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friedag

1950s - Books and Other Culture

friedag
9 years ago

I've been reading Let Him Have It, Chris by M J Trow about the murder of a policeman in Croydon, England in November 1952. However the subtitle of Trow's book, The Murder of Derek Bentley, does not refer to the policeman but to the nineteen-year-old accomplice of the actual triggerman who was sixteen. Both were found guilty of murder but the younger -- the actual killer -- was given a prison sentence; the older Bentley was hanged. Bentley was called 'three-quarter witted' because his IQ was 66, his mental age was about 9, and he was led by his sharper-witted but younger companion.

It is generally agreed that Bentley's hanging was a gross miscarriage of justice and was one of the cases of the 1950s that turned England against the death penalty (others included the executions of Timothy Evans, who was connected with Christie at 10 Rillington Place, and Ruth Ellis, the last woman hanged in the UK).

I gave the above background so I could follow it with what I'm really after. In much of the book, Trow explains the post-war culture of England, particularly as it involved 'disaffected youth', such things as reading comic books, watching American gangster films, not having jobs, and just generally being pissed-off because life was not treating them 'right'. It was the age of the 'angry young man'. It must have been, because there was certainly some excellent literature that grew out of it. I know some of it, but would like any suggestions you all have, including films.

Okay, but what about the young women? I don't figure they were any more satisfied with their lot, either. Or maybe they were.

In the US the 1950s have been highly romanticized ('Happy Days', sock hops, mom wearing pearls with her apron, father knowing best, conspicuous consumerism, conspicuous fecundity...) Apparently though, American youth had a miserable side, too, if books and films are any indication. Which ones do you think were most accurate reflecting the times -- if any?

Note: I learned that the word 'teenager' first appeared in print in 1941.

Dig your poodle skirt out of your cedar chest and tell me your impressions of the 1950s. You don't have to actually remember them. You could've been born long after. :-) What really should be known about the 1950s?

Comments (147)

  • woodnymph2_gw
    9 years ago

    My parents were strict by American standards. They did not buy a TV until I was almost in high school. I was an only child and my parents did not marry until they were older. When I was born, my father was 42 and my mother 38. They were both overly protective and my father was somewhat controlling. When I was of the dating age, I was not allowed to date either Jewish or Greek Orthodox young men. When out on a date, I had to come home by a certain time, even if it meant I did not get to see the ending of a movie. As my parents were very WASP, it was out of the question to date a Catholic.

    As for culture, my parents made sure I went to the opera and the art museums at an early age. I was given art lessons and went to summer camp. Although I wanted to study classical ballet, instead, I was forced to take piano lessons. Then, just as I was finally able to play decently, the lessons stopped because my parents thought music might interfere with my preparation for college. I never w ent back to the piano, alas.

  • annpan
    9 years ago

    The only thing that both my parents and later (when I boarded with them) grandparents were strict about was coming home by 10.30pm and that meant missing the end of things sometimes.
    The odd thing was that I never questioned it! Usually the places I went to at night were finished by then anyway, the pubs, which I never went to, closed (There was the call for "Last Orders" then "Time, Gentlemen, Please!") due to the strict licensing hours and public transport stopped quite early too.
    I had no boy-friends, so no objection there.
    There was some consternation when I announced that I was going to Australia but as I only planned to spend two years there, I did get support. My grandmother wrote to an old friend who lived there and I was met on arrival and I boarded with some relatives of hers. I was even 'taken up' by a father and daughter on the ship who had met one of my aunts who mentioned that I was travelling by myself on the same passage! I was very lucky really. Having been surrounded by concerned people all my life, it never occurred to me that what I was doing was quite foolhardy, going off alone!

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  • friedag
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Vee, I have a similar conversation running concurrent to this thread with several of my old mates in England and one in Scotland. Comparing the two discussions, sometimes I feel like scratching my head and asking if all of you are actually talking about the same time and the same general culture. I've found that the English experiences are more varied amongst yourselves than American experiences are, even between regions as far-flung as New Hampshire (where a dear friend grew up), South Carolina (my late sister-in-law's home state), south Alabama (where some of my cousins lived), the Dakotas (where other cousins lived), Texas (my late first husband's home state and where my brother has lived for several decades), and California, the state that has 'shared' its culture more widely than practically every other.

    That's right, Vee, some of my English friends did/didn't have strict parents.

    I enjoy hearing and reading all the different experiences. I realize that no one's personal experience is really 'typical', but there is a persisting sociological need to find typicality in culture just to understand it a bit better, even though it is mostly elusive. I hope you don't think by exotic I meant 'weird' or abnormal. I love exotic. :-)

    I always thought my own upbringing was vanilla, but I've met people who think it's exotic. I was the guest of a wonderful Albanian couple in Albania when it finally opened up a bit to allow foreign visitors in. They plied me with more questions about America and England than I could ever answer adequately, especially with the language barrier, but they obviously thought I was a bird with flaming plumage when I thought of myself and my own culture as not especially colorful.

  • annpan
    9 years ago

    Perhaps some of the confusion arises from the class system which exists still in the UK and was quite strongly upheld even after the war. I don't think you will find that there was a general culture. People in the same street lived different lives even!

  • woodnymph2_gw
    9 years ago

    I'm reading a book about the Kindertransport, the movement to get Jewish children out of Central Europe and from Germany just before WW II broke out. Many ended up in England and kept journals. Several had written that they found the English adopted families quite "cold" compared to their own Jewish parents, e.g. no hugs, no kisses. And the comment that English children were shipped off to boarding school at a very early age. I find it difficult to believe that part about the no hugs or kisses for children. Comments, anyone?

  • friedag
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Annpan, class consciousness could be a part of it. When I first went to live in England and started meeting people, I was rather frequently asked questions such as: What does your father do? How big is your family's house? How many cars do your family have?

    I usually answered them but I wondered why they wanted to know these, to my mind, irrelevant details. After a while I caught on that they were attempting to slot me into their classification system as if I were English instead of American. The US has a class system, too -- and anybody who says it doesn't has either had her head under a rock or is trying to fool you or herself -- but until fairly recently most people just lumped themselves into rich, middle-class, or poor without too much distinction otherwise.

    Mary, I'm reading something similar in Forbidden Britain: Our Secret Past about London children who were placed with families in the countryside, supposedly for their own safety. Many of these children when they grew up recalled how 'coldly' they were treated. I figure the 'no hugs, no kisses' depended on the circumstances, but might have been greatly exaggerated in the minds of these forlorn children. I noticed that British parents I've known were probably not as openly demonstrative with their children as American and other European parents, but out of public view they were likely to be as huggy and kissy with small children as any of the others.

