General Question

pleiades's avatar

For those of you who grew up in the 1950's what do you think about our current time?

Asked by pleiades (6571points) January 26th, 2013

Feel free to let loose. I understand you could go on and write a book. Maybe this could be a really rough draft for you! Anyhow, it’d be really awesome to hear some thoughts from you. Please do share your thoughts about growing up in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, up until now.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

22 Answers

starsofeight's avatar

I was born in ‘54. That was just nine years after the end of world war 2. I was a contemporary of Albert Einstein, who died in ‘55. I say that to put it into a historical context. I began my life at a time when people still played 78’s on wind-up record players. I saw the fading of popular folk music into the origins of rock and roll. There were just three channels on our black and white TV. I watched Kennedy assassinated on live TV. I missed Howdy Doodie, but well remember Gumby and Pokey. I am a Viet Nam era veteran, although I was stationed stateside. I saw the end of segregation and the beginning of home computing. I have lived before and after the advent of the internet. I saw phones evolve from rotary to the first clunky cells, to what we now have, and I see that evolution in technology unabated. I watched the first episode of Star Trek, and I was there for the opening of Star wars. I missed, or ignored much of the 80’s due to my life style, but in the 90’s I began to settle into a more observant mode, taking interest in the budding CGI in movies. I saw a revolution in self publishing, availed myself of it, publishing written works and Indie music. I have seen a lot; will see more, but the ball will soon pass to your court. I hope you witness as much or more.

chyna's avatar

I was born in ‘58. It was a time of innocence in which children could play outside all day long and parents didn’t worry that their kids would be snatched. It did happen, but very rarely. We still had air raid drills in my neighborhood, the guy 2 doors down had a bomb shelter. I don’t remember being scared by any of it. It was our job, as children of the neighborhood, to play, to run, to make up games. We had three channels on TV and we were not allowed to watch it until night time. Instead of remotes, we served as the channel changer to my parents.
I saw the news footage of Kennedy’s funeral and my parents telling me I was watching an historical moment. I saw the footage of man landing on the moon. I remember my brother buying my mom her first microwave which was huge. I remember calling people from phone booths.
I saw the Beetles on Ed Sullivan, danced at disco’s and line danced at country beer joints.
I embellish the changes the world has seen in my life, knowing that with change brings good and bad, but I think the good outweighs the bad. The milestones made in medicine is probably the most outstanding in my mind.

bossob's avatar

Early fifties baby here. TVs were furniture. Monthly, we had to clean out all the dead Indians out of the TV that were killed every night on the Western shows. Somebody told me the Beatles were going to be on the Ed Sullivan show for the first time that night, and for the life of me, I couldn’t understand why he wanted to watch some bugs. We had only one of everything: one TV; one car; one bathroom; one telephone; one Mom; one Dad; one garden hose; one seven transistor radio. We wore out, reused, rebuilt, and repurposed everything before discarding it.

I’ve had trouble adapting to today’s disposable mentality. Even houses and cars are becoming disposable; that troubles me.

I’m still trying to reconcile my perception of ‘back in the day’ when individuals took personal responsibility for their actions, and they acknowledged that sometimes ‘shit happens’, as compared to today’s victim mentality where their first response is to point fingers and assign blame.

I’ve become more interested in the recorded history of the last 60 years, as I try to relate to the big, world picture of events that were happening during my lifetime without an inkling on my part. ‘Look’, ‘Life’, and ‘National Geographic’ magazines provided glimpses to the country and world, but they were only a crack in the door to the path beyond my little personal space.

I’m grateful for the advances in technology and medicine, and sometimes I have to remind myself that although I fondly remember the good ol’ days, there was a lot I’m glad to have left behind.

ETpro's avatar

I turned 6 years old in 1950, so I did most of my growing up in that decade. Times have changed a great deal. Bigotry was much more the order of the day in the 50s. Open hostility toward gays and people of color hit little opposition. In the South, it was the norm. It was expected of you. Jim Crow was firmly in charge.

On the other hand, anybody who wanted a job could get one, and could earn a living wage. This was the post-war boom. That boom was the longest and largest sustained period of growth in GDP in US history. It outstripped even the Gilded Age, and unlike that previous boom, it benefited everybody, not just a small handful of robber barons. Because it benefited all, it produced the world’s first large middle class.

