Lost in translation

Dear Readers:

During my writing journey, I was surprised when members of my critique group totally missed the point of some of my scenes because they didn’t know certain terms describing people, places, and things from the 1930’s era: soda jerk, Burma Shave road signs, Coney dogs, biffies. It struck me that important parts of my heritage are slipping through the cracks, in danger of being lost to those younger than me. Keeping up with daily technological advances is a challenge, but what a shame to let parts of the past just disappear.  For example, I know my grandchildren are surprised to learn there was a time in ancient history when television viewers actually rose from their chairs, walked to a series of switches and knobs on the front of the television and manipulated them to turn the gadget on or off, the volume up or down, change the channel, and all sorts of other odd maneuvers. Channel surfing meant standing there and switching a manual knob through all three channels offered in my hometown. Preparing to write my story, I did do a fair amount of research, reading about the era, conducting interviews, and dredging memories up from my past. This blog is one of the vehicles I decided to use to explain the head-scratcher words that pop up throughout the Patsy and Virgie pages. Who would have thought that Coney Island hot dogs are a food item which is unknown in its namesake: Coney Island, New York. Or that drug store soda fountains evolved out of a need to dilute the ugly taste of early medications. I had one person ask if restaurants and stores in the 30’s actually had cash registers. No, they all were experts using an abacus. Interesting stuff. The plot thickens.

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