Dumb Things We Did in the 50’s

My dad, my brother and me in 1953.

Flipping though the pages of  the TV Guide yesterday brought back a lot of memories.  Here are some  things I haven’t thought about in years:


When I was a little girl growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, my grandfather smoked Chesterfields and my mother smoked Salems and my dad smoked Camels.  Of course, everybody smoked everywhere.  In the house, in the car, before, during and after meals, in movie theaters, airplanes, buses and department stores and probably even at death-bed vigils.

Men used to hold cigarettes on the side of their mouths and smoke them hands free while they mowed the lawn or pumped gas. (It was the 50’s version of multi-tasking.)  If there wasn’t an ashtray people would just drop their cigarettes on the ground and step on them.

Drinking and Driving

When I was a kid I thought nothing of it when my dad would drive around with a can of beer between his legs. He drank Olympia beer.  I remember once when I was really little  going for a drive with my dad in the country.  He was driving with a can of beer between his legs, and his shotgun right beside him at the ready.  (I was also in the front seat.)  Every once in a while my dad would slow way down,  reach over,  grab his shotgun and then shoot at a pheasant from the car window.  This was a perfectly normal and natural part of everyday life. (He always missed by the way!)

Olympia Beer always claimed it was “the water” that made their beer so good, but I suspect it was the alcohol.

Helmets and Seat belts

When I was growing up, the only people who wore helmets were human cannon balls. They were the only people to wear capes too now that I think about it.

“Golly, I hope this wind doesn’t put out my cigarette!”

And seat belts?  Forget about it!  When they started making cars with seat belts everyone totally ignored them or tucked them into the seat so they wouldn’t be in the way.  I don’t even think the astronauts wore seat belts. (Probably because it would have restricted their cigarette smoking.)


When I was a kid the term fast food meant somebody dropped a watermelon down a hill and it was rolling too fast to catch it.  Of course, I lived in a small town of a thousand people and there certainly weren’t any fast food places in that town.

My mother cooked every meal everyday and on Sunday afternoon, she would fix a big Sunday dinner.  Of course, all the stores were closed on Sundays, so if she forgot to buy an ingredient, she would have to borrow it from the neighbors or make do without.

My mother kept a coffee can of bacon grease to cook with in the cupboard above the stove. I distinctly remember this because one time when she reached to get it down, she spilled it all over herself and the stove. Boy was she mad . . . I think it might have put out her cigarette!
Until next time Dear Readers . . . I love you

27 thoughts on “Dumb Things We Did in the 50’s

  1. As a kid, I would sit up front of the car, and in a few cases, the seat belt was just across the waist, no chest part. Still, I made it!
    I imagined the astronauts smoking while floating out in space, then flipping their faceplate open to get rid of the smoke. Thank you for that visual.

    • Ha ha! Well at least the bottom half of you wasn’t going anywhere! I love your description of smoking astronauts. Just think of the money they missed out on by not developing a brand of cigarettes made especially for space smoking! They could have whiled away the hours drinking Tang and space smoking! 😀

  2. sing it with me….Memories. Like the corners of
    Ahem. Sorry.
    Another classic was littering. When dad’s beer was done, that empty went straight out the window.

  3. These are pretty close to my memories, too. ( I’m just thankful my dad didn’t have a shot gun! Haha!) (The bacon grease can, the no seat belts, the cigarettes galore, the cooking, Sunday meals and the borrowing of food from the neighbors, etc.) Great memories, aren’t they? Thanks for this trip down memory lane, Linda : )

    • It’sfun thinking about those days. Especially while I can still remember it! HA! I think the thing I remember most is that there really was a lot more down time (of course that might have been due to the fact that I was a kid too). But feeling bored was par for the course. I haven’t felt bored in years. I kinda miss it sometimes! 😀

  4. Is it bad that I actually prefer the way things were in the 50’s? Sure everyone smoked, drank like fish and kept guns next to their children…but there was no facebook or fast food!

    • I agree! If they would have had Facebook back then, my Dad would have had three-year-old me taking pictures of him with my cell phone while he shot at pheasants out the window. And the comments would have been “Awesome!” “Is that a 12 gage?” and “I want me some Olympia!”

  5. Aaah, the good old days…when there weren’t several thousand experts trying to protect people from everything!! 😉

  6. So I can relate totally…except that my Mom didn’t smoke (didn’t have a Dad in the home when I grew up…he did smoke) but I guess the big Sunday dinners spoke the most to me because so many of my married siblings would come (there were 10) It was usually (always) roast beef, potatoes and vegetables …probably turnip and peas or other….To this day that is our favourite Sunday dinner…Nice to remember..Diane

    • Sunday dinner was a really nice tradition, wasn’t it? It sounds like your menu was very close to ours. My mom would make a roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, peas, biscuits and maybe chocolate pudding for dessert. Mmm . . .I just made myself very hungry! 😀

  7. very interesting! loved this one… Mommies of the past really had a tough job, with no sunday off na?! Though it’s mostly the same in India even now!

  8. My mother’s version of a seat belt was throwing her arm across my chest and hammering me into the seat when she had to make a sudden stop (which was quite often, she was a horrible and inattentive driver…probably b/c she was always dropping ashes down the front of her shirt and then trying to put out the small flames when they hit the carpet).

    The other thing I remember is the dimmer switch on the floor. My mother’s legs were almost too short to reach it so when she pressed on the button she had to constantly sit forward and feel around for it with her toe. I think this might be one of reasons she used to hate driving at night!

  9. Aw, man! Good thing I had my surfboard with me when I read this one– I was whizzed off on an incredible wave of nostalgia!!

    I don’t recall my dad drinking beer in the car or shooting out the window, but I can see him now, tapping the ash from his Kent cigarette into the cuff of his pants (who needs an ashtray, even though they were everywhere??).

    My sister Maureen and I have that very same wheelbarrow picture (we dun needed no steenking kiddie cars), my mom kept her bacon grease in “the cup with the broken handle,” and I miss those sprawling, crazy Sunday dinners with goofy relatives and roast beef tied up with greasy twine.

    No wonder we’re both nuts– our childhoods sound virtually identical!! : )

  10. I think you and I were probably brother and sister but one of us accidentally got into the wrong wheelbarrow on the way home from the hospital! Oh well, no harm done since we were both raised on bacon grease, we both turned out OK- ish!

    Ha ha Mark — you got me laughing out loud with the “who needs an ashtray, even though they were everywhere?? LOL!

    And oh, I forgot to mention my irresponsible, slightly tipsy while shooting firearms out the window with a three year old standing on the front seat – father was also the principal of the school. I think in the 50’s every man was Homer Simpson.

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