Saturday, December 17, 2016

How I survived the mid 20th Century.

"Life was simpler, not easier!"

The Olden days: The current generation cannot grasp the hardships we had to endure before the advent of television, the cell phone, the information superhighway, and of course, Subway and McDonalds. The conditions were almost medieval.

FOOD: The life of hardship commenced when we would get up in the morning eat porridge(also known as oatmeal), eggs fresh from the chicken, homemade bread with butter. It was difficult eating eggs from free range chickens, maple flavored oatmeal, deliciously buttered homemade bread. No tasty chemical preservatives were in sight. The dairy would deliver fresh milk everyday. It didn't have a shelf life. The cream would be on the top and the milk below. After WW II people started to see stuff called "Oleo".

Oleo was strange stuff. It came in a soft plastic container bag. Oleo was white. It had an orange capsule stuck on the inside of the bag. You had to squeeze the capsule and break it and massage the orange stuff evenly through the plastic bag so it would look like butter. It wasn't so bad. In fact, I became so accustom to it that I didn't like butter any more. It took me 20 years before I started enjoying butter again.

My Grandfather was a dairy farmer. We always had fresh eggs, milk, and bread.

My other grandfather was a Blacksmith. We always had....ummm....horseshoes.

In retrospect I am thinking that food was not really a problem unless you enjoy the taste of chemicals. They do have some tasty chemicals these days. I purchased some raspberry cookies last week. There was no raspberries in it. It kinda tasted like raspberries. It had a lot of high fructose corn syrup. It had some other stuff that had nice chemically compounded names like hypotherapeuticsalivanate or oxobenzathenite. Doesn't that make you start to drool? yum! yum!


I attended a small school. We had only 2 school buses. If you missed the bus you had a long walk ahead of you. Too bad for you. The school buses didn't stop in front of your house and honk their horn or the bus driver didn't go to your door and ask if Wilbur was done with his breakfast yet. NOOOOO! You had to be at the bus stop when the bus got there. Not almost there. There!! The bus driver had a schedule to meet. He had other bus runs. If you were a hundred feet from the bus stop and running like a maniac, the bus driver would smile and wave at you and keep going.

It was a tough situation. If you walked to school it was uphill both ways. To and from. Bare footed. During the winter. At least that is what I told my nephews when they were growing up.

Elementary School: Kindergarten was a breeze. Ironically, I took a strange route in the beginning. I started school when I was four and a half years old. I had to get on a bus that wasn't a school bus. It would take me about three or four blocks from the school. I had to walk the rest of the way.

The school did not have a Kindergarten. So I started in first grade. This may not have been a good idea. I tolerated it for a few months. On a warm November day I decided that I had enough schooling and I was ready for some adventure. After I got off the bus, walked to the school, walked to the baseball field and started up the mountain. There was a very steep hill behind the school. I just started up the hill. I had a bag lunch with me. I stayed there all day. Near the end of the day I climbed down the mountain and tried to sneak by the gym class.

The teacher caught me. No one knew I had been missing all day long. I believe that was near the end of my career at that particular school.

The next year I started at a different school. The new school had Kindergarten. So I started Kindergarten at the new school. This has to be a defining moment in my search for self esteem. How many kids do you know that start school at one level and not only does he not get promoted but he is set back one year? So instead of being in second grade, I am in Kindergarten. When you lose ground at that level it is pretty sad.

I hope high school will be easier than this.


  1. I remember some of what you wrote about. Only I walked to school every day (as you said, uphill both ways, barefoot in the snow--which was a good trick in San Francisco). No school bus to the Catholic school. I remember the Oleo and massaging the oil glob into it. Never remember liking it, tho.

  2. ::mingling:: Ah yes, you remind me of the good old days.

  3. That classroom looks like one of mine in junior high, especially the view out the window!

    We had home-cooked meals most every night. Fast food was not an option. We had a vegetable garden, and every Labor Day weekend my parents canned tomatoes and made tomato juice, as well as various flavors of jellies and jams.

    We only lived two blocks from Catholic grade school, three blocks from the junior high, and six blocks from the senior high, so no bus rides for us. Didn't matter if it snowed. If you could walk, there were classes to be held. Bus kids were the only ones excused. In my 18 years of school, classes were only canceled once for a blizzard.

    I don't remember the oleo capsule. Not really sure if we used it at our house but know we used margarine. I remember my mother-in-law saying how she hated oleo.

    Great post!

  4. I remember the "Duck and Cover" drills, otherwise known as "Get Under Your Desk and Kiss Your A** Good-Bye!"

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