My Brain, Peanuts, Remembers The City Pool

 

Waitsburg City Pool or Gawdawful like it
The Waitsburg city pool (or gawdawful like it)

 

A Swimming Pool Fool

When I was a little girl, I was a swimming fool even though the pool in our little town left a lot to be desired.  First of all, it wasn’t heated or filtered so they had to drain it every week and refill it with water they piped in from the South Pole.  Not being a filtered pool, you’d think we would have all gotten a horrible disease like typhoid fever, leprosy or at the very least, Polio, but the water was either too cold to sustain microbial life or nobody could ever stay in long enough to catch anything.

The Magic of Turning Nine

Until I was in the fourth grade, all my summer mornings were spent begging and pleading with my mother to take me to the swimming pool.  But when I turned nine, she decided I was old enough to go to the city pool on my own. So every morning I’d get up and kill time by playing hide and seek with the neighborhood kids until the magical hour of 1:00 o’clock when the city pool opened.  My mother would fix me a tuna sandwich and make me wait half an hour before I could head out to the pool lest I get a cramp and drown. For some reason known only to 1950-ites, the most dangerous thing a person could do in the fifties would be to down a tuna sandwich and then dive directly into a body of water.  You would get a cramp and you would drown.  Period.  End of story.

leading cause of drowning in the 50's
Leading cause of drowning 1950-style

The Art of Towel Rolling

The towel you brought to the swimming pool said a lot about how well your parents had their acts together. The parents who had their acts totally together bought their children their own beach towels every summer with a cute picture of a whale or a beach umbrella emblazoned across its front.  Other parents who didn’t have their acts quite as together didn’t mind if their child brought whatever towel happened to be hanging on the towel rack that day.  And then there were the  parents who didn’t have their acts together at all.  These were the parents who were big believers in sun-dried kids.

My parents fell into the middle category.  I would take some dingy towel off the towel rack everyday and fold it in half length-wise and roll my swimming suit up in it.  Then I would put on my thongs (which is the fifties speak for flip-flops)  and I’d head out across town to the city pool to join the small group of children who were also addicted to the swimming pool as much as I was.

The Regulars

Looking back on it now, there were about five of us who came every single day without fail.   Most of them were sun-dried kids and for a while I forsook my towel to fit in.  (I’d tell you their names but I’m not sure they had any.)  Anyway, we would simply find a dry spot on the cement and lay there until we got hot enough to brave the frigid waters of Antarctica for another ten minutes of splish-splashing hypothermia.

Jackknifes, Cannonballs and Cutaways

Most of my activity at the pool was waiting in line to go off the diving board.  My  ‘go to’ dive was a jackknife.  My friend, Susan Weber, was a whiz at a dive called the cutaway. While us girls worked on our dives, the boys were perfecting their cannonballs — a dive that never made any sense to me because why make a big splash if you can’t see it?  But I do remember the boys who were a little on the hefty side being much better at the cannonball than their skinnier counterparts.

After Swimming Hunger

I have never been hungrier than I was in the fifties.  Being a kid lends itself to a lot of hunger.  The hunger you feel from only eating one bite of breakfast before school and counting the seconds until lunch.  The hunger you feel after waiting for lunch to find that you are too finicky to eat hamburger gravy and sandy butter sandwiches. And then there’s the  hunger you feel after school from being too picky to eat a decent breakfast and lunch.

Seven Bowls of Cheerios

But the hunger I felt after swimming all afternoon in the city pool beats them all. It’s the kind of hunger that only seven bowls of Cheerios swimming in a soup of sugary milk can satisfy.  Sitting at the kitchen table, eating Cheerios with the late afternoon sun pouring through the window and knowing that after you finish your last bowl, the Three Stooges will be on.  Does life get any better than that?

I think not.

Cheerios from the 1950's

Until next time . . . I love you

My Brain Peanuts Remembers Soda Pop

Welcome Dear Readers to this edition of my brain Peanuts remembers.  

