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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Long Distance Grammom

I just returned from British Columbia where I took my daughter Nellie and two teenage granddaughters, 14.5 year old Kalia and 12.5 year old Livi. We spent time on my son’s farm on the Sunshine Coast getting to know my two baby granddaughters, 2 month old Clare and almost 2 year old Elsie.



Clare and Elsie

Nellie, Kalia, and Livi had never met Clare and Elsie before but I had spent time with them recently when Clare was only a few weeks old. We had a grand time playing with Elsie and holding Clare.


Kalia, Livi, & Clare


Kalia, Livi, and Nellie also helped with some farm chores like feeding the goats, chickens, and rabbits as well as helping Rob install some gate posts. We picked cherries at a neighbour’s farm too and enjoyed them fresh and in a homemade pie. And of course we went to the beach every day looking for driftwood and beach glass!


Elsie, Kalia, Livi, & Nellie on the beach

It wasn’t easy saying good-bye.

Kalia and Livi (and my other 4 grandchildren) live near me so I’ve seen them often for their entire lives. We’ve spent birthdays, Thanksgivings, and Christmases together and sleepovers in between. It’s taking some getting used to being a long-distance Grammom.

Email, Facebook, and Skype have all helped me feel like I’m participating in Elsie and Clare’s lives. Pictures are a big help too. But nothing is better than holding your grandchild in your arms and watching them sleep or smelling their sweet new-baby smell or reading the same stories 10 times in a row. I feel like their Gramma when I’m with them.


Grammom and Elsie on the beach


I’m grateful that I’ve been able to travel across the country to spend time with them even though it’s only been a couple of times a year.

As my wee granddaughters grow, I hope to be able to visit them as often as possible and stay in touch through the latest technology.

……. because I love them as only a Grammom can.


Rob and his girls


A Day in A Life that Was

It’s been 8 years today since Chris died.  This year, I salute his life in a series of unpublished pictures to try to show what our life with him was like.

1.1992 Teaching Nellie Mini-putt

Chris was a patient person, even trying to teach baby Nellie Mini-putt!  We always tried to find mini-putt whenever we went on vacation since the kids loved it so much.  Chris would do anything for the kids and me.

2. Carving Pumpkins


At Halloween, every kid had their own pumpkin to carve…..after Chris scooped out most the seeds!  One year, he created the “Pumpkinmobile” for Halloween night by strapping onto the top of the van, a large carved pumpkin with a blue flashing light inside.  We drove the kids around our neighbourhood and nearby homes so the kids could trick-or-treat.


Chris was always building something around the house:  the front garden or the playhouse or the pond.


One of our favourite summer pastimes was ‘Patio’ where neighbours (human and canine) would gather at our house to visit and sing.


Chris prided himself in his skating rink out on the river.  This one had a rink plus a skating oval around it.  He’d spend hours cleaning it off after a snowstorm and flooding it on -20C days.  He hung lights for nighttime skating too.  Every winter, we hosted our annual skating parting for neighbours and friends.  We skated on the river, keeping warm at a bonfire at the beach then shared a potluck supper in our garage/party room.  Every Saturday night during the hockey season, we would host a ‘hockey party’ where we would watch NHL games while playing darts or pool with our friends and neighbours.


Chris would always take us anywhere we wanted to go at any time.  This picture shows us at Tadoussac, Quebec where we went whale watching and stayed at a cottage overlooking the St. Lawrence River.  We were on our way down home.


One year, we took the whole family to the Toronto Zoo and Wonderland for the weekend.


At home, he loved boating on the river in the summertime.  He patiently taught our kids and friends to water ski.


He loved it when our brother-in-law Joey came up for his annual visit.  This picture shows their favourite spot to sit and talk and enjoy a cold ‘beverage’.


He loved working with Mark and Simon, travelling at times to Niagara and British Columbia on jobs.


9b. SantaGrampie

Chris was such a good sport:  he played Santa to all the kids in the neighbourhood at our annual Christmas Party.  Here he is with Kalia as Santa Grampie.


