The Way Things Were


IMG_2355I’m old, but not that old. However, I have memories of growing up that are probably very different from yours if you were born in the 70s, 80s, or beyond.

Recently, on Facebook a friend posted about how our lives were so different during the fifties and sixties. It got me to thinking about my own childhood and adolescence.

How about the following memories: Can you relate?

At home:

Our bedtime was 8:00 pm, strictly enforced. In high school, it was 9:00.

We almost never ate out. It was oatmeal for breakfast, a sandwich and an apple or banana for lunch, and a hamburger patty and a green salad for dinner. We rarely had dessert, either.

We watched TV, three channels, black and white, and the programs were almost always westerns and a few variety shows.

We had one phone, a rotary type.

One typewriter. My dad’s. (I thought I’d died and gone to heaven when IBM made the Selectrix in the 70s.

My mother was progressive: we ate whole wheat bread.

My mother made us  hand-write thank you notes, cursive, of course.

We never, and I mean never, sassed our parents. That was unthinkable.

My dad was progressive: he taught me how to make Mulligan Stew, and he made Saturday morning breakfasts.

My family was fairly secular, but we occasionally went to church.

I had to practice my piano for one hour each day, and every piece had to be memorized.

At school:

Our teachers were deeply respected, even feared.

We had PE every day. Yes, every day.

We had penmanship classes. And typing classes in high school.

We always said the pledge of allegiance first class of the day.

In the sixties, we frequently practiced ‘duck and cover.’

No one thought dodge ball was child abuse.

Girls were encouraged to become nurses or secretaries. Boys could be anything they wanted, but if they didn’t do too well in their IQ tests, they were  steered toward a technical college after graduation. Also, when the ice cream joint, Baskin and Robbins first opened, girls weren’t hired because scooping ice cream was considered too strenuous.

College men were paid more for doing the exact same job I performed.  I answered phones and got paid 1.60 per hour. Men got 1.80 for the same job. When I worked in the cafeteria, the supervisor frequently slapped me on the fanny with a plate as he passed my work station.

Bullying did happen, but not nearly like today.

Up until my junior year in high school, girls had to wear dresses. After that, school districts allowed girls to wear slacks, but not jeans.

I could go on an on but I’ll bet you could, too. What do you remember from those days?




4 thoughts on “The Way Things Were”

  1. I remember those things too. We had a really long cord on our phone as it hung on our kitchen wall, so to sit as you talked on the phine it had to stretch to the dining room. It was a “party” line so you had to make sure you didn’t stay on the line too long.

    1. Robin, ours was one of those cork screw cords and if you wanted privacy during your call, the cord barely stretched into the dining room. But everyone could hear your conversation anyway!

  2. Research back then meant using an encyclopedia or going to the library. If you wanted to compare prices at home you looked at a variety of catalogues or window shopped. You were careful and rarely made an impulse purchase. Everything was cash and carry.

    I remember milk being delivered in glass bottles, the Dugan man coming around with baked goods, and the produce man bringing his wagon down our street. The delight of every child’s heart was the Good Humor, Pied Piper, and Mister Softee ice cream trucks.

  3. I remember prayer in school, the Ten Commandments hanging on the classroom wall, and children being given “chores” to do to keep our schoolhouse clean. Paul Harvey was always on the radio in the morning as we watched for the school bus from the kitchen window. Every birthday I received a greeting card with a hanky enclosed from my aunts.I also recall my mother taking one of my hankies and placing my Sunday School offering (usually 25 – 50 cents) in the center and then folding the hanky over the change and tying it into a knot to hold the coins inside. I carried that to church. 🙂

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