Tonawanda News

February 16, 2013

Fondness for days gone by

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Valentine’s Day is past but my regret is that we were unable to find a bag of Conversation Hearts — those chalky-tasting treats with messages of love and friendship. After stopping at four drugstores, two supermarkets, a party store and Target, it finally dawned on me the company must have quit making them. My daughter found a bag of what looked like Conversation Hearts, only to find the hearts were hard candy and flavored by color: yellow, lemon; orange, orange and so on. She gave them away. Then the other day, small boxes of Conversation Hearts were in the candy aisle at Tops. Unfortunately, they were the same as the ones my daughter found — hard candy. Maybe next year or maybe never.

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Speaking of things gone by, an email reminded us of the old Burma Shave signs. If you’re too young to remember them, here’s the history of these iconic signs from the 30s through the 50s.

Before there were interstates, when everyone drove the old two lane roads, Burma Shave signs would be posted all over the countryside in farmers’ fields. They were small red signs with white letters. Five signs, about 100 feet apart, each containing one line of a four-line couplet — and the obligatory fifth sign advertising Burma Shave, a popular shaving cream.

Here are a few of the actual signs:

DON’T STICK YOUR ELBOW

OUT SO FAR

IT MAY GO HOME

IN ANOTHER CAR.

Burma Shave

DON’T LOSE YOUR HEAD

TO GAIN A MINUTE

YOU NEED YOUR HEAD

YOUR BRAINS ARE IN IT

Burma Shave

DROVE TOO LONG

DRIVER SNOOZING

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT

IS NOT AMUSING

Burma Shave

HE SAW THE TRAIN

AND TRIED TO DUCK IT

FIRST KICKED THE GAS

AND THEN THE BUCKET

Burma Shave

Now tell me you didn’t at least smile at some of these.

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Rod Rowland weighed in on the discussion of casinos.

“Hit me over the head if you have to, but I don’t see casinos enhancing the quality of affairs,” he emailed.  “I do occasionally make a ‘donation’ to the Buffalo Creek casino. There are still boarded up factories and businesses just barely holding on there. For instance, I have never noticed anyone in the restaurant right across the street. The casino south of the expressway in Salamanca is only slightly smaller than the Taj Mahal, yet downtown Salamanca appears to be in a state of ruins. Has Casino Niagara done that much to enhance the commerce of Niagara Falls?”

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The other day, the conversation ran to the plight of teachers everywhere who are bombarded by angry parents, unruly kids and non-compassionate administrators. Some of you criticize teachers in Sound Off for being overpaid and underworked.

Well, guess what, in nearly all cases, you’re wrong.

Parents take the student’s part — the teacher is always wrong. Think about when you grew up and got in some minor scrape or misbehaved. Did your parents take your part? Not a chance.

Today’s kids learn disrespect from things as “friendly” as cartoon shows. Characters shout, are rude, joke about (and at) parents and others who are in charge. Kids hear it at home when moms and dads, exhausted from overwork, brush off questions with rude responses.

Coming from a family of teachers, I’ve heard horror stories of students who swear at teachers, throw items, disrupt the class and know their parents will back them if they are disciplined. Although discipline is also nearly out of the question since teachers cannot touch a child and principals don’t want kids sent to them. So we have home suspension. Wow! That’s a real threat: have a few days off with no one at home to do whatever you like. My son, a high school teacher who, because of his experience, size and ability to control any class, does not deal with these problems. But he explains that young teachers have the worst of it. And now the state has demanded more testing to see how the kids are doing. Did they ask the teachers for input? Of course not.

Anyone who thinks teachers don’t work hard enough, should spend a day in a school room. This is not to say that there aren’t good classes run by great teachers and with administrators who care. But in my book, teachers are underpaid as many of them work evenings and weekends correcting papers, going over projects and planning for the next day or week’s work.

Now perhaps this is the kicker: The schools will no have to teach cursive writing since the state feels all the kids either text messages or print. When I mentioned this to a teacher, she said one of her students said he couldn’t read the note she had written on his report and could she please print the messages from now on.

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Church sign: “Some people attend church only three times in their lives: when they’re hatched, when they’re matched and when they’re dispatched.”

Contact community editor Barbara Tucker at 693-1000, ext. 4110 or email barbara.tucker@tonawanda-news.com