In 1962 I belonged to an early-morning bowling league and we paid ten cents a line. There was no charge to get into Knott’s Berry Farm because there were no rides. School lunches were twenty-five cents. In 1964 I quit smoking because cigarettes went up to twenty-six cents a pack. Girls wore dresses to school and boys wore shirts and pants.
This is all relative, of course; our income was lower but costs were lower too. We were poor as church mice when Joe and I started our married life, but not as poor as our parents were when THEY were married. And at the time all of our kids married, the were considerably better off than we were at the same point in our lives. The big difference is that each generation expects to have more than their parents had I should say that since my parents were married during the Great Depression, they had NOTHING. As times changed economically for the better, we all got use to expecting more and though Joe and I were poor as church mice, that poor was a whole lot different than my folks’ “poor.” But we were the last generation in our family to start out “poor.”
Now for all you younger ones, I’ll tell you what Ginnie Lou and I did to entertain ourselves when we were kids. You must remember that we did not have our own radios, the family did not have a television set, and our moms were housewives. We played with our dolls – baby dolls - until we were probably ten or so. Our playing with them consisted mostly of changing their clothes and taking them for a walk in a dolly baby-buggy. I also collected Storybook Dolls, little 8-inch dolls that were dressed as storybook characters. There was a take-off on them that were called Hollywood Dolls. They cost less than the Storybook Dolls and I did get some of them as gifts, but mostly I got the Storybook dolls. I kept the collection until I went away to college. I remember who my mother gave them to, for she asked my permission to do so, but the recipient doesn’t remember this happening, so I won’t mention names here. They stayed in the family for a while but are probably now off in the hands of adult collectors (or possibly in the big land-fill in the sky).
Besides dolls, my sister and I played board games and card games. I don’t think Chutes and Ladders had been invented yet. We didn’t have Candyland either. We had a board game of horse-racing. Among the little wooden horses that were moved along the board were Secretariat, Man of War, Sea Biscuit and War Admiral – those being the only ones I can remember but there were probably 8 horses altogether. I think we spun a dial and moved the appropriate yardage and of course the horse crossing the finish line first was the winner. Obviously it was a no-brainer kind of game but we loved it. We played a lot of Fish and Old Maid. When we got a little older we played War, but Ginnie Lou got tired of not reacting as fast as I did and losing her card, so that game had an early demise.
Our parents always invited the relatives over on Saturday nights to play poker. They used matchsticks or pennies for chips. No money was ever exchanged. The children were not allowed to play poker, of course, but Ginnie Lou and I watched carefully and devised what we called “Rekop” (Poker spelled backwards). We would sit on the floor beside the big table in the dining room where our folks sat and play along with them. We used bobby pins for chips.
We had a jigsaw puzzle of the United States and we had to fit the states into their proper place. While we did that we memorized the capital of each state. At that time there were only 48 states.
Mother gave us a book of dog breeds, and at one time Ginnie and I could identify every breed of dog without looking at the name. We had a book of chickens, too and memorized them. We memorized all the poems in “A Child’s Garden of Verses” by Robert Lewis Stevenson. In Sunday School we memorized the Books of the Old and New Testaments, the 10 Commandments, the 12 Disciples, the Lord’s Prayer, Psalm 23, the Beatitudes, John 1:1-14, The Easter Story, The Great Commandments, the 100th Psalm, and the Salvation Verses. In school we memorized “In Flanders Field,” “Daffodils,” “The Raven,” “The Preamble to the Constitution,” “The Gettysburg Address” and untold other documents. We loved to memorize. Not surprisingly, it is much harder to do now.
To be continued.