My Brain Peanuts Remembers: Childhood Illnesses

Welcome, Dear Readers, to another edition of My Brain, Peanuts, remembers.  

Today topic:  Childhood Illnesses

Back in the 50’s, life was a lot more dangerous than it is now, we just didn’t know it. Luckily, none of us realized that it was just dumb luck that we survived at all.

Because back in the 50’s, the only people who wore seat belts were test pilots.  The only people who didn’t smoke and drink like Chimney Fish were nuns.   And the only people who didn’t eat lard morning, noon and night were, of course, test-pilot nuns.

We fifties babies were issued one vaccine in the hospital for small pox, and then we were sent home to not die of smallpox. But for everything else, we babies were on our own.

We had to take our chances out there in the cold, cruel, lard-infested world with nary a helmet, a shin pad or a government-approved baby car seat to protect us. (To be fair, my baby brother did have a car seat.  It hooked to the middle of the front seat and had a steering wheel.)

Come to think of it, just making it home from the hospital alive was a miracle.  Since there were no car seats,  I suppose some babies might have bought the farm by rolling off the back seat when Dad slammed on his brakes.

But whenever that happened I think they just flipped a uey and went right back to the hospital and grabbed another baby.  After all, this was the 50’s, and there were plenty more where that came from.

Fun Fact:  Whenever anyone ordered a round for the bar back in the 50’s, they were talking about a round of babies. 

Anyway, once we made it home alive, the first thing we did was get sick with one of the following childhood illnesses:


Measles were little red spots that would suddenly appear all over your body. One minute you’d be pulling the string on your Chatty Cathy and then next minute,  Ping!  Ping! Ping!  You’ve got the measles! They didn’t hurt or itch or anything.  You just had to go around looking stupid.

There were two  types of measles:  The Three-day Measles and the dreaded . . .  gulp . . . Red Measles!   Everybody said you could die from the Red Measles, so you got to eat more ice cream with the Red Measles than with the Three-Day Measles because that bowl of vanilla ice cream you were enjoying just might be your last.

When I had  the Red Measles, my mother wouldn’t let me watch television because they thought that watching TV when you had the Red Measles could cause blindness. Honestly!  So I listened to soap operas on the radio. It’s the only time I ever listened to soap operas broadcast over the radio.  And on a scale of one to ten enjoyment-wise, I’d give radio soap operas a measly one, frankly.


Okay, mumps were the weirdest thing ever.  First of all,  there’s the name Mumps. To me it always sounded like something you’d call the grandpa you didn’t like very well.  “Oh great here comes Grandpa Mumps!  Quick hide the pie!”

But also, if you thought you looked stupid when you had the measles,  it was nothing and I mean nothing compared to the stupid you looked when you had the Mumps.

Warning:  I’m going to stick a picture in here of someone who has the Mumps.  If you’re eating, you might want to leave the room:

Girl with Mumps

Okay, I googled mumps and this came up.  I have no idea what is going on here, but whatever it is, it doesn’t seem to be going well.

I have a feeling Grandpa Mumps is behind this!



Back in the 50’s,  9 out of 10 kids, chose tonsillitis as their “go to” stay home from school illness.  I know I did.  And so did my brother, Peter.   Peter,  however, pulled it one too many times and suffered a fate worse than staying home everyday getting to eat ice cream.  “He had to have his tonsils pulled.”  Mind you, he could have had “a procedure to have his tonsils removed”  but they didn’t sugar coat things back in the fifties — except for every morsel of food you put in your mouth.

Having your tonsils out was a little bit better than having the Red Measles though. For one thing, you got to watch TV without the worry of  going blind(unless you had a really bad surgeon) and you got to bang on a pan with a spoon if you need more ice cream because it hurt to yell “Can I have more ice cream!”

All in all, having your tonsils out wasn’t such a bad thing.  Except you never got to use it as an excuse to stay home from school again so it definitely had it’s down-side.

Unless you were lucky enough to come down with an appendicitis — but back in the 50’s we were still using our appendix as a second stomach.  We still needed our second stomachs.

After all, we had a lot of lard to digest.

And there you have it, Dear Readers.  Do you have any childhood illnesses you’d like to remember . . . or perhaps forget?

Until next time . . . I love you

45 thoughts on “My Brain Peanuts Remembers: Childhood Illnesses

  1. I liked the fact that I could leave the hospital, then run joyously down the block, away from the shouted warnings of my Dad – “Stop running around! You just got out of the hospital!”

    Good times…

        • LOL! I can remember my dad threatening us kids that if we did something or other he would “break every bone in our bodies” We didn’t think anything of it. Even as kids we knew he was never that organized.

  2. Very funny and coincidentally, I was just reading a post about vaccines and the illnesses that they’ve all but eradicated. It was very brainy and serious, so your take on the same subject matter was more entertaining!

  3. I suppose it was the Colgate Shield that saved us. We had air-raid drills and dog tags just to be sure. Also ate a lot of red meat, and my grandmother used to give me a special fortifying nutritional supplement.called schmaltz .

    • Wait a minute . . . I thought schmaltz was a beer . . . we used to eat Wonderbread because it helped build strong bodies 12 ways. Nobody ever said what those 12 ways were though . . .

      • A little Jewish education. Schmaltz is rendered chcken fat which is cooked/fried together with a lot of onions that get very crisp and burnt. It’s delicious and your arteries just love schmaltz, as they collect it until they are filled completely. Schmaltz cannot be eaten with white bread, that’s a law. Rye bread, especially rye bread rubbed with garlic and toasted on the stovetop is the appropriate accompaniment to schmaltz. Cheers!

        • Oh you are making me hungry. Schmaltz sounds wonderful. Mm. . . . There’s nothing I like better than onions that are cooked very crisp and burnt! I was going to have a blow of Cheerios for breakfast but Schmaltz sounds way better. If only I hand some rendered chicken fat on hand . . . darn!. . . Oh it’s always something isn’t it Bumba?

          • I know I survived years of childhood and early adulthood shmaltz consumption, but I count myself among the lucky. So be careful with the shmaltz. Now, fried onions……

  4. I thought there was something else that caused blindness, but maybe that was just for us boys. 😦 Also, my mother insisted the mumps could “fall on you” (making you sterile) which again was something that only happened to boys. I suppose if they fell on a girl it would be a short drop and she would wind up like Dolly Parton. That appears to be happening to a lot of young girls these days.

    • Oh yes, I vaguely remember hearing something like that — that mumps could make you sterile. I’ve never heard the expression “fall on you” but it sounds pretty scary. Did it have anything to do with watching tv? Or maybe that was from listening to radio broadcasts. Oh it’s all so confusing . . .

  5. What I remember about having a sore throat was the Vicks that Mom would smear on my neck and chest, and then she’d take an old sock of my dad’s, wrap it around my neck, and safety-pin it together. I think I was probably in more danger from the safety pin than I was from the sore throat 🙂

  6. You left out chicken pox. Ah! The joys of calamine lotion!! I had the added joy of getting the German Measles when I was 16. Good times.

    • Hi Addie! I plum forgot to include chicken pox. Darn I have a good story about that too. I remember hearing about the German Measles and I remember how serious it was if you got them. And being 16, oh I bet you were so very sick. How horrible. I wonder if they even have a vaccine for them even today?

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