Today’s topic:  Soda Pop

Drinking soda in the fifties was a lot different from today. First of all, soda came in a bottle. In Washington state, where I grew up, there was no such thing as drinking a can of soda. No siree! We drank a bottle of pop or we drank nothing at all.

Back then, when you bought a bottle of pop, the pop was yours to drink — but you had to give back the bottle because you were merely renting it. After all, you had to pay a 2-cent deposit on it, for crying out loud, and not taking it back for a refund could seriously affect the budget.

So everyone always returned their pop bottles to get their two-cents back because two-cents in the fifties would buy enough gas to get you to Canada from anywhere in the United States.

 "Hot diggity dog! It's my ticket to Canada!"
“Hot diggity dog! It’s my ticket to Canada!”

The only people who drank out of a can were beer drinkers. But beer cans were worthless so beer drinkers didn’t worry about getting their deposit back. They would simply chuck the empties out of the window of whatever speeding vehicle they happened to be drunkenly swerving down the highway in.

Today, we would consider this drunk driving but in those days we simply considered it littering. And in the 1950’s, littering was America’s favorite pastime — as much a way of life as Polio, onesie gym clothes, and radio-active cleansing cream.

But whether you were drinking out of a bottle or drinking out of a can, you would have died of thirst in the 1950’s if you didn’t have one of these.

The most important invention of mankind since the creation of invention ITSELF!!!
The most important invention of mankind since the creation of invention ITSELF!!!

It was a combination bottle/can opener, and it was a wonderful little gadget. One end would pry off the caps of Debby and Bobby’s pop bottles while the other end would puncture a hole in Mom and Dad’s beer cans. (The only thing this can opener wouldn’t do is open a bottle of wine, but this wasn’t a problem because in the 50’s only Europeans drank wine.)

I think it’s fair to say that the bottle opener was as much a part of the foundation upon which the togetherness of the fifties family was built as smearing butch wax on crew cuts, stenciling on eyebrows or hiding under desks together to survive atomic blasts.

I remember my grandparents only drank Pepsi which they always referred to as Peps. Pepsi was for those who think young. Not only did my grandparents think young, they were young. When I was five, my grandmother was only 44. (Back then people started families way younger so they could get it out of the way quicker and have more time to drink Peps.)

Now let’s say you only drank half the Peps in that rented bottle of yours. What would you do? Well, instead of pouring it down the drain, you would save the remainder of the Peps by utilizing another ingenious type of gadget that people just referred to as that bottle thingy.

These bottle thingys were invented for two reasons.  1) to lock in soda pop freshness and  2) to give people in the future something to sell on e-bay.
These bottle thingys were invented for two reasons.
1) to lock in soda pop freshness and
2) to give people in the future something to sell on e-bay.

That bottle “thingy” I’m referring to was a rubber gasket that went into the top of the bottle to seal in the carbonation as well as that delicious Peps refreshing flavor. After all, you spent a whole dime for that bottle of Pepsi, and you wouldn’t want it to go to waste.

Not if you were ever going to afford that trip to Canada!

Until next time . . . I love you

Fifties Fun with Radioactive Isotopes!

Dear Readers!  I went to the  thrift store yesterday.  I was lucky enough to find this Heinz Ketchup cookbook from 1957!

You see, back in 1957, before life was unnecessarily complicated with Twitter, Facebook and the radio alarm clock, people would stay home and cook dishes that required a lot of Heinz Ketchup.

Let’s take a peek at some of these 1957 Heinz Ketchup prize winning recipes and see if we can get a glimpse into the food lives of people from the past:

It’s Red Magic! Hey wait a minute! In 1957, during the height of the cold war against communism, it seems a little odd that Heinz Ketchup would bill their product by saying “It’s Red Magic.”

And the fact that Mother seems to be flirting with a gigantic tomato man wearing a manacle isn’t helping Heinz Ketchup’s credibility either . . .  oh well let’s just keep moving.

 

Okay, here we have Mother cooking with what looks like a radio-active bottle of Heinz Ketchup. But there’s probably a simple explanation.

