Growing Up in the 1950s

 

I’m living in my 7th decade of life: the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, and now 2010s. I was born in the early 1950s and I’d like to share what it was like living in each of these decades.

 
The 1950s were an amazing time to be born – they call us ‘baby boomers’ now. Children born in the decade following World War ll were born into a world which was changing at a dizzying rate. Before this World War, my parents lived through the Great Depression which was a time of depravity and challenge. Then after WWll, life seemed less of a struggle and even richer for my parent’s generation. Many of our parents wanted to give their children everything they didn’t have themselves when they were growing up:  a decent home, a family car, a job, and enough food. My parents chose to move from their small home town on the east coast to the big city in Ontario after my oldest sister Faye was born. I was born in the city of Hamilton in 1953. Soon afterwards, we moved to our first home on Eaton Place where all my memories begin…. My very first memory is of someone taking a picture of me when I was two years old and the sun was shining in my face.

1.1955LindaWM

First Picture Grammom 1955

 

Ahhh, the 50’s. The very thought brings a feeling of joy, simplicity, peace, and ….. ROCK ‘N ROLL! After a generation of waltzes during the 1930s and 40s, MY generation was ready to shake things up! My memories only take me back to the late 1950s – Elvis Presley, the King of Rock ‘n Roll; Buddy Holly’s “Great Balls of Fire”; Bill Haley and the Comets “Rock Around the Clock” ; Chuck Berry (who performed at our high school in 1971 ~ I’ll never forget how we all roared when he sang “My Ding-a-ling”!). Back in the 50s, music was recorded on vinyl records in speeds (RPM = rotations per minute) of 45 and 33 (78s were old school from the ‘olden days’ of our parents). 45s were the small, 7″ singles with one song per side and 33s were the record albums. Cassette tapes, CDs, and MP3 hadn’t even been thought of back then! We collected LOTS of records and albums over the years.

2.EatonPl1955

First house – Eaton Place 1955

 

Our parents were great! Every year we went on vacation somewhere – Timmins to see the gold mine and my Auntie Marlene and Uncle Jim; Ottawa to see the Parliament Buildings and camp in Gatineau Park; local camping at Lambert Park; Santa’s Village in Bracebridge; and my favourite place of all, New Carlisle, Quebec lovingly known as down home where most of my relatives lived. It took us 3 days to drive the 1000 miles (1650 kms) on two lane highways in our ’50s Ford sedan, packed to the hilt with everything from baskets of fruit to bathroom sink/toilet and always a neighbour along for the holiday! We always stayed at my grandparents farm. We went in July, just in time for haying too. In the 1950s, my grandparents didn’t own any machinery to help with the farming, just Queen and Gyp, huge draft horses. They did the haying all by hand, pitching it up onto horse-drawn wooden wagons where us kids would ‘help’ by sitting on the top of the pile as we went around the field. Then back at the barn, the loose hay would be pitched up into the hay loft. We spent many fun days playing in that hayloft, hiding in the hay or just daydreaming. Other days were spent at the beach on Chaleur Bay on the Atlantic Ocean playing with our cousins in the freezing cold salt water.

3.U.Lloyd,Queen,GypEarly50sWM

Uncle Lloyd farming 1950s

 

When we were at home, we’d spend the summer outdoors all the time. Our neighbourhood was void of backyard fences so we had a huge yard where we’d play baseball, football, tag, kick-the-can, or hide and seek. One street over was an undeveloped area where we’d explore and play using our imaginations (called “the Field” and “the Creek”). My favourite was to pretend I was riding a horse, either on my bike or running while slapping my leg to make the sound of galloping. I’d even tie up my pretend horse at the back porch when I came in for lunch. In the 1950s, there were no video games – heck many folks didn’t even have televisions! Us kids PLAYED! We used our IMAGINATION! TV shows I DID watch included Hockey Night in Canada (we were staunch Toronto Maple Leaf fans) on Saturday nights (I laid on my mother’s lap until I fell asleep), Roy Rogers Show and Lassie on Saturday morning. We got 6 channels, mostly from the U.S. During the summer, all the neighbours flocked to our front porch after supper. The adults would sit on the cement steps and talk while the kids played until dark.

4.EatonPlaceGang

Eaton Place families on our front porch

 

In the winter, my Dad made us a skating rink beside the house and a sliding hill out back on our slightly inclining backyard hill. The whole neighbourhood came over to skate and slide after school and on weekends! It was the best childhood a kid could dream of.

