The Fifties - When I Grew Up

A Real Childhood

You've heard all the cliches starting with "when I was a kid..."

  • we had no tv
  • we had one phone on a party line
  • we played outside
  • we talked to our friends face to face
  • we played records on a phonograph/record player

And the list goes on. Scary thing is, most of these are true.

I was born in 1947. My only memory of the forties was my wooden ride on horse we named "Tom Keen". Tom Keen was a cowboy from my father's day and when my Dad built my ride on horse he suggested that name. My next toy memory was my older brother's stuffed rabbit, Oswald. Oswald was a Walt Disney cartoon from the 1920s. Oswald was taken over by Universal studios for a time and Disney created Mickey Mouse to replace him but back in the day Oswald was the best! My favorite childhood toy was Zippy the stuffed monkey. Zippy was on the Howdy Doody Show and became a great marketing success for the show.

TV wasn't very big back then but we did listen to radio. I can still hear "Yoo Hoo Mrs. Goldberg." My Mom listened to soap operas on the radio including Search for Tomorrow, The Guiding Light, and As the World Turns. Oh, and I remember listening to "The Teddy Bear's Picnic"..I was fascinated at the thought of all those teddy bears having a picnic in the woods.

The Winky Dink Show

Fifties TV

TV was starting to worm its way into our hearts. We began watching "The Goldbergs" and "I Remember Mama" on our little, 10" black and white TV. We had seven channels to choose from; 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13. Everyone watched "The Jack Benny Show" and Arthur Godfrey.

Children's TV shows developed in the fifties and some we watched:

  • Farmer Gray - a poorly done cartoon
  • Andy's Gang - with Andy Devine with Froggie and his magic twanger
  • The Buster Brown Show - Buster Brown and his dog Tige
  • Ding Dong School - with Miss Frances
  • Winky Dink - I even got the green plastic screen that attached to the TV so I could draw when Winky Dink drew
  • Howdy Doody - with Buffalo Bob and Clarabell

Our parents watched:

  • You Bet Your Life - with Groucho Marx and the magic word
  • The Lone Ranger
  • Hopalong Cassidy
  • I Love Lucy
  • The $64,000 Question
  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents

You Bet Your Life

Adult TV

Nighttime shows were mostly for adults but we were allowed to watch too. There was no worry back then about 'adult' content on the TV. Everybody watched Jack Benny and there were no phone calls or visitors when "I Remember Momma" was on. Saturday night was wrestling night in our house. After "Gunsmoke" of course...James Arness was like a member of the family! My mother's aunt and my grandparents would come to our house and we all watched wrestling. My father would even drink a beer! We watched the antics of Ricky Starr, Haystacks Calhoun, Gorgeous George and Andre the Giant. The bad guys were the ones you loved to hate, the Graham Brothers, Hans Schmidt, and Killer Kowalski. There were lady wrestlers and midget wrestling but the regular wrestlers were the best.

We watched Perry Como with his "Dear Perry" portion of his show and enjoyed the singing of the McGuire Sisters and Arthur Godfrey's ukulele. Ed Sullivan brought all the latest acts into your living room and delighted children with Top Gigio. Speedy Alka Seltzer told us how to cure an upset stomach and men could style their hair with just a little dab of Brylcreem.

Ricki Star - 1950s Wrestler

Fifties Movies

The movies that I watched are not necessarily the classics you hear about today:

  • The Day the Earth Stood Still
  • Beast from 20,000 Fathoms
  • It Came from Outer Space
  • Creature from the Black Lagoon
  • Mole People
  • The Cyclops
  • The Incredible Shrinking Man

(As you can see from my choice of movies, my favorite TV show was "Chiller Theater" on Saturday night hosted by Zacherley.

Other people were watching:

  • Cheaper by the Dozen
  • Father of the Bride
  • Auntie Mame
  • Harvey
  • Ma & Pa Kettle at Home
  • My Sister Eileen
  • The Shaggy Dog

Saturday matinees were 25 cents. We learned if you hid in the bathroom when the movie was over you could stay and watch it again for free. I saw "Love Me Tender" three times in one day.

Creature From the Black Lagoon

Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes

Fifties Music

Rock 'n Roll started in the fifties, but while kids were listening to Rock 'n Roll their parents were listening to music that was a carryover from the Big Band Era and contained singers they knew with newer and younger singers.

