen, or maybe something as routine as a regular milkman, making his deliveries and picking up the empties.

And speaking of staples, what you didn’t get from the milkman – who also offered butter, cottage cheese, etc – could be found at the neighborhood market. Every neighborhood had at least one and sometimes more, which allowed the ladies to shop more selectively. One grocer might be known for quality meat, another for lower prices on canned goods.

As we all know, eventually the average American found their lifestyle changing — cars became easier to afford and supermarkets began appearing everywhere, followed by malls. And although neighborhood life still exists today, it’s not quite the same.

Which leads us to — “Reminiscing”, as performed by The Little River Bend. The lyrics might not be quite what we’ve been talking about here, but the feelings it evokes are certainly similar.

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