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When I Was a Kid... Page 5

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I grew up in the suburbs, but at that time, houses were not built in neat rows, close to each other - we had elbow room - 17 acres. I pity the kids growing up now in the subdivisions; they don't even know what a back yard should look like. Ours was huge - we played ball, made ice rinks, went sledding, played hide and seek among the Norway Pines, yes, those were the days - they may be gone, but not forgotten! We didn't know at the time how "good" we had it. - Sue

I remember my parents' cocktail parties in the-mid sixties. Either the moms brought their kids to our house, or we were brought to somebody else's. The parents talked and dance to Mitch Miller or Johnny Mathis (later Trini Lopez) while the kids played outside, running through yards and down the streets without a care. Even Gunsmoke couldn't keep us inside on a warm night. They were all, without exception, addressed as Mr. and Mrs. and in the absense of your own parents, had absolute authority. Back then, 'getting into trouble' was not a matter of post facto negotiation. In the days before the Mustang, the Impalla was the car you wanted your parents to have - if it couldn't be a T-Bird. Summers were baseball, swimming and logging miles on your bike. Most boys played sports, either organized or pickup. We secretly wanted to talk to the girls, but could only express our affection by cannon-balling them in the pool. Dark-room sessions and bottle spinning were rare and usually turned into laughing fits. We also had the first skateboards, when it was still called sidewalk surfing. "Dead Man's Curve" was the coolest song for boys and we'd sit around the record player listening to it with reverence, wondering when we'd get our first Stingray. It was pre-Vietnam, and World War II was still very much a part of our world. We all had army men and toy guns, read Sgt. Rock and Capt. Storm comics, watched Combat on TV, stood in line for the release of The Longest Day, knew how to do the Nazi salute or how to yell 'Geronimo' or 'banzai.' We thought America was so great that I was crushed to learn in school during the Cuban crisis that Russia was actually a bigger country than the US. But my only real regret, is that my children can't roam outdors with the same abandon that we did. -- James

Growing up the 50s and 60s was the best. I remember riding the streetcars in Washington, DC with my grandfather. I would stand in his lap and pull the string to ring the bell. Going downtown at Christmastime, not to shop, but to see all the wonderful Christmas windows at the department stores. Every Sunday after church was spent at my grandparents' home, with a large Sunday dinner with the entire family at the table. Blessings were always said before every meal. Red Oxfords for school, dresses always freshly freshed and a ribbon in my hair. Starting each and every school day saying The Pledge of Allegiance to the flag with our hand over our hearts. Using cigar boxes for our pencils, crayons, Elmer's paste and ruler. In elementary school, the large rectangular paper with green lines to help us form our letters, then the black and white composition books and later 3-ring binders. Bicycle rodeos, pet shows, talent contests, newspaper drives, milk for 2-cents, safety patrols and crossing guards, being able to leave school 15 minutes early if you rode your bike. Lincoln logs, Tiny Tears, Betsy Wetsy and Shirley Temple dolls. My dad not allowing me to have training wheels on my first two-wheeler because they were nothing more than a crutch. Building snowmen, snow igloos and sleigh riding in the winter. Raising baby birds that had fallen from their nests in the spring. Summer always brought family picnics, riding on the milk truck, the Good Humor Ice Cream Man, sometimes having to stay inside when they sprayed for insects, and a vacation at Atlantic City, how I loved the boardwalk, the Silver Pier, saltwater taffy, and Planters Peanuts. Rollerskating to "Tammy" at the roller rink. Annie Oakley, Wyatt Earp, The Millionare, Captain Kangeroo, Howdy Doodie, Popeye, Sky King, Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, The Little Rascals, The Real McCoys, Ozzie and Harriet, The Donna Reed Show & of course Leave It To Beaver. The simplicity, warmth of people, the innocence and what President Kennedy and Camelot brought to our nation are what I remember and miss the most. - Jeannie