Republican arguments that a 39.6% top marginal rate would paralyze the job Creators rely on Americans poor knowledge of our own history. They would be seen as absurd if voters knew that the top marginal rate in those boom years was 91% and that it had just dropped from 94% to 91% at the end of WWII. Back then we had a common enemy, and we all worked together to defeat that enemy and then to rebuild our own nation and help rebuild those we had defeated, turning them into customers for our manufacturing prowess.

People had a lot more time for personal connection then. Go into a coffee shop in the 50s, and you could easily find someone to talk sports or politics or the latest news of the day. Hit a Starbucks today, and everyone is engrossed in their own smart phone, tablet PC, or music from their iPod. Even walking down the street now, folks are oblivious to the actual world they are in, preferring the connected world their hand held devices provide. I watched a guy texting walk face first into a telephone pole the other day. Never saw that in the 50s.

flutherother's avatar

We are much wealthier today. In the 1950’s no one had a car, a television or even a phone. We didn’t have fitted carpets, we had linoleum with a square of carpet in the middle of the floor. No washing machines just a gas boiler and a mangle. Eating out was unthinkable and so were holidays. Trips to the cinema were rare.

The countryside was ours. We could go anywhere we liked and we explored the woods and the rivers and the beaches near our home. Today that countryside is built over with houses three or four times the size of ours and the roads are full of traffic. What we have gained is balanced by what we have lost.

gondwanalon's avatar

I was born in 1951. My single mother was too proud to accept and help from the State (“State Aid” as she called it). She would likely be jailed nowadays the way she neglected her kids. So she worked 2 and 3 jobs and was always gone. I had no adult supervision or discipline, My two older sisters tried to control me but I was out of control living in what was a world of pandemonium. I walked to school including kindergarten alone about 2 miles across busy intersections in down town Pomona California. I was sure that my kindergarten teach hated me but I had no idea why and even though followed her instructions to me (as best as I could) she always punished me harshly and frequently (more so that the other kids). I was living in a world that did not conform to logic and this was very confusing to me and I got into a lot of trouble and made my Mom’s life miserable. I somehow managed to make it to the 4th grade (funked 2nd grade) and still couldn’t read. Luckily my teacher would take none of my nonsense and made me come to class an hour early each day to learn to read, I totally respected her and for once in my life I did as I was told and I started reading very fast. She had a paddle displayed as did the other teachers but she never had to use it.

What I’m trying to say here is that I got a terrible start in school and in life. Nevertheless as the old folks use to say back then, “You have to pull yourself up by your boot-straps”, and even as confusing that was for me, that is exactly what I did. I decided to work hard and do my best in school. Against all odds I did well in junior and senior high schools and graduated from college with a B.A. in science. I’m no great success story but I did reach a good level of success.

Toady’s kids get a head-start in schools. All I learned in kindergarten was finger painting and make stuff out of clay and paper. Many kids of today can read and do arithmetic in in kindergarten but then about half don’t graduate from high school despite the great head start. Somehow someway the educational ball gets dropped. Bad parents? (That didn’t stop me). I have friend that has been a high school teacher for 30 years and he told me that the kids today can not to the assignments that the kids a couple of decades ago were doing. He has to dump-down his assignments. Also obesity was not such a big problem when I was a kid even though we ate a lot (and I mean a lot) of junk food. After school we played baseball, football and other games outside mostly in the streets with no adults around and no computers to to fiddle with. Oh we had T.V. but it wasn’t worth watching as it was black & white and it only got 3 channels and only one came in clear usually broadcasting the news.

Oh to looks like I’ve rambled on far too much. HA!

SomeoneElse's avatar

I was born in 1947 so grew up in the fifties.
I remember how the summer holidays from school seemed to stretch away into the distance and it seemed to be sunny all the time.
We didn’t have a television until the sixties, and so the radio was important, with the comedy shows being my favourites.
No computers, no mobile phones, no CDs or DVDs, no constant display of celebs to inspire envy.
I feel times were nicer then, kinder then, but I was a child and so the problems of ‘living’ were not my problems, I just enjoyed myself.

rooeytoo's avatar

Born in mid 40’s. I remember air raid sirens blaring and hiding under our desks at school because the bomb might drop any minute. Really though we were all more scared of the nun’s ruler smacking our knuckles than the bomb! About 35–40 in the class and no one on drugs, but a couple that perhaps would have benefited. No one turned into serial killers but there are a few drunks although there are also several doctors, lawyers and other respected professions. Yep as @gondwanalon said I walked to school, played outside in all weather (without hydrating although the occasional drink from a disgusting hose was always good). I wanted to play little league baseball but girls were not allowed and in catholic school there were no sports teams for girls, so I was forced to play only pick up games on the playground but that was good too. We scrounged for returnable bottles to collect the refunds and buy a 5 cent candy bar or ice cream cone. When I started working, minimum wage was I think about a dollar an hour, maybe a little less because I remember being thrilled when I finally made that much.

