1950s Memory Triggers

If you grew up in the 1950s, here’s a website created by the Ames Historical Society that will instantly transport you back to those days. Be sure you have the speakers turned on for your computer. Have pen and paper ready to note down fleeting thoughts that you’ll want to write about later. Maybe you’ll chose to write about your favorite songs from that decade or learning to dance in your friend’s basement with a 45 playing on the boxy record player. Perhaps you’ll write about your comic book collection that your mom threw out one day and you’ve never forgiven her for doing that.

Whatever memories this 1950s site triggers, you’ll want to write it down even if it’s just fragments. Later you can expand or connect these to make a more complete picture  of your life at that time.

Cindy, Karen, Ginger, Susan Martin in 1950s

Here I am with three of my sisters in the 1950s.


Memory Triggers – Really Old Stuff

This arrived in my inbox when I checked my e-mail. It brought back some memories and I’m sure it will start you thinking of some topics to write about. I’ll put the whole thing in here. Pick and choose what strikes a chord with you. Maybe pull together all the references to old toys and games and write about those. You could also write about memories of the family dinner table, cleaning your plate and how that went in your family.
Here it is:

‘Someone asked the other day, ‘What was your favorite fast food when you were growing up?’
‘We didn’t have fast food when I was growing up,’ I informed him.
‘All the food was slow.’

‘C’mon, seriously. Where did you eat?’
‘It was a place called ‘at home,” I explained. !
‘Mom cooked every day and when Dad got home from work, we sat down together at the dining room table, and if I didn’t like what she put on my plate I was allowed to sit there until I did like it.’

By this time, the kid was laughing so hard I was afraid he was going to suffer serious internal damage, so I didn’t tell him the part about how I had to have permission to leave the table.
But here are some other things I would have told him about my childhood if I figured his system could have handled it :
Some parents NEVER owned their own house, never wore Levis, never set foot on a golf course, never traveled out of the country or had a credit card.
In their later years they had something called a revolving charge card. The card was good only at Sears Roebuck. Or maybe it was Sears & Roebuck.
Either way, there is no Roebuck anymore. Maybe he died.

My parents never drove me to soccer practice. This was mostly because we never had heard of soccer. I had a bicycle that weighed probably 50 pounds, and only had one speed, (slow)
We didn’t have a television in our house until I was 19.
It was, of course, black and white, and the station went off the air at midnight, after playing the national anthem and a poem about God; it came back on the air at about 6 a..m. And there was usually a locally produced news and farm show on, featuring local people.

I was 21 before I tasted my first pizza, it was called ‘pizza pie.’
When I bit into it, I burned the roof of my mouth and the cheese slid off, swung down, plastered itself against my chin and burned that, too. It’s still the best pizza I ever had..

I never had a telephone in my room.
The only phone in the house was in the living room and it was on a party line. Before you could dial, you had to listen and make sure some people you didn’t know weren’t already using the line.
Pizzas were not delivered to our home But milk was.
All newspapers were delivered by boys and all boys delivered newspapers –my brother delivered a newspaper, six days a week. It cost 7 cents a paper, of which he got to keep 2 cents. He had to get up at 6AM every morning.
On Saturday, he had to collect the 42 cents from his customers. His favorite customers were the ones who gave him 50 cents and told him to keep the change. His least favorite customers were the ones who seemed to never be home on collection day..
Movie stars kissed with their mouths shut. At least, they did in the movies. There were no movie ratings because all movies were responsibly produced for everyone to enjoy viewing, without profanity or violence or most anything offensive.

If you grew up in a generation before there was fast food, you may want to share some of these memories with your children or grandchildren Just don’t blame me if they bust a gut laughing.

Growing up isn’t what it used to be, is it?
MEMORIES from a friend :
My Dad is cleaning out my grandmother’s house (she died in December) and he brought me an old Royal Crown Cola bottle. In the bottle top was a stopper with a bunch of holes in it.. I knew immediately what it was, but my daughter had no idea.. She thought they had tried to make it a salt shaker or something. I knew it as the bottle that sat on the end of the ironing board to ‘sprinkle’ clothes with because we didn’t have steam irons.. Man, I am old.
How many do you remember?
Head lights dimmer switches on the floor.
Ignition switches on the dashboard.
Heaters mounted on the inside of the fire wall.
Real ice boxes.
Pant leg clips for bicycles without chain guards.
Soldering irons you heat on a gas burner.
Using hand signals for cars without turn signals.