Though I am from Canada, I feel that all of North America shared the same thoughts and feelings of that special time..........waiting with excitement until the last day of school when we would receive our report cards...the feeling that summers seemed to last forever...the warmth of the summer sun, not scorching as now but very pleasant...45 rpm records...everyone gathering at the favorite restaurant on Sundays and collecting money from everyone to play the juke box all afternoon, 3 or 4 plays for a quarter... fishing wherever you chose without contaminated species or a shortage of fish...neighbourhood baseball games with whoever happened along...getting your driver's license as soon as you reached the magic age of 16...going steady and having her wear your ring which was usually way too big...walking or biking where we wanted to go without constantly asking for rides.."Drive In" movies..."passion pit" where the cars were sometimes too numerous to count as soon as it turned dark...my musical group performing on the roof of a local hamburger place...respect for parents...no mention or worry of illicit drugs... the Ed Sullivan Show, Little House On The Prairie and Walt Disney on television. Thanx for the opportunity to do this as I'd give anything to take my children back there anytime! T.Stiles Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. - Terry Stiles

In the 60s I grew from 7 to 16, Melbourne, Australia. I remember dropping stuff off at the dump with my dad, and bringing a bigger load home. Then I'd build a better and faster billy-cart than the last one, and race it with my brothers till it fell apart. Then build another one. Walking 2 miles to school every day, in all weather. Riding my bike for hours at a time on weekends and sleeping like a baby every night. Catching tadpoles at the local swamp and running a production line in frogs. Church on Sunday followed by breakfast at grandmas, and the biggest, most succulent scones you'd ever eat. Never having to read the label on a food product or worry if it had been tampered with. Praying it would stop raining so we could go outside. Broken bones and bruises from falling out of trees, falling off you bike or just running into things. I think we invented the phrase 'No Fear.' - Brian Powell

I remember going to the butcher shop with my mom and there was sawdust on the floor. I remember going to the drugstore for a five-cent vanilla Coke and sharing a twenty-five cent plate of french fries with friends. For twenty-five cents we got a huge platter of fries. I remember Chum Gum, silver Christmas Trees with color light wheels, wearing snow boots, ice skating and the smell of the cardboard floor in the warming house and frost on the windows. We went to church every Sunday and my mom made a pot roast every Sunday with mashed potatoes and carrots. Every night of the week we sat at the table and ate dinner together. It never crossed our minds to eat dinner any other way. I remember feeling safe knowing my mother was at home no matter where I was. At school, playing with friends...it didn't matter. She was there for us kids. I remember my dates having to come into the house to meet my Dad and having a conversation with him. They had to tell Dad where we were going and Dad would tell my date when to have me home. If Dad didn't like the boy I wasn't allowed to go out on the date. Lucky for me.....Dad liked the boys I dated! - Ellie

We only had four rooms in our grade school and no cafeteria. Second & third grades shared a room and a teacher. So did grades 5 & 6. We were all sent home for lunch each day. When teacher sent you to the cloak room, you knew you were going to get a swat. Penny licorice whips were so long you could jump rope with them on the way back from the store. (Yes, we ate them after.) - Sonny

1956 Presidential election had us Fourth Graders root'n for Ike! We had heard Adlai Stevenson wanted us to go to school SIX days a week! Yummies... Black Licorice "wheels" with the candy "dot" in the middle. Wax tubes with the juice inside. Cocoanut "Watermellon Slices." Sing'n "Whistle while you work, Hitler is a jerk...." Walking home from school with notes pinned to your shirt. Us guys realizing there is a REAL difference between boys 'n girls, watching Annette on MMC! Go to the movies and stay as long as you wanted! Never worried about being "confronted" on the way home. The "Stand By Me" days offered a good time to gradually grow...then came the "Middle Sixties," "Times, They Are Achange'n" (Dylan)- Ronbo - Ron Toussaint

