Skip to comments.Memories of Growing Up in the 40's and 50's (and since, even)
Posted on 01/04/2003 12:12:42 PM PST by Dakotabound
"Hey Dad," My Son asked the other day, "what was your favorite fast food when you were growing up?"
"We didn't have fast food when I was growing up."
"C'mon, seriously. Where did you eat?"
"We ate at home," I explained. "Your Grandma cooked every day and when your Grandpa got home from work, we all sat down together at the table, and if I didn't like what she put on my plate I had to sit there until I did like it." By this time, my Son was laughing so hard I was afraid he was going to suffer some serious internal damage, so I didn't tell him the part about how I had to get my Father's permission to leave the table.
Here are some other things I would have told him about my childhood if I had figured his system could handle it.
My parents never: wore Levi's, set foot on a golf course, traveled out of the country, flew in a plane or had a credit card. In their later years they had something called a "revolving charge card" but they never actually used it. It was only good at Sears-Roebuck. Or maybe it was Sears and Roebuck. Either way, there is no Roebuck anymore.
My parents never drove me to soccer practice. This was because soccer back then was just for the girls. We actually did walk to school. By the time you were in the 6th grade it was not cool to ride the bus unless you lived more than 4 or 5 miles from the school, even when it was raining or there was ice or snow on the ground.
Outdoor sports consisted of stickball, snowball fights, building forts, making snowmen and sliding down hills on a piece of cardboard. No skate boards, roller blades or trail bikes.
We didn't have a television in our house until I was 12. It was, of course, black and white, but you could buy a piece of special colored plastic to cover the screen. The top third was blue, like the sky, and the bottom third was green, like grass. The middle third was red. It was perfect for programs that had scenes of fire trucks riding across someone's lawn on a sunny day.
I was 13 before I tasted my first pizza. It was a Sam's Pizza at the East end of Fruit Street in Milford. My friend, Steve took me there to try what he called "pizza pie." When I bit into it, I burned the roof of my mouth and the cheese slid off, swung down and plastered itself against my chin. It's still the best pizza I ever had.
Pizzas were not delivered to your house back then, but the milk was. I looked forward to winter because the cream in the milk was on top of the bottle and it would freeze and push the cap off. Of course us kids would get up first to get the milk and eat the frozen cream before our mother could catch us.
I never had a telephone in my room. Actually the only phone in the house was in the hallway and it was on a party line. Before you could make a call, you had to listen in to make sure someone else wasn't already using the line. If the line was not in use an Operator would come on and ask "number please" and you would give her the number you wanted to call.
There was no such thing as a computer or a hand held calculator. We were required to memorize the "times tables." Believe it or not, we were tested each week on our ability to perform mathematics with nothing but a pencil and paper. We took a spelling test every day. There was no such thing as a "social promotion." If you flunked a class, you repeated that grade the following year. Nobody was concerned about your "self esteem." We had to actually do something praiseworthy before we were praised. We learned that you had to earn respect.
All newspapers were delivered by boys and most all boys delivered newspapers. I delivered the "Milford Daily News" six days a week. It cost 7 cents a paper, of which I got to keep 2 cents. On Saturday, I had to collect the 42 cents from my customers. My favorite customers were the ones who gave me 50 cents and told me to keep the change. My least favorite customers were the ones who seemed to never be home on collection day.
Movie stars kissed with their mouths shut on screen. Touching someone else's tongue with yours was called French kissing and they just didn't do that in the movies back then. I had no idea what they did in French movies. French movies were considered dirty and we weren't allowed to see them.
You never saw the Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers or anyone else actual kill someone. The heroes back then would just shoot the gun out of the bad guys hand. There was no blood and violence.
When you were sick, the Doctor actually came to your house. No, I am not making this up. Drugs were something you purchased at a pharmacy in order to cure an illness.
If we dared to "sass" our parents, or any other grown-up, we immediately found out what soap tasted like. For more serious infractions, we learned about something called a "this hurts me more than it hurts you." I never did quite understand that one?
In those days, parents were expected to discipline their kids. There was no interference from the government. "Social Services" or "Family Services" had not been invented (The ninth and tenth amendments to the constitution were still observed in those days.)
I must be getting old because I find myself reflecting back more and more and thinking I liked it a lot better back then. If you grew up in a generation before there was fast food, you may want to share some of these memories with your kids or grandchildren. Just don't blame me if they wet themselves laughing. Growing up today sure ain't what it used to be.
Posted for your reminiscing pleasure on this Saturday in January.
The restaurant can also be identified by the following names - Whitey Castile's, the Porcelain Palace, or my personal favorite, Le Chateau Blanc (for 5 star dining and the finest in French cuisine).
WHITE CASTLE HAMBURGERS - SLIDERS
Yield: 10 servings2 lb Lean Ground Beef 1/4 c Dry Minced Onion 1/4 c Hot Water 3 oz Jar Strained Beef Baby Food 2/3 c Clear Beef Broth 1 pk Hot Dog Buns
Soak 1/4 cup dry minced onions in 1/4 cup hot water until soft while you mix 2 pounds ground beef with 3 ounce jar of strained beef baby food and 2/3 cup clear beef broth. Keep patties uniform using 1/4 cup meat mixture for each patty, flattened to 1/4" and fried quickly in 1 T oil per patty on a hot griddle. Make 3 or 4 holes in patties while frying. Cut hot dog buns in half. Cut off rounded ends. Fry 1 t onions under each patty as you turn to fry 2nd side. Slip each patty into bun with 2 dill pickle chips, mustard and catsup.
