These old words require no explanation! 117



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I know some of you will not understand this message, but I bet you know someone who might. I came across this phrase yesterday.

A term I haven’t heard in a long time, and thinking about ‘fender skirts’ started me thinking about other words that quietly disappear from our language with hardly a notice like ‘curb feelers’ and ‘steering knobs’ AKA ‘suicide knob,’ ‘neckers knobs.’

Since I’d been thinking of cars, my mind naturally went that direction first. Any kids will probably have to find some older person over 50 to explain some of these terms to you.

Remember ‘Continental kits?’
They were rear bumper extenders and spare tire covers that were supposed to make any car as cool as a Lincoln Continental.

When did we quit calling them ’emergency brakes? At some point ‘hand brake’ became the proper term. But I miss the hint of drama that went with ’emergency brake’.

I’m sad, too, that almost all the old folks are gone who would call the accelerator the ‘foot feed’.
Many today do not even know what a clutch is or that the dimmer switch used to be on the floor.
For that matter, the starter was down there too.

Didn’t you ever wait at the street for your daddy to come home, so you could ride the ‘running board’ up to the house?

Here’s a phrase I heard all the time in my youth but never anymore: ‘store-bought’.
Of course, just about everything is store-bought these days.

But once it was bragging material to have a store-bought dress or a store-bought bag of candy.

‘Coast to coast’ is a phrase that once held all sorts of excitement and now means almost nothing.
Now we take the term ‘worldwide’ for granted.
This floors me.

On a smaller scale, ‘wall-to-wall’ was once a magical term in our homes. In the 50s, everyone covered his or her hardwood floors with, wow, wall-to-wall carpeting!

Today, everyone replaces their wall-to-wall carpeting with hardwood floors. Go figure.

When was the last time you heard the quaint phrase ‘in a family way?’ It’s hard to imagine that the word ‘pregnant’ was once considered a little too graphic, a little too clinical for use in polite company, so we had all that talk about stork visits and ‘being in a family way’ or simply ‘expecting.’

Apparently ‘brassiere’ is a word no longer in usage. I said it the other day and my daughter cracked up. I guess it’s just ‘bra’ now. ‘Unmentionables’ probably wouldn’t be understood at all.

I always loved going to the ‘picture show,’ but I considered ‘movie’ an affectation.

Most of these words go back to the 50s, but here’s a pure 60s word I came across the other day ‘rat fink’. Ooh, what a nasty put-down!

Here’s a word I miss: ‘percolator’. That was just a fun word to say. And what was it replaced with? ‘Coffee maker’.
How dull… Mr. Coffee, I blame you for this.

I miss those made-up marketing words that were meant to sound so modern and now sound so retro.
Words like ‘Dyna Flow’ and ‘Electrolux’ and ‘Frigidaire’.
Introducing the 1963 Admiral TV, now with ‘Spectra Vision!’

Was there a telethon that wiped out lumbago? Nobody complains of that anymore.

Maybe that’s what Castor oil cured, because I never hear mothers threatening kids with Castor Oil anymore.

Some words aren’t gone, but are definitely on the endangered list. The one that grieves me most is ‘supper’. Now everybody says ‘dinner’. Save a great word. Invite someone to supper. Discuss fender skirts.

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. In our part of Qld, a utility was never called a ute. It was always a tilly.

  2. Why not warn people they are about to read another article about the great US of A. I get sick of getting half way through an article only to realise it’s purely American and irrelevant to me ….. from a country (continent) just as big ….Australia..

    2 REPLY
    • you’re right Cummings … we’re not the same as the USA but we’re close friends and can learn from their mistakes. They do great movies and music and they actually have a great leader at the moment … R

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