In the fifties, I would watch American Bandstand every day after school. I remember Justine and Bob, and Carmen and her younger sister, Yvette. My favorite song was "Sea Cruise" and my favorite dance was the stroll, although my six-year old feet could never quite master the steps. My friends and I watched the kids closely for tips on how to be a teenager so that we'd be ready when our time came. - Dara

My Dad was a Chevrolet dealer and I had been given a 'demo' to drive while in high school. A new maroon '66 Chevelle, with a 4-speed. But what was REALLY cool was the 'reverb' unit attached to the AM radio. It gave the music a 'big' sound like nothing else. I can remember as many as four of my friends in the back seat listening to the echo created by that little add-on. We would drive to the Louisville, KY area on Sunday afternoons to enjoy a White Castle treat and to take a lap around the local Jerry's Drive In. Some of the guys from there would notice we were from out of state and took great pleasure in 'running' us back to where we belonged, Indiana. It was all harmless fun, though, and no gang-type shootings ever took place. - Jim Smith

Our big black and white TV with the small screen. If you touched the corner of the cabinet you could get a nasty shock. From the Mickey Mouse Club to Laugh-In, it was all gentle entertainment compared to today. Do you remember going to the drive-in in you pajamas? I remember talking my mom into "Have Gun Will Travel" pj's even though I am a girl. Girl/Boy roles were really well defined back then. There were "girl" toys, like Chatty Cathy, kitchen sets (just like mom's), nurse kits, jacks, Wishniks, and even girly board games like "Mystery Date." Boys had Tonka trucks, tops, marbles, matchbox cars and slot racing sets. Unisex clothing had not been invented yet. There were categories of clothes: play clothes that you could get dirty in, school clothes and dress-up or church clothes. For school, boys had crew cuts and wore their shirts tucked in, and girls wore dresses (with shorts underneath so you could play on the jungle jim) with bobby socks and your new "school shoes" which were bought each Fall. You weren't really dressed for church on Sunday unless you had your little white gloves and your hat and purse. The shoes and purse must match, of course, and white shoes were only permissible from Easter to Labor Day. Later, I remember the skirt length wars, and my dad saying "You couldn't possibly bend over in that, young lady!" I also remember he vetoed my groovy leather headband. I wasn't going to school looking like one of those hippies! I thought it would be better than Dippity Do and scotch tape for keeping my bangs flat! Some sounds really take me back...the screen door slamming, the ice cream truck, sheets flapping in the breeze on the clothesline. Though the times, they were a-changin', it was a very secure and warm time to be a kid. It's a shame my children didn't get to roam for MILES trick-or-treating and have the freedom and security we had. - Janis

I remember playing outside all day, and our parents never worrying about us being "kidnapped" or worse. Any adult in the neighborhood could discipline any kid, and you would NEVER say "You can't tell me what to do." They could, and did, and you would probably get it again from your parents when they found out. I remember playing in the creek behind the house, catching minnows, and trying to cross by jumping from rock to rock, without getting your PF Flyers wet. We lived in the country, no movies or playgrounds to walk to, so we made our own fun. Hide-and-seek, red light-green light, mother may I?, hopscotch, and never ending games of kickball. It took over an hour to walk to the nearest store, but we did it many Saturdays to get bags of penny candy, and no one was concerned about us "getting lost" or being hurt. It was a safe, secure world, and I am so glad to have grown up then. - Leanne W.