  • veer
    9 years ago

    Frieda, generally it is considered quite rude over here to ask such direct questions as you mention above, especially size of house, number of cars etc and politics and religion are total no-no's.But you are right about our need to find a niche for everyone (women are much worse than men at this) and usually we only need a few minutes to 'place' someone. I just questioned DH about this and after some thought he says it is partly to put ourselves 'at ease' with the other party. If for eg you found yourself talking to someone who probably came from a disadvantaged family you wouldn't go on about the world cruise from which you had just returned, or explain that you were only driving the Mini today as the Merc was being polished. Of course these are over-the-top egs but it is just so US RP'ers unused to our strange habits can understand us . . .or not. And it isn't really just about money. You don't change your 'class' because you lose your job and have to move to a smaller house. Many Lords/aristocrats might live in castles but behind the walls the furniture is threadbare, their tweeds are missing buttons and they haven't changed their car since 1957.
    Annpan probably finds the class system far more relaxed in Aus than over here.
    And it does work the other way. In College in the '60's I first came across the 'chip on the shoulder' brigade. "My Dad's poorer than your Dad" "What sort of car does your Dad drive? Mine only had a bike and he's proud of it." Many of these people came from the North of the country and Wales and felt everyone else was 'against' them. DH teaching in a Welsh school listened to talk among staff about how poor their parents had been. A mark of poverty was the lack, or otherwise of indoor plumbing. Men would be vying with one another. "Our ty bach" (privy/outhouse) was at the end of the garden." "Ours was halfway up the mountain." "We were so poor we didn't even have one."
    Mary, of course every family is different but most people don't go in for great outward signs of affection; it used to be considered slightly cringe-worthy. As children, as far as I can remember, we were never kissed or hugged but then we were rarely smacked/hit (unless we had driven our Mother to distraction). As we had no relations we didn't have to suffer from being kissed by ancient Aunts which we would have found extremely embarrassing.
    Boarding school, never very usual, was necessary for the many parents working abroad, either in the Forces, Diplomatic Service or the old 'Empire'/Commonwealth. Often boys aged 7-8 were sent to Prep school and yes, it is really much too young to leave home. My younger brother was sent away when he was 7 (and Mother would have sent him at 6 but the school wouldn't take him). He never really enjoyed his time at school and despite a 'strange' home life said it would have been preferable. His school was only about 12 miles away and he claimed dad drove the 'long' way round so he didn't realise where he was! From my...

  • annpan
    9 years ago

    Vee, you are right about the "few minutes to 'place' someone." I had exactly the same thought which you expressed so accurately. Also that there is less class consciousness in Australia, although I still find myself doing an automatic assessment of people I meet to 'place' what would be best to talk about. I found it very socially helpful when I had to go to events with my husband and mingle with strangers.
    When he went to the UK he mixed with all classes and was accepted as some kind of 'neutral' being a "Colonial" as it was still referred to by some people!
    We weren't shown great affection in public but we knew as children that we were loved. My daughter shocked a friend by not greeting me with a kiss "Aren't you going to kiss your mother?" she exclaimed. Beaming at each other we explained that we weren't 'kissy' people. We just felt the love.
    Vee, my father was also in the Army during the war and returned the same sweet-natured person I vaguely remembered. Perhaps the Army wasn't to blame for your father's controlling nature, as you described it. Daddy's father was that kind of man too. My mother couldn't stand him and we usually visited Daddy's lovely kind step-mother when he was out!
    This discussion has shifted a long way from "angry young men"! What kind of points have your other friends made, Frieda?

  • rosefolly
    9 years ago

    I haven't posted yet, but I have been reading with great interest. I was a small child in the 1950's looking up with intense admiration at teenage girls around me. I wanted to be exactly like them with I grew up. That, and at the same time just like my adored mother, who resembled them not one bit. I was an intensely impressionable child. Of course by the time I was a teenager myself it was a completely different world. In the early 70's I was one of those semi-fake-hippie types in blue jeans, no bra, and no make up, something I grew out of by the middle of the decade. Well, I still wear blue jeans a lot. They are very practical, sturdy, and thorn-resistant garments for the serious rose grower. Denim shirts are also good at pruning time. And I still wear very little makeup, just sunscreen and mascara except for special occasions. But the rest of it has gone with the wind.

    Comment on tattoos. I would probably get one if I were a young woman today. After all, I got my ears pierced when I was in college, something that horrified my mother. No doubt I would choose something clever and it would be located some place quite discreet so that I could have it both ways, the rebel and the "good" girl.
    A few years ago saw a young woman with a tattoo I greatly admired and I was briefly tempted to follow suit. Then I though, "Hmmm, tattoos -- aging skin. I think not." The ones in color are extremely difficult to remove, but the standard dark blue ones can be taken out with laser, an expensive and painful process, but possible. Yes, I do know people who have done exactly this.

    Many comments in this discussion have resonated with me, too many to go back and comment on at this late stage. I will say that we sent one of our own children to boarding school for two years starting at age 14. Yes, I think a younger age would have been emotionally difficult, both for him and for us. Our local highly competitive public school was not working out to his benefit, and two years in an environment with small classes and greater attention made a world of difference. He came home after the two years and finished in an alternative high school that he genuinely loved. There simply is no "one size fits all" when it comes to education.

    Oh, and add me to the list of those who admired Audrey Hepburn's style. Someone once told me that she thought I resembled Audrey Hepburn. I do not, not at all, except that before I had children I was naturally very thin. Now like most people I must watch my weight. Also, I think she loved gardens as I do. I am fair, blue eyed, not particularly graceful, and lack her wonderful instinct for fashion. Nonetheless, I was horribly flattered by the comment. It still makes me smile with remembered gratitude when I remember it. Amazing how long some kind words can echo in our lives!

    Rosefolly

  • rosefolly
    9 years ago

    I haven't posted yet, but I have been reading with great interest. I was a small child in the 1950's looking up with intense admiration at teenage girls around me. I wanted to be exactly like them with I grew up. That, and at the same time just like my adored mother, who resembled them not one bit. I was an intensely impressionable child. Of course by the time I was a teenager myself it was a completely different world. In the early 70's I was one of those semi-fake-hippie types in blue jeans, no bra, and no make up, something I grew out of by the middle of the decade. Well, I still wear blue jeans a lot. They are very practical, sturdy, and thorn-resistant garments for the serious rose grower. Denim shirts are also good at pruning time. And I still wear very little makeup, just sunscreen and mascara except for special occasions. But the rest of it has gone with the wind.

    Comment on tattoos. I would probably get one if I were a young woman today. After all, I got my ears pierced when I was in college, something that horrified my mother. No doubt I would choose something clever and it would be located some place quite discreet so that I could have it both ways, the rebel and the "good" girl.
    A few years ago saw a young woman with a tattoo I greatly admired and I was briefly tempted to follow suit. Then I though, "Hmmm, tattoos -- aging skin. I think not." The ones in color are extremely difficult to remove, but the standard dark blue ones can be taken out with laser, an expensive and painful process, but possible. Yes, I do know people who have done exactly this.