What an incredible man.  Even though he was in the middle of daily radiation treatments for cancer, Chris insisted we didn’t cancel our family camping plans.  We camped on the St. Lawrence River and him and I just drove up to the Ottawa Hospital for his treatment then back to the campground.  Pain and the side-effects from radiation treatments didn’t stop him from sleeping on the ground in a tent so the kids would still have a holiday.  He was adamant that he would try to make the kids feel like life was as normal as possible, until it wasn’t.


Our last family photo when everyone came home in 2007.




The Sides of my Fridge

The outside of my fridge is an anthology of the life that I’ve lived and the people who’ve lived it with me. The actual surface is barely visible under all the artwork, notes, fridge magnets, and other memorabilia. Almost all three sides are visible ….. and completely covered. To me, it’s a tribute …… recognition of accomplishments or places we’ve visited.



The front side is reserved for a special tribute to our beloved Chris. Front and centre is one of my favourite pictures of Nellie and Melvin with their Daddy on the beach in New Carlisle, Quebec. Anchoring the bottom of the freezer door are fridge magnets from the many places we’ve visited like Comox Valley, B.C.; Niagara Falls; Vancouver Aquarium; Montreal’s Biodome, Calgary; Tadousssac, Quebec; Pacific Rim National Park, B.C.; Bonaventure’s BioPark; and of course Perce Rock, Gaspesie, Quebec. Every time I go to the fridge, I am reminded of these happy times with my family from coast to coast. In the top corner, I can always find our ‘burn permit number’ magnet when we need to phone it in at the start of an outdoor fire, just to keep the fire department aware of deliberate fires. And beside it is a magnet with Emergency CPR instructions. I hope we don’t ever need that…..

download (3)
One side of my fridge has the oldest collection of artwork. There you will find a diagram of DNA and RNA that my oldest son Robin drew for his younger brother Marty about 15 years ago to explain how it all worked. There is also a chemistry Periodic Table which has been in the top left corner of several fridges for many, many years. It’s always handy to have this reference just in case you ever need the symbol for any of the elements ;). A wee note from my grown daughter Kristi, drawn when she was about 5 years old is held by a fridge magnet for our veterinary office. There’s a thank you letter from Marty and Jeanette after I mailed them their tent to British Columbia. And a computer printed picture of my son Taylor wake-boarding on the river. I like the fridge magnet with a picture of the Emerald Ash Borer – this insect is devastating the ash trees around here so it’s handy to have a visual reference in case I see one.  Near the bottom, there’s also a sketch of the relationship between gamma rays, x-rays, microwaves, UV rays, and radio waves and colours that looks like it was drawn by Marty a long time ago.

download (1)
The far side of the fridge is the most open and eclectic collection in the entire house. There’s the large Mother’s Day ‘memo’ board made by Melvin when he was 5 years old. And my granddaughter Olivia’s artwork including a googly-eye star and a colourful thanksgiving turkey. More fridge magnets of ‘how safe is the ice?’ or Telehealth phone number. Granddaughter Kalia’s baby and toddler pictures – she’s 10 years old now. Sometimes I have to rearrange things as they get knocked off when someone brushes by.

All in all, I love these moments in time that are displayed on the sides of my fridge.

Enough Winter!!


This is what I woke up to this morning……….. again…. -32C (-26F)! This has been going on for weeks …… and weeks and ……… and weeks and, quite frankly, I’m sick of it!

I realize that winter isn’t officially over for another 2 weeks but it unofficially began halfway through autumn! We’ve had snow storm after winter snow storm since the end of October. Temperatures well below normal have persisted for weeks and weeks. Our normal high should be just above 0 degrees celsius (32F) and overnight lows around -8C (17.6F)  so you can understand my frustration. Yesterday it warmed up to -15C (5F). Big whoopee 😦
We did have a few short days of ‘warmer’ weather (a.k.a. zero degrees C/32F) and the snow slid off the solar panels back in January, but we usually have a ‘January thaw’ for a bit longer. I’ve been waiting for a warmer day to clean out my wood cookstove. It has to be just above zero degrees for me to let the stove go out completely to enable me to empty the ash bucket and clean the soot off inside around the oven. Well, that hasn’t happened yet.

