Monday, August 3, 2009

It Was a Different World ....

On the right is a photo of my beloved GRANDMOTHER .... (she did not care to be called Grandma!) The year is 1967, she's holding our six month old son.

Grandmother in her old green
rocker in the living room of her
apartment. She owned the apartment
house from 1924 until her death in 1974.

While driving home from my daughter's home (after taking care of my granddaughter while Momma went to the doctor) I got to thinking about all the 'new' things/technical gadgets that my children and grandchildren take for granted. As I wandered down memory lane I had to marvel about my elderly grandmother. I lived with her between 1949 to 1955. She was totally blind by the time I was born, today she would have most likely been diagnosed with glaucoma. She started losing her sight around the time my mother was born. (1921) She was 91 years old when she died in 1974.

Can you imagine all of things that she was 'witness' to in her life time? She was born in 1883 in the same house as her mother in Gateway, Arkansas. She had traveled across Arkansas and Missouri in a covered wagon. She had been widowed twice, she had three children. She owned a two story 'apartment' house during the Depression. There were four apartments, she lived downstairs on the right side. She died in that same apartment one April morning after having breakfast. She told my aunt she was tired and thought she would 'rest a bit.' She lived to 'see' me married and know my two children. For that I am truly thankful. She lived to hear about man walking on the moon ... and she didn't even entertain the thought that it was a 'phony Hollywood stunt'.

1946 the start of the baby boom

Average Cost of new house $5,600.00
Cost of a gallon of Gas 15 cents
Average Cost of a new car $1,120.00
Worlds First Electric Blanket $39.50

I was born in 1946; my parents divorced in 1950 when I was three years old. My mother moved into an upstairs apartment in my grandmother's house. I lived with my grandmother from the age of 3 until my mother remarried in 1955. When I was around 5 years old I have a vivid memory of milk being delivered to the backdoor by a milk 'lady' who had a wagon drawn by a horse. She would drive along the alleys behind our houses, the same alleys that allowed one to drive their cars into the detached garages. I worried myself sick wondering about that poor horse when she turned up one day with a milk 'truck' ... I was finally told the horse had been retired to a pasture and was doing fine. I still harbored thoughts that the horse had gone to the 'glue factory' ... thanks to a neighborhood bully!! "Zoe" would holler "Hammers" (my grandmother's last name) as she placed two bottles of whole milk inside the back door.

Bucky Covington (from American Idol) recorded a song two years ago entitled "A Different World" ... it, too, reminded me of all the changes that I've seen since I was born in 1946. The song begins with "We were born to mothers who smoked and drank; Our cribs were covered in lead-based paint; No childproof lids; No seat belts in cars; Rode bikes with no helmets and still here we are." All those things are quite true.

No bottled water ... We'd drink from a garden hose ... And every Sunday, all the stores were closed.

School always started with the pledge of allegiance, and there was prayer.
The school year started AFTER Labor Day and ended before Memorial Day. We had a week off usually at Christmas, there was no Spring Break.

I didn't go to kindergarten and YES I did walk to school (about three blocks) I can still see my first grade teacher ... and feel her ruler as she popped by knuckles for talking!!

This is my dad standing next to a 'Cream Green' 1948 Oldsmobile, my 'older' brother remembers many a trip from Joplin (Missouri) to Kansas City in this car. I was only two years old. The cost of a gallon of gas was 16 cents in 1948. In 1957 a gallon of gasoline cost 24 cents. In 1965 gas was .18 to .21 per gallon. Today (depending on where you go) regular unleaded is 'around' $2.40 a gallon.

We used a 'wash board' at my grandmother's place. There were wringer washing machines in the 50s and more than once fingers got caught in that wringer, too. My mother didn't get a washing machine until 1957 when she had my sister. A few years later my grandmother bought us a dishwasher ... you had to roll it over to the sink, hook the hoses up to the faucet and then you could not use the sink/water faucets for an hour.

My mother had one of the first black and white televisions in Joplin, Missouri.
It got three stations, actually 2 1/2 as one was so 'snowy' it was
difficult to pick up. There was no remote control, had to get up
and change that channel. I remember an our black kitty pouncing
on the small screen when she saw a 'stick mouse' run across the screen.
That was also my first introduction to classical music ... those black and white
cartoons were beautifully orchestrated.My grandmother was so excited when the old phone on the wall was replaced with one like this on the right. We were on a party line, she counted the numbers off with her fingers in the rotary dial when calling her 'bird' friends. She raised singing Canaries as well as keeping African Violets. I remember her telephone number! MA4 (Mayfair) 9864 ... WOW

I would walk to Bailey's Grocery for my grandmother. The store was only two blocks over, but I had to walk past the Dudley's house. They had a huge German Shepherd; I didn't have any pets, so one day I slipped my hand through the fence to pet it ... I have a scar today on my right hand where the dog took a chunk out of it. (I was 5 ... yes, walking to the store at 5 years old!) It wasn't until my daughter adopted her sweet German Shepherd, Dandy, that I overcame my fear of large dogs. Mr. Bailey lived across from my grandmother. He knew that Grandmother was very frugal and not given to having 'treats' about the house. When I would start back home with the groceries, Mr. Bailey would instruct me to pick a piece of candy out of one of the glass containers marked "Penny Candy."