    Many comments in this discussion have resonated with me, too many to go back and comment on at this late stage. I will say that we sent one of our own children to boarding school for two years starting at age 14. Yes, I think a younger age would have been emotionally difficult, both for him and for us. Our local highly competitive public school was not working out to his benefit, and two years in an environment with small classes and greater attention made a world of difference. He came home after the two years and finished in an alternative high school that he genuinely loved. There simply is no "one size fits all" when it comes to education.

    Oh, and add me to the list of those who admired Audrey Hepburn's style. Someone once told me that she thought I resembled Audrey Hepburn. I do not, not at all, except that before I had children I was naturally very thin. Now like most people I must watch my weight. Also, I think she loved gardens as I do. I am fair, blue eyed, not particularly graceful, and lack her wonderful instinct for fashion. Nonetheless, I was horribly flattered by the comment. It still makes me smile with remembered gratitude when I remember it. Amazing how long some kind words can echo in our lives!

    Rosefolly

  • annpan
    9 years ago

    Rose, I too sent my son to boarding school, when he was 13 as he began to avoid going to his day school. We could have been prosecuted for that! It made a huge difference to him so although I had to take on more work to pay for this, it was worth it.

  • friedag
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Rosefolly, I'm glad you checked in!

    'Semi-fake-hippie type' is essentially what I was, too. Except I did get a bit too serious for a spell and did some incredibly stupid things that I can't believe I allowed myself to fall into, namely drug 'experimentation'. Lucky for me, I really didn't like the way it made me feel, and I was able to walk away relatively unscathed.

    Your admiration of your mother resonates with me, because I too had -- I still have -- a wonderful mother. Which is a perfect segue to this:

    Annpan, one of the topics that garnered the most comments from my English friends was mother/daughter relationships. Some apparently did not have good relations with their own mothers and some have had problems with fractious daughters. If I listened only to their opinions, I would think that most English mothers must have been frustrated in the 1950s.

  • annpan
    9 years ago

    I think the 1950s must have been frustrating for mothers, looking back on it! There were still hardships as a legacy from the war, even though it had been over for some time. There were still shortages...housing...food....and probably more that I don't recall. Teenage daughters feeling their way to adulthood, too.
    Although I was an obedient girl generally, I did have my moments! My mother disliked my schoolfriend and her father didn't care for me either! He wanted her to drop me and have 'posher' friends who had attended private schools and had upper class accents and attitudes. It wouldn't have done any good, they were a clique and would never had included her in their group!
    As I left my parents home at 16 to board with grandparents, I saw very little of my family for a while so I didn't have any clashes with my mother after I left and we were on good terms when I later was able to stay at my parents home at weekends.
    From what I noticed all my teenage schoolmates had clashes of some kind with their mothers, a part of growing up!

  • woodnymph2_gw
    9 years ago

    Are we done? Where is Frieda?

  • friedag
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Mary, sorry, I didn't mean to leave things dangling. I lost the Internet again.

    If this thread has run its course, it has been an excellent run! I want to thank everyone for participating. You all are founts of information and thought-provoking opinion.

    One thing (among many) that surprised me a bit is just how young English children and teens in the 1950s seemed to leave the family nest compared to their American counterparts. From going off to boarding school at six or seven to leaving school at fifteen or sixteen...

    American kids usually didn't attend boarding school -- some did but at a later age, as Paula said. Although an American teenager could legally drop out of school at sixteen, those who finished (most, whether they deserved to or not) were usually seventeen or eighteen. Then came college (2- or 4-year programs) or a year of some sort of business or vocational-technological training. Many college/university students took a 'gap year' to travel (Europe was the favorite destination, it seems). So we're looking at the average American kid who might not have got a full-time job and completely supported him/herself until nineteen for those with business training or twenty-two (or older) for the university educated. And the age has gotten progressively older every decade since.

    We have observed in this thread that Americans tended to marry relatively young compared to the British, the girls especially moving directly from mom/dad's house to setting up house with new hubbies. It's unclear to me, though, exactly where most of the English girls went and what they were doing in the interval between school leaving at sixteen and getting married/raising their own families in their mid- to late-twenties. I know you all have mentioned getting various skills training and working and boarding with relatives or with roommates but my English friends are a bit vague as to what they actually did after age sixteen -- for seven, eight, nine years! The most common reply I received: "I went to London."

    Well, I went to London too, but I kept in touch with my family. Some of these women did their best to 'divorce' themselves from their families. That's the best way I can describe it. Does this seem to have been 'the usual thing to do' for many/most young Englishwomen? Or was this more of a late-60s and '70s phenomenon?

    Anyone who wants to expand or make additions, please do! I'll try to keep up, but I can't promise I won't disappear. :-(

    Otherwise, this thread can take a bow. Either way, I've enjoyed it tremendously!

  • annpan
    9 years ago

    Frieda, most of the girls I worked with were still living at home until marriage. Remember that housing was still in very short supply. It took many years for a rebuilding programme to get underway with the lack of men and materials.
    A woman I worked with in the late 1950s told me that her parents, who wanted to retire to the coast, had to take a tenant to court to get back their sea-side bungalow, a second home, which had been rented out. They had to take doctor's letters ( a normal backup for support in housing recommendations then) to prove they needed their home! The court gave the tenants six months to find another place.

  • veer
    9 years ago

    As Annpan says girls who left school younger (15-16) would almost always live at home. The type of job they would have taken not paying enough for them to be independent and their wages coming in useful to swell the general family budget . . and I presume young Americans were expected to contribute part of their 'wage-packet' in a similar way.
    I don't know the percentage but far more young people left school at this age than stayed on and went to College/University . . . and the latter were the ones who usually moved away from home . . . and London was often the goal. There were always plenty of jobs available in manufacturing and even quite small towns had their 'industrial estates'. Post War the Govt had provided some finance for factories/works to be set up away from the more traditional centres eg Northern mill towns/coal mining areas.
    Frieda, you don't mention this blue-collar section of US society.

    Also as Annpan says there was an acute housing shortage after WWII bomb damage. Friends of our family were in this position in 1946. Father was still in the Forces, the mother had two small children and no-where to live, having outgrown in-laws house. They moved into derelict 'accommodation' on what had been the local RAF airfield. During the freezing winter of 1947, in desperation, she wrote a letter to the then Queen (who became the late Queen Mother) begging for help. Now even the most Left-Wing Council is unlikely to ignore a letter from Buckingham Palace (even when sent via third parties) and suddenly a house became available for the family.
    I don't know what the situation was in other countries, but in the UK from 1947? all young men were called-up to do their National Service. 18 months in either the Army, Royal Navy or RAF. The older generation seemed to think it would make men of these lads who had missed the War and it certainly gave many working class boys their first chance to see 'foreign parts' and cut the 'apron strings'. As you would expect many boys hated it, some loved it and thrived and I know of one chap who enjoyed it so much he stayed on an extra year during the Malaya Emergency.
    The site below gives rather a jaundiced view of the scheme.
    Maybe the writer is a later-day Angry Young Man.

