Last updateTue, 14 Jan 2020 10pm

Martha Williams

The Way It Used To Be: Remember when?

Reprinted from August 1999

Last week I was shopping and I ran into this lady who used to work for RB and me thirty years ago. I couldn’t recall her name, but we chatted like old friends. It's like that old saying, “she’s changed so much she hardly recognized me!”

Anyway, as we started to reminiscing about old times, I said to her, “Do you recall that customer you used to deal with who used to come into the store with his pet monkey?” She cupped her ear and I noticed she mumbled. She looked puzzled, apparently she didn’t remember. Then she said, “But you recall the cowboy who used to ride his horse up to the pillars at the shopping center, tie the horse off, and then come into the store don’t you?” I didn’t recall.

The Way It Used To Be: Please, address me with respect!

Reprinted from July 1999

When I was very young, I’m sure people cooed at me and admired my smile although I don’t remember this. Then as a little child, my parents still coed and played games, but also spoke sometimes sharply to me if I was not being absolutely good. Then I got into preschool and the teacher spoke to me more like an adult human, not much tolerance for my misdeeds. Higher grades in school produced teachers who spoke to me often with exasperation and a rather harsh note. This was a new era. My parents must have been growing old because I noticed the same tones from them about my friends and school activities and general methods of dress and manner.

The Way It Used To Be: Martha has gone to the dogs

Reprinted from April 1999

Ever since I could remember I’ve loved to work with animals, so it stands to reason once I was a widow and not struggling to make ends meet I would become more involved in this venture. I knew about running a business. You have merchandise, which in my case was discarded pets which we had spayed or neutered and cleaned up and offered for adoption to PetSmart, a local animal supply house which does not sell dogs and cats.

The Way It Used To Be: New Year’s Resolutions

Reprinted from January 1999 

I am going to order gift wrap and ribbons for special occasions at least 3 weeks in advance. 

I am not going to be annoyed with the woman in the red Honda who tailgates me many mornings on my way to work.

I promise not to yell at Chip for peeling stamps off the self-stick sheets indiscriminately.

The Way It Used To Be: “Not On My Desk”

Reprinted from May 1999

If there is ever going to be an Armageddon around here it is going to be fought over little things. Well, they might seem like little things to others, but to me they are important.

RB had a hard fast rule: Never touch anything on my bench and never put anything on my bench. Borrowing a screwdriver to tighten up an optical screw was grounds for dismissal. Borrowing and failing to return it to the proper place was grounds for execution. Needless to say, those who worked here gave RB a wide berth.

The Way It Used To Be: A generation apart

Reprinted from March 1999

Those entering college today never heard of “Win the war in ‘44” or “I shall return,” or “The shuttle has exploded.”

Today, someone sent me a fax about how many of our citizens have no recollection of past events such as the shooting of President Reagan, Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show and Larry Bird. When they go surfing, they don’t think about Jaws and have no memory of WWI, WWII and have no idea Americans were ever held hostage in Iran. They never heard the slogans, “Lucky Strike Green,” “has gone to war,” “where’s the beef?” “I’d walk a mile for a Camel.”

There has always been TV for them. They never heard of only 13 channels and there has always been cable or satellite TV for them. They have absolutely no idea what Beta means. (Even though they are exposed to VCR’s). This generation never heard of Grapette, Burger Chef, The Globe Democrat, Pan Am Airlines and King Cola.

They have no recollection of Mork and who he was or where he came from. They believe postage stamps for first class always cost $0.32. Roller-skating has always been inline. They never heard of JR Ewing or the Dallas series. They view Star Trek as poorly animated and boring. They have no idea FDR is short for Franklin Delano Roosevelt and do not realized he served as president while being badly crippled and unable to walk. They have no idea about the hard feelings which arose over the burning out and killing of Americans wanting government assistance in getting jobs when President Hoover ordered a young Lieutenant, Douglas McArthur, to fire on and burn out poor farmers in a make shift camp across from the Whitehouse. 

They don’t know why older people snicker when the phrase “There you go again” is mentioned in relationships with Ronald Reagan. They have never heard of “The Great Society” nor have they ever considered LBJ thought nothing of doing interviews in his underwear, or that Lady Bird was responsible for planting flowers across Texas hill country. They wouldn’t know who Lady Bird is!

Jewelry wise, children entering college this year would have never lived in the age where a wind-up or automatic watch was all that was available, they know nothing except quartz time. They think nothing of paying $15 to $20 for a fashion watch and throwing it out when it stops or they become tired of the style. Once a watch was considered a treasure and expensive. When they enter a jewelry store, jewelry has always been expensive and their class rings are made of stainless steel or the like to keep the price down. They never lived in an era of $35 gold where a wedding band would sell for $50 and last a lifetime. Watch and jewelry repairs have always been high by our standards of several years ago, but not by theirs, they have no cost guidelines.

Watchbands and jewelry have either been karat gold or plated and they are unfamiliar with the old gold filled term and usage. They believe 60% off should be expected of all jewelry sales. They differ from their parents and grandparents in that old folks realize that to some extent you don’t get something for nothing and if it sounds too good to be true it likely is.

They have lived through an era of toxic waste clean up. They do not recognize Abdul-Jabbar as a famous basketball player. They don’t recall flying by commercial airliner without going through screening of some sort.

They did not live in an era where the word “illegitimate” carried a powerful scorn by society and show no shock reactions if folks live together and have children without the benefit of a clergy.

To this generation, Michael Jackson has always been white. For the sports minded, they can’t remember the Cardinals ever winning a World Series, or even being in one. Chicago, Kansas, Boston, America and Alabama are places, not groups. McDonald’s take out never came in Styrofoam containers. The Taco Bell Chihuahua did not talk, and frogs did not croak out beer sales pitches. Popcorn was always prepared in a microwave.

What will this new generation of college entry age produce for our country? Probably good things. What we already see is a carry over on the ban fur campaign and while I personally have a couple of furs, I have discontinued wearing them because of the pressure. We see national trends of forgiveness and understanding, not apparent in the more rigid societies of yesteryear. Kids have grown up in an era of not tolerating certain things like smoking in public (and even private) and not treating wildlife with respect and not littering.

When RB was of the age to be entering his senior year in high school, he went into the Navy instead. Those entering college today never heard of the GI Bill or the word, Kamikaze. They could never imagine being in the Navy and never seeing land for over a year or hearing from a loved one maybe once or twice a year and still remaining faithful!

Just before RB died, he dragged out a bunch of dead stock, which consisted of old automatic Seiko’s etc., and when these young folks came in he’d pull one out and tell them this was a new concept. The watch did not require batteries and would just run by moving your arm. He sold every one of those watches.

Too bad RB isn’t around today to present to this young buying generation the things of yesteryear that were the very latest things going. I have to mention here my mother drove the first motorcar brought into the state of Oklahoma. Think back, way back. What had just passed by before you were born? What did you learn from experience and what from schooling? Probably everything that is called antique today was the ‘in’ thing then. I guess this makes most of us antiques!

Cheer up, antiques are cherished!


The Way It Used To Be Can’t you walk and chew gum?

Reprinted from November 1998

Have you ever heard the expression “He can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.” It really means a person can’t do two things at once.  I seem to be surrounded with this type. Chip, for instance, comes to a dead halt when he starts to reiterate something.