Back in the day: a trip down memory lane | At the time


As we move into 2022, I’ll be highlighting some of my favorite columns from 2021 that reflected life back then.

Over fifty-two Back in the Day columns were printed in this newspaper last year; a result of this column every Sunday. Various subjects were discussed. Last month I wrote about memories of Christmas trees and Santa Claus. The other Sundays, I focused on the events of September 11, roller skating, convenience stores, Uncle Tom, the bogeyman, eateries at the wheel, the handyman and the jack leg among others. But, the ones that drew the most comments from readers were the columns on calling parents by first names, asking for a bag for shopping in a store, skin color, black book, telephone conversations, Kilroy was Here, the Croquemitaine and, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). So let me delve deeper into these columns which hopefully took you, the reader, on some memorable journeys back then.

I suspect I have stepped on toes with my column on children addressing parents by first names. In this column, I commented on how young people, whether related or not, always addressed adults with respect. I pointed out that the use of Monsieur, Madame or Mademoiselle for black families was expected; there were no exceptions. In your interactions with adults, you have always addressed them with dignity and respect. Then there was my column on getting a bag before you left the store every time you made a purchase. If you remember I was unhappy when at the checkout I was asked if I wanted a bag. My parents taught me to always ask for a bag after a purchase. Last week I bought a sandwich at a deli. When I asked for a bag, the seller gave me one and then asked for fifty cents, the price of the bag. I violated my parents’ teachings and left the store without a bag. I never would have done it then, but the fifty cent charge changed what I used to do.

My column on skin color annoyed some readers. This dissatisfaction was expressed through phone calls, text messages and emails. I recognize that some may not want to go back to a time when, “If you’re white, you’re fine; brown, you can stay; yellow you are sweet; but if Black, you have to come back. My resurrection from the behavior of the Greek letter and social organizations, church memberships, college admissions, and dating bans were just too painful for many of you. I hope I appeased some when I pointed out that James Brown made being Black and proud a good thing; making the paper bag test for college admission a thing left at the time.

If you weren’t growing up back then, you might have been intrigued by my column on the black book. Today, people store all of their contact details and appointments on their mobile phones; for many, a black book was foreign to them. Our young readers were also unaware of the role that telephone exchanges played in dating in the past. You “old faces” will remember the time when a young woman gave you her phone number. If it was Germantown (GE), Victor (VI) or Sherwood (SH), then she was a viable prospect; Popular (PO), Stevenson (ST) and Baldwin (BA) often led to the number being thrown because you didn’t dare go to those neighborhoods. The column on Kilroy was here and the bogeyman was fun to write and received a lot of comments as well. year.

My good friend, with whom I worked at the Reverend Leon Sullivan Opportunities Industrialization Center, incorporated in the late 1960s, shared his thoughts on this column. Some of what Dr. Bernard Anderson, or Bernie as I call him, appears below.

Your February 7 column on the HBCUs is an invaluable journalistic treat for Black History Month. The election of Kamala Harris and Raphael Warnock propelled the HBCUs into the limelight, drawing attention to the Divine Nine and other characteristics of black life that were largely unknown to most people outside of the black community.

I am in my 14th year on the Tuskegee Board of Directors, during which I was Senior Vice President for 5 years. I served on the boards of HBCU for 30 years, including as chairman of the board of trustees of Lincoln University, and a decade on the board of my alma mater, the liberal arts related to church, UNCF institution, Livingstone College in Salisbury, NC I can attest to the great contribution the HBCUs have made to the advancement of black people in America and the advancement of the nation as a whole.

Personally, when someone asks me, I always brag that Livingstone College was the foundation of my academic career, which led to my doctorate. in Economics at Penn, followed by a long-term faculty position, tenure and national reputation at the nation’s premier business school, the Wharton School. It all started at Livingstone College.

As we move into 2022, I hope that my sharing of a glimpse of life, returning in the columns of 2021, will encourage you to continue to follow my Sunday tours to life as it was, to l ‘era.

Alonzo Kittrels can be contacted at or The Philadelphia Tribune, Back In The Day, 520 South 16th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19146 The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Philadelphia Tribune.


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