Follow-up to my previous post about reading my mother-in-law’s Grandparent Book. See the post here.
I received comments on that post from some of you agreeing it was a good idea to write about your growing up years for the benefit of your offspring, but indicating you didn’t think your life was very interesting.
I shared my disappointment about these comments with my husband. I countered that just describing everyday life from many years ago would intrigue and interest next generations because everyday life has changed so much over the years. The world is a very different place than the one we knew as kids.
RC and I then had fun recalling memories of how things were when we were children in the 1950s. I think it will be obvious to you how these contrast with what children of today experience.
- Gasoline – 25 cents/gallon and an attendant would pump the gas for you while washing your windshield and checking your oil.
- Radio – only AM stations. If we were lucky, late at night we could sometimes pull in stations from far away. My favorite memory is being able to listen to WLS which was broadcast from Chicago (I lived in Austin, MN). Somewhere late in the 50s or early 60s transistor radios were all the rage. They were small and ran on batteries so could be carried in our pocket wherever we went.
- TV – access to only three network stations – ABC, NBC, CBS. In fact, we didn’t have a TV in my family until I was about 5 years old.
- Printed matter – manual typewriters. If we wanted multiple copies of a document we used carbon paper. Correcting a typo was risky business as we used a special eraser which would rip the paper if we rubbed too vigorously. (How exciting, the day erasable bond paper was developed!)
- Telephones – rotary-dial wall or desk phones. Long-distance calls were made by dialing 0 for the operator who assisted you; the calls were expensive and if you talked too long you could rack up quite a bill. Party lines were common so it was not unusual to pick up the receiver to make a call and find the line already in use. If you were out and about and needed to contact someone, you found a phone booth and paid a dime to make your call.
- Automobiles – no air-conditioning or seat belts. Car trips on hot summer days involved riding with all the windows down. Child car seats were either non-existent or some sort of contraption that just hung over the back of the seat. It was not unusual for small children to ride in the front seat of the car standing next to the driver. In the event of a quick stop, the driver would just throw their arm out to prevent the child from being thrown forward.
- Microwave ovens – didn’t exist.
- School – filmstrips and chalkboards. If teachers used a filmstrip to enhance learning, some sort of a beep would indicate when the filmstrip was to be advanced. As students we sometimes had the job of erasing the blackboard at the end of each school day…messy white chalk dust everywhere.
- Mail – letters written in longhand, and sent in an envelope via snail mail.
This is just a starter list of changes. If you decide to write down some memories for your children/nieces/nephews to read in the future, perhaps this list will jog your memory. You could likely elaborate on each of the points above. I’m quite sure even those of you in the generation after me could write about the many changes that have occurred in your lives.
It would be fun to expand the list above. If you can provide some memories or more detail for any of the points, I’d love your comments.