I’m beginning to believe that I need a winter vacation – not a trip somewhere south where it is warmer (well, okay maybe that would be nice) but just a break from this brutal cold and bringing in firewood every day and a cold car that doesn’t warm up until I’m already in town. I’m grateful that the sun is much stronger now and actually feels warm on your face ……. and that my solar hot water panels are producing plenty of hot water …… and that I still have lots of firewood …… and that my hip/thigh is healing (thanks to my Chiropractor) so I’m not in as much pain when I carry my firewood into the house.
The only one who seems to be enjoying these extremely cold, snowy days is my 14 year old puppy dog Yukon. He can’t wait to get outside every morning to roll in the snow and often lay there in the sun – the colder the better for him.

download (1)
There is still 2 feet of snow in my yard with drifts of 4 feet. Unless it melts somewhat, I won’t be able to read the hydro meter on the other side of the house this month because the snow is almost impossible to walk in as it’s up the full length of my legs. Hard crusty, snow.
A couple of years ago at this time, I wrote about how I was tired of winter even though it had been mild with less snow. Is it just ‘cabin fever’? Or is it just the weather (another blog post)?
Yup, I’m ready for spring.




Tribute to Chris

On this day six years ago, Sunday March 2nd, 2008, our beloved Chris passed from this world.  This year, my tribute to Chris is in the form of photos over the years.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so please enjoy:

Our backyard wedding

Our backyard wedding

“I do” – our backyard wedding with friends and family.



Holidays at Perce Rock, Gaspe Quebec.

Newborn Nellie

Newborn Nellie

Chris was a gentle, loving soul.

Building the playhouse

Building the playhouse

Chris was able to build or fix anything.

Waterskiing in April

Water skiing in April

He was always happy to fulfill dreams like taking Robin water skiing as soon as the ice melted on the river in April…….. brrrr.

Teaching Melvin to skate

Teaching Melvin to skate

He had tons of patience.  He worked hard to make a skating rink on the river for everyone to enjoy.

Building our Garage

Building our Garage

Chris was always eager to teach the kids to build or renovate.

Playing pool in Garage

Playing pool in Garage

He even finished our garage into a play room for Saturday night hockey, pool, darts, and cards.

Chris and Kristi

Chris and Kristi

Even though he was big and strong, he never dismissed affection.

Collecting shells

Collecting shells

He would spend hours and hours doing the simple things like collecting shells and beach glass on long walks along the beach down home.

Fancy Restaurant

Fancy Restaurant

Always fun



and playful



and giving.

Grampie with Kalia & Livi

Grampie with Kalia & Livi

And he was proud to be a Grampie.

Chris and Yukon

Chris and Yukon

Chris loved his dog – the only one he ever had.



We will always remember Chris

Visiting Vancouver B.C.


I’ve been in the wonderful city of Vancouver B.C. for the past few days visiting my oldest son Robin and his wife Nici. We’ve had a great time! On Sunday we drove up to Whistler, the home of the 2010 Winter Olympics, in Rob’s Mitsubishi Delica and went to the top of Whistler Mountain on a small gondola.