Mother’s husband, Father, is probably a Nuclear Physicist who sometimes brings home radioactive isotopes from the office to put in the Ketchup bottle to freak Mother out!  That Father! Always with the pranks!  (Too bad Mother didn’t even notice!)

 

The only explanation for what Mother is doing here is that Father told Mother to take a long walk on a short pier.

Ha! That Father!  He’s always doing silly stuff like that to Mother. Of course,while Mother was taking a long walk off a short pier, she decided it might be fun to try a little fishing.  But what to use for bait?  Hm . . .

Of course, as you can see while Mother was trying to decide what to do next, the radioactive isotope Heinz Ketchup bottle fused permanently to Mother’s hand.  Father. Could. Not. Stop. Laughing.

 

Here are Mother and Father’s children, Boy and Girl. They are eating minced ham and bean sandwiches that Father made for them.

Oh that wacky Father!  He made both Boy and Girl these Ketchup bean sandwiches and is now hiding behind the Admiral Frigidaire spying on them as they try to eat their radioactive isotope Ketchup bean sandwiches.

Right about now Father is probably thinking about how he should see if Milton Berle needs any more comedy writers!

Hey who’s this? Why it’s New Mother, of course. (Old Mother had a drowning accident when she was unable to paddle to safety after falling off a short pier due to the Ketchup bottle being fused to her hand.)

But that’s okay because Father found and married New Mother later that day!  And New Mother has just cooked Father a tasty dish of  Green Beans with Ketchup!

Little does New Mother know that Father has just stuck two radioactive isotopes into the casserole dish she’s holding and Father can’t wait to see the look on New Mother’s face when she tries to set the dish down but finds that it’s fused to her hands!

Unfortunately Father didn’t get to see the look on New Mother’s face because just then the phone rang and Father ran to answer it because  — who knows — it might have been that all important call from Uncle Milty!

“I need a new comedy writer. Find out if Father’s available.”

And there you have it, Dear Readers, a glimpse into the food lives of people from the past.

Until next time . . . I love you

My Brain, Peanuts, Remembers: Television

Hello Dear Readers!  Welcome to this edition of My Brain, Peanuts, Remembers.

Today’s Topic:  Television

Back in the 50’s, before there was nothing  good to watch on hundreds of satellite and cable TV channels,  we had to make do with nothing good to watch on only three measly little channels, ABC, NBC and CBS.

Ah the Simple Days!

Watching TV in the 50’s couldn’t have been simpler.  First of all, there was no remote to bother with.  We never had to spend upwards of a half hour rummaging around the Naugahyde davenport cushions trying to find the remote control.

Instead, my brothers and I would spend upwards of a half hour arguing over who should change the channel because they were the closest one to the television set.

I have one vivid memory of me and my little brother, Ricky, and my older brother, Peter, plastering ourselves against the back wall of our living room, each trying to make ourselves farthest away from the TV.  I can’t even imagine how many episodes of Ruff and Ready were wasted in this way.

Changing Channels

Changing the channel in those days was pretty simple.  You simply walked over to the TV and turned the dial until it would clunkily kachunk onto either 2 (ABC), 4 (CBS) or 6 (NBC).  The dial had way more numbers on it than 2, 4 and 6.  (It might have gone up to 11 now that I think about it.)

Obviously, TV manufacturers were the visionaries of the 1950’s. They kept their eyes focused on a day in the not too distant future when there might actually be more than snow to watch on all those other channels.

50's television snow
They saw the future and it didn’t look anything like this, thank god!

But in the 50’s, because there wasn’t that much on TV and because we were all so giddy about television viewing, we were all pretty much okay with watching snow.

My grandmother, who lived way out in the country and had no cable connection or antenna reception, claimed she got channel 13.  She’d proudly turn on her TV set and turn the dial to channel 13.  There  would be nothing but snow on the screen. But if you listened closely enough, you could occasionally make out the sound of voices although it was impossible to figure out what they were saying.

