I looked and looked for an “Old Fart”  with no luck, then I walked past a mirror and as Tweety Bird would say ” I FOUND ONE, I DID, I DID.  Problem here it was me.  OH DEAR, OH DEAR.

So now that I found you let’s answer Thom Hartman’s query of the other night.  What was it like growing up in the 50’s and 60’s?

Raised up in a middle class family whose dad tried to live like the rich , I had it made.  Communities were a lot different in the early 50’s , kids played outside with little or no supervision, games like baseball, football, basketball, horseshoes and many other child hood games of the time.  The neighbourhood after dark hang out was the concrete in front of the hardware store and our favourite game was crack the whip of roller skates.  Gee they had nice large glass windows , that every once in awhile we would whip someone thru one of them.  They never seemed to pay any attention to it just replaced it and keep quiet about it.  The ball games were often played on my side lawn where on occasion we would knock one thru “Ole Lady Bark’s window, and some shingles too.  Always replace by my dad who was in the building business.  Once in awhile she would call the cops and they would come and give us a stern lecture and then give us our ball back and say “Play Ball.  Our favorite summer time adventures were to buy a pound of bologna and a pack of Lucky  Strike cigarettes and hike many miles through the woods to our favourite swimming hole. The family started spending summers in a rented place on the water and I fished and fished.  At eleven my father after I proved to him I could swim allowed me solo to take our 26 foot boat to the mouth of the river (no further) and to fish and crab.  Boy did I think I was king shit.

This neighborhood was in the suburbs of Baltimore and at the time considered country.  All the stores were locally owned and their were no malls.  To get to the big stores which were in the center of the city we would catch a bus  which would take us to the trolley  line and we would buy a ticket to go to the stores down town.  You could ride all day all over the city for .15.  Movies cost a quarter. A weekly Saturday adventure because you didn’t want to miss the serial that ran for weeks and weeks.  This was all done without adult supervision, something unbelievable today, I’m told.

After this (about 1950)  or so we moved to a more city like place where during the school year things became pretty much like they are today.  We lived in a row house with 50 zillion others , no play areas , no outside play , Tv was coming into being and in those day you could get a job at 14.  My dad pissed me off  when I asked for a dollar, (I was their babysitter for my brother and sister several nights a week) and thought I deserved a dollar. Next day I landed a job at the corner gift shop and so began my working career.

The first eight years in school I went to  a small Catholic school that in those days had all Nuns as teachers.  They were tough but they could really teach.  When I switched to public high school I was two years ahead and all I learned the firs two years was how to slough off.  I had a rough time for awhile from bullies mainly because my mom told me never to fight.  I soon gave that up and the bullies left me alone.

We moved shortly after in the middle of my freshman year in high school , yep it was traumatic even then, but we were moving to a house on the bay which  I had spent the last few summers having the time of my life on so it was worth the transfer.  Got a job at the corner grocery ran by an older lady (who’s daughter lived next door ) and freely said she was a bitch to work for, but she was looking for help.  I walked in and true to form she gave me a ration about wages .  She wanted to pay .65 and I said I needed .75 per hour.  We haggled for a bit and she kinda gave in and said I’ll give you a one week trial and if I keep you all meet your wage demand.  She commenced to teach me the business (she was tired) from butchering to purchasing, it was a lively business and soon I was just about running it on my own.  Unless of course the Fire Siren sounded and she’s relieve me so I could don my other suit (a volunteer fireman ) you could be one at 16 and a lot of us were members.  It meant you could speed like hell going to a fire and the cops would leave you alone.

This was a lot like my early years in that all the stores were locally owned and there were no big box stores.  No transportation to town so you only went when your parents went UNTIL you got your drivers licencse.  I was still running our boat and crabbing and fishing when work didn’t get in the way…Met my first girl friend by swamping their canoe with my 26 footer.  There are all kinds of way to meet girls.  The Big Four consisted of 4 of us who were inseparable, we drove to school, (when we got there) (which was generally late) and did just about everything as a group, the last few years we worked together, got in fights together, dated together , everything.  We thought at the time that it would never end.  All four of us ended up in the Navy , we went at different times  and had very different careers. We met one last time 45 years later but the magic was gone.

We grew up in the nuclear age and many talk about bomb drill “Duck and Cover” they were called . I don’t remember doing them or even thinking much about getting blown up. Dense  perhaps or maybe it was the beginning of my “Walk towards the Flash” theory of nuclear warfare.  Didn’t seem like worth the effort to worry about it.

I feel and I might be wrong about this, most parents today would shudder at the freedom most of us had in those days, to run unsupervised through the woods and neighbors from early morn to our mom’s beat us with a stick to come in the house.  We even rigged lights in the yard so we could throw horseshoes after dark.  You probably have figured by now that I had a hell of a good time.  I did.  As usual I’ve erased the bad stuff from my memory.

If your wondering , yes, my kids , all of which were raised in the country for the most part , enjoyed the same kind of  freedoms I enjoyed.  Hunting, fishing, camping in the wilds of Idaho and Washington state. I operated Hydro Plants so they were always close to the water and I think they would mostly say they loved it.

Look around today , maybe at your kids, and compare.  I’m sure most don’t compare and maybe they shouldn’t ,times are different, at least we hear more of the bad things and maybe that’s the cause of our fear.  As I said I experienced both growing up but far preferred the country life the most.

Explore posts in the same categories: AS IT USE TO BE

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