    Here is a link that might be useful: National Service.

  • friedag
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Annpan and Vee, thanks for clearing up that bit about girls mostly living at home with their families. For some reason, that part often does not get mentioned. I don't know if it is considered unimportant or whether it is just assumed as common knowledge and needs no explanation. However, it leaves the impression (on me, anyway) that most girls were so eager to get away from their families that they flew the coop as soon as possible.

    Vee, in my part of the world, any teenager/young adult who was working but still living at home was indeed expected to contribute part of their pay to general household and family expenses. My brothers and I all had part-time jobs when were in high school and college and from our paychecks we put 20% in our savings accounts at the bank; 30% went to our room and board; another 20% was allotted to things such as clothing, phone bills, car maintenance, incidentals, etc.; and the remaining 30% was for discretionary entertainments: in my case, paperback books, magazines, my beloved 45rpm and LP records, cosmetics, visits to the hairdresser, gasoline for recreational running around in my car, etc. My brothers had to take their dating expenses from their 30% of discretionary spending. 'Going Dutch' was not really considered a date-date, in the courting sense. But the boys nearly always earned more than the girls so this was expected and considered fair enough, although I'm sure there were boys who considered their dating life very restricted because they couldn't afford to do much of it. Girls, I'm ashamed to say, were not always sympathetic to these poor fellows' plights.

    However, I did run into girls (and a few guys) who still lived at home but were not expected to give any of their pay to their parents as I described above. They kept all their wages for themselves. At first I was flabbergasted and thought they were lucky little weasels, but I changed my mind when I noticed how 'entitled' they seemed to think they were.

  • woodnymph2_gw
    9 years ago

    In my part of the world, the norm was: after graduation from college, young women either headed for the cities for jobs as teachers, librarians, or secretaries. That is to say, if they were not planning to marry. Rarely did they go on to graduate school for the Masters or Ph.D. degrees. After I graduated, I headed for Boston, where, after taking a brief summer course in shorthand and typing, I sought work at a publishing house. I ended up working at Boston University, before marrying one year later. After marriage, I continued to work in various libraries and museums.

    Girls who merely finished high school did often live at home, but many would band together with other girls and share an apartment, while working in offices.

    Vee, you asked about Blue collar work, I believe. Yes, there were jobs for young women in factories in various parts of America. For example: mills in the deep South, canning factories in the North, and in New England, shoe manufacturing factories, just as some examples.

    As girls of my generation, we were expected to get summer jobs. I was a camp counselor, teaching archery, for years. I still recall my first pay check for my first summer: the grand total of $100 for 2 months!

  • friedag
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Picking up where I left off:

    The 'entitled' ones weren't always from wealthier families. Apparently it depended on the work ethics of the parents. My first husband's parents were 'very well off', but they expected him to work and 'pay his share'. When I first met him he was doing the wheat harvest with my brothers. Every year legions of young men 'followed' the harvest from eastern Montana down through all the wheat-belt states of the Plains to the Texas Panhandle. It was grueling work and required the constitution of an ox. My future DH was no pampered jade.

    In my experience, it was the girls who were treated by their parents like princesses, sitting on their satin tuffets, who were most likely either not to work at all or, if they did, they spent everything on themselves.

    Vee, I obliquely referred to blue collar jobs in my mention of vocational training. The young people who chose the blue-collar route often were 'out the gate' quicker as the pay scales for those type jobs were more lucrative, initially. After my brother and future DH finished the wheat harvest, they hired on as roughnecks in the oil field. The pay was fabulous, but the inherent dangers made for mostly short-lived careers. There are many other blue-collar jobs that, for the life of me, I don't understand why they don't deserve more respect. Who is more useful after all, a plumber or a liberal arts professor?

    Very interesting, Vee, about the National Service -- I'll consider that aspect more closely.

  • friedag
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Re blue collar jobs for women: Mary, my late sister-in-law told me about her first job which was as an apprentice upholsterer for one of the furniture manufacturers. Is furniture manufacturing still done in South Carolina? I remember hearing about how many of these jobs were disappearing, as they were being sent overseas. My SiL evidently enjoyed upholstering because she took it up again decades later as a hobby. When I visited her house, I always looked to see what she had done to her couch. She reupholstered it every year or so just for the fun of it.

    Some of my female Alabama cousins worked in a sewing factory for Vanity Fair, the lingerie company, but I think that got outsourced too.

    In Iowa some girls took jobs in the agricultural processing plants. In meat-packing, men did the abattoir jobs and most of the butchering, but women did things like stuff the necks, hearts, gizzards, livers, etc. into the cavities of chickens and turkeys. Of course these were not glamorous jobs, but most Iowans understood them to be necessary and people weren't looked down on for taking them.

    Has anyone mentioned nursing? Several of my friends and some of my relatives went into nursing. There were 2-year and 4-year programs. I saw what they had to study and the training they had to go through, and I'm just thankful that they had the stamina and dedication to stick with it.

    Mary, that banding together to share an apartment is what I did with my mates in London. We were all associated with the news-gathering business and publishing: some such as I were reporters; others were cameramen, translators, sub-editors (copy editors), layout designers, etc. We worked weird hours; at any one time half of us might be off in some oddball place and not come home for days.

    I remember arriving home one time to find a strange girl there, so I introduced myself and asked her who she was visiting. "Nobody," she said, "I live here."

    I thought: okay, she must have moved in while I was away. But, no, it turned out she had been there two months but we had never crossed paths before. I learned, too, that for a while she had slept in my room, in my bed. It was just part of the peculiar chaos that I had to get used to.

  • annpan
    9 years ago

    Frieda, were you with AAP or Reuters? We also had your experience of flat-sharing for a short time when we went to London in 1990. We met up with a journalist who had worked with my husband and she told us that we could move into her flat for a while as she was going away for Christmas. Her cameraman flatmate was also away but came back unexpectedly. We found our own flat once he was back, I felt we were intruding on a stranger and there were some differences of opinion about the central heat setting!

  • woodnymph2_gw
    9 years ago

    Frieda, the furniture manufactoring plants were mostly in North Carolina, in the Piedmont area. I remember the "chicken factories". In Virginia, my Amish friend's mother had worked in an assembly line in one of those. Not fun!

    As for "flat sharing" -- that is what we did in Boston. The two meccas after college on the East coast were Boston and New York City. Newly-graduated girls showed up and took secretarial courses and met their future flat-mates in those classes. I ended up living on Beacon Hill, a very posh section of the city now. But in those days, the old apartments were cheap and many young folk abounded, with lots of parties, impromptu. It was considered fashionable to work in the city for a few years, then get married.