Older Than Dirt Quiz :
Count all the ones that you remember not the ones you were told about.
Ratings at the bottom.
1.. Blackjack chewing gum
2.Wax Coke-shaped bottles with colored sugar water
3. Candy cigarettes
4. Soda pop machines that dispensed glass bottles
5. Coffee shops or diners with tableside juke boxes
6. Home milk delivery in glass bottles with cardboard stoppers

7. Party lines on the telephone
8 Newsreels before the movie
9. P.F. Flyers
10. Butch wax
11.. TV test patterns that came on at night after the last show and were there until TV shows started again in the morning. (there were only 3 channels [if you were fortunate])
12. Peashooters
13. Howdy Doody
14. 45 RPM records
15. S& H greenstamps
16. Hi-fi’s
17. Metal ice trays with lever
18. Mimeograph paper
19. Blue flashbulb
20. Packards
21. Roller skate keys
22. Cork popguns
23. Drive-ins
24. Studebakers
25. Wash tub wringers

If you remembered 0-5 = You’re still young
If you remembered 6-10 = You are getting older
If you remembered 11-15 = Don’t tell your age,
If you remembered 16-25 = You’ re older t han dirt!

I might be older than dirt but those memories are some of the best parts of my life.

Lots of Gators

It’s not uncommon for us to see an alligator cruising down the middle of the small lake behind our house. Well, really it’s a retention pond for all that rain that Florida gets, but I think “lake” sounds nicer. When we have visitors, we hope that the resident alligator will show himself for their benefit. What’s the use of traveling all the way to Florida if you don’t get to see an alligator at least once.

Our visitor this week was escaping the chill temperatures in Missouri. Maybe he would have been satisfied with just Florida sunshine and dinner on the lanai. He hit it lucky though, getting sunshine, 80 degree days, and THREE alligators. First we saw one, just barely showing its head above water. Then we spotted the second one further down the lake. A short while later, the two of them looked quite cosy resting on the shore across the lake. I took my camera with its 20X zoom down to my neighbor’s yard to get a closer photo of the pair. They appeared to be at least 6-8 feet in length. It’s hard to judge.

While looking for a good angle, I noticed a small alligator just a stone’s throw away from me on my side of the lake.  Quickly I snapped a picture of it, then tried getting a little closer. Splash! He hit the water running and was gone in no time. Oh, well, I still had the two larger gators to capture. With the zoom, I could see them pretty well and took several shots. Here are the three alligators that were in our lake:

The End of Christmas

Last week, I plunged into a hard day’s work putting away the Christmas decorations. It’s not nearly as much fun as putting them up in December. Usually I procrastinate on storing them away. Partly that’s because Christmas is fun and I hate to say it’s over, but mostly it’s because I begrudge the time spent boxing it all up.

The librarian in me want to sort all the decorations by categories as I pack them into the boxes. All the straw ornaments and wheat weavings go into one box, carefully layered in tissue paper. I wrap all the glass ornaments in lightweight foam or tissue paper and box them together. The really old ornaments like the turn-of-the-century santa get wrapped and placed in individual small boxes. It probably was hand-blown in Germany in the 1890s.

My feet were aching from standing on the hard, tile floor for so many hours as I removed items from the Christmas tree and collected holiday decor from all the rooms of the house. I always miss one or two things and discover them days or even weeks later in obscure places. There was no energy left to tackle the big tree, so I left it up for one more day. It stood denuded, but still a stately presence in the living room. The following day, I wrestled it into three sections and, with some assistance, stuffed it into its oversized canvas carrying case.  My husband dragged it to the garage where it will be in the way for the next eleven months.

It’s done… all the boxes stored on shelving. Each box sports a fresh label that says merely “XMAS” and so for another year, Christmas is stored away.

Cold Day for the Cranes

Undeterred by the chill weather we’ve had this week in Florida, the sandhill cranes wandered by looking for food. I assume it’s grubs they’re finding as they poke about in the sandy, soft soil below our St Augustine grass. Those impressive beaks penetrate the soil quite easily.

I wanted some fresh pictures, so I grabbed my Canon SX20 IS and hustled out through the lanai despite the low temperatures. Last night it was 28 degrees in Central Florida. Ugh.

Anyway, the cranes posed nicely for me. It amazes me how close they will let me come. I almost don’t need that 20X zoom. Perhaps being such large birds, they don’t find people that intimidating. If they stare intently at me and croon/purr deep in their throat then take a step towards me, I back carefully away. Often they let me come within 6 to 8 feet of them with my camera. It may be that our retirement community serves as a sanctuary for them where no one bothers them, so they feel secure and complacent around people here.

I’m a Giant Squid!

This may sound a little weird to anyone unfamiliar with the Squidoo website, but becoming a Giant Squid is an honor on the site. Twice a year, a batch of lensmasters on Squidoo are chosen to join the Giant Squid group. To be considered for this, one must first complete fifty lenses (mini-webpages) on the Squidoo site.

I dabbled with the site in the fall, making two lenses. One was promoting my mother’s book, My Flint Hills Childhood, and the other was promoting the lake lot we were trying to sell at Sugar Valley Lakes. In November, I took another look at Squidoo and started trying out making lenses on a variety of topics. It was fun and creative with instant results.  The eHow website where I usually write was getting frustrating with its software glitches and the grouching in the forums about the sweeps deleting articles.

