Category Archives: Memories

40s Grandparents, farms and fleas

This is a picture of my dad, me, my grandma Winnie and my grandpa Sam (Dad’s mom and dad). My grandparents lived on a farm but I was amazed at my grandmother. She put her hat on for a picture and this was probably her very best dress and look she even has her best shoes on. I always remember my grandpa buttoning his shirt at the top. Another thing you might notice is that back in the olden days people never really smiled in photos. Check out some of the photos of your grandparents and I bet you find similar looks on their faces.
One of my favorite times with him was when he would tell me about his visit with the Indian Chief Geronimo when Geronimo was in prison at Ft Sill. I don’t remember why or when but he was very serious. When he was younger, my grandpa, was a very wealthy man in West Texas. That is a story for another time, maybe. I do remember a time we were visiting them and I went out in the barn and played with their collie dog. On the way home my parents noticed I was scratching something awful and needless to say I had more than half of the dogs fleas on me. When we got home my folks put me in a bathtub of cold ice water and I guess the fleas all died or jumped out because that was the last I heard about it.

They All Wore An Apron

The principal use of everyone’s apron was to protect the dress underneath, because they only had
a few. It was easier to wash aprons than dresses, and they used less material, but along with that, it served more purposes than any other piece of wearing apparel.

They were wonderful for use as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven, drying children’s tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears or wiping a child’s runny nose. My mom had a few chickens out back in a coop and the apron was used for carrying in the eggs.   When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids. And when the weather was cold, grandma wrapped it around her arms. Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow.   Aprons with pockets were often filled with clothes pins, handkerchiefs, and a small toy, picked up off the floor. (Does anyone remember when we had to hang the wash on the clothes line?). From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables, and after the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls. If we had unexpected company, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds. I even noticed on New Years day my daughter was wearing one of my mom’s aprons while she cooked the holiday meal. Someone asked her about it and she said it kept her t-shirt clean while she cooked. I find that in the summer if I am lucky enough to have some tomatoes, I bring them in by putting them in my shirt and rolling it up to keep them from falling out. That comes from watching my mom and grandma putting things in their apron all those years. It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that ‘old-time apron that served so many purposes. Maybe we need to bring Aprons back………

Wrong Winner Announced..

I remember as a small child going with my family downtown on a summer evening or whenever we were looking for something to do. We didn’t go shopping, we went watching. Since we only had a radio for evening entertainment we often went in the car downtown and parked. We would get out of the car and sit on the curb and visit with other families or just sit and watch the cars or people go by. One of the favorite places was in front of the newspaper building. If there was something important happening in America we could get information quickly from the newspaper people who would be watching the ticker tape.

There was a variety of publications, which were going to press every minute, every second, during twelve hours of the day. When there was some big event on hand it would stay on the job the whole twenty-four hours, bringing out an edition at every tick of the clock. This minute-by-minute publication was the strip of paper tape which unreeled itself from the ticker machines.

Usually it was stock market news, but the ringside story of a prizefight, the arrival of an ocean liner, the weather conditions in some far-off section, the occurrence of a big railroad accident, of a calamitous earthquake, events big and little, thrilling and trivial, would be duly recorded on this little strip of paper tape. There are lots of us who have at some time or other, stood outside the newspaper office waiting for the ticker to let us all know what was going on in a condensed story of the current history event.

I remember, in particular, the night when we waited for the ticker to tell us who was going to win the Presidential race between Harry S Truman and Thomas E Dewey. The newspaper people would post the state ballot count on a black board on the sidewalk. Does anyone remember Harry? He coined the phrase “The Buck Stops Here”…………Someone else needs that sign on the desk. That was the night of the wrong person being confirmed the winner. Guess you could call it the “most famous newspaper error”.

“Dewey Defeats Truman” was a famously inaccurate banner headline on the front page of the Chicago Tribune on November 3, 1948, the day after incumbent United States President Harry S. Truman beat Republican challenger and Governor of New York Thomas E. Dewey in the 1948 presidential election in an upset victory.

The paper’s erroneous headline became notorious after a jubilant Truman was photographed holding a copy of the paper during a stop at St. Louis Union Station while returning by train from his home in Independence, Missouri to Washington, D.C. Truman’s joy was no doubt increased by the gaffe from the staunchly conservative Republican Chicago Tribune, which had once referred to Truman as a “nincompoop”. In a retrospective article over half a century later about the newspaper’s most famous and most embarrassing headline, the Tribune wrote that Truman “had as low an opinion of the Tribune as it did of him.”

Statements I heard growing up in the 40s

‘I’ll tell you one thing, if things keep going the way  they are, it’s going to be impossible to buy a week’s groceries for $20.00.

‘Have you seen the new cars coming out next year?  It won’t be long before $2,000.00 will only buy a used one.

‘If cigarettes keep going up in price, I’m going to quit. A quarter a pack is ridiculous.

‘Did you hear the post office is thinking about charging a dime just to mail a letter?

‘If they raise the minimum wage to $1.00, Nobody will be able to hire outside help at the store. ‘

‘When I first started driving, Who would have thought gas would someday cost 29 cents a gallon.. Guess we’d be better off leaving the car in the garage.

‘I’m afraid to send my kids to the movies any more.. Ever since they let Clark Gable get by with saying  DAMN in GONE WITH THE WIND, It seems every new movie has either HELL or DAMN in it.

