Friday, March 10, 2006

The Way We Were

I was thinking today about how much things have changed since I was young. A lot has changed in personal hygiene! In the 50s there were only two or three kinds of soap; English Leather, Coal Tar / Lifebuoy or Camay. Deodorants didn't exist. You washed under your arms with Lifebuoy and hoped it would keep you sweet-smelling for a few hours. I remember when an exciting new soap appeared - it was called - I think - Dove. It had a different and interesting smell and was suggestively curved (aimed at the female market – we boys still used Lifebuoy). But there was still very little choice.

There were only one or two kinds of shampoo - Vosene was one of them - and neither worked on dandruff so one had to use a strong coal tar preparation instead. It wasn't until the late 60s that a selenium-based cream was available and you could cure dandruff completely. Toothpaste too was limited to Macleans, Colgate or Pepsodent - and a flavoured one for children. Fluroide was introduced in the 1950s. After-shave was limited to 'cologne' such as 'Old Spice' or '4711'. When Paco Rabanne's 'Tabac' appeared we thought it very smart.

There was little choice in clothes too. For outside wear, we had 'duffle coats' with characteristic wooden toggles for buttons, and they only came in dark blue. We wore grey flannel or corduroy trousers or shorts and cotton or 'airtex' shirts. Socks would be darned when holes developed. Shoes would be Clarks sandals and we would have our feet measured for size with x-ray machines that showed one's feet clearly on a green screen. They were later banned!

It was common to carry a penknife in one's pocket, and we all aspired to the classic red Swiss Army penknife.