As an AF brat growing up in the fifties in Texas, Milwaukee, and Albuquerque I got a mixture of an American youth experience. I remember: Drawing on the TV screen to help Winkie Dink out of a jam. Squeezing the margarine packets to spread the yellow dye into them, so they didn't unfairly compete with the butter companies. Viewing your feet using the in-store Buster Brown X-ray machine. Reading the Buster Brown comics and loving the phrase "pluck your magic twanger froggy." Wearing my prized ratty "Fess Parker" Davy Crockett coonskin cap, and toting my Red Rider & Lil' Beaver BB gun. Also buckling on my matching pair of Hopolong Cassidy pearl handled six-guns. Listening quietly in my folks bedroom, to my favorite radio shows before TV became available. To segments like Lone Ranger, Sergeant Preston of the Royal Mounted Police, The Shadow, and Amos and Andy. My favorite TV show was Howdy Doody & Buffalo Bob, with lovable Clarabelle, Dilly Dally, Flub-a-dub, Mr. Cratchet, Summer Fall Winter Spring, and Howdy's twin, Double Doody. Heckle and Jeckle cartoons, and Flash Gordon serials at the theaters. Almost no movie ever started without a newsreel and a "Looney Toones" cartoon. Going to drive-ins movies where the folks kicked you out of the car, and the kids laid out on sleeping bags in the front, and played "footsie." Summer revolved around jaunts to swimming holes or swimming pools on our fat tire Schwinns. Running after tar spreading trucks and chewing the chunks of hot tar like gum, and getting spanked for having my clothes ruined. Walking fast in Texas to cross the street, so my calloused bare feet didn't burned on the pavement. Mom would blow her police whistle so the kids would come inside at dusk. Wearing one outfit only, of faded blue jeans, white tee shirts, and high top Keds. Older girls wearing multiple layers of stiff crinolines, poodle skirts, peddle pushers and black and white saddle shoes. Awakening sexual awareness in Milwaukee basements, with dim lights and slow dancing to Johnny Mathis records. Carhops with short skirts arriving on roller skates at the burger joints to take your order. The mini juke boxes on each table in the soda fountains and hamburger joints. Tearing apart your roller skates so you could make your own skateboard. Staying up all night with the other sidewalk surfers. All the neighborhood getting annoyed at the sound of your steel wheels rumbling by at all hours of the night. Double bubble gum, Pez, jawbreakers, spud guns, slingshots, marbles, fighting tops, yo-yos, two wheel scooters, and kazoos. Boy those where the days, oh to be a kid again in the 1950's and 60's in America! -Tom S.

I remember when it was a big deal that a television program was broadcast in color. All the kids would talk about it as if it were a big event. There was one kid on my block whose family had a color TV set. When he invited me over, I was fascinated by how brilliant the color was. I remember when I was first introduced to a microwave oven. Our high school had a some kind of fair (perhaps technology?) and a young woman would demonstrate how cheese on crackers could be melted in seconds! I was amazed. After that, I would make cracker and melted cheese snacks in our regular oven. I also remember making cakes and home-made candy just for fun (because we only had two channels on TV). I remember running errands for my mom on Saturday morning. My uncle used to work at a job delivering magazines and comic books. In anticipation of summer, he would send my mom a big stack of comic books that he was able to get free from work. We spent a lot time reading comic books. When we were done, we would trade them in at the second-hand store; the proprieter took two used comics and gave us a "fresh" used one in return. That deal kept us in comic books all summer. - Liz

I remember going to downtown Columbus, Ohio with my mom and sister. Dad would take us to the local strip shopping center (in the days before the mall) and we would catch the bus (fare was $.25). Mom would go to Lazarus to pay the charge card bill, and then to Woolworth's, or Kresgee's dime store lunch counter. Wow what a treat! Then back on the bus. Mom could make paying that bill last for two or three hours. - J. York

We didn't get a t.v. until I was about 8. The first show I ever watched was Hopalong Cassidy. We used to play outside, even when it was a little dark..played hide and go seek and something about the Ghosts Are Out..loved looking at the stars; the Milky Way was so clear. I loved Davy Crockett and the Mickey Mouse Club. Later I always watched American Bandstand. I loved Ricky Nelson; I had a huge poster of him on the wall that I kissed goodnight everynight. John F Kennedy became my hero. And the Mercury Seven astronauts. I had a picture of them from the cover of Look magazine on my wall. I loved the Beach Boys, slow dancing to Sufer Girl was heaven. Like every one in my town, I was watching the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. Wonderful, seemingly carefree times. When President Kennedy was killed, everything changed for me. I never saw the world quite the same. But for a while, those were indeed, the most special of times. - Judee Kennedy Borm

