These are my salt and pepper shakers. I will be honest and say that, most of the time, I only get them out when I have other people over. On my own, it’s easier to stick with the pepper grind and the salt ramkin…or salt pig…or salt cellar…or whatever you call it.
These were an impulse buy at a thrift store when I was actually looking for something completely different (but the whole thing cost less than a dollar, I think, so why not?) I actually bought them because of the tray. I had never seen S&P shakers on their own special plastic tray, so I bought them.
Later on, when I was trying to figure out how to get their seasonings into them, I flipped them over and saw the “Product of W. Germany” written in relief on the bottom…back when West Germany was still a “thing.” That made them cooler to me–because I have a product from a place that technically doesn’t exist anymore.
I was only in kindergarten when the Berlin Wall fell, and I remember being in first grade when the U.S.S.R. officially dissolved. I remember sitting at my grandparents house–all the grown-ups watching the news. I remember how shocked and amazed they all were. I also remember not understanding why, but my six year old self sensed that this was important.
I was thinking about that the other day, when I was putting out my salt and pepper shakers for my friends. I am probably among some of the youngest people who actually remember those events taking place.
I lived my whole childhood in a way not many Americans have had the opportunity in the 20th and 21st centuries. My memories start with the fall of the Wall, the Communist threat a thing of the past. I played and went to softball practice and sang in school concerts in a time of peace. I was safe. There were no “bad guys” lying in wait. (This also made generic bad guys for action movies hard to come by…) I grew up doing fire drills and never worrying about something bad happening to me. My childhood and our country’s sense of security ended at the same time. My senior year of high school was defined by September 11, 2001. The world changed, and we were not the same.
I think about my childhood compared to that of my parents, that of my students–how different my world was from either of them.
My parents grew up in the shadow of the Cold War. They had to do nuclear attack drills in school (precious little good, though, that these drills could have done.) There was always the unspoken danger of Soviets, speaking eerily in Russian, lurking in America’s corners.
In many ways, it is the same for my students. None of them know a world before the threats of al Qaeda and ISIS. None of them know that there was a time you could get onto a plane without having to take off your shoes first. They have grown up doing intruder drills. For them, there is always the vague and unspoken threat of terrorists.
It makes childhood seem a lot more scary. It makes me thankful for my time of peace.