    I think southern graduates were more likely to live at home, but I could not wait to leave the South, and be "independent", as I was not close to my parents.

  • friedag
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Annpan, I was with Reuters.

    Oh yes, heating and what different people found comfortable was probably the major reason for argument. Some of the places I lived in didn't have central heat; but in the ones that did, the landlady or property manager had to have a locked cage or box constructed over the thermostat so people couldn't reach it to fiddle with the controls. Still, ingenious sorts would figure out a way, using long, skinny instruments to get between the wires or picking the locks. It was a never-ending battle.

    I don't know if the coin-operated meters are still common in the UK, but when I lived there in the '70s in one flat we had a meter for the gas cooker, another for the water heater, and a water meter for the shower (we didn't have a tub). I never seemed to have enough of the right coins and the time always seemed to run out right in the middle of anything I was doing. I particularly hated the shower because it only gave you three (or five?) minutes to do everything with, what seemed to me, an extremely stingy amount of water. I had very long hair at the time and I had trouble getting it well rinsed and some days I had to put up with the soap residue in my hair and behind my ears. France and some other places had these water meters, too, but as far as I know they've never been used much in the US, if at all.

  • friedag
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Oh, I forgot to ask about the holiday camps and the favorite holiday meccas. Where did you and most people go?

    I knew people who 'lived' for their holidays at Butlin's. I checked to see if the Butlin's holiday camps still exist. They do! I was talked into going to the one at Bognor Regis. I found it a little less than thrilling, but maybe I can understand its appeal. I liken it to a cheap ship cruise on land, all in one spot where everything can be part of a package and everything is taken care of. What bothered me was the high fence around the place -- I was never sure if it was keep people from breaking in or the customers from breaking out.

  • veer
    9 years ago

    Frieda/Mary, your memories of 'flat-sharing' and the odd comings and goings of the occupants are probably still a feature of ex-student life. In the London of the 60's many Aussies moved into Earl's Court which became known as 'Kangaroo Valley'. It wasn't uncommon for them to hot-bed ie one person gets up and goes to work only for their bed to be used by someone who has been working a 'night-shift'.
    I well remember the system employed by mean landlords of rigging' the electricity metre. It was possible for them to have a regular metre which was 'read' by the man from the electricity company but this could be attached to 'sub-metres' situated in each room which the landlord controlled and so was able to set and charge what he liked for the power used. I remember one flat where is was always very cold, we shared the bathroom/loo with a couple of nurses who had bed-sitting rooms at the top of the house and had a kitchen with no more than a sink, a couple of cupboards and an ancient gas-stove. When I moved in the landlady (Austrian) said she hadn't felt like cleaning the filthy stove so had picked us a few roses from the garden instead! We were genuinely convinced that her husband was an ex-Nazi.

    Frieda, I think the days of the Holiday Camp must be numbered. I remember as a child watching a TV advert for 'Butlins' and really wanting to go. Apparently the ads showed people that looked like bank managers/doctors etc. in the hopes that bank clerks and hospital porters would take up the offer. Incidentally my Mother had her first holiday job as a 'Red Coat' at Butlins on the LIncolnshire coast.She had trained as a fitness instructor and had the job of encouraging the happy campers to do physical jerks and join in with the knobbly knees competition. She remembered the pay of ã3 a week 'all found' was excellent for 1939.
    Our childhood holidays of the '50's were always spent on the chilly North Sea coast. Two weeks in a 'guest house', with three meals a day, use of a beach hut. Useful for changing in and out of 'bathers' and keeping warm when it rained and Mother boiling up a kettle on the primus stove and us eating sandy jam sandwiches (I can still feel the grit between my teeth) for our tea. We looked forward to this visit for months, even the train journey to London, the change of main-line stations and the first glimpse of the sea. Our Father never came on these trips as he had to work throughout the summer and we children were all far more relaxed . . . and probably drove my poor Mother to distraction.

    Re little (and big) US Princesses. It brings to mind those terrible mini beauty pageants you have with toddlers covered in make up and inappropriate costumes. I don't think we have many of these females over here and certainly not the competitions although I do have a horror of little girls dressed all in pink. ;-(

  • annpan
    9 years ago

    Frieda, it seems like I awoke a few memories for you with the flat-sharing and the heating problems!
    I was quite adventurous with my holidays once I started work at 16 years old. First of all, I went to France to visit my pen-friend. We were given access to these girls by our French teacher and I lucked upon a girl who lived in the beautiful Loire Valley so got to see the magnificent chateaux. We also went to Paris to stay with her relatives.
    The next year she came to visit me so we went to London, staying with some family connections.
    I went travelling around the Bath area one summer holiday being a great Regency romance fan.
    The most important holiday was a coach trip to Europe with one of the new package tours which was being trialled in the late 1950s. The tour went through France and Switzerland to the final destination in Venice and I made a separate trip with a coach companion to see Rome.
    I never went to a Butlins holiday camp but I did work at a Butlins Fun-Fair cafe every summer once I looked old enough to pretend that I was 14! The wages went toward paying for school uniform as I had to pass my first outgrown one to my sister who had just passed the 11+ scholarship to the Grammar school.

  • friedag
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Vee, I had a landlady whose husband was an ex-Nazi, but that was in (West) Germany. I didn't know any better so I tried to speak Deutsch with her, but she informed me that she couldn't understand what I was saying because it sounded like Plattdeutsch to her. She was Bavarian. It was my first experience with Germans not always understanding other German dialects, never mind Deutsch spoken with an American accent.

    I think some of my favorite things to tell are landlady stories. I didn't actually have much experience with landlords. Compared to the women, the men tended to be less colorful, even downright shadowy. I'm not sure why.

    Your mother was brave to holiday 'alone' with three children. My mother wouldn't have taken my brothers and me fifty miles to stay overnight anywhere without our father. We didn't have passenger trains so we had to go every place in the family station wagon. Mother was a very nervous driver, and it didn't help her nerves any when brother #2 and I got carsick and started throwing up (we always did when either of us rode in the backseat), However, when daddy drove he would install the two of us in the front seat with him where we didn't get sick for some obscure reason.

    Annpan, you were indeed an adventurous traveler at a young age. At the same age I had only been to see the giant statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox in Bemidji, Minnesota; Mark Twain's birthplace in Hannibal, Missouri; Mt Rushmore (South Dakota)...oh, and the burning lignite coal seam in North Dakota. Our father did want my brothers and me to visit another country, so he took us to the border and we crossed over into Manitoba (waving at the border guard without pausing). We went about five or so miles in, then daddy stopped long enough for us to get out of the car and stomp in some Canadian dirt. Whoop-tee-do! Canada looked just like the US but, by golly, we were in another country for about fifteen minutes. Daddy turned the car around and we re-crossed the border, again waving at the border guard. He was probably accustomed to such antics from US citizens.

