Skip to main content

grow up in America during the 1950’s

Tom Byron

Original Question: What was it like to grow up in the 1950’s

It was an adventure. I spent 100% of my free time outside, unless it was raining.

No one had color TV.

We didn’t have a phone in our home until I was 7 or 8.

Our first phone was a voice operated (“Number please?” operator asking) phone on a 10-party line set. Our number was 1619J. There were 10 (# plus A through J, ours was the 10th party) homes that shared the same number, but depended on the ring signal (long or short, 2 or 4 rings, etc) if the call was for you.

I ate wild berries that I picked as I found them. Candy was not available, too expensive.

Cars didn’t have seat belts, but gas was 13¢ per gallon. Cars only got about 13 MPG so we were (sort of) even on cost per mile driven.

I drank creek water, there was no such thing as bottled water.

I flew in an open cockpit bi-plane at age 8. It was a lifetime memory that started me on a life-long fascination with flying. I entered the U.S. Air Force due to this in 1966.

Tom Byron’s answer to What’s the riskiest thing you’ve ever done?

EDIT based on comment:
Bi plane was red.
Pilot’s name was Stu Dowdy, why I remember that I don’t know.
This file photo (Internet search) is close.

Went to summer bible school in 1953.

Had a box camera that used “roll film”.

Played “Marbles”.

Rarely went to the movies, but did go to the Drive-In sometimes.

Radios were only tube type, and just AM, and definitely not portable. The only portable radio I had was a battery-less crystal set with an earphone. It got one or two stations.

Had an older sister who knew Dick Clark and was on Bandstand (TV) regularily. We used 45 RPM records like these:

Read the original “Dick and Jane” books. This is a slightly later copy of mine. 10¢

Me in 1952. Life was good…I survived all of this and am now 68!!!

Footnote from Matthew Johnson‘s comment-

I do not mean everyone grew up or experienced this lifestyle. Many people look for things and see life based on their experiences, as I did here. I don’t see what I didn’t look for. Did I miss it? Maybe. Did I see problems and ignore them? Maybe. I have served on a jury and I have studied reports of eye witness accounts. What people see sometimes is influenced on what they expect to see. Witnesses to the same event will always have different accounts. Who is right and who is wrong depends on your experience. This was mine. And as a footnote, I had childhood friends in all three predominate groups where I grew up: the Italian community, the “WASP” (not a term then) community and the “colored” which was not pejorative then, but is now (which goes to my point).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.