LBA- Long Blog Alert.
Lets get right to it. Things I remember – Lionel Trains! and Christmas! and Summers! and Playing in the dirt! YEaa! And I remember our new house being built.
These early years seemed to be filled with excitement for me. Every day was a new adventure and learning experience.
I was about 3 or 4 when we moved to our new house in a new Platt in the suburbs. Our house was probably the 4th or 5th to be built on the street.
It seems that moving day was sometime in June or July in the late 50’s. For several weeks the steps to the front door were rickety temporary wood steps built mainly for the construction workers to be able to get in and out the front door. The driveway was just gravel, and the street was just curbs and had these big fist sized rocks, (perfect for throwing) and wasn’t going to be paved for several weeks yet.
I remember taking a couple walks with my Dad down another “road to be” to watch the big yellow bulldozers and road graders and big steam shovels move the earth around as they prepared the next area of land to become more streets and tracts of land for more houses to be built. The sound of those wonderful machines was loud when they got close to where we were standing. And to a short person they were REALLY HUGE!
Our new house was a 2 story with a basement. The second floor was where my bedroom was going to be once Dad finished its construction. When we first moved in, there were no floors upstairs. It just had 10 inch wide walkboards, and the 2 x 4 framing where the walls were going to be,. I was NOT allowed up there most of the time. But occasionally my folks let me go up to “help” Dad do some of the work to get it built.
On one Saturday, (Back in the 50s and 60’s, most people didnt have to work on weekends), I got to help Dad screw down the plywood subfloor with this really neat automatic screwdriver. There was no such thing as battery drills back then.
This tool was cool. It was the Craftsman Ratchet Spiral Screwdriver. You would just press down on it and it would turn a screwdriver blade and drive the screws into the pre drilled holes. With about 2 downward strokes those 3 inch screws were driven all they way into the within in a matter of seconds,.It would have taken a whole lot more time if you had to drive these screws in with a normal screwdriver, not to mention the probably wrist pain one would be in after driving probably 200 screws into that plywood. As far as I can remember, that is the only time I think we ever used it.
That tool is now out in My workshop. That is undoubtedly what fueled my present day infatuation with tools and wood working.
My Dad had a job at a large company as a Mechanical Engineer and had met my Mom there. I had one sister, and was about to get another one, (dang another Girl- yuk). Since I was the only boy I got to do a lot of the fun “man things” of that era. Like work with tools! That worked out pretty good for me as far as I was concerned.
Christmas’s were very cool. It was always exciting when I got to help drag the boxes of decorations out of the attic and help put them on display. We all Loved decorating day. Ornaments and angels, and garland and light strings – and icicles for the tree.
Mom’s favorite was this brown glazed ceramic decanter that she always put a drip candle in and when it was lit the candle would drip in various colors of wax. She would let the colored wax build up on the outside of the jug for years, and it just kept getting fatter and fatter each year.
I don’t remember what year it was, but at one point Dad went out and bought one of those aluminum Christmas trees because he was afraid of the fire hazard with real trees. Those aluminum trees were quite the rage at the time. To my eyes it was just the prettiest tree in the world. It just glistened with the color wheel that lit it up. I could watch it for hours.
Santa, as you know is VERY VERY BUSY on Christmas Eve, and so in our house he had to come in the early evening of the 24th rather than late at night. He always knew when we would take our annual drive around other neighborhoods to look at decorations, because when we would get back home there were all these gift wrapped packages around the tree. As the family grew with more siblings, so did the pile of presents over the years. With an eventual total of seven of us in that household, that pile got to be pretty big in the 60’s.
Each year after the usual mele of tearing open packages to see what bounty Santa had bestowed on us each year. That was great and all, but to me the best was yet to come! With perfect timing my Grandparents would come over with their own small lot of loot for us. Grandma always wrapped presents in red, green, or blue tissue paper. If you have ever tried to use tissue paper to wrap a box that is 12″ square or larger, it is a near impossible task, but Grandma never used anything else.
I was always amazed at how they would just happen to buy just the right accessory items that would be the perfect match for some of the things Santa had left us just a couple of hours before. Hmmm! There’s something Fishy about that…..
After all the suspense was over and all of the gifts were unwrapped, and the paper was done flying everywhere, and after lost parts to toys were all found, there would be some great eats to snack on. On eof my particular favorites was unshelled walnut. We had a bowl that was a hollowed out section of a tree that held the walnuts and the nut cracker and pics to pry the meat out of the shells. My Dad would open nuts for hours it seems.
We often stayed up till about midnight playing with the toys and talking with my Grandpa. He was the coolest dude in the world to me.
Now you would think that it was hard to get us to bed after all this, wanting to play with our new treasures and all, But by Midnight we were a tired bunch of people. And there was still one more special event to conclude the evening. The perfect ending to this perfect day was when I went to bed, I could turn on my transistor radio, (that I had received from my Grandpa one year, for Christmas) and listen to our church broadcast of Midnight Mass each year. Reason being my Mom was in the church choir.
One of the church members was the general manager of a local radio station. And it is That radio station that broadcast the mass every year for a couple of decades. Funny how that works. I would usually fall asleep to the sound of the preachers droning voice shortly after he began the sermon.
……. And on Christmas Day — the WHOLE family (Aunts, Uncles, cousins, etc) would Head to My grandparents house to eat the best food in the world that My grandma always cooked – from Scratch. as is usual for that era!! Man that was some Goood Eatin’!
The picture on the left is a photograph that was taken of an annual Pigout.
What – Oh, no, that’s not My family. I don’t know who those people are. I just like the picture – GRIN
Those times were magical.
Some of the Loot we got over the years. How many do you remember?
Lionel Trains, Kenner Give-a-Show Projector, Lincoln Logs, Remco Science kits in the round canister, Kenner Girder and Panel construction sets, Roy Rogers Gun sets, Mickey Mouse slide projector with coordinated record ( “Press the button when you hear this beep BEEP”), Record Players, transistor radios,
Supercar from the TV Show ( how many remember THAT one?), Original 11″ G.I Joe’s, Marvel the Mustang, Daisy Air rifles, Kodak Instamatic camera, Polaroid swinger Camera, Chatty Kathy, Barbie Doll Lite Brite, Etch-A- Sketch, Slinkies, Silly Putty, Clown Punching bag,( had a weight in the bottom so it would stand up and ask for more – lol ) Spirographs, Hook and Loop Hotpad makers ( you Did try to sell some in Your Neighborhood, didn’t you?).
Yea Looking back on it we had our own version of The American Dream. We weren’t rich, but we had more than we needed. We did not grow up in a Ozzie and Harriet life by any means. But then we didn’t live on TV. We just watched it.
One more quirk I just thought about that is funny (strange). Our first house was on a street behind one of the local TV stations. This new house had a radio station antenna Farm in OUR back yard, as well as a future cartoon character. – hmmmmmmmmm Doodoo doodoo Doodoo doodoo (do I hear the Twilight Zone theme again?)
No I did not grow up to be a broadcaster or engineer . I did think about it though. Oh well.
As I wrote this it turns out I have a lot more memories and things to write than I first thought. this is part one. watch for part 2, and maybe part 3. It seems a lot happened in those early years, like the Cuban missile crises, and a president shot, and potential nukes, and…..
This post may have been better timed to come out in November or December, but I didn’t want to wait till then. Besides you gotta start sometime!
as always Comments Invited.