After completing ten, then twenty lenses, I looked over the requirements for Giant Squid. Maybe I could do this. The deadline was the end of December, so I needed to learn a lot and produce a lot in November and December.  I now have 75 finished Squidoo lenses with the top one ranked at 7,820. There’s a lot I need to learn about getting traffic to the lenses but my mind is teeming with ideas for new ones. I’d rather keep making them and let the search engines take care of finding readers for them.

Here’s what I’ve made so far:

  • Gene Stratton-Porter
  • Making Snowflakes Online
  • Wine Corks and Ways to Use Them
  • Alligators: Fun Facts
  • Solivita Gift Shop
  • Becoming a Top Amazon Reviewer
  • The Flint Hills of Kansas
  • Identify the Water Birds
  • Sugar Valley Lakes
  • Wanda Ryder – Manitoba Author
  • Book Oddities
  • Small Town Kansas: Hamilton
  • Photographing Flowers
  • Collecting Aprons
  • Feedsack Dresses
  • Small Town Kansas – A Lensography
  • Getting Older
  • Turn an eHow Article into a Squidoo Lens
  • Save an Old Barn
  • Writers at 80 and 90
  • Odd Topics on eHow
  • Cynthia Ross – Kansas Author
  • Promoting a Self-Published Book
  • Write Family Memories for Our Echo
  • A Pet Badger
  • Gail Lee Martin – A Lensography
  • Fabulous Florida
  • Clyde Martin’s Family History
  • The Sanford Troubadours
  • An Old-Fashioned Christmas
  • Children Remembering World War II
  • 25 Things I’m Grateful For
  • eHow Dolly Visits Central Florida
  • Tyro, Kansas
  • See the Spectacle of Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • Sharing Recipes Online
  • Walking Off Thanksgiving Calories
  • Seadrift, Texas
  • A Bride’s Christmas Tree
  • Meet the Author: C.J. Garriott
  • Baby Sandhill Cranes
  • It’s Turkey Day
  • Octogenarian Self-Publishes Memoirs
  • An Old-Fashioned Halloween
  • Decorating with Bar Signs
  • Lake Cottage
  • Cooking New England Style
  • Self-Publishing with Blurb
  • My Interests: A to Z
  • An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving
  • Improving eHow Articles
  • eHow Article Writing
  • Unique Christmas Trees
  • Favorite Books from My Childhood
  • Bertha McGhee
  • Too Much Stuff
  • Favorite Eating Places for Solivita Residents
  • Teterville, Kansas
  • Stroke Survivors Tell Their Stories
  • Family Photos of Vintage Motorcycles
  • Finding Poinciana, Florida
  • Decorating with Neon Bar Signs
  • Holland: My Reading List
  • Celtic Music
  • Make the Money Last
  • Shannon Marie Hyle (Martin): A Tribute
  • Unusual Jobs
  • Collecting Vintage Valentines
  • Make a Thrifty Christmas into a Merry Christmas
  • Making Wishes
  • Small Town Kansas: Reading
  • Keep Track of a Child at Disney or Other Theme Parks
  • I Love Books and Libraries
  • 1918 Ladies Footwear
  • Golf Cart Fun
  • I Resolve to Write

    I’ve been reading back through my blog and felt good about my progress in a variety of activities and projects over 2009. Of course, there’s so much more I want to accomplish. I guess this is what life is all about, having goals and dreams and working towards those. Without these, life would be pretty dull.

    I didn’t write down any specific New Year’s resolutions this year. It would have been the usual eat less, exercise more, etc.  Now that we’re a few days into 2010, I think I’ll take “writing more” as my motto for the year. To be specific, I want to:

    • write enough eHow articles to earn $400 a month on that site
    • create/write enough Squidoo lenses to earn $100 a month on that site
    • write enough essays on Helium to achieve a four star rating there (requires a minimum of 100 articles, which rank on average in the top quarter)
    • write some Helium marketplace essays where I can earn more money there
    • write weekly writing triggers to post on my blog for my writing group
    • finish editing the paperback edition of my dad’s book and get it published on Blurb
    • encourage my mom in writing her memories of her adult life for a third book (tentative title: Gail, All Grown Up)
    • resume the weekly family memory writing group this summer
    • teach a class in Creating a Family Biography Book (scheduled for June in Kittery, Maine). Here’s the class description “Virginia Allain, a retired librarian, self-published her mother’s memories of growing up in the 1930s (My Flint Hills Childhood) and a collection of family memories about her father (Clyde Owen Martin). This freelance writer and avid photographer can show you how to gather, organize, write and self-publish your own family stories using the latest print-on-demand method. The session includes how to trigger your memories and those of family members and to capture them on paper. She will demonstrate use of Blurb.com’s BookSmart software to create a family biography and make it available in paperback and/or hardback. To get an idea of the finished product, you can preview her books at www.blurb.com/user/vallain1.”

    I guess that’s enough to keep me busy in 2010. Wish me luck in carrying all this through.

    Oops, I almost forgot. I also want to write in my journal every day.