What Was So Great About Life in the 1950’s



Our neighbor recently delivered this photo to one of my brothers. One reason was to share a memory, the other was to identify the last girl standing on the far right. None of us know who she is.

The group picture is of the 3 neighbor kids and 4 of my 5 siblings and, of course, the mystery girl. Our family is the girls in dresses and the two boys on the far right. I’m the second from the left and the other girls in dresses are my sisters Phyllis and Kathy. My dad didn’t allow us to wear shorts. The girls in shorts and the boy with no shirt are the Schroeder neighbors – Joyce, Marilyn and Norman with no shirt. My two brothers are Hal and Stephen.

We are standing in front of the barn which belonged to my neighbors so we are assuming their mother took the photo and lined us up this way. How cute is it that we are all holding hands. This photo was probably taken in the mid 1950’s when I was around 9 or 10 years old.

Our houses were separated by a gravel driveway and were about 500 yards apart. Both farms were about 200 acres each. We were allowed to play with each other when both families were in agreement which was maybe once or twice a week. Our farm had some out buildings, an orchard with a pear tree, peach trees and apple trees. We had a row of grapes and a garden. We had a clothes line between the house and the garden.

We had outdoor dogs only. We had a pasture which sometimes had a cow for milking or butchering. Sometimes we had chickens. At one time we had four sheep because we all thought they were so cute. At the far end of the pasture, we had a small graveyard for our pets who didn’t make it.

Our mother canned the food from the garden and orchard. We had chores to keep us occupied. We had to weed the garden, pick the fruit from the orchard and help with hanging the laundry out on the line. I remember the worst job being cleaning the spinach. But most of our days were spent climbing trees, playing tag, swinging under the walnut tree, and riding our bike on a gravel driveway which resulted in a lot of scabbed knees.

Our favorite pastime though was reading. The bookmobile came every week and we were allowed to take 5 books each. Our mom would throw a blanket on the front lawn under the walnut tree. She would make a gallon of Koolaid using only half of the package and each one of us would start our books. By the time the bookmobile came the next week each of us had read our own books plus the 5 books of each of the other kids. Some of the chores did not get finished.

As I recall, our only worries at that time were of being kidnapped and being taken over by communists. It really was an idyllic life for the most part. We walked down to the mailbox every day to get the newspaper and the mail. Then we quarreled over who got to read the funny pages first. By the way, we got the daily newspaper delivered a day late. We didn’t get a TV for at least 8 years after they came out because my dad was sure it was going to be the ruination of family life as we knew it.

Why do I bring this up? First of all I just love what that picture represents. We really valued our neighbors and really liked them. It is also a reminder to me of some of the things to think about when purchasing a home. What kind of neighborhood do you want? What kind of activities do you want readily available for you and your family? Quality of life is the most important aspect of purchasing your home.

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