In the 40s when I was growing up, small towns were pretty safe. You could walk to the store, movies, school or a friends house and not have to worry about anything. My folks never locked their car or the house. People were more respectful of others property and we all knew almost everyone in town. On Saturday mornings you could find almost every kid in town at the LaRita Theatre for the cowboy movies and an episode of the serial.
My favorite was Rocketman. We could hardly wait till the next Saturday to see what was going to happen. I would put that as an equal to todays Soap Opera, it always ended in a cliff hanger. We could get into the movie for ten cents and we would get popcorn and Mallo Cups and hope we could get the seat at the end of certain rows that fit two kids. You didn’t have to leave when the movie was over so we often sat and watched it two or three times before we finally went home. Is there someone who remembers watching Gene Autry, Johnny Mack Brown, Lash LaRue, Hopalong Cassidy and Roy Rogers saving the town from the bad guys in the black hats? One thing we did that you don’t see today was our reaction to what was happening. When the bad guys came in you could hear a big “Boo” and when the good guy captured the bad ones there was applause and clapping. If an adult wanted to see the show they just had to put up with the reactions. We had another theatre that was more for the adults and the movies with the famous stars, but Saturdays at the LaRita was for the kids. I will never forget seeing “The Thing from Another World” and when the box in the greenhouse opened and the dead animal fell out I must have come off that seat two feet. If you haven’t seen that movie and don’t know the greenhouse scene you really need to see it sometime.
Cowboy Classics 100 MoviePack
After the movies, most of us had a parent who worked or had a business downtown and we’d certainly visit, hoping for enough money for ice cream, of course. Then we’d replay the movie on the way home. Like I said we walked, skated or rode bikes everywhere. We knew when we were expected to be home and that was usually accomplished rather than the threat of a good spanking if we weren’t home for supper. I don’t remember any of my friends who had a working mother. They were always home, cooking, taking care of the home and siblings or sewing. My mom made a lot of the clothes I wore. I remember at one point I decided I didn’t want to wear home made things but my dad set me straight on that subject. When I was real little I remember us having several couples living in our front bedroom. Not all at once but the room was always rented. We had an Army-Air Force Base outside of town and with the war on, there was always a need for room rentals for the people from the base. The war caused families to tighten their belts, rationing was a way to distribute diminishing food supplies. The American government encouraged homeowners to create small plots of fruits and vegetables to supplement personal and community food supplies, and they were called Victory Gardens. I offered a Mayonnaise sandwich to my grandson the other day and he was not too impressed. Mayo sandwiches were great snacks for all the 40s kids. Food was needed to feed soldiers fighting World War II. The farmers and food manufacturers were tapped to supply growing military needs, thus creating a shortage of foods available for the ordinary family, which meant no meat or cheese for sandwiches. SPAM was called the “wartime food” of the 1940’s and that was usually on sandwiches for a family meal. My mom had several recipes for making SPAM seem a little less like what it really was. To this day I still like SPAM and always have several cans in the cabinet.
NOTE: I recently had a list of great sites to find SPAM recipes. See http://www.anntuckerblog.com/archives/1308
When I was 10 the town built their first swimming pool. What an exciting time. Every kid in town wanted to learn to swim. The city offered swimming and life saving lessons. We had a lake just out of town so some already knew how to swim a little. You can know we lived at the pool and of course stayed in the water until we were all shriveled. One of my good friends got polio that first summer and the whole town freaked out. They just knew it was because she had stayed in the water and sun too much. That put a quick halt to our full days at the pool. Short periods were ok but no more all day stints. I think she was the first person in town to get polio and I didn’t know anyone else who did. She was put in an iron lung and for many years that was where she stayed.
Years later she was able to use a wheel chair. Our birthdays were on the same day and before polio we often shared parties. She missed so much growing up.
We were a group of girls, about 12 or so that hung out together and always had Slumber Parties where we had to tell ghost stories, or make someone tell the truth.
Making someone tell the truth consisted of a sleeping friend, a pan of warm water and a limp hand that we put in the water while we asked the question. Where we ever got the idea that that would work is beyond me. I think all it did was get someone wet and make them need to go to the bathroom. But we laughed ourselves silly doing it.
I had a brother who was 7 years younger, who died way too young, just a few years ago. I have to chuckle when I remember growing up with a little brother who, in my young eyes, was always in the way, bothering me and my friends and getting into trouble. When I was growing up, men often used a shaving brush with which they put soap on their face before shaving.
When my brother was about 7 years old or so, he was playing with my Dad’s shaving brush and dropped it in the toilet. This scared him so bad he flushed it and the shaving brush was immediately gone for good. Since he could buy a new one, my mom asked my dad why he was so upset. He then told her “because it was guaranteed to last a life time”. I guess the manufacturer didn’t take into consideration small boys who get into things they shouldn’t. As we grew up and became adults I realized he was the funniest person I have known. He could have everyone laughing so hard tears would be running down our cheeks. He majored in Radio and Television in college and had a radio show during those years that I am sure made the Dean wonder why they let this guy even attend school there. He would have his listeners in stitches. My brother actually went and joined the circus one summer in order to have an adventurous job. He fed and cleaned up after the animals and probably wondered why he had done that, but his stories were classic when he came home. After college he was old enough for the draft during VietNam and I remember he said “with a draft number of 7, I decided I might as well go enlist”.
He wanted to be a helicopter pilot but they sent him to pilot training to fly an OV10, a FAC, forward air control aircraft. During his time in Vietnam he met Colonel Mark Berent. After the war Col Berent wrote a book called “Storm Flight”. Richard is mentioned in the book by name in the first chapter. Although this is fiction, it is based on many facts during the war.
One of his special stories was of a sortie where he was spotting for jets and bombers, telling them the coordinates where to put their bombs. He had a small tape recorder which he kept in his plane and one of his better known recordings was taping his voice telling the fighters where to strike in Laos. It turned out that at the same time Nixon was speaking on the radio also in his plane. Ironically it was when the President was telling the Americans that we were not bombing in Laos and Cambodia. Ooooops…..Needless to say we are not sure where that tape wound up.
I have decided to change my blog style from just odds and ends to memories of a lifetime. From the 40s to today. Come along with me if you were born in the 40s and remember or if not come along for a ride to see what you missed.
Don’t you just love to see snow flakes filling the air in the winter? Watching the children running and playing in the snow and hearing the squeals of laughter as they fall into a snow angel. I was born and raised in the panhandle of Texas, where the wind could turn a winter snow into a snow drift as high as a telephone pole. I can remember my folks saying people had disappeared on a road during one of those storms and not found until the snow melted. That was in the 40s way before cell phones, where now someone might find you by your phone. This is a part of the US that was almost the center of the Dust Bowl.
The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl
Where the wind and dirt blew for hundreds of miles. People had to wear cloths over their nose and mouth to breath inside the house. Being a baby, I don’t remember and I am glad because I think that would be a terrible way to live. Now the snow is another form of mother nature that I do find beautiful even though it can be very dangerous at times. Even with the weather to live with, you will find some of the warmest people in the world. They are friendly, helpful and keep friendships for a lifetime. Small town America at its best.