I remember visiting my grandmother and sitting in front of her TV set watching the snow and listening to the random voices.  Her TV set was pretty fancy.  It was in a blond wooden cabinet that had shuttered doors.  I’d sit in front of it, watching the snow and listening for voices while my grandmother would watch from her new white Naugahyde couch while she crocheted colorful afghans (the blankets not the people). My grandmother was totally on board with mid-century decor.

The Thrill of Saturday Morning Cartoons

My brothers and I would get up at the crack of dawn on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons.  But if we were too early, we would turn on the TV and watch the snow because all the stations quit broadcasting at midnight and didn’t resume broadcasting until about 7 a.m. in the morning.

So every night at midnight, all three stations would broadcast a recording of The Star Spangled Banner and then sign off.  Everybody was a lot more patriotic in those days.

Maybe because there was a cold war going on, and you never knew if tonight would be the night that Nikita Khrushchev would get tanked up on vodka and accidentally pass out on the atomic bomb button that was aimed directly at your hometown.

It’s little wonder that TV programmers figured it was probably a good idea to send everybody off to bed with a good dose of patriotism.

Anyway, on Saturday morning, my brothers and I would watch the snow until the thrill of the test pattern came on:

IndianHeadTestPattern16x9 (1)
Not only is this impressive, did you know one of the colors is magenta?

Once the test pattern came on things really got exciting.  It meant we were almost to the beginning of actual television broadcasting and one minute closer to watching the cartoon adventures of Ruff and Ready!

The test pattern was accompanied by a long tone like you would hear during an emergency broadcast warning.  Then an announcer would come on and explain what the colors of the test pattern were.  One of the colors was magenta. Every week my brothers and I wondered what color magenta was.

MagentaIcon
Okay just googled magenta,. and even google isn’t sure what color magenta is.

Sometimes while we were waiting for the cartoons to start, my brothers would scrape the frost off the freezer box in the refrigerator and eat it like a snow cone. I never cared much for the frost on the pre-defrost-free refrigerator freezers.  I always felt it had a funny aftertaste. But my brothers seemed to enjoy it.

freezer frost
Peter and Ricky viewed this freezer frost as the snow cone half full.

Ah yes!  TV in the 50’s.  I often ask myself if there’s anything today that compares to that long-ago  thrill of hearing the theme song to Ruff and Ready while eating freezer snow cones . . . and the answer, Dear Readers, is yes . . . practically everything!

 

Until next time . . . I love you

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:  

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.

Mumps: 

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!

 

Tonsillitis:

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

My Brain Peanuts Remembers: Candy

Welcome Dear Readers!  I was thinking about candy yesterday. Maybe because Halloween is coming up or maybe because some days is just for sittin’ around thinkin’ ’bout candy. (Sorry, sometimes my brain, Peanuts, gets really obnoxious.)

Here’s some of the vintage gum and candy that my brain, Peanuts, remembers.

Black Jack Gum

240px-Black_jacks_gum2

Black Jack Gum was a whole heck of a lot of fun.  It had it’s own original flavor which tasted a little like black licorice but not quite.  But the really cool thing about Black Jack Gum was that it was almost black so you could put it on your teeth and make it look like your two front teeth had been knocked out.  Which is always a bonus when you’re between the ages of five and twelve 61.

Double Bubble Bubble Gum

Vintage Dubble Bubble Gum

Our local store had a box of Double Bubble Gum in the candy rack.It must have been there for many years because the Double Bubble gum was as hard as a rock, and it actually hurt to chew it. When I was a kid, I thought the funnies that came with the Double Bubble bubble gum were included to make you feel better while you were experiencing the pain of chewing.

Bazooka Bubble Gum:

Bazooka Bubble Gum Linda Vernon Humor

And an example of the comics found therein:

This one is actually funnier than I remembered.
I bought Bazooka Bubble Gum occasionally (they were a lot softer to chew) but, frankly, I preferred the Double Bubble bubble gum solely because I thought Double Bubble  comics were funnier.