Linda_Owl's avatar

I was born in 1946, so I grew up thru the decade of the 50’s. I grew up in the city of Dallas. We were surrounded by concrete sidewalks & parking lots, but these made excellent skating surfaces. I was born on the lower end of the socio-economic scale, so we did a lot of moving around. As @ETpro said, racism & discrimination was rampant. I remember the radio shows very well. I used to listen to them while I washed dishes after our evening meal. We could play outside until late in the evening without being worried about our safety. We did not have a telephone until I was 16 years old, but we did have a washing machine & a television by the time I was 14. Now we have a lot of ‘material possessions’ (or at least some of us do), but we have lost our connection to our natural world. The decade long war in Afghanistan means that the average 12 year old remembers always being at war in Afghanistan or Iraq. So this means that this average 12 year old has grown to the age he or she is, seeing the images from these wars. It makes me wonder if these kids think that warfare is the ‘normal’ thing for mankind to do? Today’s kids are much more ‘tech savy’ than we were at a similar age, but I don’t know if they are any happier than we were as children. As always, the passage of time changes everything.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Grew up in the fifty’s in Los Angeles, remember seeing movie stars and TV personalities. Gabby Hayes had his agent in my father’s office building, Gabby would show up in his yellow Cadillac with Steer horns on the hood. Lawrence Welk use to come our neighborhood his drummer was father of one my junior high chums.
I also remember the air raid sirens and bomb drills at school. Several friends had fathers will major injuries from battles in WWII. We had a “party line” for our telephone, straight cord not a coiled cord.

gasman's avatar

Born in Chicago in 1950, our family was among the first wave relocate to suburbia, around 1955. The neighborhood was crawling with kids & we often played in new houses under construction on every street. We had a lot of WWII toys, from car & trucks to guns. We took turns being Germans & dying.

My older brother, sister, & I – a few years apart – each went to a different high school, as they kept building them to keep up with the baby boom. Math & science education was in full gear – we all wanted to be scientists. Cars grew tail fins, rock ‘n’ roll took over radio. We were the first tv generation, never knowing a time without it, but not getting a color set until early 60s. The cold war space race was underway…I worried about not having a bomb shelter in the backyard. Otherwise it was like Leave It To Beaver except everybody’s Jewish :)

Pachy's avatar

School weeks lasted forever, but so did some vacation. Long lazy weekends. Kids all up and down the block played together till dark (cowboys and Indians, soldiers, sometimes Flash Gordon, to just running around and yelling, catching fireflies. Dad mowing the lawn and listening to the baseball game on the radio. I got my first crush in early elementary school (Sherry Davenport, probably a grandmother now, maybe a great-grandmother, maybe dead), first love in junior high school. Lots of A-bomb drills, us ducking under our little wooden desks where we were told we’d be safe from radiation and fire. Going to astronomy classes at the local children’s museum. Spending hours in the new planetarium, gazing up at a ceiling that looked like a sky with a soft breeze provided by fans. No air conditioning when I was a pre-teen, only evaporative cooling. Just as I am today, my dad was an early adopter. We were the first in our neighborhood to have a TV black & white set (tiny screen embedded in a huge wood cabinet, two channels, wrestling matches and not much else to watch, but kids from all around would come watch). First to own a color TV set. First to own a hi-fi phonograph (dad built the cabinet for that). Dad was the first of all his friends to own a sports car (a Triumph, if I remember correctly). He was also one of the first businessmen in our town to hire a “Negro” to be a salesman in his store, a very gutsy thing for him to do in those long-ago days. And one more first for my dad: buying one of the earliest desk calculators for his store. It did four things – add, subtract, multiply and divide, and it cost over $1,000. Fishing trips with my dad, tasting my first cold beer on the lake on one of those trips. Once telling my dad on one of those trips that I liked Ike and he setting me straight: We’re Democrats, he told me.

rooeytoo's avatar

This is a great question and I am so enjoying reading and remembering with those of my generation!

I should have added that when I was 6 I got my first scooter and that opened up my block. When I was 7 or 8 I got my first 2 wheeled bike and that opened up the town. When I was 11 I got my first “english racing bike” with 3 gears, hand brakes and skinny tires! That opened up the county!