  • rosefolly
    9 years ago

    Frieda, your story reminds me of the time when (as an adult) I was at Four Corners, and simultaneously had a portion of a foot on each of the four different states that meet there. And like that 15 minute childhood trip to Canada, it is something many people do.

    Rosefolly

  • woodnymph2_gw
    9 years ago

    Speaking of heating problems and landlords: In Boston, I rented an apt. from an antique dealer whose shop was under our flat. He only turned the heat on in the entire building when he came to work in the morning, and he turned it off when he left in the evening. This meant we had no heat from about 5 PM until 8 AM. Boston winters can get very cold and snowy.

    In England and Scotland, when I stayed at B & B's, the only heat was a coin-operated sort of arrangement.

    I lived a year in Paris in a very old building with a French couple. The apt. had no central heat at all. We were only allowed one bath per week and it had to be taken on the weekend. The antiquated bath tub was in a separate room at the end of a far hall. The toilet was in a tiny space off the kitchen. My room-mate and I each had sinks that ran only cold water in our separate rooms.
    I got into the habit of going to hair salons weekly to have my hair washed. After I returned to the States, the houses seemed over-heated to me.

  • friedag
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Rosefolly, you're exactly right about Four Corners and 'border hops' being of the same sort of tradition -- when you're there, there's just some things you've got to do. My DH and I used to ski at Purgatory, so we were looking at a map one day and it didn't look like much of jump from Durango to Four Corners, so we set out. We didn't have any sense of what the actual distance was, though, and we didn't get to 4Corners until the sun was just about to set (being winter that was about 5 p.m.) and the place was closing. We had just enough time to take the obligatory photos of being in four states at one time. I had a hand in Utah, the other in Colorado, a foot in Arizona, a foot in New Mexico and my butt was in the air -- a very unflattering pose that must have been repeated countless times by countless visitors.

    When I lived in England, the young people I knew most wanted to go to Majorca, Andalusia, and Morocco. For the sun of course, and in the case of Morocco for what you could buy. Marrakesh was immensely popular...the 'Express', you know. ;-) I would say it was roughly equivalent to American college kids taking 'Spring Break', something I never actually did as a student in the US.

    Vee, I agree that those baby/tot beauty pageants are godawful. I actually like the color pink, particularly in the more vivid shades, but the pageants have made the pastel shades gag-worthy. I guess it's just another example of the parents, particularly the mothers, trying to live vicariously through their daughters. It's sad because it ruins many of the daughters, in my opinion. I don't give a blanket-y blank for the parents.

    Mary, I've probably mentioned my favorite residence in Paris many times: a maisonette over a bakery in the 7th arrondissement. It was noisy because the bakers began their work about 2 a.m. but I would put up with all the clatter again just to have the wonderful aroma and the taste of the incomparable bread. My flat in the 4th, though, was a pit as I'm sure you remember the way the buildings could be there. I could never have afforded any place in the 4th on my own, but several of us, who were in and out of Paris regularly, pooled our money for a space that couldn't have been any bigger than 400 square feet. I loved it for its convenience and historicity. I learned to ignore the bugs and the green grunge that came out the pipes. And talk about cold! I wanted to sleep on the cooker or at least with my feet in the oven.

  • annpan
    9 years ago

    I noticed a difference in heating arrangements in England when I returned after 30 years living in Australia. The newly built house I lived in during the 1950s had a small coal-fired boiler in the kitchen which piped hot water to the bathroom and to a tank in the airing cupboard in one of the bedrooms. Modern for those days!
    In 1990 central heating had been installed in rooms where I stayed in London and my mother luxuriated with it in the small bungalow she moved into. No more having to light the boiler!
    I have been meaning to make a comment about how I saw myself in the 1950s as English. Only when I started to connect with internet posters from the US did I refer to myself as British as that was what they called us. When I went through US Immigration, as advised, I said I was from the United Kingdom and got a look of gratitude from the official who was probably tired of people insisting they were English/Scottish/Welsh or Northern Irish!

  • friedag
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Annpan, we (well, most of us) in the US know the distinction of the nationalities, but we are lumpers rather than splitters especially when speaking/writing offhand. Vee, calls me on it every now and then. :-)

    But plenty of people in the UK lump citizens of the USA into Americans (that's what we mostly call ourselves as a collective) or into Yanks (which definitely not all of us think of ourselves as). When we want to distinguish ourselves from each other, we'll usually say we're Virginians, Oregonians or whatever state we're from. This works fine inside the US, but outside it can confuse people who are dimly aware of the names of our states. Everybody knows Californians, New Yorkers, Texans and probably Floridians, but Iowans...what are those? One time I actually had someone ask me when I said I was an Iowan: "Where is Iowana?" She apparently didn't know Iowa existed.

  • annpan
    9 years ago

    Frieda, I am not sure if this story was told on this forum but I recall someone from Jersey in the Channel Isles being told that they didn't sound like an American!

  • friedag
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Annpan, I've heard that story. It's usually attributed to some 'dumb' American, as everyone knows that Americans are the most ignorant people in the world. But I won't argue the plausibility, because I made a similar silly mistake. When I was new to London a woman told me she was from Boston and I assumed she meant Boston, Massachusetts. Her accent didn't sound any stranger to me than that of an American Bostonian, which at the time I had not heard much of.

    I was flummoxed about what to call residents of New South Wales -- New South Welsh, New South Walesians, New South Walesers... What people call themselves is not always what you expect? :-)

  • Kath
    9 years ago

    Well, I have just spent a very entertaining hour or so reading this :)
    I was born in 1958, so have no memories of the time, but I can say a few things about Australia then.
    We didn't have food rationing, but post war there was a limit on the size of houses due to shortage of materials. My parents built a 'war service' house - the Government gave ex-servicemen (and women? I don't know) a loan to build a house, and there was a choice of about 20 floor plans, most of them very similar. Ours had three small bedrooms, a lounge room, and kitchen/dinette and one bathroom, with separate toilet, and of course a laundry (I was astonished to find that many places in the UK and Europe have the washing machine in the kitchen).
    My father in law built their house, including making the concrete bricks it was built with! He built a small place first, which later became the garage, and they lived in that, with a small baby, while building the main house. Theirs had only two bedrooms, but bigger than ours, and a sleepout, a room under the main roof but with louvre windows from waist height to the ceiling.
    Australia had its own rock and roll in the 50s, with the most famous singer being Johnny O'Keefe, known as JOK or the Wild One. British and American music were of course also very popular.
    Regarding married women working, when my mother got married in 1950, she was required to resign from her job as a telephonist in the Telephone Exchange, and until the 1970s this was the rule in the Public Service here too. I don't know if older women, or widows, were allowed to return to work there.
    Household help in the form of cleaners or char ladies was pretty much unknown to me. I suppose rich people had them, but nobody of middle class.
    Ann's story of the ten pound Poms rings true. A lot of immigrants started their Australian lives in Adelaide in migrant hostels. These were often very basic, with accommodation in Nissen huts.
    I must apologise for my absence. I can only say that, somewhat to my own surprise, I have been reading mostly books of little merit (mostly romance/erotica), and haven't come to talk about them. I should have realised I was missing great conversations like this.