‘I read the other day where some scientist thinks  it’s possible to put a man on the moon by the end of the century. They even have some fellows they call astronauts preparing for it right here in  Texas.

‘Did you see where some baseball player just signed a contract for $75,000 a year just to play ball? It wouldn’t surprise me if someday they’ll be making more than the President.

‘I never thought I’d see the day all our kitchen appliances would be electric.
They are even making electric typewriters now.

‘It’s too bad things are so tough nowadays.. I see where a few married women are having to work to make ends meet.

‘It won’t be long before young couples are going to have to hire someone to watch their kids so they can both work.

‘Thank goodness I won’t live to see the day when the Government takes half our income in taxes. I sometimes wonder if we are electing the best people to congress.

‘The drive-in restaurant is convenient in nice weather, but I seriously doubt they will ever catch on.

‘There is no sense going to Lincoln or Omaha anymore for a weekend, it costs nearly $15.00 a night to stay in a hotel.

‘No one can afford to be sick anymore, at $35.00 a day in the hospital it’s too rich for my blood.’

‘If they think I’ll pay 50 cents for a hair cut, forget it.’

Grandma Never had a Headache

Here are some facts about the United States in the 1940s. I guess what surprised me the most was the life expectancy in those years: 68.2 for females. That is a lot higher than I would have thought. I think that if you lived through yellow fever, cholera and polio you became pretty hardy. My maternal grandmother never drove herself and after my grandfather died in 1940 she mostly walked every where she went, church, town, grocery store and then we drove her some places. She lived to 94 and told me she NEVER had a headache her whole life. Can you imagine… She came to Oklahoma with her family as a girl right after the run and only went to school a few years. When her mother died she quit school and stayed home taking care of her brothers and her father. Her dad was a farmer and their life was not easy in those days for sure.

Population 132,122,000
Unemployed in 1940 – 8,120,000
National Debt $43 Billion
Average Salary $1,299. Teacher’s salary $1,441
Minimum Wage $.43 per hour
55% of U.S. homes have indoor plumbing
Antarctica is discovered to be a continent
Life expectancy 68.2 female, 60.8 male
Auto deaths 34,500
Supreme Court decides blacks do have a right to vote
World War II changed the order of world power, the  United States and the USSR became super powers
The war ended when the Atomic Bomb was dropped on Japan, and a Cold War began with the Soviet Union. When our solders returned home,
1940’s Eisenhower expanded the highway system and the suburbs became the place to raise a family.

In 1940 a new house cost- $3,920.00
In 1940 the average income per year was – $1,725.00
In 1940 a gallon of gas was – 11 cents
In 1940 the average cost of new car was- $850.00
Philco Refrigerator- $239.00
New Emerson Bedroom Radio 1938- $19.65
Sealey Mattress – $38.00
Nylon Hose – 20 cents

Not a lot of the streets were paved in those days. The main streets and the downtown had real brick streets. It was a real thrill when we got our first asphalt street. That was the best place to ride a bike so you can imagine how many kids hung out there. We called it Rocky Lane (don’t know why because it was so SMOOTH). To this day that hometown has kept the brick streets (too bad every town didn’t leave their brick streets because there are no pot holes!!).

Sears Catalog, Bubble Lights and Roller Skates

What can you do with a Sears Catalog and an old wooden orange crate? To a little girl in the 40s, they make a wonderful doll house complete with wallpaper and household items. Rainy days and a front porch were so much fun. I would either get moms card table and put a blanket over it for a tent to play in or make a doll house for paper dolls. We would cut everything out of the Sears catalog, furniture, people and whatever. We’d get some paper for the wallpaper and paste that and the furniture in the crate. Turned sideways we had a first and second floor. Christmas was a special time growing up even though we didn’t have a lot of money we always had a a few really nice gifts. We always had a real Christmas tree with lots of icicles. I loved the smell and one year my folks bought bubble lights that my brother and I thought that was just the greatest thing ever. I looked for bubble lights for many years and finally a few years back there they were. Real bubble lights. Of course there were only about 5 or 6 per strand, so enough to really do a great tree, put you in the poor house paying for them. They sure weren’t that expensive when I was growing up, or my dad wouldn’t have gotten them. There were always which you see a lot of these days at garage sales. My daughter always grabs the old classic bulbs and by now should have a truck full. On Christmas eve my folks made my brother and I go upstairs and sleep so we wouldn’t peek. We would be awake most of the night, yelling down “is it time yet?” (to get up and go downstairs). Those were the longest nights ever. Some of the toys we got for Christmas back then were Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs along with color books and crayons for sure. The Slinky, Silly Putty and the Frisbee were created in the 40s. One Christmas I got a pair of shiny steel roller skates with ball bearings. Those were the most awesome skates ever. They had a skate key and they fastened to your shoes and they were very fast. A bicycle was a “for sure” present one year. Assorted Fruit Drops and Life Savers were a special treat along with the many little things that were in our stockings. We always got an orange, an apple and walnuts to crack.

One year I remember we were given a box of fudge by someone. We were going somewhere that evening and we forgot to put the fudge up out of reach of the dog. When we came home the box was empty and that dog had eaten the whole thing. Needless to say we were afraid the dog would die because chocolate is not good for dogs, but he lived on and didn’t even get sick. Remember how hard it was to get chocolate and sugar in those days? My dad was more than a little miffed at the fudge being left out and now was all gone.

Swimming, Polio and Slumber Parties

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.

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