YARNLADY's avatar

Everything is now made of plastic. It can’t be healthy to have all our food prepared in plastic, delivered in plastic, and cooked in plastic. The air we breathe is filled with molecules of plastic. Even our water comes to us through plastic pipes.

One substance that leeches out of plastic is reported to cause obesity, and fumes from heated plastic are known to be poisonous. There are also reports of cancer causing ingredients contained in plastic. Plastics are wreaking havoc with our environment. Plastics could very well lead to the downfall of human kind.

LostInParadise's avatar

I was born in 1948. I remember the time as having a kind of innocence. I grew up in all white suburb, so I was completely unwaware of racial issues. The town was about half Jewish and I remember projecting that figure onto the rest of the world. The backyards on our block joined together without any fences or other barriers. For us kids, it was one big playground. Unlike now, there were people out on the streets all the time. On Halloween, the streets were thick with trick-or-treaters, without any parent chaperones. Apart from the rumors of people putting razors in apples, there was not the slightest sense of danger.

We did not think much about politics, but we all knew that the Soviet Union was the enemy. It may sound strange, but there was comfort in knowing this. It made thihgs kind of tidy. We were all convinced that the U. S. would prevail and continue to lead the world unchallenged.

The American dream was alive and well. Many of us were second or third generation Americans. We would be the first in our family to get a college education. Nobody had much vision of what we would do after college, but we figured that we would be working steadily in some secure job.

The innocence of the 50’s bled into the 60’s. We thought we could change the world, and to a degree we did. We supported civil rights and protested the war in Vietnam. It was a golden age for folk music. We admired John Kennedy.

It is easy for nostalgia to cover up hard times, but I really think it was a great time to grow up. There seems to so much cynicism and anxiety now of a type that would have seemed completely foreign to us.

Response moderated (Spam)
diavolobella's avatar

I was born in 1963. I remember when AM radio was dominant, vinyl LP records were the only way you could get music, followed by 8-track tapes, then cassettes and onward. There were only 4 TV stations (ABC, NBC, CBS and the local public television station), many programs were still in black and white and they all signed off the air at midnight with the playing of the Star Spangled Banner. We played outside all over the neighborhood without any fear and spent most of our time outside since television shows aimed at kids did not predominate like they do now. You had Saturday morning cartoons and after school there were maybe 2 hours of shows like Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch after the soaps ended (and there were a LOT of soap operas) and the news and prime time began. There wasn’t any cussing on TV shows and certainly no nudity or obvert sexuality. I remember this commercial played regularly I wish broadcasters followed those same standards today because TV has gotten pretty gross.

Since news was limited to the nightly news programs on TV or the paper, we didn’t know about every single thing that happened right away and tragedies that occurred far away weren’t as present in our lives. I don’t know if crime was less prevalent (although I think it was) or we just didn’t hear about it 24/7–365. The world certainly felt safer. I didn’t know anyone who had been mugged, robbed, car jacked, burglarized, sexually assaulted, etc., but I know many now who have been victims of violent crimes.

We didn’t eat out as much and there was no fast food except for McDonald’s, which was a treat and not a regular thing. I remember when Wendy’s came on the scene and it was the first time McDonald’s had any real competition. We ate home cooked meals every day and didn’t own a microwave. My Mom cooked things from scratch. We might have eaten frozen vegetables, but a frozen TV dinner was rare and they were pretty gross. They were foil wrapped on aluminum trays. Things like ketchup, salad dressings and mayo came in glass bottles. Milk came in big cardboard cartons. Plastic wasn’t as common.

We had 1 TV, one radio, no computer and our phones were rotary. I remember when our local teen center got Pong and it was a huge deal. We played outside, rode bikes and played lots of board games. Everyone seemed healthier and overweight kids were very uncommon. We’d never heard of designer clothes, supermodels and society wasn’t celebrity obsessed.

Despite many important medical advances, etc., I think it was a much better time to live in and I’d go back in a heartbeat.

