Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The 1950's Yes, I was alive then!

To commemorate the year 1953 which holds the 33 day record of non-stop rain in Seattle, I thought I would list some of my memories, dim though they are, of that decade. I just turned 53 (born in 1953) so it seems appropriate and besides I think that 50 is the new 30 so my age doesn't scare me a bit. (Susan Sarandon, Goldie Hawn, and Suzanne Somers are way.... way older than me and they are still pretty hot!) Furthermore, Kaley performed this past weekend in the Kamiak winter play, "The Stuck Pot" which took place during that time. It had lots of words like, "Golly" and "Holy Mackerel" and "Drippy". Kaley will be in "Grease" in the spring so I have been sharing with her what I remember.

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The reason I can separate out the 50's is that I started first grade in 1959 and we moved from an apartment to a house in 1960. My earliest memories go back to when I was two years old in Bozeman, Montana. My Dad was in graduate school at MSU and when he finished with his Master's Degree in education, my family moved to Helena in 1956 where he had a job as an eighth grade math and science teacher. I was three and my brother was six. All of my memories before first grade and from the apartment, by definition, had to be in the 50's. Here goes:

1. Hula Hoops. They were a huge huge fad. My Mom bought us a yellow one and my brother and I had to share. Frankly, I do not think he cared too much about it though I recall to be mean, he'd say he had "dibs" on it just so I couldn't have it.

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2. Metal and Formica Tables. My Mom's favorite color was yellow so we had a kitchen table and chairs that were yellow. I think my Mom still has the table in her basement. They were indestructable. The table was the center of our lives. We didn't have a dining room table until much later in my childhood. All of our everyday meals and holiday meals were on this table. My Dad made lead sinkers (weights for fishing) on this table (I wonder about the toxic effect of that little activity; my husband cringes when I tell about this); he butchered the deer and the elk; and he tied flies. My Mom's home made bread and cinnamon rolls would be placed on the table to rise.

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3. Marilyn Monroe. When we lived in the basement apartment, I played with the girl next door sometimes. I remember I did not like her. Remember how there always seemed to be a kid in the neighborhood with more advanced knowledge of nasty things? I have always wondered about that and whether or not they were abused in some way. Anyway, this girl was only a year older than me but I have a clear memory of her wiggling herself around a baseball bat and saying she was Marilyn Monroe. I did not know who Marilyn Monroe was but from that point on I equated Marilyn Monroe with nastiness.

4. Television. We did not have a TV until 1959 when I was in the first grade. I distinctly remember the day we bought our first television set. My brother and I were as excited as if it was Christmas morning and we could not wait to watch "Walt Disney World".

5. Elvis. Elvis was really before my time. For me, it all began with the Beatles but I remember my Dad saying Elvis had a nice voice but he sang the wrong music. My Dad also proclaimed to my dismay that the Beatles were just a fad like the Hula Hoop and they would fade away. Yet, my daughter in 2006 loves many of the Beatles songs and wears a Beatles t-shirt to school and I think Paul is still HOT. So there, Dad! The first time I heard about Elvis was at a rodeo. A rodeo clown announced he was Elvis, swayed his hips, and his pants fell down to the laughter of the crowd. I must have been 3 or 4 and I had no clue--that is why I remember it.

6. Poodle Skirts. My Mom never did make me one and I always wanted one. Believe me, Kaley had the cutest red poodle skirt I never had. But, the rage in Helena among the teen age girls in the 50's was stuffed tigers. You see, the high school mascot was the Bengal Tiger. Because my Dad was a teacher and he had been a high school and college basketball player, our family always attended the high school basketball games. All the girls had little stuffed tigers and I wanted one! And I got one for Christmas one year and I hauled it with me to the games just like the big girls.

7. Cigarettes. My parents smoked. Everybody their age smoked. I have a girl cousin who is ten years older than me so in the 50's she was a teen ager. I thought she was the coolest!! Her Dad was my Dad's brother and he and my aunt are still alive and living in the same house in Deer Lodge, Montana where we would visit when I was five. I recall being in my cousin's bedroom with her and all of her teen age friends. I felt so cool and special. My memory duplicates the slumber party scene in "Grease". They were listening to records, had rollers in their hair, and....they were smoking. Suddenly, they heard someone coming up the stairs, so they stubbed out their cigarettes in their ashtrays and shoved them under the bed. They asked me not to tell my Mom. I responded in the most grown up way I could that my Mom wouldn't mind because she smoked, too. At that point, I sensed they were not so comfortable having me around.

8. Party Lines. You think the NSA spying program is bad, in those days we had party lines. Several telephones would be on the same line. This is before I even really knew how to use the telephone but I remember picking up the phone and being able to listen to someone's conversation. The phone was up high on the wall, and I had to move a chair under it to even reach it.

9. Ashtrays. Everybody had ashtrays of all shapes and colors--sytlish and weird. They were placed on tables throughout the house in everyone's home to allow anyone to smoke. It would have been considered completely rude to ask someone not to smoke or to ask them to go outside. My parents had an ashtray that was a coiled rattlesnake. Lucky Strike? Lung cancer.

10. Pat Boone. There was Elvis but there was Pat Boone, too. I liked Pat Boone as a little girl. I thought he was handsome. My brother had this really neat scrap book that he received as a gift and naturally, I was jealous because I did not have one. So I made one out of one of my Dad's old college notebooks. Life magazine had Pat Boone on the cover so I cut him out and glued him on the cover of my very own scrap book. The internet is a fabulous thing because I am fairly certain this is the photo. I remember the hat.

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To all of Mukilteo, "Grease" is the word and it is going to be fun! Dig out those poodle skirts and saddle shoes.