I walked about 8-10 blocks (by myself) on Saturdays to see the matinee at the one and only movie theater; the ticket was only 50 cents ... there was always a continuing serial and two cartoons before the movie. I got popcorn and a coke for another 50 cents. I saw my first 3-D movie in Joplin, using money that a 'boyfriend' of my mother's had given me to leave the house.

Minimum Hourly Rate $1.00
Average Cost of a new car $1,900.00;
Cost of a gallon of Gas 23 cents

Ladies Swim Suits $12.95;
Black and White TV $99.95There was no air conditioning; children were made to come in each afternoon
in the summer because of the Polio scare. We would lay on a 'pallet' (of blankets) in front of an oscillating fan.

My folks bought a brand new house in 1957 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We had 3 bedrooms, one bath, single car garage ... it was about 1,050 sq. ft. and cost a whopping $11,000. We thought we were living in 'high cotton.' We had an attic fan to keep us cool. More than once my brother and I would lie in the front yard and watch tornado funnels form and move across the skies. At other times we would help fill sandbags to help prevent the Arkansas River from flooding over it's banks.

In 1957 a loaf of bread cost 19 cents ... it's anywhere from $1.09 - 3.29 today. A gallon of milk was 80 cents in 1957, today it can cost $3.39 to $4.00 a gallon. The neighborhood grocery store had a delivery boy, who brought your groceries to your door. It was quite common to run a 'tab' at the store.

No 'instant' foods ... very few 'fast food' places ... TV dinners were starting to show up in the freezer department of the grocery stores. Of course, obesity wasn't the epidemic it is today, either.

Average Cost of new house $12,220.00; Average Yearly Wages $4.550.00 ; Cost of a gallon of Gas 24 cents; Bacon per pound 60 cents; Eggs per dozen
28 cents

HI FI Portable Record Player $79.95

First Class Stamp in 1946 was 3 cents. In 1965 the cost was 5 cents. In 1969 it was
6 cents. In 2000 the cost of a First Class Stamp was 33 cents
and today's it's 44 cents.

No CDs, I-pods or MP3 gadgets ... in the 1950s-60s we played our 45 RPM records on record players that you had to place the needle in the right groove.

I was never a big fan of the Beatles ... I loved Neil Diamond, the Eagles and Simon and Garfunkel.

I was sitting in 4th hour Algebra (it was my Senior year of high school) when our principal announced that JFK had been assassinated. I rode the bus home, no one was talking. We just sat there in stunned silence.

The image of young John-John saluting his father's casket as it passed before him is forever in my memories of the 1960s.

We watched Nixon lose a debate to Kennedy and then in despair over four days, watched Kennedy assassinated and buried.

The Duck and I went to the same high school, he was 2 years ahead of me. While we knew each other, we never dated in high school. We had our 'first' official date during my Christmas break from the University of Oklahoma in 1964. He proposed the week before Valentine's Day and we were married in 1965. We'll be celebrating our 44th anniversary on the 6th of August. The Duck had a 1960 white Chevy Impala, similar to this one ... NO AIR CONDITIONER IN AUGUST IN OKLAHOMA. We honeymooned in HOT Springs, Arkansas, thankfully the motel room had air conditioning. The Duck's mother gave him a $50 bill for us to enjoy a special dinner together. We had steaks with all the trimmings, wine AND money left over.

Average Income per year $6,450.00; Gas per Gallon 31 cents
Average Cost of a new car $2,650.00 Loaf of bread 21 cents
Average Rent per month $118,00.

The Duck and I rented a two bedroom apartment in 1965, if memory serves the rent was $85 a month. We used a gift of $50 to buy a used chair and sofa ... unfortunately they did NOT look anything like the photo on the right!! Ha!

The Duck worked full-time while finishing his senior year at Tulsa University majoring in Chemical Engineering. I was the youngest 'ward clerk' Hillcrest Hospital ever hired and made minimum wages working full-time.

We had moved to Texas when I was 3 months pregnant with our first child. The Duck had graduated and started a job at Shell Chemical Company ... being 3 months kept him from being drafted during the Vietnam War.

In 1969, our 'favorite daughter' ... okay, okay, our only daughter and youngest child was born. We bought our first new home in 1968. It was 1,300 sq. ft. and had three bedroom, 1 1/2 baths ... the washer and dryer were out in the garage.

The Duck and I were never a part of the 60s scene ... we laugh about it even now. We married young, had our family when we were quite young ... and trying to be 'flower children' and march in Peace rallies wasn't something we wanted to do. And for better or worse, we were adult children of alcoholic parents ... thus we were 'serious and responsible' young adults ... or so we thought.

So, it WAS indeed a different world 'back then' ... we didn't have video games or satellite, there were no cell phones ... no computers ... no microwave ovens ... we listened to radio, followed the 'soaps' even then. We read! We sat outside and visited with neighbors. We played board games. We didn't lock our doors. We played outside, sometimes playing ball in the streets until we were called inside for dinner.

We didn't have seat belts ... No one wore helmets on motorcycles or bicycles ... our parents drank and smoked ... and yet we're still here!

Ah, yes, it was a different world back then. Many will say "Those Were The Good Ole Days" and in some ways I would have to agree ... it appeared to be a kinder and more gentle period of time. We may not have had all the technical advantages or comfort measures that we have today ... I have some wonderful memories and miss my grandmother so very much ... but for me it's the here and now ... this time in my life are my 'good ole days'. Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart!

1 comment:

Bz said...

Yes, different world, it was.
As with other personal post you've done, I learn more about you. I like that part. It grows my appreciation.
Love you.