1948 - Remembrances
A tiny crib
A special day
Candy canes and ornaments
Kerosene stoves, no hot water
Going to the store
With only a quarter
Cracks in sidewalks
Stick-ball
One, two, three
HOME-RUN, that was fun
Street-sweepers
Pushing garbage cans
Corn broom in hands
Fire hydrants, water showers
Playing on the ivory towers
Trolley cars, would take us far

Truman, and "I like Ike"
Soldiers coming home
Another war ended
Andrea Doria as she descended
Satellites flying by
Gazing to the night time sky
Airlifts, barbed wire fence
To a kid made little sense
The library in the park
Boy's Club walks after dark
Black habits and rulers
Hiding under desks
Sirens wailing Bomb shelters hailing
Frightened children
As walls go up
Alan Shepard, Tanks in Prague
U-2 planes . . .
this long ago fogy
- Thom

I remember building our own scooters. We would find a 2x4 and an empty wooden soda box. Then nail the box to the 2x4. Get some old roller skates, take off the wheels, and put 2 wheels on the front and 2 on the back. Then make some wooden handles, paint it, and voila, our own scooter. - Mike from Brooklyn, New York

I remember Sunday mornings eating jelly doughnuts and reading the funny papers while my Italian mom was in the kitchen already making a big pot of 'gravy' and meatballs. I watched Ed Sullivan just to see his two minute act with Topo Gigo, the mouse. How about the horrible powder blue gym suit with the bloomer bottoms that bagged out on skinny legs. I remember the trucks with the rides; tilt-a-whirl and ferris wheel, that would come down the streets in Newark, NJ. They had perforated steel cages around the bottom and all of the kids would run in the house and beg their parents for a ride. We made 'love' beads from dried apple seeds and wore hip huggers, fishnets, and white go-go boots. We set our hair with orange juice can rollers and then teased the heck out of it. Our hair dryer had a plastic cap that attached to a hose and finally we got one with the hood! We were moving up! I loved the cardboard Barbie dream house and my knitting machine. Being sent to your room WAS punishment...there was no TV, telephone, or loads of electronics in them. Thank-you all for bringing me back if just for a while....I loved the carefree feeling of that time. - Jennie

I remember the Helm's Bakery truck driving up and down the streets in Southern California. It looked like an old "woody" wagon. The back doors opened wide and the Helm's man would pull out millions of wooden drawers to reveal fresh baked breads, donuts and cookies. The best part was the Bazooka gum in different flavors (I remember orange the best). The old Helm's Bakery in Los Angeles with the "castle" design was turned into an antique warehouse in the 70's. Also in Southern California there were local children's shows like The Sheriff John show that came on at lunch time. I would always eat my lunch watching it Then, there was Engineer Bill (red light, green light), Chucko the Clown, Jimmy Weldon and Felix the Cat (after school cartoons), Skipper Frank (Bugs Bunny cartoons), and Tom Hatten, who looked exactly like Popeye (Popeye the Sailor cartoons). Of course, there were all the other shows like Ding, Dong School House, Bozo the Clown (with local versions), Romper Room, Sky King (remember Penny?), My Friend Flicka, Howdy Doody, Mighty Mouse Theater, Buck Rogers, Captain Kangaroo, Mr. Wizard, Shari Lewis & Lamb Chop, Hopalong Cassidy, Gumby Show, Wonderama, Mickey Mouse Club, Fury, Annie Oakley, Rin-Tin-Tin, Pinky Lee Show, Lone Ranger, Superman, Highway Patrol, Little Rascals, Lassie, Kukla Fran & Ollie, Heckle & Jeckle, and soooo many more! It was a "golden age" to have grown-up as a child of the 50's. It makes me long for a simpler time. No wonder all of us BB's want to revisit our past by buying anything of the 50's nostalgic period. It was a unique time in history and I, for one, am so very proud to be associated with this time. I still remember the old Studebaker sedan we had and when my sister was born. Ah, those were the days! - Maire