Candy

I remember eating Necco Sugar Wafers as a kid.  I never really cared for them much, but for some reason I would still occasionally buy them and try to eat them.  These tended to be the kinds of candies that would end up in the dust bunnies under children’s beds all over America along with jelly beans, candy hearts and black licorice Saltwater taffy.

Necco Candy wafers
Blech!

According to Wikipedia, Necco Sugar Wafers have been around since 1847. Okay, maybe in 1847, when everything kind of sucked in general, people were fine with eating candy that tasted like Tums but why do people eat them today?  Could it be that “Tums”  is a classic flavor that will never go out of style?

Big Hunk

Linda Vernon Humor Vintage Candy Commentary

They really were big too.  And they were only a nickel!  I have no idea what they were made out of.  They did have peanuts in them, an unpleasant fact I never let deter me because the taste of the taffy-like candy would block out the taste of the peanuts or, perhaps they used peanuts that didn’t have any flavor, which was fine by me.

Then there were Jawbreakers:

Linda Vernon Humor vintage candy commentary

The particular jawbreaker that always sticks in my mind were the ones you could buy for a while in the 1950’s called Sputniks.  They were blue and had little spikes sticking out of them.  They really made your mouth sore –even more sore than stale Double Bubble bubble gum did, and they didn’t even come with comics to make you feel better while you were eating them!  Plus they tasted pretty horrible.

I suspect the Sputnick Jawbreaker was part of a government propaganda program to remind children how evil the Russian’s were for having launched a satellite up in space before we did.

Well Dear Readers, that’s about all the remembering my brain, Peanuts, is capable of today. But there are lots and lots vintage candy bars that are stuck between the teeth of my brain, Peanuts synapses — which might be worth prying loose one of these days.

In the meantime, my brain, Peanuts, wonders what your favorite candy was  a kid . . . 

Until next time . . . I love you

Flipping Through A 1953 Magazine

Welcome to Friday, Dear Readers!  And on Fridays this blog takes some time off  from goofing off to pursue more leisurely pursuits like flipping through old magazines.

And to that end, here’s a magazine from 1953 I found stuck between two cookbooks at the Thrift store yesterday:

Isn't it wonderful?
Isn’t it wonderful?

Come on, let’s look inside:

Is it just me or is this little guy wearing a saucer on his head?

1953 Heinz Baby Food ad
The aliens have landed and you’ll never guess where!

This says:  “Every Woman is Beautiful Thru Pregnancy”

Uh . . . not in this outfit she isn’t.

1953 magazine humorous commentary, Linda Vernon Humor
Gosh! When did my hair get so ugly.

The note at the top of this page says: Painted for the Green Giant Company by Norman Rockwell.

Just think! In 1953 you could still hire Norman Rockwell to illustrate your ad!

 1953 Green Giant Norman Rockwell Ad

Uh . . . judging from the color of their complexions, I think it might be a good idea for them to lay off the Libby’s Tomato Juice for a while.

1953 Magazine humorous commentary Linda Vernon Humor
“Mommy, do you think we’ll ever eat anything but tomato juice again?”
“Of course not, darling, why would we?” “Mommy, do you think we’ll ever stop dressing like twins?”
“Of course not, darling, why would we?

Something in me longs for the days when gunning down Mother if she didn’t fix her children a snack of canned meat that had been “deviled”  was considered wholesome fun!

1953 Ad for Underwod Deviled Ham
Haha! Now be sure not to riddle me with bullets until after I’ve prepared your snack, you little rascals!”

While big brothers are chasing little sister (who has a a 35-year-old woman’s face) so that they can lasso her around her neck (good luck with finding her neck),  the important thing here is that they won’t scuff the floors thanks to Simoniz self-polishing floor wax!

1953 magazine humorous commentary Linda Vernon Humor
My mother had a stove just like the one in the background.

Well, Dear Readers, my scanning elbow is starting to act up again so we’ll quit for today, but I hope you enjoyed this little romp back to 1953!

Until next time . . . I love you