“Saturdays Were Special”

Looking Back with Lloyd Mathews originally printed Oct. 28, 2001

I believe that the older one gets, the more he dwells on the past. I try to focus my thinking on present happenings and many of the things I write about are present and even future. But I do think it is good to reach back into the memory bank and recall these people and events that are etched so indelibly on the mind. I suppose that’s why, when I first started writing this column in 1977, we decided to call it “Looking Back.”

Since that time I have covered many subjects. Some required extensive historical research, while others were childhood reminiscences that only required a pencil and paper and a turning back of the calendar. I’m sure that if you’ve ever been involved in writing or storytelling you know that sometimes words come easy and at other times hardly at all.

As I contemplated on what my subject would be for this week my eyes were alerted to an out of date newspaper on my table that contained a headline that read “Make me a child once again on Saturday.” My thoughts immediately went back to a time more than 60 years ago when I was a child, a time when Saturdays were so special that the days that fell between one Saturday and another passed like months.

As soon as my eyes opened on those wonderful mornings, I could tell the day was Saturday. It just felt different. The sun seemed to shine a little brighter, or if it was a rainy day, the rain seemed to beat a more peaceful tune as it spattered against the bedroom window and on the tin roof.

No television cartoons waited; no not even a television. That was in the future. But the day that lay ahead was always filled with more excitement than modern machine could bring.

The aroma of side meat frying in the kitchen would draw any kid from bed, and by the time he was up and dressed the table was set and family members gathered around to begin the day with food and fellowship. Sometimes there was barely enough to go around in those depression days, but for whatever food and drink was on the table, I don’t ever remember a time when some member of the family was not called on to give thanks to God for the bountiful blessings.

Milking the family cow and feeding the hogs and chickens came a little easier on Saturday because this was the day when the mule and the old farm wagon would be hooked together for a ride into town. Any family member was free to pile on and it was one trip I hardly ever missed. There was no rush to get there and none to get back. The little farming town was small, but on Saturday I believe about everyone in the entire county was there. Some came to shop, but I believe most came to be with the crowd.

Saturday was grocer buying day, and every customer was waited on by a clerk who would take my father’s order, running all over the store fetching one item at a time. When he was through he would list the price of each item on a large unopened paper bag, and add the figures in his head. If it added up enough dollars, the store owner would go to the candy counter and fill a small bag with what we called penny candy and give it to the kids. I remember Mary Janes, Mint Julips, Tootsie Rolls, and long sticks of black licorice being my favorites.

In the afternoon there was a western movie on and we carefully saved pennies during the week to accumulate the dime for the cost of a ticket. An entire afternoon of Tim McCoy or Buck Jones or some other star, along with Betty Boop or Popeye cartoons, and a chapter of some serial – all for 10 cents.

The ride back home was a time of rehashing the events of the day. Upon reaching home supper was waiting. I don’t remember that there was a great variety of food but I do remember the hot biscuits. Believe it or not, my mother made hot biscuits for every meal.

Saturday never included a bedtime curfew so to cap it all off the dial on the old battery powered radio was set at 650, and many times my father and I would listen to the Grand Old Opry until the Solemn Old Judge would sign the station off at way past midnight.

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