  • annpan
    9 years ago

    Kath, in the 1950s Civil Service in the UK, married women kept their jobs. They could take a dowry but then had to revert to the lowest level. I worked with one woman who had done that and she never stopped reminding us that she had been of managerial rank! She didn't intend to return to work but her husband had financial problems and that made her do this.
    In 1988 we bought one of those war service homes. It had been built in South Perth close to the less popular side of the Swan River and had been considerably enlarged from the original floor plan. I modernised it some more and two years later, when we decided to go to the UK for a while, sold it for a nice profit as South Perth was by then a very desirable suburb. Just as well, as we found the UK a very expensive place to live in!
    I am glad you found this very interesting thread. It has brought back a lot of memories and I have had to rack my brains to answer some of Frieda's queries!

  • Kath
    9 years ago

    I also forgot to comment on the piercing/tattoo part of the thread.
    I agree that tattoos aren't a good idea, especially for women, when you consider ageing. I know a woman who had her football team's logo tattooed on the top of her breast and it isn't a good look now she is about 50.
    However, I have rather a lot of ear piercings. I have 4 in my left ear and two in my right, and then the tragus pierced in my right ear fairly recently. My idea of being outrageous :)

  • annpan
    9 years ago

    Your tragus, Kath, that is a bit thick!

  • Kath
    9 years ago

    LOL!

  • friedag
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Kath, apology accepted. :-) I was missing you.

    I found the plans of Australian houses I was in very interesting. I think you've answered why they might seem a bit 'unusual' -- starting small and then adding on and remodeling.

    Sorry, the idea of piercing the tragus just pains me.

    Kath, you and I may be the only rock 'n' roll aficionados currently posting. Sometimes I forget that the music which was 'the soundtrack of my life' has hardly registered with other people. These Aussie groups came a little later -- mid 1960s, I think -- The Allusions and The Atlantics. Are you familiar with them? I always thought 'Atlantics' was an odd name for Australians. I've been listening to Redgum's "One More Boring Night in Adelaide." I guess that's folk rock. "Diamantina Drover" is my absolute favorite Australian song (besides the classics). Oh, and Goanna's "Solid Rock". So much good music! I've got to find some Johnny O'Keefe songs.

    I'm still trying to glean some more info on courting/dating customs. Do you have anything to add about those? I am surprised that it's been hard to learn much about them.

  • Kath
    9 years ago

    Frieda, I have to admit that I haven't heard of either The Atlantics (and I agree that is a strange name for an Aussie band) or the Allusions. Col Joye and the Joy Boys (surely a name nobody would choose now *g*) were another early group here.
    The sixties were good for Aussie bands too. Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, The Twilights, The Masters Apprentices and the Easybeats were among the best. The link below is to the Easybeat's best known song, which I think you will agree is quite British sounding. It's worth a look for the time capsule it is! Check out the clothes and the dancing *g*
    I'm also a big fan of 'Solid Rock'. Have you heard Redgum's song 'I was Only 19 (A Walk in the Light Green)? It's brilliant. There was a terrific hiphop version done with John Schumann's backing (from Redgum) a couple of years ago by The Herd which you can find Here
    but be sure to hear the original first.
    Regarding courting/dating, which are both terms not used much here; we tend to say 'going out with'. My parents and in-laws report the same scenarios. Young men and women went with a group of friends to dances at places like The Palais, and there met new people. Once you had a girlfriend or boyfriend, you continued to go to dances, but also to 'the pictures' (cinema), and the love interest might come for dinner with the family. That seems to be about the end of it. Not many young people had cars, so you had to get home on the last tram or walk. I imagine that church goers had other social events, but none of our parents went to church. I don't think churches have ever been as big a part of average Aussie life as they seem to be for Americans.
    Addendum: just rang my mother to ask her, and she agreed with everything above, but added that she and a group of girlfriends would go into town and walk up the main shopping street, or go down to the riverside and walk there. Sounds dodgy to me!

    Here is a link that might be useful: Easybeats

  • friedag
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Oh yes, I know The Easybeats! Thanks for the link to "Friday on My Mind". I enjoyed being sixteen again. I was mad for 'Little Stevie' Wright for a while. Next to "Friday" I noticed a video biography of the group and watched that too. Several of the fellows were 'ten pound Poms' whose first residences were in Sydney-area migrant hostels and those Nissen huts. Bless the down 'n' outers; so many times they are the true innovators. George Young's brothers, Angus and Malcolm, are known of course for AC/DC, and George fostered another group of which I am quite fond: Flash and the Pan. (I can't seem to stay in the 1950s.)

    I know Redgum's "I Was Only 19". I agree that it's brilliant, but I can't listen to it very often as I find it too personal -- my first DH was in Vietnam. Listening to The Herd, I might develop more of a fondness for hiphop -- the Aussie I've heard is much better than the American.

    The Aussie 'going out with' ritual seems to have been low key: mingling, meeting, and pairing up. Thank you for the description and please thank your mother for me. The bit about her and her girlfriends is delightful extra detail. It sure was another place and another time.

    It probably seems that American youth were obsessed with dating -- it certainly looms large in my mind -- and like any ethno- and egocentricity it just seems like it should be the same in other cultures and is surprising when it's not.

  • veer
    9 years ago

    Kath, first I didn't know where/what a tragus was and had horrible pictures of you being pierced in some unmentionable place. After checking I'm glad you can, at least, sit down.
    I must admit I had never heard of any of those Australian groups and you probably wouldn't count the Bee Gees as 'pure' enough Aussie would you?!
    I think what you say about 'dating' (a word we never say either) could equally apply in the UK. Seems much more low-key than in the US and as I said somewhere upthread, the boys were most unwilling to be tied down and often happier/safer(?) in male company. Often if a boy was seen out with a girl he would be greeted with loud jeers from his pals. Females were not something to flaunt as a trophy; probably quite different from the US. Very few young people owned cars, the average town had limited places of entertainment, pubs were not frequented by teenagers then and girls never went in without a partner/brother/father . . . you could but it was heavily frowned on. Most places were closed by 6pm and all day on Sunday. If you had moved away from home and didn't meet people at work often the best place to meet new faces was the evening class. Of course if you were female and had signed up for 'Dress-making' or 'Flower Arranging for Beginners' the type of young man there might not be one's idea of 'Mr Right' but too few girls were brave enough to start 'Heavy Welding' or Motor Bike Mechanics'. You had to strike a happy medium!
    Frieda, with mostly single sex schools in towns often the various 'heads' organised the school timetable so the end of day was staggered in the hope that boys and girls wouldn't meet each other outside school. Of course this didn't stop the determined female missing her bus home and hanging about until the boys came along.
    So what with shy young people, disapproving parents, lack of opportunity it is amazing that the Anglo-Saxon race hasn't sunk without a trace.

