Remember way back when?

Oldies but goodies

By Sharon Perea

Our Peachy Keen Lingo Long-Gone!

Does the present generation leave you speechless because you’re not sure their spoken words are part of the English language? Well, look back at the expressions and words we used in the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. 

We’d cut a rug in some joint with the jukebox blaring. After making whoopee we’d jump in the rumble seat of our tin lizzie, roadster, hot rod or jalopy. Boy, we were in like Flynn, living the life of Riley! No one could call us knuckleheads, nincompoop or even a pill. Not for all the tea in China. Life was a real gas, a doozy, a dilly, far-out, nifty, swell, super, terrify, or the cat’s pajamas.

If disgusted you said fiddlesticks, fine kettle of fish, or son of a gun. Small children were often described as knee high to a grasshopper. Your parents would tell you it’s your nickel. Good times were described as groovy, hunky-dory, far out, or the cat’s meow.

Now days you may get a strange look if you say I’ll see you in the funny papers, don’t take any wooden nickels, or you look like the wreck of the Hesperus. There are more lost words and expressions than Carter had little liver pills!


Hair styles were beehives, page boys, and the buzz. Popular were Hula hoops, skate keys, candy cigarettes and an organ grinder monkey. Saturdays were spent at the local movie house watching the Long Ranger or Roy Rogers fight the outlaws.

Homes would have iceboxes, Frigidaires, Victrolas, hi-fi, black and white tube TV, cassettes, fountain pens, ink wells, slide rulers, and manual typewriters.

Conference Calls Back Then

It was called “party lines” and you didn’t choose the participants. Five or more homes would be on the same phone line resulting in a share system. You could be chatting with a relative and a neighbor could pick up his phone to listen in on your conversation. Privacy was not guaranteed unless you caught the third person trying not to breath or they joined in the conversation. You could be using your phone and someone would ask you to get off the line so they could make a call.

Gradually the service turned to a rotary phone. It took an effort to dial the numbers, especially if you needed to dial numbers like 8 or 9 or 0. Push button phones and private lines became very popular.

What Next?

How much longer will our language include hot off the press, hung out to dry, put through the wringer, or shift into high gear? Much of our media is paperless, clothes go into dryers instead of hung on a clothesline, washing machines spin our clothes, and our automobiles come with automatic shift.

Our everyday words and expressions have consistently changed with time. We best straighten up and fly right or we’ll be left in the dark.

A Thought to Ponder: When I was born, antiques were available new.

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