We had home milk delivery in glass bottles with tinfoil tops and another man brought blocks of ice for the icebox. It was lined with probably tin and was made of wood. It was not electric and yet it worked. When Pearl Harbor was attacked the morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941 and the U.S. entered the war, only one-third of farms had electricity to run refrigerators or washing machines in the house or lights and milking machines in the barn. Only 25 percent of farms had telephones. I remember our phone number was 407 and we were on a party line for awhile. For those that don’t know, usually three families would share a line. You could pick up the receiver and listen in on someones conversation if you were so inclined. My parents said I WAS not. Before dial phones came in, we had an operator and we had to tell her the number we wanted and she would dial it. My how things have changed.
The father of one of my best friends bottled Dr Pepper and in those days soda pop came in bottles. We would often go down to the plant and watch the bottles go through what they called the “soaker”, then watch the machine fill the bottles. We loved to have our parents put Dr Peppers in the freezer part of refrigerators later when they got one. When you open a frozen Dr Pepper the frozen liquid will creep out the top of the bottle and we would eat it like a popsicle. Bet you didn’t know tuna casserole was introduced in the 40s. I found some recipes from the 40s you might like to look at, so check these: The Retro Housewife and War Time Recipes.
It’s funny what a person remembers from their childhood. The radio was our inside entertainment in those days. I would lay on the floor next to the radio and my dads chair. I would either just listen or draw which I liked to do. The term “Old Time Radio” refers to the entertainment programs that were broadcast from the 1920s to the early 1960s. Some of my favorites were Adventures of the Thin Man, The Shadow, Creaking Door, Mr Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons, Inner Sanctum and Whistler As you can see best of suspense were my favorite.
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
The Best Thanksgiving Websites
Our Recommendations for Thanksgiving Day Family Movies
Facts, folklore, traditions and history
Thanksgiving eGreetings, graphics and clipart
Recipes for Thanksgiving dishes, salads and vegetables
Recipes for Leftover Turkey
May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey be plump.
May your potatoes and gravy
Have never a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off of your thighs!
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!