I still remember that you didn't sass other kids' parents either. Because, somehow my parents found out about it before I could get home.
And we never locked our doors...how would our friends get in?
And we only had one car, Dad used it to get to work, so we had to walk everywhere, or wait for Dad to come home.
And we went to the Saturday matinee theater for a double feature and a cartoon for a dime!
We drank a lot of orange juice since we had five orange trees in our backyard, and we played in the orange groves at the end of the block (So Calif)
We would go to the other end of the block to my uncle's house and make fresh peach ice cream every Sat night during the summer. Course, we had to crank it because they hadn't put electric motors on the ice cream makers yet.
And we dressed up to go to church every Sunday morning. Coat and tie was the standard.
We would also sit around the radio in the evenings and listen to the variety and drama shows. Boy, did we have an imagination in those days. No TV screen to show us what was going on.
I'll have to keep remembering...more later, perhaps.
Actually I remember an awful lot of this, except the snow. It doesn't snow much in south Georgia.
Living in Pittsburgh in the late 1960s, we had metal milk boxes outside our front door for deliveries from the dairy man. Those boxes were especially useful in winter, when we used them to store our snowballs for the big battle with the other kids in the neighborhood.
Vintage year my friend!
On my 25th anniversary, my kids invited my best man who was also my best friend growing up in those "formative years." After the celebration, he and I drove to where we grew up and drove all around at 5 mph recalling everything we could. Man, talk about time travel. Cheers.
Restaurants were something we visited only when on vacation. Who could afford to eat out?
LOL! I went to school at the Culinary Institute of America and there we used to call Ketchup "Sauce Americane" :)
Man, I must be getting old. I remember the 50's ...How annoying is that?
Speaking of annoying, how about gettin' your hands off my Rogain!
We have to be related!
I can still remember my Aunt "Liz" calling to invite us over to watch color TV. It was not until some years later that I realized that faces in color were not half red - half blue!
I do remember the forts, digging holes in backyards, having orange fights in the orchard,riding our bikes everywhere are what occupied out time after school. Oh yeah the first car i remember my folks had as a kid was a 1947 Ford and I remember my favorite place to ride in it was on the ledge behind the back seat and the window with no child restraint devises.And I survived to write this post!
With 50 TV channels to watch today I still can't find anything that compared to "Terry and the Pirates", or "Paul Lavalle and the Cities Service Band of America." or "Fred Allen" or "Amos and Andy"....and so many other radios greats.
I swear I got more education from 9 years with the Sisters of Mercy than some kids today get after 4 years at some liberal diploma mill.
My wife and I got our first Sears 'credit card' in 1960.
I cut it up and sent it back to them a few years ago when their interest charge hit 22%. They used to be a retail store now they're loan sharks.
Cripes I was even a Democrat back then when they stood for something other than getting re-elected every couple of years. Anybody remember Cong. Freddie St. Germain from Woonsocket, RI.
He coulda been Clinton's guru!
Ah, well....onward and upward!
Our aunts, uncles, teachers, priests, nuns, were allowed to correct us and we were made to listen.
We had no dishwashers but ourselves, and every night took turns washing, drying and sweeping the floor.
We had no showers so every morning we would take turns, oldest one first, and stand in the tub to wash ourselves off.
Saturday we got a full bath, but warm water was limited because of the small water heater so we were forced to top off the past bathers water to keep it warm.
We were woke up every morning by the sound of my father knocking the cold coals from the heater and refilling it with the coal in the coal bin.
We had to stand over the heater vent and dress, because there was no forced air heaters at that time, or we were to poor to own one.
Cokes were a dime and served in a fountain glass at the dime store, and twinkies were a nickel.
First time I saw color television. Next door neighbor's house. We watched "The Wonderful World of Disney" At 7:00 EST on NBC.
Mickey, and Goofy, and Donald and Tnkerbell on small screen, just like in the theater was a big deal.
I really believe that the day that JFK was assassinated was the very day that all things changed here in the USA. Shortly after that, the riots broke out and the cities burned. We got LBJ and all the inherent evil things that came with him. The serenity of the fifties gave way to the insanity of the sixties and thereafter. I swear that JFK's demise was the catalyst for all this. since most Americans lost faith in the society that was left for them.
I may be wrong, but it seems that after the severe shock of that event, Americans somehow, for a time anyway, lost our way. Thats when the liberals/socialists saw their chance and they pounced. It has taken us this long to begin a correction of that, although it started with Reagan. Hopefully, this correction will continue and be successful.
Would that it be so.
At the same time, I remember learning the math tables and being tested, with the goal of becoming a "Minute Man".
Yes, despite the threat of polio and small pox, life was much better then. Much simpler and more honest.
I remember talking to a college student from New York City back in the late 60's at the University of Wisconsin. Being a Wisconsin native, I politely asked him how he liked Madison, then one of the premier cities to live and raise a family. He told me that it was okay, but needed some of the "vices of New York City to make it worth living in." I would dearly love to get my hands on that pompous, "sophisticated" puke for just five minutes today. I'd give him some "sophisticated vice" to last him the rest of his miserable life...all two minutes of it!