I will agree with others that the scope you tried years ago was not set-up in a way that was compatible with your body. Setting up the scope is the hard part of shooting with a scope. IF you are using a cheap scope there is usually very little leeway in the "eye relief". If the scope has four inches of eye relief you can't see much of anything if your eye is 5 inches away. Since everyone holds the rifle a little differently and is a little different size, if it isn't set-up specific to you it won't work.
Give it another try. Adding iron sights isn't cheap, but it also isn't ungodly expensive.