Some of the Rock 'n Roll songs of the time:

  • Rock Around the Clock
  • All Shook Up
  • The Stroll
  • Wake Up Little Suzie
  • La Bomba
  • Hound Dog
  • Sea of Love
  • April Love
  • Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On

Our Parents were listening to casual music:

  • Perry Como and Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes
  • Frank Sinatra and Young at Heart
  • Patti Page and The Tennessee Waltz
  • The Chordettes and Mr. Sandman
  • Eddie Fisher and Oh My Papa
  • Doris Day and Que Sera Sera
  • Debbie Reynolds and Tammi
  • Tennessee Ernie Ford and Sixteen Tons
  • Dean Martin and Memories Are Made of This

Three speed English racer
Three speed English racer | Source
Doris Day paper dolls.
Doris Day paper dolls. | Source
Modern version of the Spalding ball
Modern version of the Spalding ball | Source

Child's Play

It wasn't all about tv and movies. We played outside! From morning till night if you let us. After school when homework was done, outside you went. Saturdays the minute you got up you got ready to go out and play. Sunday, it was after Church. Of course you had to be home for Sunday dinner. Everyone ate Sunday dinner together with their family, usually a nice big chicken dinner.

There were so many things to do outdoors. We played stoop ball, stick ball, and handball. Our favorite sports equipment was a Spaulding rubber ball. We rode our bikes, we roller skated in the streets. We played hide and seek, ring-a-levio, I declare war.

We were lucky to have a park on our corner. We could go up to the park and play handball. If the courts were all taken we'd ask the park keep for the knock hockey board and play that while we waited. The boys played basketball and we all played softball together.

The most important thing you owned was your bicycle. Everyone rode their bicycle everywhere. The boys put playing cards in their spokes to make their bikes sound cool. When you were old enough you asked your parents to buy you a three speed English racer!

No one owned an air conditioner, you had fans in your house and you survived.

We never went out to eat, unless Daddy was giving us a special treat and took us out for ice cream or a milk shake on a Sunday afternoon, or we were going on vacation and stopped at a diner on the way. I remember one time we were eating at a diner and when we finished our meal my mother started cleaning off the table! Talk about habit.

Little girls played with dolls and paper dolls, boys played with cowboy hats and cowboy guns. Bigger girls and boys started playing together, but they were just playing together. Eventually we noticed the difference and started flirting with each other and then the things of childhood started to be put aside.

It was a simpler, less fearful time. Our parents were in complete control and respect for anyone older than you was a given. We had lots of fun and still obeyed the rules. When we got to be teenagers we'd bend the rules a bit but not too far for fear of getting in trouble, with our parents. Their love and respect was very important to us back then.

The fifties led to the sixties and that, my friend is a whole different era.

Please add your comments about life in the fifties, what do you remember?

Copyright Tillsontitan - All Rights Reserved


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Comments 22 comments

minjin25 profile image

minjin25 5 years ago from Illinois

I knew it. You are exactly my age. I was born in 1947 too. I remember it all. "Thanks for the Memories" (remember that song?). Great writing. Thanks also for commenting on my Hubs.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 5 years ago from New York Author

Of course I remember that song, Bob Hope immortalized it!


MICHAEL 5 years ago

ARE YOU INTERESTED IN A 1950'S COLLAGE I CREATED WITH A BUNCH OF THOSE OLD CLICHES' OUR PARENT'S USED ON US DAILY - THEY ARE DRAWN IN THE FIFTIES STYLE FASHIONS - THEY ARE LIKE: WAIT TIL YOUR FATHER GETS HOME - WHY BECAUSE I SAID SO - DON'T GET SMART WITH ME - YOU'LL EAT IT AND YOU'LL LIKE IT - IS THAT WHAT YOU ARE WEARING? - EMAIL ME IF YOU DECIDE TO POST THEM - cadman1957@hotmail.com - THANKS, CADMAN


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 5 years ago from New York Author

Sorry I haven't answered Michael, I've been busy writing my Music hubs. Hopefully your post here will lead people to your hub.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Will do Cadman.


MCHAEL 4 years ago

NOTHING BY WAY OF AN E-MAIL TO ATTACH MY COLLAGES SO FAR? DID MY PROGRAM DELETE YOU AUTOMATICALLY?