Top of Whistler Mountain

Top of Whistler Mountain

There, we had a magnificent view of distant mountain tops, many with snow caps or glaciers. Across the deep gorge between Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain, was a larger gondola connecting the two mountain peaks together. THAT is why we were there! The sun was shining, the air was warm, and we were all pumped to take the gondola high about the valley below! I’m usually afraid of heights, but conquering that fear is on my ‘bucket list’.
Today was the day. The ‘Peak 2 Peak Gondola’ was fantastic!! It wasn’t scary at all. I was quite comfortable walking about the enclosed area taking pictures even though I expected to be hanging on to the seats and posts with a firm grip. lol

Peak 2 Peak Gondola view

Peak 2 Peak Gondola view

Whistler village was crazy busy with tourists and adventurers. Many of these folks came to bicycle down the mountain – yes, you heard me right. These people take their bikes up on the ski lift or gondola to various points up the mountain and bike down!! ……..ya, I know, isn’t that insane?! Okay, they have to wear helmets, but it’s optional to wear protective padding in vulnerable areas. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I witnessed them going at break-neck speed down the twists and turns of the dedicated pathways (Of course they have to buy tickets to use the facilities). And I was stunned to watch them leave the peak of the mountain. I saw two ambulances while I was there, making their way up the mountain to retrieve damaged bicyclists…… Crazy.

Bike trails down Whistler Mountain

Bike trails down Whistler Mountain

While Robin and Nici were at work on Monday, I went on an adventure. Now let me just say, that I have not been on public transit in my nearby city, ever. But I’ve enjoyed the transit system in British Columbia. The bus drivers are always helpful when I tell them I’m just visiting their wonderful city as I ask them if they can let me know that I’m getting off at the right stop. Of course, I researched my route extensively on the internet and printed out the directions. So my adventure was taking 4 buses and two trains to get to nearby Richmond to visit Nana Lil: a marvelous 93 year old lady who was my neighbour 45 years ago when I was a teenager. I was told that she has dementia but she certainly remembered me! We talked over and over again about the memories that she had. She was SO happy to have me visit for a few hours. I was SO happy to visit her for a few hours. She still lives in her little ‘seniors apartment’ with help from ‘Meals on Wheels’ and other assisted care. Even though I spent more time getting there and back than visiting, I’m really glad that I made the time to bring some happiness to her.
Nici had made a delicious soup for supper as well as apple pie! Oh it was SO good!! Afterwards, they took me to the University of British Columbia where they worked to show me their labs and offices. It was really great seeing all the gadgets they have to work with on a daily basis and now, when I think of them during the day, I can visualize exactly where they are!

Vancouver Island awaits

Vancouver Island awaits

I had such a successful transit trip to Nana Lil’s that I told Robin that he wouldn’t need to drive me all the way to the ferry terminal, fighting traffic there and back – I would take the bus! It was easy-peasy: I just hopped the bus 3 blocks from his place which took me downtown and then transferred to the Horseshoe Bay Express bus. I likely got there faster than a car would have. After a short wait for the ferry, I was on my way to Vancouver Island. So now I’m sitting here in the ferry terminal in Nanaimo B.C. waiting for the bus to take me up island where my sisters Betty and Faye are awaiting my arrival! Then its more adventures with the ‘clucking triplets’ as Robert calls us………… lol.


Previous Older Entries

hip roof barn

Crafting a frugal life

Charlies Mama

Suddenly, he was my everything.

Powell River Books Blog

Life, Family, Friends.....

The Wedge

Closing Canada's Media Gap

Peace & Environment Resource Centre (PERC)

The Ottawa Peace and Environment Resource Centre (PERC) is an incorporated, registered charity. It is primarily a volunteer-run, grassroots organization with a Board of Directors to govern its operations.

Off Grid and Free: My Path to the Wilderness

Practical advice for off-gridders, homesteaders, preppers. 40 years off-grid homesteading experience. Blog, videos, podcasts, book (print, ebook, audio)

The Radical Homemaker

Warning: Blending authenticity with joy may arouse contempt.

Mother Matters Burlington

Pregnancy, birth and postpartum support. Conscious parenting too!

B&H Your Community Grocer

Supporting Your Community Since 1963

Just another Day on the Farm

Living a step back in time

Vulnerable Watersheds

Life, Family, Friends.....

Pete's Alaska

Pete's Alaska — God, family, country my view out the cabin window.

Cam Mather

Books • Speaking • Consulting • etc.

Lactation Matters

The official blog of the International Lactation Consultant Association