Posts Tagged ‘fifties’

Mom used to sit in the window, even if I was outside all day, and watch me. I knew I was under her watchful eye and I was used to it.  But, I was also sure, that she was convinced that someone was going to kidnap me.  Hence, she was on alert. There had been Romany’s camped at the edge of their property occasionally, when she was a girl.  They came to her mother and purchased chickens and even paid mom’s little sisters to sing and dance for them. 


Now, from what I have read, in the fifties, when I was little, most people felt safe and secure, except from nuclear fall-out.  They still seemed to have some faith in their fellow Americans, but not my family.  Dad’s credo was, “If it happened once to someone, somewhere in the world, it will happen to us.”  This led to a lot of fear of—well, of everything.


For this reason, it became a joke between my brother and I that we had actually been stolen from a Romany camp.  The reason mom watched out the window was her fear that they would come and take us back one day.  After all, we did seem to have different politics from our parents, and neither of us seemed to have much of the Obsessive Compulsive gene.  But, we certainly inherited their “not so good” health genes.


I am sure mom agreed that I did not belong to her when I went through my “late hippy” period. 


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I grew up in the fifties/sixties. You know, the generation that went from Leave it To Beaver and mother’s vacuuming in high heels and pearls to new mommas and poppas singing and getting high and vacuuming well, without high heels. Not in my family, mind you, but it was the era.


Other than growing up with a fear of nuclear fallout from the bomb, it was a pretty good time to grow up in. I do remember those “duck and cover” drills and, even at that time wondering how the heck this little two by three foot square of wood, above my head, was going to protect me from radiation poisoning. But, we had hot cars and gym dances and Dr. Ben Casey collar shirts; and we had rules. My home sure did.


It was a time when children did not scream in stores. We were rarely spanked, but they did get the point across that manners prevailed. Oh, and no one knew that you should not ride your bicycle in the mist from the mosquito spray truck (and they wonder why there is such a high rate of cancer).


Unfortunately, this was also a time when you were not encouraged to think for yourself, at least in my family. We did as we were told (which is not always a bad thing-just when you are not allowed to think for yourself!) and you did not keep secrets from your parents. YEAH, RIGHT!!! They actually believed that one.


No, seriously, THEY did believe it. That’s the joke.


Anyway, we had rules, in addition to the above, in our own family too.


Dad’s ancestors were from Norway, but he thought he was from Holland. He had been a Military Policeman, guarding German prisoners after the war and they told him his name was Dutch. I think his parents had believed their ancestors came from Holland too. They were fairly poor and very frugal. Hence, when paper plates came out, they bought one package and washed them out after each use. Thereby, negating any benefit from buying paper plates. I remember grandma having a clothesline of paper plates in her kitchen. They saved everything and it took four of us, working day and night, to get dad’s basement cleaned out for his retirement move to Arkansas.  Oh, how he fretted about his lost treasures.


He was also a worrier. He had, what we liked to call, his “Picnic headache.” Just mention a picnic and dad would get this violent headache, like no one else ever had. He really had a headache, just from the stress of being forced to go on a picnic. Mention a trip to Chicago and his appendix would probably burst, even though we only lived thirty miles away. It also carried over to the news. If someone was robbed by an elephant in a grass skirt, dad just knew he was next on the elephants list. If someone was trampled by a snake, we would be too.  And, everyone was out to get him. Everyone! Politicians and lawyers were all crooks, rich people were all greedy, and college graduates were stupid. Dad was a bit of a bigot, but he was equal opportunity and bigoted against just about everyone.


So rules in our house included: lock all doors and if it doesn’t have a lock, put one on (or three was even better), close all blinds because “they” were watching you, do not put your feet on the couch without a newspaper under them (this was socked or not socked). We never went bare foot, as feet were frowned upon. We were also not allowed to pass gas. I was never successful at this as I ran from the room. I did much better at covering up the fact that I was blowing my nose, when I was, in fact, blowing my nose. I did NOT sweat.  Ladies do not sweat.  I was truly pleased as an adult to learn how good exercise felt. And, no, I did not ride a bike following the the mosquito spray truck.

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