Taffy pulls, Tiddly Winks would be nice By Bob Karolevitz We bellyache a lot when the power goes off or the television goes dead for some other reason. Maybe we should just count our blessings and be thankful that we weren't living a hundred years ago when home entertainment wasn't available with a flick of a switch or by simply pushing the buttons on a remote control.
Consider the following:
The stereoscope was the TV of the 19th century. With the double-view cards you could transport yourself to the far reaches of the earth. Through the hand-held viewer, you could visit the Crimea, the Swiss Alps or romantic, mysterious India. The Boer War and the Battle of Slim Buttes were just inches away.
If you tired of that strenuous activity (you had to keep putting the cards in the holder), you could join the rest of the family for rousing parlor games like Parcheesi, dominoes or Roodles. Or you could play a few hands of euchre, if the "devil cards" weren't outlawed in your house.
What fun it was to gather around the pump organ to sing Polly, Wolly, Doodle or The Blue Tail Fly. If you were lucky, your family owned a gramophone, and you could listen to the music of John Philip Sousa, Enrico Caruso or Jenny.
But best of all, there was reading, although flickering kerosene lamps or even new-fangled carbide gas lights were hard on the eyes when the sun went down.
There were lots of books to choose from. You could read the memoirs of President Grant, the Rollo books for boys or the colloquial humor of Josh Billings or Mark Twain. And there was always the Bible in that era of uncomplicated, unchallenged belief.
Incidentally, if you didn't have a family Bible, Sears and Roebuck would sell you a seven-pound edition for just 80 cents.
Available, too, were magazines like Lippincott's, Scribner's and The World's Work. Sometimes you could find titillating titles like "Fighting the Traffic in Young Girls" or "Chastity: Reason vs. Passion"� but you couldn't let anybody know you were reading stuff like that.
Before the turn of the Century, The Youth's Companion warned its readers (which included adults):
"There are some absolutely bad books in the world; books written to make men and women worse; to make them more animal; books that teach falsehood instead of truth; books that are sometimes circulated secretly in school or neighborhood circles…
"Never read a book on the sly-one which you would be ashamed to read aloud or have your mother see you read."
Yes, those were the "Good Old Days" when there wasn't television or even radio to expose you to all the "unmentionables" of another generation.
Needless to say, we can't turn back the calender to the "Innocent Age" when family entertainment consisted of taffy-pulls and Tiddly Winks�but maybe it would be nice for a change.
Come to think of it, we've got a stereotype at our house which we picked up at a second-hand store, mostly as a conversation piece. Instead of turning on the Gloom Tube tonight, I think I'll just take a three dimensional trip down the valley of the Nile.
And I won't be interrupted by beer commercials!