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Not sure what you're talking about Michael.


MICHAEL 4 years ago

SEE THE 6 MONTHS AGO ABOVE - I HAVE CREATED A COLLAGE OF THESE OLD CLICHES FOR YOU TO CONSIDER USING ON YOUR WEBSITE

WOULD LIKE A E-MAIL REPLY TO THN ATTACH AND SEND YOU MY COLLAGE OF OLD CLICHES - PLEASE JUST E-MAIL ME BACK IF YOU ARE INTERESTED THANKS, MICHAEL

cadman1957chevy1957@hotmail.com


MICHAEL 4 years ago

PLEASE EXPLAIN WHY YOU WOULD NOT EVEN WANT TO E-MAIL ME BACK AND TRY A SAMPLE OF WHAT I CREATED? SEEM LIKE THEY WOULD SUPPORT THE BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN CHILDHOOD MEMORIES ABOVE - ALL IT TAKES IS AN E-MAIL TO ME AND I WILL ATTACH SOME EXAMPLE COLLAGES FOR YOU TO CONSIDER ADDING TO YOUR WEBSITE - PLEASE TAKE THE TIME AND MAIL AN E-MAIL TO ME - I FEEL THEY WOULD ADD VISUAL AIDE TO YOUR WEBSITE - THANKS, MICHAEL


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

I truly appreciate your offer Michael but just don't have the time or need for the collage. I do appreciate your offer and think your work is lovely!


Sheri Faye profile image

Sheri Faye 3 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

Great Hub. I was a child of the sixties, but remember how life seemed so innocent in those days. Remember riding a bike without a helmet? Laying in the back seat window? Seat belts? What were they? And hour and hours playing outside without fancy toys, just our imaginations. I sure wish TV was a little more like that now than then....these "reality shows" suck and are about as real as Santa.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

It certainly was a simpler and safer time Sheri. Imagination...I bet there are kids who never heard of the word. Thanks for taking time to stop by.


mary615 profile image

mary615 3 years ago from Florida

Oh, Lord......the memories you brought back. I am a little older than you, but some of things you remember really hit home with me. Oh, yes, those were the good ole' days, for sure.

I voted this UP, and will share.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

Yes, we'll always remember those days fondly Mary. Thank you for reading, commenting, voting and sharing! What would I do without you?


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Oh Mary. These were great times for certain. The Life of Riley; I Married Joan; The Lucy Show with Ricky Ricardo and Fred and Ethel Mertz; duck duck goose, duck and cover drills. Sunday clothes and patent leather shoes. Doing our homework before we could go out and play. A and W Root Beer and Waitresses on Skates, Roller Rinks, Drive in Movies, Sparklers on the Fourth of July. You got me going. Oh, you really got me going. Sweet. Tiny tears and Cowboy Bob. Happy Trails To You.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

Oh my Peg, sounds like we shared the same childhood! My Tiny Tears rotted away from all the water for her tears, but I digress. I remember every single thing you mentioned and so much more...thanks for the great comment, its like part of my hub!


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

I forgot to mention how cool the paper dolls' image was that you included here. Oh boy, those were the rage. I kept mine in a shoebox and used them until the tabs wore off. Sad day, that was. Since I was a Tomboy, I put playing cards in the spokes of my bike and I had those colorful dangly things hanging out of the hand grips, too. Thanks for the great memories, Mary.

Peg


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

You crack me up! I had playing cards in my spokes and those colorful dangly things hanging out of the hand grips....that was the in thing, you HAD to have them! Thanks for coming back and adding that comment Peg.


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

You so right here born during that time things were so different and must have been the best times too. Often I do hear people say ''How things used to be in the fifties and I wonder what they are talking about.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

Well, DDE, hopefully this has given you a little idea of what they are talking about ;)


Rolly A Chabot profile image

Rolly A Chabot 3 years ago from Alberta Canada

Hi tillsontitan... smiles... I just got back from a little trip while I was reading this... I can remember staring at the test screen on the TV waiting for the four hour long televising per day would get started... life in comparison to the pace we move at today is something... Well written my friend.

Hugs and Blessings from Canada


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

Thank you Rolly. Life, principles, and morals were all different then. Hopefully someday things will come full circle and we'll learn to have patience waiting for the test screen in life to give way for the good stuff ;)

Hugs right back at you!

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