Coloma's avatar

Yep, I was born in ‘59 and grew up in the 60’s. We played outside all day and night in the summers at a local park and various neighborhood lots and fields with no worries. Black and white TV with 3 channels, radio, turntables and party lines.
I remember being so pissed trying to call a friend and having the shared line tied up with a babbling neighborhood woman. lol

It was a HUGE deal to get a princess phone in your room as a girl, they came in pink and green and baby blue. That was major BFD in Jr. High ( before it changed to “Middle School.” )
I had “Go Go boots and was a Marcia Brady type until high school when you could buy a huge bag of marijuana for $10 haha

Oh, the good old days.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

1953 here. From birth to 11, I experienced pretty much all the above except the movie stars, beer, and princess telephones. From 5 to 11 were great years. I lived on a small farm in Fair Oaks, California near the Sierra foothills and then in a new suburb of Sacramento. It wasn’t as much fun as the farm, but there were a lot of kids to play with. Sacramento was surrounded by Air Force Bases. Every plane from WWII to the new jets flew over our house. We played outside in the fields a lot, and I rode my bike for miles toward those mountains to the trout hatcheries on the American River. I once made it all the way to Folsom prison. I never missed an opportunity to explore old abandoned houses, big wooden warehouses and mining structures along the river. If my mom ever found out she would have killed me. I remember the river was lined with huge mountains of gravel. And the salmon runs in the autumn stunk like hell. Dead rotten salmon everywhere. I never made it to the Sierras on my bike. The more I biked toward them, the farther away they seemed to get from me.

I’m not sure if this is a false memory or not, but it’s been on my mind for the past few years: the skies seemed a lot bluer in those days. A LOT bluer. They seem paler now, more washed out.

Ah yes, the price of grass: Much later, about 1971 on a motorcycle roadtrip with a buddy to the relatively unknown town (at the time) of Puerta Villarta, Mexico, we bought a kilo of marijuana in a brown paper shopping bag from a farmer outside of town for $12. We were afraid to take it back with us, so on the day we left we dumped more than half of it into our bonfire on the beach then hit the road.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

BTW, this was our first TV. We kept it until my dad bought a bigger B&W console in 1960. The first one, a table model, cost a hefty $270 when new, as the commercial states. That would be about $2,600 in today’s money. My dad bought it when it was three years old, though, and saved a lot of money. The built-in antenna was worthless unless you lived right under a broadcast tower. I think this is the reason we played outside a lot.

ETpro's avatar

Ah, those were the days of great TV. We bought our first set before Eisenhower was inaugurated on January 20, 1953; but the broadcast station in Norfolk was behind schedule, so our set sat waiting for something to be on the air. Instead, we visited my Aunt and Uncle in Atlanta to watch the inauguration parade and ceremony. It was my first experience seeing TV. I was in awe of the technology. Ha! How times have changed.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Vacuum tubes. Everybody who owned TVs and radios literally had to replace the bad vacuum tubes inside them themselves. Grocery stores had these giant tube testers that everyone in the family–-kids, parents, everyone–-knew how to use. I mean, we knew that when the TV went bad you opened it up and then took all the tubes to the grocery store, where you’d insert them in the machine. There was a meter on it that would tell you if the tube was good, weak, or bad. You could buy replacements for the bad tubes right there in the grocery store and take them home to reinsert in your TV..

Things were made to last and were fixable. That was a big deal and source of company pride. It separated us from other countries that were forced to produce throw-away goods, cheap trinkets from inadequate factories thrown together in desperation from the bombed-out rubble of WWII in order to rebuild their economies. The cabinetry that held a lot of electronic devices such as radios and TVs were still often made out of trimmed woodwork or solid metal. I really don’t think a throw-away Bic lighter would sell well in 1959. It would seem wasteful. And who would ever dream of lighting their girlfriend’s filterless Pall Mall with anything but a cool, aerodynamic, chrome and gold Ronson lighter, or a good old, reliable Zippo that you could flick open with one hand like James Dean?

Having so much stuff that you couldn’t get your car into the garage or to the point where you had to rent a separate place entirely to put it all would make you a candidate for the crazyhouse. The idea of buying plastic, poorly made shit at double-digit credit card interest rates, then having to make monthly rental payments to keep it all stored away while it sat disused, then having it all dumped on your lawn one Saturday to be sold off at less than 5% of the original purchase price—Jesus, that wouldn’t only be considered totally insane, but definitely grounds for divorce in any state, including Catholic Maryland.

On the other hand, to run one of those beautiful Detroit steel Flat Head V-8s (encapsulated in an “atomic age” rocket Body by Fisher) more than 100,000 miles was unheard of. According to the auto insurance tables published in 1959, the average American still didn’t see much of the USA in their Chevrolet and drove an average of only 6,000 miles per year. But we had leg room in the back and the big, comfortable bench seat up front was perfect for dates at the drive-in.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther