Big Chuck: I miss many things, including hitchhiking, answering phone

Here are five things that I miss from the old days.

Raking and burning leaves in the fall: I know, I know. I have mentioned this in several columns over the years. And I also know you can’t do this anymore. Errant sparks, kids get burned, air gets fouled. I get it. But fall just isn’t fall without the smell of the backyard leaf pile once Dad takes his cigarette lighter to it.

Watching network television: I haven’t watched a network TV show in more than 20 years. Oh, sure, I watch plenty of television. But almost exclusively on cable (for news) or Netflix (for movies). I heard a couple of people talking the other day about their favorite TV shows from the past including “Grey’s Anatomy” and “How I Met Your Mother.” Having never seen a minute of either shows, I could add nothing to the conversation. Oh, and for the record? “Grey’s Anatomy” has been on for 16 years and HIMYM was on for nine. Again, I have no clue about either.

And that is funny, because I could always tell you where my favorite shows were when I was growing up. “McHale’s Navy” and “F Troop” were on ABC. Over on CBS I liked “Candid Camera” and “Perry Mason.” And my favorite show (even as a kid) was the “Dean Martin Hour” every Thursday night on NBC.

I miss a nice, long bench seat in my car: Today we all sit in Captain Kirk-like command center chairs with the console between us. I like the convenience of having that little console/cup holder/change compartment and french fry holder in the console. But there was just something about those long front seats, riding around with your sweetheart snuggled up next to you on an afternoon drive. Now your sweetheart is an arm’s length away plugged into her music ear buds, feet up on the dash, reading a book or dozing. Maybe that’s what America needs again. More snuggling while driving. But, what about seat belts? Yes, I get it. But I do miss the bench seat.

The old light bulbs: You know, the ones that give off a subtle glow adding a warm ambiance to any room. Now, the new energy-saver light bulbs in our living room lamps make our place look like a dentist’s office. I know about energy saving, cost efficiency, etc. But that doesn’t mean I have to like them. Yes, we use them. “Next patient, please.”

Hitchhiking: Even I wouldn’t dare do it today. Even if it was legal. But back in my day it was a convenient way of getting from A to B at no cost. I did not have a car when I first went to college in Albany in 1967. Unless I could scrape up $6 for a one-way Greyhound ticket from Albany to Sidney, I had no alternative but to ride my thumb. I loved it. First of all, there was nothing better than catching your first ride around Guilderland and saying, “How far ya’ going, Mister?” and having them say, “Binghamton.” Bingo. That was the jackpot. One ride for the cost of a constant stream of conversation about something you really didn’t care about. Of course, the worst thing was facing several short rides. Central Bridge. Richmondville next. Then Worcester. Then Duke Diner for coffee. Then Otego and finally the Sidney bridge. Now that was a pain in the neck. Especially in February.

I do, however, wholeheartedly endorse the no hitchhiking laws in place today. The world is so different than when I was 17 and trying to catch a ride home down Route 7 in 1967. Not anymore.

I miss answering my phone: Who answers their phone anymore? Nobody. I get 20 calls a day on my cell phone. Unless I see the names Trish, Abby, Frances, Katie or Joey on the phone (my family) I don’t answer it. Nobody does. Whatever happened to the “No Call” registry? What a farce. I signed up for it. Last week I received 22 telemarketing calls from Davenport! All unanswered. All left no messages. It just isn’t right that we cannot answer our phones anymore.

So, there are some things I miss in today’s world. I understand the reasoning behind the endings of leaf burning, bench seats and hitchhiking. And I understand what the advent of cell phones and cable television meant to “the old ways.”

But it still doesn’t mean that I can’t miss some things.

I’ll catch you in two …

"Big Chuck" D'Imperio's morning radio show can be heard weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m. on WDOS-AM 730 in Otsego County, WDLA-AM 1270 in Delaware County and WCHN-AM 970 in Chenango County.  All of his columns can be found at


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