The Sears Christmas Catalogue came in the mail every September, and it was always a fight to see who got to look at it first! There wasn't a Wal-Mart in every town and the only way to get the toys you'd seen advertised on the Saturday morning cartoons was through the Sears, Penneys or Montgomery Wards toy catalogues. We had great toys in the sixties thanks to Mattel and Kenner ... things like Kenner's Build-a-Home-and-Subdivision sets with lots of small parts. How about Mattel ("You can tell it's Mattel: It's swell!") Vac-u-Forms, Creepy Crawlers and Thing Makers and Easy-Bake Ovens with pieces that actually heated up to the point that they melted things. How about Playsets and Dollhouses made of tin-litho with accessories pieces of solid molded plastic. No one worried about kids getting hurt with the stuff they played with and if they did, slap a band-aid on 'em, give 'em a glass of Kool-Aid and let 'em keep playing! - Bill Young

My best friend and I on the rides at Seaside Heights. Listening to Petula Clark and Little Eva and seeing the Beatles for the first time. And I remember my mom teaching us to drive our old Mercury. She taught us in a cemetary--she didn't think we could hurt anything there! - ellie

Growing up in the city of Alhambra in Southern California was like a page out of Leave it to Beaver. As a young teenager I remember ever guy had to have a 10 speed bicycle along with a Pendleton shirt. The California surfing styles had come into view. And every kid wanted to be a surfer. Few of us had boards I was one of the lucky one who did. Working all summer delivering newspapers and at the end of the summer buying this used board for $30. As we grow older all we could think about was being 16 and getting our drivers license along with a car. I remember I got my first car a year before I had my license. It was my mothers old 1950 Plymouth that I payed $50 for. The next year went into fixing it up. I had a job at a near by bicycle shop and just about everything I made went into that car. Yes this was a great time. Only bad part was having to worry about being drafted - Ron Lund

Oh how I love somebody mentioned Euclid Beach, which we all loved. Our parents loved it as much 'cause they actually went swimming in their day. And Big Boys. Manners Big Boy had the best special sauce of all the Big Boys. But things other people have mentioned like Winky Dink, and Kent State, fireflies, and the smell of burning leaves, are such fond memories. Does anybody remember Mawbys? The best hamburger and fries ever!!!!! And of course Royal Castle. The old Indians Stadium where you could pick your seat, cause there was hardly anybody there. LOL. How about madrais shirts, Home Run Derby..... right on your own street, in the middle of winter. In Shaker Hts they had ice skating on the corner of some streets where they dug a hole and filled it with water. Going downtown on the Rapid Transit, and going to Jean's Fun House. Remember the toy chests in some of the restaurants? Mallow Bars! Cain Park, where in the summer we played baseball, or board games, in the winter we sled to our heart's content. I loved growing up back then, and have so many memories of a wonderful time with family and friends. - Ken

I grew up in Queens New York in the 1960's. My family would spend the summers at a bungalow colony in "the county" (that's the Catskill Mountains in upper NY state). At the bungalow colony they had a day camp, and each day would start with the Pledge of Allegiance at the flag pole. I remember once all the camp counselors (who seemed sooo very old at 14-16) all ran back to their bungalows to get their radio WMCA Good Guy Radio T-shirts. I remember Good-and-Plenty costing a dime, and I had a radio active dime from the NY Worlds Fair! I had a yucky plaid lunchbox, which I kinda wish I had now. I remember Rat Finks, hoola hoops, monster magnets, (followed by monster bubbles) Kukla Fran and Ollie, Crusader Rabbit, Winky Dink (and YOU), going to The Village with my parents to "look at hippies," and when PF Flyers really did make you run faster and jump higher! - Patti

I remember buying a bag of potato chips for $.05 on the way to Jr. High school. The potato chips came in a brown sandwich bag folded down with five individual $.01 bags inside. You really thought you were getting a lot of chips. - Alberta C. Wilson


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