By Suzanne Sparrow Watson
I pride myself in being someone who doesn’t hang on to “things”. My philosophy is that if I don’t use something in a year or so, OUT it goes! So it was with some embarrassment that as I was cleaning closets the other day I found a box full of “things”. From the 60’s. Not my age – the decade. It was like opening a window to the past, a rather ridiculous past, but past none the less. Most of the “treasures” were found in scrapbooks from high school. It was a virtual time capsule from those years, so what should have taken 10 minutes morphed into three hours. Mostly, I wondered why I had kept some of these things to begin with. After all, raffle tickets to unnamed events, Greyhound bus passes and newspaper clippings from an Easter hat competition really shouldn’t have been that noteworthy. Clearly, my “throw everything out” philosophy came long after high school.
I decided that I would only keep the most sentimental items so I started discarding the low hanging fruit – photos of people whom I no longer remember. Heck, these days I might not recognize people I met just last month so people from high school are clearly beyond my recall abilities. Next, I went through some of my sports memorabilia. There wasn’t much of note. I got rid of ski lift passes (although it was amazing to see that at one time you could buy a full day pass as Squaw Valley for $6) and the one blue ribbon I won on the swim team. That pretty much took care of the sports section. Next I threw out all the dance cards, cheerleading campaign buttons and programs from my choir and piano concerts. Nothing makes me cringe faster that to think of all the poor people who suffered through me pounding on the piano, desperately searching for the right key. Which brings me to the next thing I found in the box – my Junior Miss trophy from 1968. For the “talent” portion of the program I played Clair de Lune. I thought I did a fairly decent job until a boy came up to me at school the following Monday and told me that his dad (a musician) had said I played it like a fourth year piano student, at which point I crowed, “Great! I only took two years of lessons!”
Next, it was on to all of the miscellaneous items I’d thrown in the box. These were mostly mementos from places I had visited. A coaster from the old Hippo restaurant in San Francisco, an autograph from Matty Alou of the SF Giants and a menu from the high school graduation trip I took to Hawaii on Pan American airlines. Yep – that’s right – they used to give you a full color brochure of your dining choices – in coach. Better yet, drinks were fifty cents, beer and cigarettes just a quarter. No wonder so many people got drunk on planes! Most of my fun came in looking at a couple of old menus I had from two classic dining houses – Sabella’s of Marin and #9 Fisherman’s Grotto in San Francisco. The menu I had from Sabella’s is actually the wine menu (God only knows how I got my hands on that!). It’s fun to see that in the heart of what is now known as “wine country” there were only three California wineries listed and the wines were Sauterne, Chablis, Rhine, Burgundy, Chianti and Rose. Not a Merlot, Chardonnay or Cabernet to be found. And the prices averaged $3.00 per bottle. The dinner menu from Fisherman’s Grotto was equally depressing – entrees ran from $2.50 for fresh Monterey Abalone to the outrageous charge of $4.00 for Lobster Tail. Best of all, ice cream was only 30 cents.
It was three hours well spent. Not only did I get to go down my own personal Memory Lane, but I got to go back in time for a while. When things were simpler, a bit more elegant, and wine was cheap.