Category Archives: 1950s, 60s and 70s

Ridiculous Memories Linger

With aging comes a little more time to sit quietly and reflect. I have no idea why my reflections are often filled with ridiculous memories.

While some people use their time to do mind boggling amazing endeavors (17 Year Old Builds Neural Network to Detect Breast Cancer in a Web App), when I have extra time, I find my mind wandering back to memories from the past. Usually these memories make me giggle or cringe.

In junior high, all 7th graders had to take home economics classes. Boys and girls learned about cooking, sewing and taking care of a home in a classroom setting. I loved the cooking classes. I did not love sharing my cooking space with boys. They often caused trouble. There was the knife tosser, the flame eater and of course the mad scientist who always tried to blow up the mini-kitchen.

One day, I noticed the boys in my group were unusually cheerful. I knew right away that something was up. What to do? Be a tattler and forewarn the teacher or get out of the way and enjoy the show. I got out of the way.

When the teacher finished the lecture portion of her lesson, groups began moving toward their kitchens to cook. Hoping to delay my arrival at our kitchen and thereby be far away from the upcoming disaster, I added some very important notes in my notebook. I am pretty good at dawdling and making it look like I am working hard.

Soon the room was filled with screams. It seems the ingenious boys from my station had taken rubber bands and wrapped them around the water sprayer nozzles. As each group turned on the water to fill pots for boiling, they were doused with a shower of water, right in their faces. It was pretty brilliant.

Unfortunately, the boys in my station forgot to affix a rubber band on our own water sprayer and even worse, did not turn it on and get wet. The teacher, being a smart college graduate, figured out quickly which team was responsible for the mayhem. With no time for explanations, my group was marched down to the office to learn the finer points of kitchen etiquette from the principal. It was the best detention I ever had.


Is Riding a Unicycle Cool?

What does it take to be one of the popular crowd in school? I have no idea. My glory days were in elementary school where my individualism was celebrated. My radical ideas helped elect me to student council president in the sixth grade. I can’t remember my campaign slogan but I am sure it had to do with individual rights. Being president seemed like a big deal but all I remember is the hard work and losing my ‘boyfriend’ to my very cute best friend who didn’t have a thought in her head.

My popularity went downhill from there since I did not conform to the norm in junior high and high school. Why didn’t I conform? It was boring. Boys and girls sitting around talking about nothing and doing not much more. What did I want to do in sixth grade? Well, I had attended a 4-H talent show and saw a girl riding a unicycle in the contest. I begged my parents for a unicycle. That Christmas I searched under the tree and did not see any package resembling a unicycle. When I opened my last present there was a note telling me to go to my parent’s closet. Could it be? I ran upstairs and there in my mom’s closet was a unicycle. I screamed and then thought, “Now what do I do?” It was winter and there was snow on the ground. How was I going to learn to ride a unicycle?

Mom said I could use the laundry room to learn. All winter long I struggled to learn my balance as I scraped the washer to get to the dryer. Finally spring came and I was able to go outside. I clutched the side of the garage and made my first pedals into the driveway as I fell every which way you can. Being stubborn I didn’t give up. After many thousands of attempts I finally learned how to balance and rode the length of the driveway. From there it was like riding a bike.

My phy ed teachers in junior high found out I could ride a unicycle. I ended up teaching a unicycle mini-versity class at our junior high during the lunch hour. The teachers and kids that learned to ride went on the road providing lyceums to area elementary schools. In those school gyms we played unicycle basketball and performed a variety of unicycle tricks. If that wasn’t enough, I even rode my unicycle to school instead of my bike. Why wasn’t I popular? Take a guess.

Two years after getting my unicycle I asked my parents for a guitar. I found a really cute high school boy to teach me to play the guitar for free. That Christmas there was a small box under the tree. It was too small to be a guitar but the box was shaped like a guitar. I was so excited that I ripped off the wrapping hoping to find a note leading me on a scavenger hunt to my guitar. Instead when I opened the box I found a ukulele. What were they thinking?

“Where Did All the Olives Go?”

Mom would serve olives with dinner when we had company. She placed the olives in her glass relish tray with a small fork for spearing. She must have thought olives dressed up her table.

One evening, my sister’s friend Kristine came to dinner. Yes! Although Kristine was young she was still considered company so tonight would be an olive night. When the olive tray finally reached me, the olives were all gone. As the third person to receive the tray I could not believe they were all gone so I said, “Where did all the olives go?”

In answer, Kristine, sitting directly to my right, lifted both hands high in the air. She had one black olive pushed onto the tip of all ten fingers. She proceeded to stick one finger, at a time, into her mouth and ate all 10 olives. I was incredulous. I was outraged. I was worried because now the meatballs were being passed to Kristine.

Beauty and the Pain

I was tempted to post this picture with no explanation
but young women need to be enlightened.
This is a hairdryer.

Women have gone to extraordinary lengths to look great (dragging their young daughters with them). Curling hair used to involve a lot of time and discomfort. First there was the hair washing. When I was young, we did not have a shower. To wash our hair we bent over a sink or washed it in our bath. Once in a while mom would wash our hair in the kitchen. We would lie on the kitchen counter with our heads over the sink as she lathered and rinsed. It was almost like being at the salon, except for the hard counter, the cupboards and the danger of falling.

Wet hair was towel dried, brushed and combed to prepare for curling. The tangles were yanked, I mean teased out. Short hair meant pin curls. Small sections of hair were twisted around a finger and then secured to your head with two bobby pins. Long hair meant curlers. Curlers were wound in hair and then stuck into place with a plastic pin. Then it was usually time for bed. Yes, we were expected to sleep with damp hair in pin curls or hard rollers. I have one word. Painful. Here’s another. Sleepless.

We were thrilled when mom bought a hair dryer. We were not so thrilled when we tried it out. A big plastic cap was placed over our head of curlers. The cap had a hose which attached to a dryer. Mom would plug in the dryer, turn it on and our cap would inflate with hot, yes, hot air. The part of our head closest to the hose would get a direct hit of heat. Again, painful but mom explained this was the price of beauty. We had to sit on the couch until our hair was dry. Long hair takes a long time to dry which enabled the elastic around the edge of the cap to leave a nice indentation on our forehead and neck. Lovely.

When we were pronounced dry, the pin curls or curlers were removed. The brush and hairspray were put to use until our hair was stiff and would not lose the cascade of curls. Toilet paper was wrapped around our head, to hold the curls shape, and we were sent to bed. These were the good old days. Wonder why nobody misses them?

Four-Sixty Air Conditioning

It’s another hot day in the U. S. of A. The wall of heat assaulted me every time I entered my car and made me thankful for air conditioning. This wasn’t always so. Air conditioning was not standard in cars or really affordable until the 1980s. What, you say? It’s true. Many of us grew up traveling without this luxury.

Sitting like six sardines on vinyl seats in the family car was not a treat. Our short shorts and cramped quarters caused sweaty legs to stick to the sibling sitting next to you. This was gross, painful and led to many a fight. “Move over!” “Stop pushing!” and then the dreaded voice from the front seat, “Am I going to have to pull this car over?”

On one summer trip Dad, always the wit and the only one with every air vent aimed his way, made light of our circumstances.

Me: “It’s hot! I wish we had air conditioning.”
Dad: “We do.”
Me: “We do?”
Dad: “Yes, it’s called four-sixty air conditioning. Roll down all four windows and I will drive 60 miles an hour.
Me: “That’s not funny!”

My oldest brother took the family picture above. Remember all those family pictures from the 60s and 70s with wild hair? Four-sixty air conditioning.