There are lots of things that were normal in my 1950’s childhood that are simply not available today. I remember many of those things because of the people that were associated with them. More and more specialty companies are re-creating the toys and candies of my youth, because we Boomers have created a demand. Everything from mechanical banks to Necco Wafers are available from some of the catalogues which come in the mail. but there are some things that I have not seen. Some I even wish I could find..
Every Christmas Eve we went to church for “the program.” Afterwards the kids were given two boxes of candy. One box had a few chocolates with a vanilla crème center. I have seen those in the Vermont Country Store catalogue. They never lasted very long. The other box had hard candies that looked like small pieces of Murano Glass. This candy lasted longer, probably because I didn’t like it as much as chocolate. The chocolate was really not very good, but it was at least chocolate. The hard candy really did taste good, but I haven’t seen it anywhere, yet. Nothing brings back memories like the smells and tastes of your childhood.
Something that I liked a lot, but can’t find today, made me feel really grown up. I know that styles have changed, but I remember how sophisticated I felt when I received a slip with a black skirt and a white top for Christmas when I was barely a teenager, probably in 1960. At last I was wearing grown up underwear. Black slips were available, but had a slightly naughty aura. The black and white slip was the height of cool. I must have worn a lot of white blouses with dark skirts then and the slip was perfect for that. Every lady wore a slip. They made it impossible for people to see through your skirt, even in bright sunshine and prevented static cling in your skirt. They made you look smooth. You can almost achieve the same effect by wearing a black half slip and a white camisole. However the white camisole falls below the waistline and there will be a “panty line” wear it ends as well as at the waistline. Not really a smooth look and not so sophisticated.
There are two things that I remember that are no where to be found that were really clever. In the very early ’50s all of our sheets were fitted at one end. That meant that for the bottom sheet, where today we use a sheet fitted at four corners, the fitted corners were at the head of the bed, while the unfitted edge tucked underneath. It was caught in the other sheet when the fitted corers were put at the bottom of the bed. I don’t know when these sheets disappeared, but I haven’t seen them in stores for twenty or more years. They were a convenience and made me capable of making my own bed before I could do “hospital corners.”
The other clever thing that seems to be gone is ladies rubbers (boots or galoshes). They were ideal for wearing with heels since they covered the toe and foot of your shoe, but let the heel go through an opening. The grown up, sophisticated, city ladies had them. They were rubbers (designed for high heels. They were really practical since they kept your shoe clean and could be worn with any height heel. By the time I was old enough to really need them, they were no where to be found. People were wearing are ugly boots that enclose the entire shoe. That doesn’t seem as safe or as dressy as those ladies rubbers. I still remember my aunt and grandmother putting on their rubbers to go out to dinner on a snowy night. Their legs were encased in nylons, not panty hose, and to me they were beautiful. I would buy some in a minute if I could find them.
One of my favorite memories as a child was sled riding at night. When you are lying with your belly on a sled, steering with your hands in front of you, you are almost flying. Of course to go fast on those sleds you had to pack the snow down really well and it took some effort. Waxing the runners increased your speed too. We used to slide down the hill near our neighbor’s back door, using the back porch light. We would slide late into the night, until our parents demanded that we come inside. Sometimes we even iced down the top of the hill where we were sliding to get more distance. We put my sled, all freshened up on our front porch one year with a big red bow. It was stolen when we were out one evening, but it was returned a few years later. I don’t imagine that the kids who took it knew how to pack the snow down, so it bogged down. They sure missed out. Today you can find saucers and toboggans, but for a real sled with runners you have to look in an antique store or garage sale and they are too dear to just let kids take them out to play.
These things bring back memories of the people who were associated with them – Kids that I slid down hill with until my hands and toes were almost frozen off, laughing in the dark as we tried to out do each other; the wind whistling through our winter clothing. They are associated with memories of people who were part of my growing up that like these things, are not there any more. They were positive examples that helped me to become what I am, memories that I cherish. I wonder what things today’s kids will not have and will hold dear in their memories. It is really something to think about.