Winter Fun

Winter fun

 

We didn’t use plastics for everything like today. I recall that our first refrigerator was an ice box – the ice man came around the neighbourhood with blocks of ice to sell to people. The ‘bread man’ came around weekdays to deliver bread and other goods right to your door – all our mother had to do was pick out what she wanted. And the milkman came daily with glass quart jars of milk – mothers simply left the washed empties out on the porch and the milkman would exchange them for full bottles of milk, leaving them outside, unrefrigerated. Nobody ever got sick either. All these businessmen (yes it was always men) were paid by their customers once a week – the honour system was alive and well in the 1950s.

6.1957 L&Ricky PloemWM

Grammom 4 yrs old with friend Ricky, 1957

 

In the 1950s, 99.9% of Mothers stayed home to raise the children and the Dads worked outside the home, sometimes two or three jobs like my Dad. That’s just the way it was. Many women were expected to quit their jobs when they married, anticipating a family would soon follow. When I was around ten years old, my mother got a job with some other neighbourhood ladies, cleaning offices for Ernie. My oldest sister Faye, babysat us for the few hours in the evening. I will always cherish my mother’s presence during the day in the summertime, during lunchtime, and before/after school. Moms back then cooked all the meals and did all the laundry. There were no ‘fast food’ places in the 1950s that I can recall ~ we did go to Stoney Creek Dairy for ice cream cones a couple of times in the summer. But I don’t EVER remember going out to eat hamburgers at a restaurant.

7.1959SantasVillageWM

Santa’s Village 1959

 

My first school was Parkdale Public School where I went from Kindergarten to grade 5. We walked to school with all the neighbourhood kids in those days, skipping, talking, and singing along the way. At lunchtime, we walked back home where our mothers had lunch waiting for us. Then back to school. I vividly recall kindergarten – fingerpainting, playing instruments, and afternoon napping. We went to Kindergarten either in the morning OR the afternoon. Not all day like today. There was no Junior Kindergarten either. When we turned 5 years old, we were eligible for kindergarten.

8.1958LindaWM

Grammom 5 years old 1958

 

When I was very young, I remember hearing that our Prime Minister was John Diefenbaker and I couldn’t help but wonder why a baker would be a Prime Minister…… ? I pictured this person all dressed in white wearing a baker’s hat! Oh the innocence of youth!

I have to say, life was simpler back in the 1950s – at least to a young kid like me.

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. fred schueler
    Jul 20, 2018 @ 16:24:19

    …but mostly the Peterson Field Guide series coming out, one taxon at a time: Birds herps, Mammals, trees & shrubs, ferns…

    Reply

  2. Diane Downey
    Jul 20, 2018 @ 18:02:39

    Love this read! Photos bring back so many memories, Linda. We lived in the same neighbourhood (I was born in 1960 on Armstrong, around the corner from Eaton Place). The picture of the log cabin reminds me of the one that used to be at Parkdale & Queenston where we’d go to buy Christmas trees. So many memories of summer swimming at Parkdale Pool, hanging with the Soupie? at Rox park by the school and treats from Pete’s Variety at Queenston & Reid. We moved back to New Carlisle in early 1974 for a short time. My Mom had had 18 years of city life in Ontario and going back to ‘the back road’ was more than she could handle and I was almost 14 and leaving all of my friends behind. A difficult year! Thanks for sharing your fond memories. Many of them are mine also, dear cousin. ❤

    Reply

    • grammomsblog
      Jul 24, 2018 @ 10:48:19

      Ah yes, I remember the summer craft clubs at Roxborough Park! And we went swimming EVERY day at Parkdale pool too. I remember going to Pete’s Variety store when I was about 8 or 9 and buying a little brown bag full of candy for a nickle or a dime (3 candies for a penny). My next door neighbour even asked me to pick up cigarettes for her! And they sold them to me!! Boy, times have changed ~ for the good!
      Moving down home as a teenager must have been brutal ~ a nice place to visit in the summer but I can’t imagine leaving all my friends and neighbourhood community to move down home…..
      Thanks for sharing Diane.

      Reply

  3. Glenn Wightman
    Jul 20, 2018 @ 23:19:12

    I remember going from the porch into the kitchen down home, and I forgot to duck going in with you on my shoulders, Ouch.

    Reply

  4. Connie Logue Chudyk
    Jul 25, 2018 @ 13:28:20

    As a neighbour of yours on Eaton Pl you brought back many fun memories. I wish kids today could play as we all did, outside. The picture on your front porch has me and Ma in it. I remember ice skating and sliding down the hill it was hard trying to get back up the hill. As the saying goes Linda “ Thanks for the memories”.

    Reply

    • grammomsblog
      Jul 30, 2018 @ 16:40:57

      Connie, it’s my pleasure to share my memories – this particular front porch picture has the EP Moms and kids plus my Aunt/cousins from down home.
      And the best thing is that, after all these years, we STILL stay in touch.

      Reply

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