  • annpan
    9 years ago

    Vee, I had to laugh because what you wrote was so right! Even at the mixed evening drama classes which I attended, the boys were there only to learn to be actors and although we might act some love scenes they were mainly Shakespeare, so didn't involve much 'snogging'!
    As to disapproving parents, I went out weekly to the pictures with my girlfriend and her boyfriend joined us. Her parents for some reason didn't like him, although he was perfectly nice and they did marry eventually.
    Frieda, there was food for thought for me when you indicated that it is surprising in what you take for granted in your own culture which isn't the norm in others.
    I tried to think of anything I had assumed in that way and concluded that in my travels and reading, I have been more surprised by what others do rather than what they don't do!
    For example, teeth! As long as they don't hurt, I have never bothered much about how they looked but after reading in books written by Americans that they were shocked by the state of British teeth, realised that Americans are very conscious of them and spend a lot of money on having a nice looking set!
    Perhaps this has changed now but in the 1950s, even with the National Health Service, I believe it was only usual to go to the dentist, when a toothache got bad, for a filling or removal. Certainly not for cosmetic reasons unless you were in the films!

  • mudlady_gw
    9 years ago

    I graduated from high school in '62 and recall feeling frustrated because the only jobs for women were as teachers, nurses and secretaries. I always chafed against being told what I couldn't or shouldn't do because I was a girl. There was no thought, and little choice, that I wouldn't get married and have kids and the husband would be the boss and breadwinner. My brother was always more important than I, just because he was male. My mother constantly urged me to get a good education and job so I would never have to depend on a man. (She was a teacher and they eventually divorced, to my father's astonishment.) However, the cars of that era were great!

  • friedag
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Vee, I didn't grow up with English boys but I really didn't notice the Englishmen I knew as co-workers, friends, and male relatives of friends as being as allergic to female company as you describe. Maybe the ones I knew had outgrown it. :-) I did notice the shyness of both males and females, though.

    As for American guys having 'trophy' girlfriends and wives: sure, there are those but I think gals were/are just as likely to collect 'trophy' boyfriends and husbands. The quarterback of the football team was always more popular than a defensive lineman (a necessary but less glamorous position); the guy with a 'hot' car impressed the girls while the poor fellow who had to drive his parents' car on dates was a 'drip'. I was probably a typical snotty female in some respects: I was mortified when I was a senior (12th grader) in high school and a sophomore (10th grader) boy asked me to an important dance. He was too young for me. I think it's funny now that I have a husband six years younger than me.

    Annpan, it's true that Americans are obsessed with the appearance of teeth. Martin Amis (Kingsley's son) said that before he dared go to the US he had to get himself 'an American smile'. Looking at YouTube video clips of singers such as Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) and David Bowie before they had their teeth fixed always draws comments from younger Americans nowadays. How could these guys dare sing with such teeth? As if shiny, white plastic chompers are a prerequisite to singing talent...apparently so in their opinion.

    Americans are just about as obsessed with body hair as with teeth. It wasn't always so, but it is now. Females should have hair in three places only: the head, the eyebrows and the eyelashes. Males are allowed facial hair in addition. If you're wondering about the other region where hair usually grows...that's just ick, ick, ick! Hair removal is big business in the US.

    Mudlady, I've run across that parental attitude you describe that sons are always more important than daughters. I think it must be a holdover or throwback in American culture and not the norm as it is in certain other cultures. I never felt that I was less important than my brothers, but I was the only girl and youngest child and that probably made a lot of difference.

    Ah yes, cars had character back then! I can barely tell one make & model from the next nowadays. My first car is only a fond memory but I still have my second car, a metallic-blue 1966 Plymouth Satellite with a 383 engine, 5-speed manual on the floor. Lots of girls never learned to drive a standard transmission, but they missed out on loads of fun! I'm glad I grew up in the heyday of American car culture. As frivolous as it might seem, it signified freedom to me more than anything else could at the time. I didn't think anything of jumping into my car and driving alone from Iowa to Texas. I drove from Paris to Istanbul one time, too. It was marvelous.

  • annpan
    9 years ago

    I imagine that the British soldier returning home would have missed having transport of some kind as ownership of a car was rare, being so expensive. We had one car in our road, mid-50s, and it was a crock really! The owner used to work on it all week so he could take the family on a Sunday drive, which was probably a local beauty spot!
    I have never been able to drive, I got upset by an incident with a car when I was about 6 and have had panic attacks in them, even as a passenger and in spite of months of hypnotherapy. I am all right for a while and then off I go!

  • veer
    9 years ago

    Frieda and everybody, a couple of books related to this period which have been lurking, dust-covered on my shelves.
    Family Britain David Kynaston part of his New Jerusalem series. A very heavy tome and possibly more interesting because it doesn't concentrate on the politics and foreign affairs of that time. Kynaston was born in 1951 so lived through the era.
    In the Fifties Peter Vansittart. He was one of those people who met all the 'interesting' characters or just happened to be in the right place at the right time, had attended the 'best' Public Schools and landed up teaching in one of those ultra-left educational establishments where leaning to read and count were regarded as unnecessary and the staff were addressed by their first names a la Bertrand Russell's educational experiments. (did they ever have such places in the US I wonder?).
    I must admit that although I have delved into both books I haven't sat down and read them through.

    Re teeth, I always thought Americans had been born with an extra supply bigger, shinier . . . like their cars. ;-)
    We always went to the dentist every year for a 'check up' (still do) but as a family had strong teeth with no problems . . . plus ate very little choc or 'sweeties'. Dentistry is only covered by the NHS for basic work and as Ann says 'cosmetic' stuff was regarded as a luxury. Children's teeth are in better shape these days thanks to fluoride being added to some water supplies.

  • annpan
    9 years ago

    Vee, I managed to find a rare NHS dentist when I was in the UK during the 1990s. He was very basic but available! I had ten minute sessions with him and left the clinic once wet from a leaky 'squirter' and with powder on my collar. Heaven knows what that was! I caught a horrified look from a woman in M&S which made me look in a mirror!
    Only when I went to an Aussie dentist who also did cosmetic work did I get an overlapping tooth made to look good!
    My daughter went to a Montessori school for a while. It was unstructured to the extent that if a child didn't want to attend the next day, an exemption note was given in case anyone in authority saw the child wandering about in school hours!
    How different from my school days. A "school board man" would come to the home of any child who wasn't on the daily register taken by the class teacher!
    Now in my grandchildren's school the parents get a text message about an absentee!