Back in the 50s, obtaining a goldfish was something special. I had my tonsils removed when I was five or six. My reward for the most horrifying, harrowing two days of my life was twofold. The toy piano I had longed for sat by my bedside when I got home from the hospital and on my bureau sat a fishbowl containing a shimmeringly beautiful fantail goldfish.
Just now I was thinking about what my mother must have gone through to get that goldfish. In the old days, Woolworths' maintained a huge tank filled with probably two hundred or more goldies. A kid would go up to it, nose to glass, and find the exact one out of all of these that he/she wanted and the poor salesperson in the pet department (they had parakeets, too) would proceed to dip a long-handled net into the vast tank to locate that exact fish. Sometimes those slippery little boogers would make this an hour long job. I bet more than once, the person snagged a similar fish and was able to convince the kid that it was indeed the exact one the kid had chosen.
Now, I can't imagine my mother picking out an exact fish for the unlucky salesperson to get. She probably just said, "give me a fantail" or in Mom's case, "just give me a pretty fish" as Mom surely was not into goldfish of any kind, picturing how she would be the one to clean the bowl and remember to feed the thing. I was five!
So, fish caught, it would be placed with a bit of water into one of those white containers we get Chinese takeout in nowadays! Small, sure. One serving of white rice size. In fact, I can't remove a carton from the bag now without thinking of goldfish. And it must have gone home with a bowl and net and food, too. Thanks, Mom.
Goldie suffered two deaths. My mother, resourceful and incredibly brave, managed to resuscitate it the first time by placing the "dead" fish on several ice cubes. It did come back to life and managed to live a few more years! The second time, however, the ice didn't work. Goldie received a fond tribute as it was flushed down the toilet. I cried.
I am a sentimental old fool. I've got tears in my eyes now.