Growing up 50’s

If I had to characterize it, I would say I had a generally pleasant and carefree childhood.  My parents were loving and kept us well supplied with  Cocoa Puffs and bologna sandwiches. We had shoes on our feet and hats on our heads. (I tried it the other way around but the Red Goose oxfords kept falling off my ears.  Besides, as the Red Goose Shoes commercial kept telling us, wearing them was “half the fun of having feet”.  I never found out what the other half was.)  And if Johnny Swaboda stole my lunch from me at fist-point every once in a while, well, that was just the cost of growing up dweeb.

My parents were liberal-minded on child-rearing, not inclined to hem us in too much, but there were a couple of requirements that were iron-clad.  One, applying to our family only, was that we were not allowed to play hopscotch.  This may seem strange now, but they were just following the wisdom of the times.  You see, we lived in a glass house, and people who live in glass houses . . .. I think you can see their point.

Image result for public domain image hopscotch

The other restriction that sticks in my memory was this: we were not allowed to cross the street until an adult told us it was okay. The street I grew up on was actually pretty quiet–cars passed at the rate of about one every two centuries– but none of the kids would dare cross it without some adult saying okay.  It didn’t have to be your own parent; an aunt, the next door neighbor, even Johnny Swaboda’s mom could give permission. But  regardless of the weather or time of day, permission from some adult was absolutely necessary, and none of the children in the neighborhood dared think otherwise.

In order to attract the necessary adult attention, a child would stand by the curb, screaming in a sing-song voice, “I wanna go across!   I wah-na gooooo acraw wawss,” over and over again until someone’s mother came to the door and said okay.  At certain times, all up and down the street, you could hear the echos of children singing “I wanna go across”, sounding like plaintive Alpine mountain climbers melodically saluting each other from one peak to the next.

Image result for public domain images suburb street

Sometimes the response came quickly, sometimes you had to wait for what seemed like an eternity.  If channel three happened to be airing “Queen for a Day” at the time you were crying out for permission, you were almost guaranteed to wet your pants on the wrong side of the street.

I know it seems odd from today’s perspective, but such was American suburban life in the 50’s. Oh those halcyon days!



4 thoughts on “Growing up 50’s

  1. We lived in a quiet neighborhood in the burbs of Tulsa, OK. The only time I know of the streets being busy was after the school system put in baseball diamonds in the field 50 yards from our house. On game nights we weren’t even allowed out of the house. Not that we wanted to as dad sat in a lawn chair yelling at passerbys to get off the lawn. Nevertheless, we were not allowed to cross the street at all until I was 11 years old. Then we could ride our bikes around one block as long as mom or dad were available to time us. I don’t remember how long we were allowed, but it didn’t allow for any stops along the way. At 14 it was 2 blocks, then, at 15, we could go anywhere within the neighborhood. My first job, aside from newspaper delivery, was as a dishwasher at a small mom and pop restaurant that happened to be on the edge of the neighborhood.
    You got Cocoa Puffs?? We got oatmeal sweetened(?) with saccharin. Occasionally we would get Wheaties. I did get to look forward to pickle loaf lunchmeat sandwich in my Hogan’s Heroes lunchbox once I reached junior high. I guess they call it middle school now. Before that we had to prove we were responsible by bringing home our paper sacks and plastic wrap home each day for reuse. Those were the peanut butter and jelly years.
    Oh, and our “Nikes” were called PF Flyers, made by BF Goodrich. With them we just knew we could “run faster and jump higher” than with any other shoe. We only got them one time though. The rest of the time we wore $1 specials.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for all this Dennis. Kind of fun to have these memories return. Keep in mind that anything I say on these pages may not be true; usually based on truth, but with word choice, and some facts, thrown in to hopefully make it funnier.


    • Interesting observation. Everywhere we increasingly rely on devices to train, raise, entertain and educate our children. And U.
      S. educational performance continues to sink.


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