Growing Up


There is a picture of me and my siblings, and our first puppy, that used to hang in my mother’s house. The picture was taken in the summer of 1964, when we had first moved into the house. Anyone looking at the picture would think we were a normal American family.

We grew up with a large, black-and-white television set in the living room. We had to get up and change the channels by hand! We only got 7 channels, but it seemed there was always something interesting to watch. We loved watching Gilligan’s Island, The Brady Bunch, and I Love Lucy.

We drank Nestles’ Quick, ate Oreo cookies and baked Duncan Hines cake mix. We ate Hamburger Helper and LaChoy (in a can!) Chinese Food.

We played Monopoly, Operation, Battleship, and Checkers. During the summer, we swam in a neighbor’s pool. We also had a ‘fort’ which consisted of a huge oak tree that was surrounded by lilac bushes. In between the lilac bushes were our ‘rooms.’

We drank water from the stream that passed in front of the house. We ate berries off the bushes without washing them first. We didn’t get sick from it.

The three of us kids would go outside, and stand twenty feet apart, with the dog in the middle of us. Then we would all call and coax the dog to come to us. He didn’t know which one to choose, so he would take off running, and run circles around us in the yard. It was fun to see him run so fast.

We had a party line for our phone. (Imagine kids today having to share a phone at all!) We had to share it with the family AND the neighbors. One teenage girl lived up the street, and used to hog the phone. We used to make the cat “meow” into the phone while she was talking. She would get very mad at us, but there was nothing she could do. We would laugh and laugh.

My mother was a stay-at-home mom, and was almost always home when we got home from school. She would spend the day doing housework, and laundry, and talking on the phone to her friends. She swept the kitchen floor every day. I wish I had picked up that habit from her. I would rather do anything than housework.

We caught the bus in the morning at the end of our driveway. In the winter, we would watch out of the living room window. We could see the bus when it stopped at our neighbor’s house. Then we would run outside in time to catch it. It was nice that we didn’t have to wait outside when it was cold.

We had birthday parties with cake and ice cream. We would play
pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. When I got a little older, I would have slumber parties. There were about 10 girls that would come over. There was not much sleeping done, though. We mostly stayed up and talked and giggled.

So when I look at the picture of us starting our lives in the new house, I guess it really was a snapshot of a time when we were an average American family.

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