How Time Goes By …

On this rainy Sunday morning, I remembered what a normal Sunday in my childhood was like….

In the late 1950ies, shortly before the 1960ies came along, our Sundays at home were holidays. And it was much the same for most of my classmates in primary school. After we returned from church, there was a really lavish meal cooked by mother – with help from father.

It was always three courses. The aperitif was inevitably a truly delicious soup. Home-made. It contained dumplings or some other nice ingredients. Then came the main course. It was the Sunday Roast. On a week-day, having cooked or roasted meat was unheard of. Just like liver sausage, Wieners or fried herring were the rare exception to the rule.

Along with the Sunday Roast, we always had side dishes. Mostly they were some variety of potatoes and vegetables. Everything was fresh and home-made, nothing had come from the deep freezer, let alone tins. And, of course, then there was the special dessert.

Thus, the Sunday was always connected with the ritual of a truly festive meal. We ate in the dining room – which was never used on a weekday. The dinnerware and cutlery were the exquisite sort, the table was set in a festive way.

Sunday leisure stress was a thing that did not exist at the time. After the meal, the family assembled for games. Initially, it was just me and my father, while my mother was busy looking after my small sister (she was five years my junior). As soon as my sister was old enough to play with us, we all played together.

Yes, we were a truly bourgeois family. We had probably been planned as a one-child family, but then an afterthought happened.

In those days, there was no inflation of parlour games, either. We just played “Frustration” and Chinese Checkers, later cards, like Rommé and Mau-Mau. My first contact with “modern games“, such as monopoly, came a lot later – it was an emergency solution during a rainy vacation in Austria.

But even when it was not Sunday, much was different from today. My parents went to bed early and then read a bit. After all, there was no reason to stay up late. We had no TV set, so there was no obligation to partake of the medial life. To make up for it, the news programmes on the radio were sacrosanct. But even they were only listened to very infrequently on Sundays. You had to be quiet during the broadcast.

In the morning, we woke up without having set an alarm clock. …

But then progress came along. The TV set became the centrepiece of the living room, which then was also used on week-days. You went to bed late and were tired in the morning. Chest freezers made it possible to cook in advance. You only had to thaw the things up. When finally the microwave was invented, all culture was lost.

And along with the cars, we got leisure stress. It signalled the end of the Sunday idyll – and also the end of Sunday church visits.

Well, in some way or other, these times sound rather unbelievable, especially if I compare them with how we at home live today. But I think my old world would not be something a modern child would like very much.

(Translated by EG)

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