Memories of Sixty Years of Changes

I brought up some life changes that have happened over my life in a conversation yesterday. I thought they are kind of interesting, and thought I would share them with you. I grew up in rural Minnesota, so the experiences of others may be different. Below are memories I remembered off hand.

1. Telephone lines were shared between different families in the same neighborhood. You knew of the call was for your family by the ring. They were called party lines, and your neighbors could listen in on your conversation if they were quiet and sneaky. Children were rarely allowed to talk on phones as they mostly for the adults in the house.

2. Dancing was much tamer than it is today. I remember my sister telling me that during school dances when a slow song was played, there had to be at least a three inch gap between the couple. Chaperone’s were responsible for couples maintaining the proper distance. In the seventies, people would be kicked out of dance halls for performing a too suggestive version of the song Locomotion as an example.

3. Music had a much different meaning than it does today. Most songs were love songs with the exception of the blues and jazz which was off limits to most people who were not raised in the south. Fats Domino songs, Twist, and Blueberry hill were on the edge of what were acceptable songs.

4. There were no movie ratings. Parents generally had to call the theater to see if it was okay for their kids to go to a movie. It was big event and caused lots of discussion between my parents when the beach movie, “The Ghost in the Tiger Striped Bikini” came to town. My folks thought it may be too adult for kids to see.

I walked out of the movie, “Last House on the Left”, as it took violence to a level that made me sick to my stomach. Some people actually threw up before they managed to leave the theater.

No one who saw the movie, “The Exorcist”, went home and had a good nights sleep for a number of days.¬† The Exorcist took the Devil out of church and put him in daily life. I knew a man who committed suicide because he was supposedly told he was possessed by a priest, when really he was mentally ill.

Sidelining, speaking of mental illness, my Sister after marrying and leaving home, told my Mother, the walls were talking to her. My Mother told my Sister that was taboo subject in so many words, and she did not want to talk about it. My Sister by that time had read, “Valley of the Dolls”, learning how to quiet the voices on her own, along with most of who she was.

5. There were no skateboards. The closest to a skateboard was taking steel roller skate wheels or cart wheels off and screwing them unto a board. Neither option worked too well.

6. When I saw my first calculator which was only rumored to be in a store, it cost around $360.00. Of course we weren’t allowed to actually touch it, as the four function (+ – * /) calculator was locked behind a glass case.

7. It was every kids dream to have their very own transistor radio. They were about the size of a cell phone, only thicker, worked on a 9 volt battery, and if you lived in a big city, had something called FM radio which was thought to be better than AM radio.

8. We did not have a television until I was about six years old. We did not have a television channel that stayed on morning until midnight until I was ten. We didn’t have a color television until I was about thirteen. The movie, “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, was about as racy as it got in those days. Of course cartoons and westerns were full of extreme violence, but that was okay for the time.

9. Our milk came from a daily farmer. It was milked from the cow, chilled and bottled in gallon root beer bottles we brought from home. The cream would float on the top, and the bottle would have to be shaken before being poured out. When the Farmer and his family  got sick with the flu in winter, all his customers usually did too.

10. Tea, Milk, and Bread Men were common when I was little. The Tea man sold tea, hygiene products, hair and tooth brushes, and of course cheap little toys for toddlers that were not old enough for school.

11. Abuse in the home was much more common that it is today. Spanking, and beating (both children and wives) was not uncommon. Children were to be seen and not heard. Never questioned the authority of an adult, and kept out of sight unless it was meal time. I remember a friend of mine went to baby-sit three young boys, and one was proud to show off a hole in a the wall that his Dad made when he threw the boy into the wall. One boy in my class was discovered by our teacher (who touched his shoulder) to have black and green welts on his back from his mother beating him with a rubber garden hose. I also had an eleven year old alcoholic friend whose father never noticed the missing liquor.

12. Skate boards as we know them today did not exist. Bicycles were made of iron, and at the slightest grade you generally got off and walked it up the hill. Back packs were only for hiking and camping. Bumper Tennis shoes were the rage, Hoods had Duck Tails, and wore blue jeans and black tee shirts with engineering boots if they could afford them. We voted on whether or not girls would be allowed to wear slacks to school.

13. The Pill, otherwise known as birth control pills. Sex was a rare event, believe it or not except among the high risk taking group. Parents frequently slept in separate beds. To be intimate and risk having sex was dangerous at best, because the chance of pregnancy was very high compared to life today. The Pill started the sexual revolution of the sixties, giving Women more power and control in their lives than any time previous in the worlds history.